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on June 13, 2012
****UPDATE 8/20/2013****
My job role has changed a bit in the past year and I'm traveling and doing presentations to potential clients. The thinness of the Series 9 is awesome for traveling, as is the battery life, but I decided to ditch the dreary no-frills Samsung and for an Acer Aspire R7. I'll put up a review of that whenever (if) it becomes available from Amazon.

****ORIGINAL REVIEW****

I'm replacing my 2009 model Dell Studio XPS 1640 that died on me with a bad motherboard hard drive connector :/

I'm a consultant for several clients in San Diego and I use my laptop for EVERYTHING, so not having one meant work stoppage for several days and I needed a new one QUICK. I went to best buy, frys electronics and for whatever reason, costco. I needed to try out every model I could to make a quick, but informed decision.

I went with the Samsung Series 9, mostly because the Series 7 they had at Best Buy caught my eye and nothing else I got my hands on really compared.

The Good:
Battery Life - The battery isn't nearly broken in yet, I have been downloading and installing software like crazy, and I'm getting about 7 hours with brightness set to the middle setting. (See below). I'm used to about 1 hour and 45 minutes with the XPS, so 7 hours is astonishing, and when the battery is broken in I'm sure it will be a few hours longer.

Matte screen & brightness - I can actually use this thing outside! It was absolutely impossible using my XPS outside because of the gloss screen and good-for-indoors brightness. OK so I'm not joking when I say this thing is bright. On full brightness it's actually somewhat painful to look at it if you're in a dark room. It's great if you're outside at high noon on a sunny day, but I don't see myself ever going above 2/3rd brightness indoors.

Weight - 3.6 pounds, sounds a little hefty until you look at it with the screen closed and how much real estate it occupies on your desk. It truly is astonishingly light.

Thickness - .58" thick. That's with the screen closed. I found that it is only slightly thicker than a BIC lighter laying on it's side. When you open the screen you'll be amazed at how unbelievably thin it is. It actually makes me a little uncomfortable when I open it, thinking that my meat hooks will break it. But not to worry, it's quite strong.

Build quality - It's solid. When I un-boxed it I was worried because of how thin it is and my tendency to be rough on things. But the all metal body is very, very strong.

Boot time - With the SSD you can expect about 14-16 seconds.

Wake from sleep - With Intel Rapid Start Technology you can expect wake time to be around 2 seconds. Yeah...2 seconds. IRST uses a partition on the SSD that is the same size as your memory, (8,192MB for this ultrabook) and caches the memory to the partition when it goes to sleep. So it's ridiculously fast.

Heat - I got the chassis of the ultrabook just barely warm, and that's sitting on a pillow on my lap, downloading, installing software and charging the battery. There's a silent setting on the keyboard (FN + F11) that throttles the processors so it doesn't generate enough heat to use the fans. I couldn't get the fans to turn onto a setting high enough to hear it when I was doing regular work so I'd be hard pressed to get this thing hot enough for the fans to be audible. Bottom line, it's nice typing on a keyboard that isn't +90*F, or having sweaty legs when you're using it on your lap.

The OK:

The I5 1.7 Ghz processor & video chip is ample for my needs: I use SQL Server Management Studio, Visual Studio 2010, remote desktop and of course browsing the web. It's not great for 3d applications, I use Google Sketchup Pro fairly often to design simple wireframe furniture when I'm away from my office and finish off the design on my desktop at home. But it's acceptable, but not as good as my old XPS when it was healthy.

The keyboard. I love, love, love the keyboard on my old XPS. Keys were soft, but firm when you mashed them, always quiet, and thoughtfully placed. The keyboard on this Samsung is just ok. Somewhat noisy, but not that bad, the travel is short and when you reach the limit of it's travel it abruptly stops. Granted, the keyboard needed to be thin because you have to squeeze electronics and a battery below it, so it's not a negative, just something to be aware of if you're a keyboard snob like me.

The connector on the power cord. It's tiny and metal, a little bit smaller than a standard headphone jack, but it's hollow. I have actual fear that someone will tug on the cord (trip over it, or bump into it) and break the connector. Is it possible that there is fault protection built in so that the laptop won't short out? I hope so, but I'll just keep it charged and hope that the battery lasts most of the day so I don't have to worry about it.

