Samsung Series 9 review

13 Mar 2012

Samsung’s redesigned Series 9 is a picture-perfect Ultrabook that boasts a stunning screen, but the price is optimistic

Price when reviewed 
1,199
4

The torrent of Ultrabooks shows no sign of abating, but until now one major manufacturer has been conspicuously absent from the slim and light fracas. We caught a glimpse of Samsung’s sensible Series 5 – a semi-successful attempt to subvert the Ultrabook template by restoring the optical drive into a swollen 14in chassis – but now the spotlight falls on to the real deal: its no-expenses-spared refresh of the Series 9.

Samsung Series 9

The transformation is remarkable. By taking the design ethos of the original and starting afresh, Samsung has produced a physically stunning laptop. It was hardly overweight before, but Samsung has pared down the chassis to a mere sliver of navy blue. Tapering from a few millimetres thick at its front edge to only 15mm at the rear – yes, that includes the rubber feet – the Series 9 is the dictionary definition of svelte.

And in a world where looks are as important as feel, Samsung strikes another blow: the Series 9 is outstandingly well made. It’s easily the equal of its price rivals, Apple’s MacBook Air or, for the Windows purists, Asus’ Zenbook UX31E. It feels deliciously solid in the hand, barely flinching as we attempted to flex it out of shape. For a laptop that weighs only 1.16kg, it’s a stunning feat of engineering.

Samsung Series 9

Samsung has also addressed the connectivity issues of its predecessor: the ports are no longer hidden on dropdown flaps on the edges. Instead, the silver metallic strip running around the edge flares out as it reaches the hinge. Here, there’s just enough room for USB 3, micro-HDMI and a miniaturised Gigabit Ethernet connection on the left edge, while a USB 2 port on the other is accompanied by an SD card slot and mini-VGA. Bear in mind, though, that while an adapter for the miniature Ethernet connection is included, the full-sized D-SUB adapter is a £22 optional extra.

Stop pawing the Series 9 long enough to turn it on, and there are some neat touches. The most obvious is the brightness sensor that lights up the keyboard as the ambient light dims. Four brightness levels ensure the keys never disappear out of sight, and the backlighting only kicks in when it’s needed, thus conserving battery power.

Details

Price ex VAT £999
Price inc VAT £1,199
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 2 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 328 x 227 x 15mm (WDH)
Weight 1.160kg
Travelling weight 1.5kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-2467M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM65 Express
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 0

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,600
Resolution screen vertical 900
Resolution 1600 x 900
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 3000
Graphics card RAM N/A
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 128GB
Hard disk usable capacity 119GB
Spindle speed N/A
Internal disk interface SATA/600
Hard disk SanDisk U100
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive none
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 1
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Beneath keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 6hr 57min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 53min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 29fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.55
Responsiveness score 0.69
Media score 0.56
Multitasking score 0.41

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition
Software supplied N/A