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The original Samsung Series 9, from last year, was an Ultrabook before Intel even created the Ultrabook category. While it was a little expensive, it was still one of the best Windows 7 notebooks of 2011, with a unique razor-thin black design that made it stand-out from the sea of Apple clones. Earlier this year, Samsung redesigned the Series 9 notebooks, and they also officially became Ultrabooks, both meeting and exceeding all of Intel’s requirements to be certified to use the name. However, the initial models released (which used Intel’s 2nd gen ‘Sandy Bridge’ CPU) were only available in limited quantities in Canada. Raj got to spend some time with one of these initial models, and was very impressed, calling it “possibly the nicest, most high-quality PC I’ve ever used”.
Now Samsung has refreshed the Series 9 Ultrabooks with more powerful Intel ‘Ivy Bridge’ silicon. On Wednesday, I attended the Mad Men-themed launch event for the updated models. At the event I got a chance to go hands-on with the New Series 9 (yes, they are calling it the ‘New’ Series 9, just like the ‘New’ iPad…), and shot a video with Greg Billings from Samsung about Samsung’s latest premium Ultrabook. You can check out video and pictures from the event below.
Samsung claims that the New Series 9 is “the world’s thinnest and most compact laptop”. With the Macbook Air measuring 17mm thick, and the just-announced Acer Aspire S5 coming in at 15mm, the 12.9mm depth of the 13.3” Series 9 backs up Samsung’s claim, at least for now. The shell of the New Series 9 is a 100% aluminum unibody design, and has a sand-blasted, matte ‘Mineral Ash Black’ finish. Just like its predecessor, the New Series 9’s design and colour differentiates it from the sea of silver Air clones. After seeing it in person, I can definitely say that it is one of the sleekest and most attractive notebooks I have ever seen.
The New Series 9 (or is this the new New Series 9?) will ship with Intel’s latest generation ‘Ivy Bridge’ mobile silicon. The Canadian 13.3” and 15” models will both use the 1.70 GHz Core i5 3317U processor (sadly, in the US there will also be Core i7 models available too). This 3rd Gen Intel CPU also contains Intel’s HD 4000 integrated graphics core. While historically integrated graphics have got a bad rap (usually performing sub-par for tasks like gaming), the HD 4000, according to tests, is the first Intel graphics core capable of playing most modern games at decent settings.
The New Series 9 has a HD+ (1600x900) resolution PLS screen that is noticeably brighter than most notebook screens I have seen, at 400nits. Samsung’s PLS technology, which is similar to IPS, allows for great viewing angles, and it is anti-reflective, which pleases me greatly. I hate glossy screens, and the glare associated with them.
The 15” New Series 9 comes with 8GB of DDR3 RAM, in two regular 4GB DIMMS. However, the 13.3” model, in a very Apple-esque fashion, has its 4GB of RAM soldered to the motherboard, making it non-upgradable. Also, the battery (which should give you ‘up to’ 10 hours of use) on both models, while technically removable, is not designed to be user-upgradable. If you end up keeping the Series 9 for a long time, this could lead to problems down the road when the battery needs replacing (though Samsung does claim that their battery will last 5x longer than the competition's).
Both models also have a 128GB SSD, which is the average size for most Ultrabook SSDs. Unfortunately there is no option for a bigger drive, and while you can open up the notebook and upgrade it yourself, you’ll probably be voiding the warranty when you do this. I definitely think that if Samsung wasn’t going to allow for easy upgrading of the New Series 9, then they should have at least offered a wider selection in Canada, with models with faster CPUs, bigger drives and more RAM. However, perhaps this is something Samsung is planning for the future if the New Series 9 is a success here.
The 13.3” Samsung New Series 9 Ultrabook is available NOW from Future Shop, and is $1299.99. The 15” model is coming soon, and should be around $1499.
You can check back on the Tech Blog for my full review of the Ivy Bridge New Series 9 soon.
You can also read more about the New Series 9 on Samsung’s website.
Also, don't forget that the New Series 9 Ultrabook qualifies of Microsoft's $14.99 Windows 8 upgrade offer, which you can learn more about here.
- Processor: Intel Core i5 Processor 3317U (1.70 GHz, 3 MB L3 Cache)
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000
- Display: 15.0" or 13.3" SuperBright 400nit HD+ LED Display (1600 x 900), Anti-Reflective
- Memory: (15”) 8 GB DDR3 1600 MHz (13.3”) 4 GB DDR3 1600 MHz
- Storage: 128 GB Solid State Drive
- Communication: Gigabit Ethernet LAN (Dongle Bundle), Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 802.11abg/n with WiDi, Bluetooth V4.0
- Ports: VGA (Dongle Option), Micro HDMI, Headphone-out / Mic Combo, 4-in-1 card-reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC)
- USB: (15”) 2 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0 (13.3”) 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0
- Dimensions: (15”) 356.9 x 237 x 14.9 mm (14.0" x 9.3" x 0.58") (13.3”) 313.8 x 218.5 x 12.9 mm (12.3" x 8.6" x 0.50")
- Weight: (15”) 1.65 kg (3.63 lbs) (13.3”) 1.16 kg (2.55 lbs)
- Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit
Pictures from the launch event
Slideshow of additional pictures from the launch event (click to see them full-sized)
All pictures © Alex Davies