Samsung's Effort to Build the Ultimate Ultrabook Falls a Tad Short

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-10-21 Print this article Print

Fortunately the touchpad has redeeming values. If you want to left-click something, you simply click the touchpad. There’s an obvious click for physical feedback. If you want to drag something, you click and then move whatever you’re dragging.

You can do the same action for scrolling. The touchpad features multi-touch gestures that work in some applications. For example, if you open a large image in the Windows photo viewer, you can use the pinch or spread motion with your fingers to zoom in or out of the image.

When I investigated some other claims, I got results that weren’t necessarily in accord with Samsung’s statements. For example, when I weighed the device, the 2.55 pounds was accurate only if you don’t include with power cable and power supply. The total weighs slightly over 3 pounds, which is what’s going to be in your briefcase when you travel.

Samsung claims that it has speedy WiFi which it does, but considering that its antenna only uses two spatial streams the most it could ever handle under ideal conditions is 300 megabits per second. I compared the Series 9 against a Lenovo T-410 equipped with antennas and radios that support three spatial streams, and the Lenovo was indeed faster, although not by a huge amount. It’s worth noting that these speeds are only useful on internal networks since you’re unlikely to find an internet connection fast enough for this to matter.

Samsung’s screen brightness claims are not bogus, but the Series 9 isn’t noticeably brighter than other laptops. The default setting is actually pretty dim, but when I went into the settings and cranked up the brightness all the way, it was as bright, but did not appear to be any brighter than the previously mentioned Lenovo, which also has an LED backlight.

My overall impression of the Series 9 is that it’s a nice, very portable Windows 7 machine. It’s not as easy to use as it might be because of the flat keyboard and the issues with right-clicking, but even at its full 3 pound weight it won’t be a chore to carry. The solid state drive boots and operates very quickly, and the high-resolution (1600 x 900) screen, while not full HD, will display high-definition content that looks fine.

This isn’t a cheap computer at $1,399. For that you could buy a slightly thicker laptop that would probably have a better keyboard and more features, but it would weigh more. Or you could buy a couple of iPads or a couple of Microsoft Surface tablets complete with that touch-sensitive keypad cover and Windows 8. Whether it’s worth the cost considering the compromises depends a lot on how the extra half pound or so of weight matters to you and how snazzy you want it to be. But be aware that there’s a price for all of that design and it’s measured in more than dollars.


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