Saturday, June 18, 2011

Samsung Series 9 First Impression and Usability

The sample unit comes with Intel i5 2537m, 4GB Ram, 100GB SSD Hard disk and Intel HD Graphics.
Weighing at only a little over 1kg, a bottle of water would weigh about the same.

Well first thing I noticed was how damn thin the laptop was. It can easily beat netbooks in the lack of thickness. It ain't easy to comprehend how thin this 13'inch laptop is until you actually see it. The design is sleek and sexy but the one thing I noticed which was missing from normal laptops was the connectivity ports usually found at the sides of normal laptops. Ports on the Series 9 are cleverly hidden on both sides. Just pull down at the side and the ports would show. Since the laptop is also made of that duralumin airplane thing, you can feel very little flex, very sturdy. The Duralumin is a little sharp at the sides so you might feel it poking you sometimes and it may be scratch proof but not finger print proof.

The portability theme is also carried over to the connectivity ports. Besides the 2 normal sized USB 3.0 ports (one USB can charge your mp3 even when turned off), everything else is downsized and dependent on wireless connectivity. On the left, 1 mini HDMI, 1 USB and 1 mini/ micro network port. Even I haven't seen a mini network port before but here it is.
On the right , 1 USB, 1 audio out/ input (there is only 1 jack. So I guess the mic and headphone needs to be integrated together) and 1 micro SD reader. If this laptop is placed on a table, bigger USB devices would have difficulty connecting to the laptop, such as my mouse dongle.
The laptop does lack a CD/DVD player. So this might be a little troublesome.

On the inside, I love the big touchpad, which is smooth and sensitive. The left and right button is incoperated into the touchpad so you wont actually see it. It is also a smart touchpad as you can use 1 finger for normal, 2 for zooming and scrolling, 3 for Forward and Backwards and 4 for Show Desktop and the Alt + Tab feature. Some of the functions may sound pretty familiar.

The keyboard is a chicklet keyboard and I would say its very comfortable and nice to type on. All the function buttons are at the top from F1 to F12. A simple little button to toggle whether you want the Fn button ON or OFF. The keyboard is also backlit. Something I personally love with laptops.
The keyboard lacks media buttons tho. The only media buttons you will find would be the Volume buttons. So constantly pressing the media buttons with the mouse is a must or adding functions using software.

The 13.3inch Matte LCD LED monitor works like a charm. Giving pretty sharp color tones and it gets really bright when you need its to (400nits = 400 candles). The Matte surface also eliminates any reflections and glare which is great.  Something I didn't like was the light sensor for the monitor. I know that its suppose to brighten when its bright and darken when I'm in the dark but the sensor also responds to shadows which are caused by hand movements. So the screen's brightness will flicker around if you move your hand around too much.

Personally I feel that the Fast Start Up by Samsung, which is actually a sleeping mode, not as fast as I would like but since the laptop comes equipped with the new SSD hard disk which is super duper trooper cooper fast compared to regular Hard Disk, it still feels fast. Booting up the laptop is around 25 to 35 seconds and shutting down takes 12 seconds, depending on the amount of active applications.

Since it is also equipped with the new 2nd gen. i5 processor, applications and files pop up really fast. The power from this laptop is pretty much unexpected. It packs a pretty powerful punch for such a slim machine. I can still edit pictures with Lightroom 3 without experiencing much lag. So presentations are a definite yes to this. Installing programs and copy pasting files have also been sped up with the new SSD hard disk.

Gaming on this laptop is just okay. As the laptop is designed more for the business world, there wasn't much attention for gaming power. I would suggest playing older games such as DOTA and CS on it. The CS 1.6 I had didn't run. No idea why. I could play L4D on it but the details are on the lower side and the laptop gets REALLY hot. I tried running COD4 Modern Warfare on it at recommended (medium), pretty laggy. Does better with everything in low.

The speakers for the laptop are loud and clear. Something very special about the speakers are that instead of facing the user, both the speakers are placed at the sides of the laptop causing a Surround Sound effect. Pretty cool, I would admit. Only thing I didn't really like was the sound that is a little flat. Songs can be heard with only the slightest amount of bass. With headphones, the sounds quality improves significantly.

The battery life on this laptop would be considered not bad. In real world environments, with the wifi, bluetooth ON (screen and backlit using the sensor) for basic use and browsing, I could use it for about 4 hours plus depending on how heavy the use. With everything turned OFF and at lowest (except the light sensor, not sure how to off it), battery should pass 5 hours without much of a hassle. The battery is hidden under the cover so its not easily removed, it also means there wont be an extended battery for it. The battery charger does not have a brick, so no worries about the charger weight.

On normal use, the laptop would run at a warm temperature, about 45'C to 60'C The underside would be warm and the keyboard would feel a little warm. Pretty okay to place it on your lap. On heavy use, it gets hot so would highly recommend elevating it off the table for more airflow and a cooler if possible.

The Series 9 on general is a good laptop. You get power and portability at the same time. Even so, we all know that there isn't a perfect laptop and it applies here. In certain areas where this laptop is good at, others it may lack in. Still for office people and university students who prefer a lightweight laptop, this should be in your scope. Promise it would do much more than a Netbook. Still I would say, some might find the price on the higher side compared to many other laptops.

*The review I wrote on it, after the launching. LINK

Sorry for not having pictures. After a while, got pretty lazy to snap and edit.