The bad:
I really only have two complaints, and they're equally bad.

First off, the track pad is AWFUL. It's quite large for whatever reason. It means that your palm will touch it whenever you're typing and if you're not paying attention you'll be typing somewhere you didn't intend. So it's not only horrible when you're typing, it's awful to use! As far as I can tell from using it so far, there is no pressure sensitivity setting for clicking. If you want to move the cursor around, all of a sudden you'll notice that you're dragging a selection box, or moving icons around for no reason. I probably need more time to get used to it. I have gotten better but it's still an issue. Maybe they'll come up with driver updates...
UPDATE: Been using this for a few weeks now, still not used to it. I'm better at using it, but not great, I use a USB mouse whenever possible.
UPDATE 7/28/2012: There is a driver update out for the track pad! It allows you to turn off some features that cause all the problems (tap to drag, double tap to execute). That means they allow you to take away functionality to fix a problem that shouldn't have existed in the first place. It's now easier to type without causing you to accidentally click the mouse, but you lose some of the features every other laptop on the planet has. I neither added nor removed a star for this.

And next is the screen. Yes, it's bright, yes it's matte. But the contrast ratio is ABYSMAL (I can't find the site that actually told me the value but 175:1 comes to mind). Hard number's aside, you don't need them to realize that EVERYTHING is washed out. Some website backgrounds and text (such as Samsung's drivers page) is so faint that you can barely see them on this screen. It almost looks like a watermark... It is this reason, and this reason alone that I might consider returning this ultrabook. I'm going to give it a few days of use at work and see if I even notice, after all this is a work laptop and I'm only using it to write code.

UPDATE: I just played around with the display settings and got it to look not so horrible: Right click on desktop and go to Screen Resolution > Advanced Settings > Intel Graphics and Media Control Panel > Graphics Properties... Change it to Advanced Mode. General Settings > Color Enhancement Change the Color drop down menu to All Colors, adjust the Contrast and Gamma settings until a photo looks as normal as possible. My settings are:
Brightness: 31
Contrast: 40
Gamma: .7
Hue: 0
Saturation: 5
I'm sure I'll be playing with this as I go on, but for now it doesn't look absolutely awful, just mostly bad.

Dan brought up the keyboard backlight, if you need to look at the keys to type be aware that the backlight is a green color and is ridiculously dim. There are 4 adjustment settings, the first 3 are just about worthless, the 4th (brightest) looks like it should be the 1st or 2nd dimmest setting. It doesn't bother me much since I know the keyboards backwards and forward.

Other thoughts:
I upgraded to Windows 7 Ultimate almost immediately after it's first boot. The drivers on the samsung website all installed without a hitch if you install them in the proper order: Chipset first, everything else on the Samsung drivers page, but save IRST and HECI for last. Getting IRST to actually work after doing a fresh windows install is actually a pain, and I haven't been successful getting it to work yet. Copy and paste this into a Google search for a guide on notebookreview: "660222-samsung-series-9-np900x3b-np900x4b-guide-intel-rapid-start-technology"
Apparently amazon doesn't allow you to link to external websites so you'll have to search for it.
UPDATE: I got IRST working finally. I enabled UFEI in the BIOS, restarted, opened Easy Software Manager and it actually started working. Installed Rapid Start software automatically, restarted and voila! The 8.3 GB partition created automatically and no more error saying IRST not enabled. So it Is now safe to upgrade to any version of Windows 7 and retain use of all the Samsung software. As such I am upgrading my rating from 2 to 4 stars. (It really should only be 3.5...)
It comes with a 128SSD, but has partitions that you can't see (21.7 GB for recovery, 8.3 GB for IRST) so you're looking at usable disk space of 89.2 GB. I have just about all the software I use installed and it's only occupying ~40 GB. If you want to get that space back you'll have to delete the recovery partition, but you might have trouble returning the laptop if you choose to do so.

Windows Experience Index Ratings:
Processor: 6.9
RAM: 7.6
Graphics: 6.4
Gaming graphics: 6.4
Primary Hard Disk: 7.5

Bottom line: It's no desktop replacement, but it's adequate for my needs. Being unplugged for 7+ hours is ridiculously awesome. I can't wait for taking a day off to sit at a park, cafe or beach and working on both business, and my tan, that sounds sexy enough to keep this thing around. I'll be updating this review as I use it.
review imagereview image
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on January 9, 2013
FOR EVERYONE:
Only 57 GIGS FREE! Yikes.. That's Windows and the Windows recovery partition.

