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CNET First Look
Samsung Series 9The Samsung Series 9 looks and feels like the Windows answer to a MacBook Air: sleek, lightweight, expensive, and very attractive.
Hi, I'm Scott Stein and this is not a MacBook Air, it's a Samsung Series 9 laptop. You may have heard about this back at CES 2011 and it is one of the most hyped laptops of this year, especially if you're a Windows user. It is a rival to the MacBook Air in terms of its design, in terms of its size and weight, and also in terms of its price. This is $1649 for the 13-inch Samsung Series 9. That's not cheap, but it's about the same price as what you get for a similarly configured MacBook Air 13 inch. Actually, it's a little bit more. Now, the design on this features a duralumin exterior. Now, that's a metal that Samsung says is used to construct airplanes and has a nice brushed aluminum feel. It certainly feels sturdy but on the inside, it's a little bit plasticky around the keyboard area. That's not the case on the all aluminum MacBook Air, but it still feels great. The keyboard is nice and large, nearly the same as a MacBook Air, and it has a nice large trackpad, definitely one of the largest trackpads that we've seen on a Windows laptop. It's a clickpad so there are no discrete buttons. You click on the bottom here on a sort of a levered button system. It has a matte glass surface. It feels great for multitouch gestures. Very quick responding. Now, as far as ports, they're buried on the sides behind little doors that slide out. It's a little unfortunate. We prefer direct access to our ports, but there are a few of them. There are a couple of USB ports, there's a mini-HDMI port, and there's a very funky special dongle that will connect to Ethernet. While that's a little annoying, there's no Ethernet port on that MacBook Air either. Now, inside, this has a Sandy Bridge next-gen Intel Core i5 CPU, but it runs at the slower clock speed than those other core i5s that you see out there, a low-voltage processor. We'll have to see how it tests in our full review. And the battery that's integrated promises hopefully equivalent battery life as well. Comes with 4 gigs of RAM and a 128-gigabyte SSD drive that, for the price range, is half of what the MacBook Airs tend to provide for the cost. You can get a 13-inch MacBook Air with a 128 SSD for about $1249 which is cheaper. This has integrated Intel second-generation graphics which, as we've shown before, are capable of playing some games. We're not expecting a lot out of this one but it should be capable of playing some games. We did get Street Fighter IV to technically play back on this. And speakers are buried on the sides here. There are little speaker ports on the side of the unit which actually have pretty good sound for its size. I mean, it's not gonna shake a room. And there are a couple of other nice little features on this laptop. It has a backlit keyboard. The screen, as you might notice, is matte which is very rare on laptops and some people are gonna want this laptop just for that, and it has a very fast sleep-wake system built into it. By flipping a lid and putting it to sleep, it actually turns off all the power to the unit and then will wake up extremely fast in about 3 seconds which is nice. I mean, it's super speedy startup time and will conserve power. Boot up time, they claim, is about 60% faster than other hard drive-based laptops. We definitely found so far that it's a pretty fast boot time compared to Windows laptops. Overall, this is definitely one of the sleekest, sexiest Windows laptops and if you wanna show off in a coffee shop with your futuristic, high-tech machine over your latte, well, pick this one but you're gonna be paying a high price to do it. However, for it's size, for it's portability, it might be the worth it for some people. I'm Scott Stein and this is the new Samsung Series 9.