Samsung Series 9 Laptop review Archive
This slimline laptop has good battery life and decent performance, but the screen is not as attractive as the design.
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The Series 9 is Samsung's ultraportable model, with a slimline profile and sleek design. We found that, while it was lightweight, it was a little lacking in performance power and battery life.
Keyboard & Touchpad
Ports & Sockets
To use the on the road, you will need just the laptop itself and the power adapter. This combination weighs in at a svelte TK lbs, which is very light. The slim laptop should also make it easy to fit into most bags, especially those designed for the Apple Macbook Air.
The was a fairly fast computer, but it was by no means the fastest that we have seen. It earned a PC Mark score of 2713, which is significantly lower than the 3876 of the Dell XPS 13 or the 3563 of the Toshiba Portege. However, the is by no means a slow computer, and it proved to be no slouch in our tests using a number of common applications.
We test laptops by running tests in several common programs, such as Photoshop and Excel. In these, the was a little slower than other laptops, taking 17.71 seconds to run our Photoshop test, which uses a number of complex filters on a large photo. The Dell XPS 13 and Acer Aspire S3 both did it in under 15 seconds. In Excel, we found that the Series 9 finished on average, in 9.17 seconds. A score like that lands it behind the XPS 13 and Aspire which finished in 7.8 seconds and 6.27 respectively.
We also test how quickly the video transcoding program can convert a HD video down to a lower resolution, which took the just over 4 minutes. Again, the Dell XPS 13 and Acer Aspire S3 were quicker, converting the same video in 2 minutes and 50 seconds. If you do a lot of photo editing or other complex tasks, these speed differences could quickly mount up.
The was a little slow at running games as well. To see how well laptops can handle modern 3D games, we test the speed at which each laptop can run the game Portal 2, both at a low resolution and at a high resolution with the image quality features turned up.
Overall Battery Life
Although the is a lightweight, slim model, it had a very decent battery life, which ranged from the maximum of 4 hours and 7 minutes down to 2 hours and 50 minutes with everything turned up to maximum.
Maximum Battery Life
If you are looking for the longest possible battery life from any laptop, you turn the screen brightness down and set all of the power settings to as low as possible. With the set up this way, we found that the battery life was a pretty decent 4 hours and 7 minutes. That's not quite enough to work right through a cross-country plane flight, but it is long enough to watch an episode of a TV show and complete your devastating analysis of why it would be much better if you wrote it that you post to your blog and send to the TV studio.
Balanced Battery Life
The balanced power setting is the most commonly used, because it balances performance, screen brightness (we set the screen brightness to produce 160 cd/m2 of light) and battery life. In our tests, we found that the had a battery life of 3 hours and 43 minutes on this setting, which is one of the longest battery lives that we have seen.
High Performance Battery Life
When you need to turn everything up to maximum to get some work done, the battery life suffers. On this laptop, the battery life dropped to 2 hours and 50 minutes.
The 13.3-inch display of the has a resolution of 1600 by 900 pixels, and Samsung describes it as a Superbright Plus widescreen display. The screen is very thin, but the image looks a little washed out and pale, and fades somewhat at a shallow viewing angle.
The keyboard has 81 keys, which means it is missing a numeric keypad, but it does include dedicated function keys. That's a plus for those who use them frequently within programs to quickly access menu items and the like. The keys are separated by a gap of about 1mm.
Mouse / Touchpad Features
The touchpad is quite large: at 4 by 3 inches, it offers a total area of 12 square inches. The left and right mouse button areas are indicated by dark lines on the bottom of the touchpad, but these areas are not physically separate from the main touchpad area. This can lead to some inadvertent pressing of the wrong button when the touchpad is used, but we did find that we quickly figured out which is which. A two-finger touch also acts as a right button press, so you can avoid using the mouse button areas if you want.
The touchpad can sense up to 9 individual touches, and support is offered for 21 multitouch gestures, including gestures for scrolling, opening certain programs and others. These gestures can also be customized, so you can set a 4-finger touch to start a web browser, for instance.
Processor, Memory & Storage
The model that we looked at is equipped with an Intel i5-2467M processor, combined with 4GB of RAM. That is the maximum that this laptop can use: there is no way to expand the memory beyond this. Data is stored on a 128GB SSD drive. Again, the drive is not user upgradeable: opening the case and installing a bigger drive will void the warranty.
