Life with the Samsung 9 series

Life with the Samsung 9 series

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This site isn’t exactly Engadget so a hardware review isn’t normally my thing – but with a trio of new devices in the Clayton Manor, it seemed time to offer up some views on the hardware.

I’ve been playing with the Samsung Series 9 laptop, the Microsoft Touch Mouse and the new Microsoft Comfort Curve Keyboard 3000. First up is the Samsung Series 9 laptop – specifically I have the 900X3A model which is the original 13” unit. I say original as even though it’s less than 3 moths old, the chaps at Samsung recently announced a new model with an Intel Core i7 and 6GB of RAM as well as updating the 11” model with a 128GB solid state drive. The aforementioned Engadget has all of the details.

So what’s my take on the Samsung? I’ll keep it simple with some pro’s and con’s. If you ever want more in depth reviews of the latest and greatest PC’s, look no further than my buddy Ben “The PC Guy” Rudolph.

Pro’s

  • Build quality – the duralumin design is tough and beautiful while being light enough that it feels not there when in my bag, compared to my Lenovo x301. That’s helped in part by an incredibly small and light power supply and the unit itself is just .66” thin.
  • Design – the build quality is matched by great design from Samsung. The unit is clean, the port flaps elegant and the casing free of garish stickers. The only small gripe I have is the size of the Samsung logo on the exterior. I think they should have gone smaller and matte black.
  • Screen – I don’t think I have seen a brighter screen on a laptop. In fact none of us have as it runs at 400nits which is the highest on any laptop. It’s stunning and adaptive to the brightness of your environment.
  • Performance – Intel Sandy Bridge Core i5. Who knows where they come up with these names? All you need to know is it’s damn fast. For the geeks among us, it runs at 1.4GHz it has the ability to "turbo boost" to 2.3GHz when needed and use hyper threading. The performance of Microsoft Office is in this configuration with Outlook opening in the blink of an eye.
  • Keyboard – though it doesn’t have the feel of the Lenovo castle design keys, it’s still a great keyboard with ample spacing between keys, it’s very quiet and it’s backlit. More on that…
  • The backlit keyboard – I’ve yearned for one of these on a PC since seeing them appear on Mac’s and Samsung has done a fine job. I convinced myself I needed backlit for airline travel but the reality is I just like the little tiles lighting up and creating an eerie glow. Note the MacBook Air doesn’t have a backlit keyboard.
  • Battery – probably the question I get asked most often is what is the battery life like. 5+ hours from a single charge which can be pushed to over 6 if you tweak settings. I want more but that’s more than good enough.
  • Fast boot – Samsung has done some work on the resume and boot of this machine. When I open the lid to resume from sleep, I reckon it’s no more than 3 seconds before I’m working.
  • USB 3.0 – is sports one USB 3.0 port which is why a new Lacie Porsche external drive is en route to my house. 

 

Cons’s

  • Trackpad – coming from the Lenovo, the large, multitouch trackpad took some getting used to – in fact I found myself turning off much of the additional gesture functionality and reverting to using my Arc Touch Mouse 90% of the time as it was too much of a productivity hit for me to make the transition. I may do eventually, but for now, my trackpad has had to be dumbed down to my level! Interestingly, for Mac users I suspect they’d enjoy it.
  • Ports – machines as svelte as this one are always going to compromise somewhat in the ports department. Although I rarely use Ethernet cables these days, I needed the proprietary cable to get this machine on our corporate network. More frustrating is when I need to project from the machine and have forgotten my micro HDMI to VGA cable. On the plus side, the built on microSD is a nice bonus.
  • Wi-Fi – I’ve found the Wi-Fi to be a little less powerful than my Lenovo which seems to find more signals in area and can hang on to them for longer. This may be down to a power setting I’ve not tweaked though.
  • Screen – though the screen is stunning, I really wish it had a higher res than 1366x768. My eyes are loving it, but my quest for more desktop isn’t.

 

In summary, it’s an outstanding PC, probably the best I have owned and it’s replaced the Lenovo x301 as my main machine – which takes some doing. The Samsung is fast, stylish, light and incredibly well built and packs in a ton of technology in to a small space. Much like myself…ahem.

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  • Wish I could get one of these things -- they're beautiful. The other con is price, but to be honest you get a lot for the high price tag.

    Cheers,

    Trevor Sullivan

  • these laptops are the type I've been waiting for..  I might grab one of the new 11.6 inch 64GB ones and try to save most of my work on the SD card or on Skydrive

  • I use the MacBook Air quite a lot and rest assured: I also don't like the Trackpad, at all. It's the one thing that keeps me from using the 9 series much, much more. A bummer to have to use the mouse again...

  • I'm with you.  I love my Samsung Series 9.  So nice to be able to work out of the local coffee shop without worrying about battery life.

    I went to a MS Tech Day in London the other week, went to battery saver mode, switched off WiFi and got more than eight hours out of the thing.

    If you figure out the WiFi let me know, I get a weak signal upstairs in my house compared to other laptops - that's literally my only gripe (that and the fact that there's a newer model out already).

    Ali