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Samsung Series 9 review

Verdict

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

Review Date: 13 Mar 2012

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £999 (£1,199 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £2002
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

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.

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User comments

How many external monitors can this drive?

As Ultrabooks get to be reasonable 'whole life' machines in terms of power, memory etc it would be v. useful to know when you review these expensive Ultraportables how dockable they are, and (specifically for this geek )how many monitors they can drive.

I understand the next MacBook air can fire 3 very expensive (effectively?) proprietory monitors, the Dell XPS has a mini-display port (that does what?), and this baby has it's own screen, HDMi and VGA - concurrently?

I hope you see the variance and difficulty of getting information for the layman. Chrs.

By Dix66 on 15 Mar 2012

More power...

Do you anticipate an i7 version?

By Zaphod1666 on 15 Mar 2012

Monitors / specs

I'll ask Samsung how many monitors can be run concurrently. As I have neither the VGA adapter nor a micro-HDMI cable to hand, I can't test it for myself!

As for the specs, well, I don't forsee any different models arriving in the UK. With Intel's Ivy Bridge around the corner, I can't help thinking that this laptop may be updated fairly soonish, or at least in the next 6 months.

Regardless, I'll ask Samsung and post an update asap.

By SashaMuller on 15 Mar 2012

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