Samsung Series 9 13.3in: first-look review
There are some times when photos of laptops can fool you: they look beautiful when blessed with stunning lighting and clever angles of photography, but when you actually see them in the flesh it's like going on a blind date with a “slim, athletic and handsome man” and ending up with Danny de Vito (sorry Danny).
The Series 9 is no such laptop. It looks and feels beautiful, with what Samsung terms as a "mineral matt-finish". The end result is no fingerprints on the lid, which was one of the big complaints consumers had with the original Series 9.
And it's helped along by an ultra-sleek chassis, with Samsung going all-out with its marketing hype: this, folks, is the world’s slimmest laptop. Or to be more precise, the 13.3in version of the Series 9 is, measuring a ridiculous 12.9mm thick. (See our preview of the 15in Series 9 here.)
Unlike so many laptops, as can be seen from the photo above, that claim this kind of girth it doesn't gain much extra towards the back.
Then there's the weight of 1.16kg. We're now used to high-powered laptops being featherlight, but even so the Series 9 is exceptional.
The payback comes with the ports. This 13.3in model has one USB 3 port on the right and a USB 2 port on the left, plus a full-size SD slot neatly tucked into the side of the chassis, but aside from this you're slipping into the world of micro and adapters: there's a micro-HDMI port on the left, an adapter for Ethernet and VGA, plus one 3.5mm socket (usable for either a microphone or headphones).
Samsung doesn’t make too many compromises with the keyboard. Naturally there isn’t a massive amount of travel on the keys, but we got up to a decent speed (this review is actually being typed directly onto a showfloor Series 9) and didn't notice much clatter. Yes, the Enter key is single-height, but it's also nice and large – as is the excellent touchpad.
We're a little less enamoured by the screen. This uses a Samsung LED panel that's been custom-made by Samsung itself, and it suffers from a very slight grain. If you go a little off-centre, it also develops a slight yellow hue.
In practice, though, we don't think we'd complain. For a start there's minimal glare from the screen's matte finish; and second, it’s very bright at full whack: 400cd/m2 according to our man on the stand.
Perhaps even more important is the resolution: Samsung packs in 1,600 x 900 pixels into this 13.3in display, yet it doesn't feel squashed or cramped.
This gives it a full notebook feel, and it's helped further by a Core i7 processor – the exact spec has yet to be confirmed. Samsung is making bold claims about wake times too: 1.8 seconds from sleep, 9.8 seconds from off. Our tests didn't quite bear this out, with the pre-production sample on show taking around 13 seconds (see the video below).
The final thing to note is the battery. Being a unibody chassis, sculpted from aluminium, the battery is built-in and there's no option for replacement.
If Samsung is to be believed, however, this shouldn't be an issue, because the battery is designed to last for 1,500 recharges before it loses 20% of its capacity. This compares, Samsung claims, to 300 recharges for a typical laptop.
Hopefully that means you'll still have at least 80% of the original capacity after five years; Samsung claims the 13.3in Series 9 lasts for six-and-a-half hours.
It adds up to a laptop with a lot of promise, and we look forward to Samsung confirming the launch date – and price – in the coming weeks.