Samsung Series 9 NP900X3C Review

by Charles P. Jefferies Reads (81,898)
Editor's Rating
6.00

TG Ratings Breakdown

    • Software & Support
    • 6
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 2
    • Usability
    • 7
    • Design
    • 8
    • Performance
    • 7
    • Features
    • 6
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 6
    • Total Score:
    • 6.00
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Overview

  • Pros

    • Fantastic high-res display
    • Excellent performance
    • Good backlit keyboard
    • 7.5 hours of battery life
  • Cons

    • Limited amount of ports
    • Loud touchpad clicks
    • Pricey

Quick Take

The Samsung Series 9 is one of the most well-rounded Ultrabooks we've seen with excellent performance, decent speakers and a great display.


This 13.3-inch Ultrabook is all business with its gorgeous anti-glare PLS display, 256GB SSD, Intel Core i7 processor and backlit keyboard. Read on to see why we like the Series 9 so much.

Overview

The Samsung Series 9 Ultrabooks have been widely considered one of the more desireable laptops in its class thanks in no small part to its gorgeous anti-glare display with wide viewing angles, use of high-speed SSD storage, the latest Intel processors and an excellent backlit keyboard.

Build and Design

Samsung has traditionally made design one of its hallmark features; this NP900X3C is both elegant and business-like at the same time. I like the simplicity and cleanliness of the design – it just looks good without being excessive. The ferric gray exterior is all metal alloy and feels cool to the touch. The chassis is stiff as a board; it doesn’t flex at all despite its thinness. The lid barely flexes; pushing in on the back doesn’t yield ripples on the screen, meaning there is ample protection. Fit and finish is fantastic; there are no rough edges or areas that are of better quality than others.

Those looking to upgrade the NP900X3C will hit a brick wall, I’m afraid; there are no user access panels as on a normal notebook for upgrading components such as the RAM and storage drive. Fortunately Samsung offers a variety of pre-built configurations that users should be able to find one that fits their needs.

Input and Output Ports

The NP900X3C’s thinness means it has a limited number of ports and the larger ones like VGA, HDMI and Ethernet are via dongle only. It has a pair of USB ports and a microphone/headphone combination jack otherwise. The media card (SD) slot on the right side of the notebook is hidden behind a spring-loaded door to help keep the sides looking as “clean” as possible. I’m not a fan of using adapter dongles but clearly it’s not possible to fit the full-size versions of some ports in – at least if we’re talking about VGA and Ethernet.


Left: AC power jack, USB 3.0, HDMI (via dongle), Ethernet (via dongle)

Right: SD card slot, VGA (via dongle), headphone/microphone combination jack, USB 2.0

Keyboard and Touchpad

Our Ultrabook reviews show we haven’t been pleased with most keyboards. The NP900X3C’s keyboard is one of the better ones; the keys have short travel but sufficient tactile feedback. It’s quiet and there is no flex at all (there’s no room for flex). I like how the keys are large and easy to find by feel. Another thing I like is how the keyboard surround is all one piece with the palm rest; it’s certainly not cheap to produce a one-piece part.

The keyboard has backlighting but it’s low-key (pun intended); it has more of a glow-in-the-dark look which is a bonus in my book; most backlit keyboards tend to be overly bright in dark environments. The NP900X3C’s backlighting is not noticeable during the day.

The ELAN touchpad is extra large and has a smooth matte surface and smartly beveled edge. This is a clickpad; press anywhere to product a click. Accuracy was fine; my complaint is that the clicks are louder than necessary.

Screen and Speakers

The NP900X3C has what Samsung calls a “PLS” display, which is similar to an IPS-type display in that the viewing angles are nearly unlimited. Tilt this display back and forth and pictures look the same. This is a huge boon for those doing video or photo work.


The quality of this display is simply outstanding. It’s sharp and has excellent color saturation with no bluish hue like we’re used to on cheap displays. It is exceptionally bright as well – Samsung says 400 nits which means it is usable in direct sunlight. The 1600×900 resolution is 1/3 higher than the low 1366×768 most notebooks come with; this is a big deal for productivity since less scrolling is required in documents and two windows can be used side-by-side. Lastly the anti-glare coating is welcomed; there are no annoying reflections from nearby light sources. Overall I am more than impressed and have no complaints – and those that read my reviews often know I rarely say that.

There are two 1.5W stereo speakers situated under the palm rest; preferably speakers are placed topside so they face the user but sacrifices must be made to accommodate the NP900X3C’s design. The fact these speakers are aimed out the side means they won’t be muffled when hands are placed on the keyboard. The sound is surprisingly realistic and full with some bass (not earth-shaking, obviously). Samsung clearly did not make the speakers an afterthought like Fujitsu did with their Ultrabook. I’m impressed with what Samsung accomplished here.


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