Today, Samsung launched the highly anticipated follow-up to last year’s very impressive Series 9 premium ultra thin-and-light notebooks (they have Ultrabook specifications, but because of the premium branding and pricing that Samsung is going for, they won’t be called Ultrabooks). The new entrants are still referred to as Series 9, so to save you from any confusion, we’ll refer to today’s star of the show as the 2012 Series 9. The 13.3-inch model comes in black aluminum build by default. Samsung also unveiled a 15-inch model (housed in a 14-inch body) that comes in either a magnesium (silver) or aluminum (black) chassis.
The 2012 Series 9 Ivy Bridge notebooks look as sleek as ever, and if anything, even thinner at 12.9mm (13.3-inch) and 14.9mm (15-inch). This compares favorably to the 2011 Series 9 notebook (16mm). And of course, you can’t have thinner machines without shaving off some excess weight. The 13-inch Series 9 weights a feather light 1.15kg (aluminum), while the 15-inch model weighs 1.58kg (magnesium) or 1.68kg (aluminum).
Apart from making the Series 9 sleeker than ever before and a change of materials used, not much has else has changed aesthetically from its 2011 edition. However the new machines have fairly significant upgrades to the components within. Screen resolution is now 1600 x 900 pixels (13.3-inch and 15-inch), up from last year’s paltry 1366 x 768 pixels. We hope that this will represent a Samsung shift towards sharper displays which will undoubtedly please consumers who have to hand over some pretty serious cash for one of these sexy Ivy Bridge processing platform based beasts.
Users will also be pleased to know that Samsung listened to their consumers, and resisted adding a glossy screen on these new notebooks and stuck with a more eye friendly matte screen. That’s probably also because the screen is a blinding 400 nits, the same as last year’s Series 9.
While the screen is important, so is the graphics engine crunching the pixels behind the screen. To keep these notebooks thin and sleek, Samsung has opted not to weigh the machines down with discrete graphics options. Instead, all three machines rely on Intel’s HD Graphics 4000 that's integrated within the Ivy Bridge processor. Renewed and better than the previous generations, it's decent for most intents and purposes, including video playback and even encoding - well, other than proper gaming and heavy media manipulation needs.
Connectivity-wise, the new 2012 Series 9 notebooks also don’t disappoint. This time, there are USB 3.0 ports, one for the 13-inch model (and a USB 2.0 port) and two for the 15-inch models (plus one USB 2.0 port). There is also the very necessary micro-HDMI port, but if you really need to connect to older display devices, you could also obtain an optional micro-HDMI to VGA converter from Samsung (or get one from the open market).
Besides differentiation by screen size and external color for the 2012 Series 9 notebooks, there is also the difference in storage capacity. The 13-inch and 15-inch magnesium models, sport a 128GB SSD, while the most premium of the bunch, the 15-inch black aluminum model sports a 256GB SSD. Having an SSD on board means that performance (boot time, data retrieval time, transfer rate, etc.) will be boosted by a substantial amount over normal hard drive based machines. This aspect hasn't changed since the last generation, but you can expect much better SSD controllers and flash memory to be used to deliver better performance than the previous generation (hopefully).
When we reviewed the 2011 Series 9 notebook, we were very impressed with the overall build quality of the notebook. And from the looks of things, this year’s variants promise to be even better. The keyboard housing is now a single piece of material, fused together with the palm rests, so flex definitely wouldn’t be a problem.
And like last year’s Series 9, the 2012 Series 9 also has beautifully crafted chiclet keys that are backlit. Also, to complement the very nice keyboard, you'll also get a very large clickable trackpad. While last year’s model had a glass trackpad, we can’t quite ascertain what material the 2012 model’s trackpad is made of. But whatever it is (we'll find out more while reviewing it), it does give that premium feel.
The new Series 9 notebooks will be available from the 3rd of June, and we’re certain it will be the highlight of Samsung’s notebook booth at the forthcoming PC Show (which commences on 7th June). So be sure to go down and take a gander at these machines, which will come straight from Samsung’s factories. Prices will start from S$1788 for the 15-inch magnesium (silver) model, while the 13.3-inch will go for S$2188, and the 15-inch black aluminum model will be retailing at S$2488.
|Specifications / Model||Series 9 13-inch||Series 9 15-inch (Silver)||Series 9 15-inch (Black)|
|Processor||3rd-Generation Ivy Bridge Intel Core Processors
(detailed information will be made known later)
|Material||Aluminum Alloy||Magnesium Alloy||Aluminum Alloy|
|Memory||4GB DDR3||4GB DDR3||8GB DDR3|
|Storage||128GB SSD||256GB SSD|
|Video||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Battery||4 Cell (44Wh)||8 Cell (62Wh)|
|Dimensions||313.8 x 218.5 x 12.9mm||356.9 x 237 x 14.9mm|
|Price||From S$2,128||From S$1,788||From S$2,488|
Also unveiled today, albeit with less limelight, is the Samsung Series 5 500P multimedia notebook. In terms of design, the Ivy Bridge processor toting Series 5 500P is very similar to the Series 5 Ultra which we reviewed a while back.
However, that’s not the only thing that is similar. The quality of the external components offered on this model is also very similar. The screen comes at a standard 1366 x 768 pixels resolution, but only maxes out at 300 nits brightness, compared to the 400 nits that the Series 9 notebooks are capable of.
Build quality is also very similar to the Series 5 Ultra notebooks - which isn’t bad - but the 500P will be slightly thicker and heavier than its Ultrabook brethren. That’s probably to make space for some discrete graphics action that comes in the form of an NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M - which admittedly isn’t what you’d expect in a capable multimedia machine.
However the 500P will retail for a very enticing S$1288, which explains for some of the component choices which we have pointed out. Like the Series 9 notebooks, the Series 5 500P will retail around the same period. We reckon that the Series 5 500P would go up against the Acer Timeline Ultra M3 notebook we reviewed a couple of months back. Meanwhile, stay tuned for a detailed analysis after the machine is officially launched.