Samsung Series 9 Ultra Portable Notebook

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Samsung Series 9 Ultra Portable Notebook

September 22, 2011 by Lawrence Lee

Product Samsung NP900X3A-A02CA
Ultra Portable Notebook
Manufacturer Samsung
Street Price CAD$2,300
(~US$1250 for basic model)

Though not the first ultra portable notebook, the original Macbook Air helped redefine the ultra light laptop. Limited versatility and a hefty sticker-price made it a tough sell at first. A few Windows based challengers came like the Dell Adamo, and the Lenovo X300/301 but were too expensive for wide acceptabce as well. In recent times, the ultra slim and light laptop has seen a resur gence thanks to lower prices and better technology.

Today the smaller 11.6" Macbook Air starts at US$999, almost half the price of the original, putting it within the grasp of average middle-class worker bees. It offers enough power get through daily rigors, more capability and flexibility than touchscreen tablets, and a form factor no larger or heavier than necessary. Its popularity has grown significantly since the original Mac Air. Samsung hopes to capture a piece of this quickly growing pie with the Series 9 laptops, ultra slim notebook PCs packing much of the same components, but loaded with Windows 7 and molded in Samsung's own hardware style.

The Series 9 notebooks all share the same basis, with different hardware configurations, denoted by a suffix attached to the base model number, NP900X3A. It's outrageously thin, just 15~16 mm, and very light as well, weighing 1.38 kg (just over 3 lbs) by our measurements. Packing a 13.3" backlit display, our Samsung 9 sample is a close match to the 13-inch Macbook Air, but aesthetically it's undeniably a Windows PC, albeit in a sleeker flavor than we're used to.



The NP900X3A.

The top cover, palm rest area, and the chrome lip running around the center of the machine is composed of duralumin, an aluminum alloy that Samsung claims is twice as strong at the same weight as old fashioned aluminum. The material is surprisingly stiff with no give whatsoever and has a fine brush finish. It is clearly quite rigid, yet is pleasant to touch, having a soft plastic-like feel. Fingerprints accumulate easily, however, and stand out visibly against the black background.

To ensure a thin and light body, ultra portable notebooks make some compromises to save space and extend battery life. The Series 9 is no exception, limited to Intel dual core ULV (ultra low voltage) Sandy Bridge processors which run well below 2 GHz, and lack a discrete graphics option. There isn't room for many external connectors, or an optical drive, and the battery isn't user-removable.


Box.


Package, contents.


Modular AC adapter.

The NP900X3A ships in a large, fancy black box with a velvety suede-like material covering the surface. It contains the laptop itself, an AC adapter, an RJ45 adapter (a standard RJ45 port takes up too much space so it was miniaturized into a proprietary connector), documentation, a driver/utility disc, and a large nylon mat of unknown purpose. The power adapter is compact, too: The 40W power brick is integrated with the cord in a surprisingly slim 7.8 x 4.8 x 2.8 cm form. it even has a detachable AC plug, presumably with different modules for various countries.

Samsung NP900X3A-A02CA: Specifications
(from the product web page)
Operating System
Genuine Windows® 7 Professional (64-bit)
Processor
Intel® Core™ i5 Processor 2537M (1.40 GHz, 3 MB)
Resolution
LED HD
Main Chipset Intel HM65
System Memory 8 GB (DDR3 / 4 GB x 2 )
LCD 13.3" LED HD (1366 x 768) 16 : 9
Graphic Processor Intel GMA HD (Int. Graphic)
Graphic Memory Shared Memory (Int. Graphic)
Sound
HD (High Definition) Audio
Sound Effect SRS 3D Sound Effect
Speaker 3 W Stereo Speaker (1.5 W x 2)
TV No
Integrated Camera 1.3 megapixel HD Webcam
HDD 256 GB (SSD)
Wired Ethernet LAN Gigabit LAN
Wireless LAN Intel 802.11 abgn (2 x 2) + BT3.0
I/O Port HDMI, Headphone-out, Mic-in, Internal Mic, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, Micro SD, RJ45, DC-In (power port)
Keyboard Type 82 key
81 key
Touch Pad, Touch Screen Touch Pad (Scroll Scope, Flat Type, Gesture UI)
AC Adapter 40 Watt (wallmount type)
Standard Battery 6 Cell
Dimension (W x D x H mm) 328.5 x 227.0 x 15.9 ~ 16.3 mm (12.90" x 8.90" x 0.62" ~ 0.64")
Weight (kg) 1.31 kg (2.88 lbs, SSD) / 1.35 kg (2.97 lbs, HDD)

Our sample (model NP900X3A-A02CA) features an Intel Core i5-2537M (dual core, 1.4 GHz, 17W, Hyper-threading, TurboBoost, HD 3000 graphics), 8GB of DDR3 memory, and a Samsung 256GB solid state drive (model number MZ8PA256HMDR) which we're sure is a significant factor in the machine's CAD$2,300 price tag. Oddly enough the B05US variant with the same specifications as our review unit but with a faster 1.7 GHz CPU is selling for US$1,900. It appears that there are several different variants with confusing model numbers so be sure to double-check the details before buying.



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