Review: Samsung Series 9 cuts few corners

Well-engineered laptop is long on performance and battery life, short on business features

"Premium" not only describes the build and performance of the Samsung Series 9 (now officially known as the Samsung ATIV Book 9), it also refers to the price. But you get what you pay for, and in an Ultrabook market flooded with bottom-feeding competition, it's nice to see a unit that delivers a quality experience, even if it lacks a few business-grade features.

The range of Series 9 models starts at $999, and our review unit (the NP900X3E-A03US) lists for $1,899. That said, the quality of Ultrabook you get for the price is top-notch. This laptop is lightweight, thin, and well engineered, and it gets amazing battery life despite running a powerful Intel Core i7. Cold boots and suspend/resume are both sensationally fast, on the order of, at most, a few seconds.

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Ultrabooks are as slender as they are in part because their keyboards have such low profiles. The Series 9's keys have a short throw, but they generate a satisfying amount of tactile feedback. The backlighting on the keys also automatically adjusts (as does the display brightness) to ambient lighting. Special function keys give you access to Samsung-specific functions like a system configuration utility and a power-profile switcher. There are no Windows 8-specific keys, though, such as the Charms bar button you'll find on other Ultrabooks.

The Series 9 also manages to pack two full-sized USB connectors (one USB 3.0) into the unit, although the Ethernet port needs either a dock or a dongle. Tucked away in one side of the unit is a full-size SD card slot -- not a microSD -- and it's protected by a spring-hinged door, not a flimsy pop-port cover.

InfoWorld Scorecard
Value (10.0%)
Usability (30.0%)
Build quality (20.0%)
Performance (20.0%)
Security and management (20.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
Samsung ATIV Book 9 (formerly Series 9) 8.0 9.0 9.0 9.0 6.0 8.3
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