Mini Samsung Laptop – Series 9 NP900X1A
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Designed in order to compete with the extremely popular Apple MacBook Air (11-inch version), the Samsung Series 9 NP900X1A comes with a brushed metal surface and has the same curved sides and a rounded hinge like its bigger 13-inch sibling. Aside from the Macbook Air, this Series 9 has to face up some other serious competition coming from the Alienware M11x from Dell. Out of all these models, Samsung’s Series 9 has to be the most attractive.
It does come with some interesting aces up its sleeve, like the backlit keyboard which isn’t available on all MacBook Airs, along with a massive touchpad and also similar instant-on capabilities that you can find on the OS X. The following configuration of the Series 9 will set you back about $1,200.
At the heart of the mini laptop is an Intel Core i3-380UM processor clocked at 1.33 GHz with 2GB of DDR3 memory running at 1,333 MHz. For storage it packs a rather small (yet very fast) 64GB SSD while the graphics power is handled by the integrated Intel HD 3000 with shared memory. The system is running on Windows 7 Home Premium (64 bit version) and has the following dimensions: 7.8 x 11.7 x 0.62 – 0.65 inches and tips the scales at only 2.3 pounds (0.4 pounds more with the AC adapter included).
This ultraportable feels quite light but sturdy at the same time, but it lacks the solid feeling that the aforementioned Apple MacBook Air has. Much like the 13-inch Series 9, the smaller version shows significant signs of flex in the top lid, while the matte black interior surfaces has the tendency to pick up smudges and fingerprints.
Both the keyboard and the touchpad of the Samsung Series 9 NP900X1A look and feel like the ones you’ll find on a MacBook Air. It comes with flat-topped keys that are quite large and fortunately are backlit, a feature that you rarely will find on an 11-inch laptop. As for the touchpad, it has a generous size and offers support for multitouch gestures.
It has an 11.6-inch display that has a maximum resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels which manages to provide a crisp detail and offers a lot of real estate, despite the limited dimensions of the screen. We also appreciate that the display is almost glare-free while the off-axis viewing angles are very good. In the opinions of many, the display would have to be the best component of this mini laptop.
As far as the connectivity features are concerned, in the video department it has a miniHDMI port while for audio you get a single headphone/microphone jack. In the data area it has two USB 2.0 ports and a microSD card reader. Your networking necessities will be covered by Bluetooth, Ethernet (via dongle) and 802.11n Wi-Fi. As you would expect from an ultraportable, it doesn’t come with an optical drive.
This 11.6-inch version of the Series 9 is available exclusively in this configuration with the 1.30 GHz Core i3 processor, a 64GB SSD and 2GB of RAM. For the money you are paying for this mini laptop, that 64GB SSD is just too small, especially since the $999 Macbook Air has the same SSD while for $1,199 you can get it with a more spacious 128GB. On the other hand, the Samsung comes with a 2010 version of the Intel Core i3 processor while the MacBook Air comes with an old Core 2 Duo CPU. Even so, this isn’t the latest generation of the Core i3 processor so it doesn’t feature the Sandy Bridge platform which improves battery life and comes with more potent integrated graphics.
The fact is that even though the Apple model has an older-generation CPU, it manages to be faster than the i3 in the Series 9 in some benchmarks, even though the difference between these two processors is barely noticeable. One of the top performers in the 11-inch segment is the Dell Alienware 11x that we’ve mentioned which has a second generation Intel Core i5-2537M processor clocked at 1.40 GHz. The Samsung Series 9 NP00X1A still remains a good solution for working on documents, web surfing and full screen HD video playback.
If you have used an Apple Macbook recently you probably know about the nearly instant sleep mode and the quick boot times, two features which are appreciated by anybody. Once you open the lid, the laptop will wake up immediately, even in the situation in which you don’t use it for several days in a row. The Korean company has developed something that comes close to Apple’s technology, featuring boot times that are exceptional for a Windows-running laptop. If you close the lid of the Series 9, it will go into a sleep mode that is quite similar to the one available in the Macbook. However, the sleep mode of the Series 9 is still not as good as Apple’s but Samsung is on the right track and pretty soon they will probably check up the lost ground.
As far as the battery is concerned, this ultraportable from Samsung will last for approximately three and a half hours during a test consisting of continuous video playback. This performance could have been considered as good if we were dealing with a normal-sized 15-inch laptop but for an 11-inch ultraportable it is a disappointing result since these systems are designed for busy people who are always on the move. The MacBook Air can last for a half an hour more during the same test, while the affordable Pavilion dm1z from HP will survive for about 5 hours and 20 minutes. It is safe to assume that if this 11-inch Series 9 will get a second generation Intel Core processor, it will be able to provide a longer battery life.
Lastly, we should mention that the Samsung Series 9 NP900X1A comes with only one year of warranty, which is rather odd since the 13-inch version comes with three years of warranty. For some reasons, Samsung decided to limit the warranty of the 11-inch mode to only one year.