LINUX / UBUNTU PEOPLE:

I decided to write in detail because I'm sure many Ubuntu users out there are trying to think of a good Ultrabook as their weapon of choice.

I chose this over:

HP Spectre Envy
- The don't get good performance reviews
- I don't want to break the glass!

Vizio Thin and Lights
- Astonishing spec!
- People don't love the keyboards
- On Windows even after a driver update, touchpad still is quircky so that seems like a Linux risk..
- Can't seem to find anyone out there who has installed Linux on it, and certainly no community

Zenbook
- I came close but the choice of resolutions for a 13.3 inch screen 1377x (too low) 1920x (too high) put me off
- Ubuntuforum shows some serious challenges and I just don't want to fight with it. If it had been perfect in all other ways I might have gone for it, but it isn't.
- Most expensive option

SO.. why any Series 9.

- 15" screen with 1600x resolutions.. Heaven. Right in the sweet spot.
- Theres a Ubuntu Community page for the series 9 which talks about various issues but none serious. For me in the end the ONLY thing I had to do was paste the 4 lines in to two text files to get 4 extra function keys to work.. that's IT!
- It's a really sexy piece of kit. I've had a 15" macbook pro up to this point and it looks like a monster beside this baby ;-)

So.. why THIS Series 9

Revisions: There have been 3 generations of series 9. the 900X4B, X4C and now X4D. Samsung seem to make things WORSE over time as they try and drop the price.

X4B: Awesome SSD
X4C: Better processor 8Gigs Ram, SSD is kinda junky
X4D: Slightly Better processor on the best models 4Gigs Ram!!!, Same crappy SSD

So, for me the X4C is the winner. Give it a year and I'll put in a screaming fast 256gig SSD, and for this model it is confirmed that you can upgrade to 16gig.. (google it).

UBUNTU INSTALL SUGGESTION:
- boot into windows
- attach an external drive.. NTFS ONLY
- go to control panel > backups and make an image. If you have to return it you probably want it back to normal
- UPDATE FIRMWARE!!! You can only do this under windows, and the latest firmware fixes an issue with suspend on close. Find the exe at Samsung.com and take care of this.
- Install Ubuntu 12.10 64bit in "replace windows" fashion and you have 110 gigs free
- Google "Samsung Series 9 Community" and follow the steps to fix anything that doesn't work (which like I said, for me was a few function key mappings).

That's about it. Phenomenally happy with this purchase and amazed that everything "just worked". I'm used to fighting with some junky Broadcomm wireless card or something like that, but this just works.

Have fun..

K
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on January 30, 2013
I did read all reviews on Amazon before making the purchase. I know the screen and trackpad is awful, and I thought I could live with it until now i have it on my hand and found out that this is THAT BAD

I am by no means a photographer; I am a student. I've used many brands laptops, Apple, HP, Toshiba, and Lenovo. Apple is the most user-friendly laptop, other three are average Windows laptops, while Samsung's laptops is NOT MADE FOR HUMAN

After changing contrast and settings, it gets better, but still unacceptable. It looks purple, and everything looks wash out. Black does not looks black, white does not looks white. Not to mention the insane trackpad, moves as you are typing so you will end up with somewhere random. It also make great noise when tying, which is annoying. Both issues are stated in previous reviews, and I regret that I did not listen to them. I am going to send this thing back and wait for new generation to come

The only thing positive is the battery life. But the screen and trackpad make this laptop totally unacceptable

I also want to comment on Amazon Warehouse as I purchased a Like New unit from them. It supposed to be functional, but the backlit keyboard and several function keys are apparently not working. If they really ever check rather than just list it, they should not ship this defective unit to me and list it as Like New to confuse other costumers.

Samsung needs to focus on user's experience, rather than putting specs all together making an device. I own many Samsung electrons, including Galaxy note, nexus, while they are well made, I still cannot compare the experience I had with them to that with Apple's products.
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on April 22, 2013
Touchpad is too big and too sensitive, it gets in the way while typing.
Stress cracks appeared at hinges after 3 weeks of use. Samsung acknowledged problem and coverage under warranty. Sent to 3rd party for repairs, repair company then voided warranty due to "Damage". They then offered to repair $7 cover for a $50 "Evaluation Fee" and then whatever costs for the actual repair.
Laptop sent back from repair facility with hinge cover split open with screwdriver from Technician.

