This laptop has great build quality, but is it worth the price?
By TAN KIT HOONG
Yes, it is the year of Ultrabooks - with Intel's 22nm Ivy Bridge processors, the ultra-thin performance notebooks are here with more muscle and battery life than the previous generation.
Every major company has one this year, including Samsung with its Series 9.
Of course, if you're familiar with Samsung's naming conventions, you'll know that Series 9 is a name that the company only gives to its high-end products and this notebook is no exception.
Look and feel
There's very little to fault with the build quality and design of the Series 9 - in a word, it's simply excellent.
It seems to be constructed of metal all round, and in spite of its very thin design there's almost no flex in the entire body, including the LCD screen.
I mention this specifically because some other Ultrabooks we've tried have so much flex on the display that you'd think it was the cover of a Tupperware food container.
The keyboard is much like all the modern chiclet style ones and with acceptable, if not outstanding, key travel.
The touchpad is generously large and is actually multi-touch capable right out of the box - you can scroll with two fingers or use a four-finger swipe downwards to bring up Aero Flip 3D.
Being so thin, there's really no room for an Ethernet port, but Samsung has kindly provided a dongle which plugs into a port on the side of the Series 9 which will give you the full gigabit Ethernet speed.
There's also a built in micro HDMI port for easy connection to your HDTV and projectors.
Overall, I really like the design and weight of this Series 9 notebook - top marks here as it feels and looks classy.
Oh yes, true to the Samsung pedigree, the LCD screen on the Series 9 is also similarly excellent.
Not only is it 1,600 x 900-pixels but viewing angles were the best we've seen in the current crop of
Ultrabooks and brightness levels were so high that if we put it on maximum, it would actually hurt the eyes a little bit.
The Series 9 is typical of all the current range of Ultrabooks on the market - performance is good enough for almost anything you can throw at it except for games.
With the integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000, you can play some less graphically-intensive games, such as Diablo III with graphics settings on low, if you plug it in to external power.
Like most modern notebooks, the default power profile is set so that you get much better CPU performance when you plug it in to external power, so you'll immediately see a performance gain when not running it on batteries.
Of course, without a discrete GPU built in, the Intel HD Graphics 4000 won't be able to handle really major games, although it will do well enough when playing back HD video and for photo editing.
In terms of battery life, with the brightness set to nearly half and then doing a lot of web browsing and some video watching, I managed to get about four to five hours of use on the Series 9.
You could quite conceivably get about an hour or two more if you really turn down the brightness and choose the most aggressive power saving profile.
As far as Ultrabooks go, the Samsung Series 9 has got to be right up there near the top of the heap, as it looks good, feels solid and most importantly, has a very impressive high-resolution screen.
Too many notebooks these days skimp on the quality of the display, which is really a sad thing, since the display is possibly the most important component of a notebook, especially when you consider that we are using notebooks more and more for photo and video editing.
Quality does come at a price though - at RM4,999 it's certainly not cheap.
Pros: Solid build quality; display has excellent viewing angles.
NP900X3C Series 9
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i5 3317U (1.7GHz)
MEMORY: 4GB RAM
DISPLAY: 13.3in (1600 x 900-pixels) with LED backlight
GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 4000
STORAGE: 128GB solid-state drive
CONNECTIVITY: WiFi 802.11n, 10/100/1,000 Ethernet (via dongle), Bluetooth 4.0
OPTICAL DRIVE: None
PORTS/SLOTS: USB 2.0 port, USB 3.0 port, SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC card reader, headphone/microphone combo port, micro HDMI slot, VGA out (via dongle)
OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)
OTHER FEATURES: 1.3-megapixel webcam, backlit keyboard
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 31.4 x 21.8 x 1.29cm
Review unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia Electronics Sdn Bhd, 1-800-88-9999