This is the only model available of this laptop: there are no other options for processor, memory or drive space.
There are a minimal number of ports on this laptop: under a small drop-down panel on the left side are a single USB, micro HDMI and a port for the included Ethernet adapter. The drop-down panel feels pretty robust, but the Ethernet adapter fits in rather loosely and could fall out with even a gentle tug on the cable. There is also a socket for power near the hinge. On the right side under a similar drop-down panel is another USB port, a headphone socket and a micro SD card slot.
The drop-down doors are an acceptable compromise between keeping the sleek design, and offering a good number of ports. The two USB ports in particular add to the flexibility of the device,making it easier to connect external keyboards and other devices without having to use a USB hub.
The screen of the is a little disappointing: we found that, although it was quite bright, colors looked rather flat and faded quickly when viewing from even a small angle off screen.
The keyboard was comfortable to use, with a good amount of spacing between the keys that made typing easier. The keys did not have a lot of travel, though, and they lacked the more positive clicky feel of larger laptops. But, given the compromises needed to keep the thin profile, we had no major problems with this keyboard. The presence of dedicated function keys was also welcome: this makes using programs that rely on them easier. Many small laptops (like the Lenovo U300s) put the function keys on the number keys, which makes them slower and more awkward to access.
Mouse / Touchpad
We found the large touchpad of the easy to use, although it was hard to find the areas for the left and right mouse button by touch. However, the multitouch touchpad also supports a two-finger touch for the right mouse button, and we found this an easier combination to use in the long run.
Heat & Noise
The does get somewhat noisy when it is working hard, with the internals fans pushing heat out of the vents under the hinge. But it did not get too hot: we found that he hottest spot was the TK which reached TK°F.
The Samsung Series 9's exterior is made of duralumin, the same materials used in many aircraft. The ports are hidden in "bay doors" that pop open. It defines what a sleek design should look like. Though, like many things that with a lot of style there is a lack of substance. By no means did the Samsung Series 9 do terrible, but when stacked up against the XPS 13 it looks barely functional. On PC Mark test, the XPS 13 scored a 3876 to the Series 9's 2705. The XPS 13 continued to trounce the Series 9 in all other tests. The most stark difference was in the gaming section. Under maximum settings, the Series 9 managed to render 13.98 frames per second of Portal 2 while the XPS 13 zipped around at 27.31 FPS.
After factoring the 's $1649 price tag, we considered the comfort aspects. The Samsung Series 9 had a more comfortable touchpad and the surface temperature never reached more than 102.2 degrees while the XPS 13 got over 117 degrees. In the end, we favored processing over portability.
The Samsung Series 9 has to be one of the pretties laptops out there. The Samsung Series 5 Ultra is the Series 9's uglier less expensive sister. Under the PC Mark test, the Series 9 2705 to the Series 5's 2663. However, the Series 5 did better in the Geekbench test, scoring 5684 versus the Series 9's 5511. It comes down to user preference. The Series 9 is more portable while the Series 5 Ultra had slightly better performance.
The Samsung Series 9 is a sleek, sophisticated laptop with a svelte profile, while the Ideapad U300s is… not. That’s not to say that the Ideapad is a bad laptop or has a weight problem: with a travel weight of just 3 oz more than the Samsung, it is not that much heavier, and it is only a little fatter. But while the Samsung is the thinner, sleeker model, the Ideapad has it where it counts: it consistently performed better than the Samsung, cranking through our tests significantly faster.
Housed within its duralumin body are a Intel Core i5-2467M, 4 GB of RAM, and 256 GB of storage. We still can't get over how good looking the Samsung Series 9 is. And with a travel weight (laptop and charger) of 52.7 ounces, it's extremely portable. That being said, it did have a middling performance in our tests. It never ranked at the bottom of our lists, save for the gaming tests, but it also never wowed us. The most detracting aspects about the Samsung Series 9 is its price.
For the MSRP of over $1,600 we could buy an Acer Aspire S3 or a Dell XPS 13 which offer a less appealing exterior, but significantly more powerful performance.