Keep away from this product until Samsung designs better mechanical limits on this laptop hinge.
We have had a very poor experience with Samsung on this. As a Global company, it would be nice if they would stand by their products.

I have had IBM (Lenovo)and Dell laptops in the past. They had no issues making repairs, IBM even sends a prepaid Box for shipping.
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on March 8, 2013
I've had this laptop for about 5 months now and have finally decided that it's time to return it. I used my previous laptop for about 5 years and after 5 months with this one, I absolutely cannot picture myself using it for another 4.5+ years. I purchased this Ultrabook as a business travel/internet machine. I didn't need a super-high performance laptop since I build my own desktops so that's where I'm coming from with this review.

The pros:
- Beautifully bright screen and amazing aesthetic design. This thing is pretty, that's for sure. Probably why I put up with it for so long.
- Speakers are surprisingly good for a laptop. I was surprised when I heard them the first time.
- Keyboard is very nice. Well-spaced and backlit.
- Quick SSD that I haven't had a single problem with (besides Samsung's "fun" partitions).
- Charger is light and tiny. Definitely a travel plus.
- Battery life is amazing. I can go an entire night without charging the computer. 6+ hours easily.

The cons:
- Immediately out of the box, I had to reinstall Windows. The computer had a bunch of bloatware on it and there were a few driver incompatibilities that meant that the computer was not performing up to what it should based off of specs. Reinstalling windows... no problem, right? Well it comes with a recovery disk... but of course there's no optical drive. I didn't have a USB optical drive so I installed off of a thumb drive. It worked just fine, but it's kind of a silly oversight to send a recovery DVD with a system that has no DVD drive. It would not be easy to do this if you have little tech knowledge.
- The "hardware" buttons on the keyboard (LCD backlight, sound up/down, wifi on/off, keyboard backlight...) are all run through Samsung's proprietary software EasySettings. You can guess where this is going. These buttons do not work if that software isn't running. It makes no sense that physical buttons on the keyboard have to go through software in order to function. On top of that, even if Samsung HAD to do it that way, it's frustrating that the software noticeably slows the system down.
- The SSD is partitioned in an amazingly stupid way. It would make sense if you had a 500GB+ drive, but this is a 128GB SSD. There's the standard loss of space with the OS and such, but Samsung partitioned a recovery hard drive with 20GB+ and with all of the bloatware, I booted up for the first time with about 60GB usable. That's pretty unacceptable for a 128GB SSD. I cleared Samsung's partition and after the Windows reinstall, I had 100GB+ which is enough for me. Again, someone with little tech knowledge or someone who just "wants it to work" might be in over their head with this.
- Noisy fan when it's plugged in. Not a killer con, but still kind of annoying.
- Screen is starting to get keyboard imprints on it (from the lid being closed). The laptop is only ever closed on a desk (that is, no pressure on the lid to push into the keys). Nothing bad, but you can definitely see it when the backlight is off.
- Screen has contrast problems. It's bright, but a lot of times it's tough to make out words when it's not black on white text. At wide viewing angles, you lose all contrast. The screen even flickers if you look at it at the wrong angle (from extreme below, on battery power. This reflects onto the keyboard and you can definitely notice it in your peripheral while typing).
- When the laptop is on battery power, there's some definite drop in capability. Typing will lag every now and then on browser-intensive sites (like Facebook, specifically). I'll be typing away and then realize that half of my sentence hasn't shown up yet. Definitely not acceptable from a laptop of this price.
- Here's the kicker for me and why I'm returning it: the trackpad. When it works, it's not bad at all. But starting about a month after I bought it, it started having hiccups. I would be swiping around while browsing the web and it wouldn't register some of the swipe. Odd, but it was only every now and then. Nothing to complain about too much. But then it got worse. Over the next few months, the trackpad would stop registering any touch at all for a few minutes at a time. Very frustrating. But at the very least, it would come back semi quickly. Then, over the last month, the trackpad will die out for more than half an hour at a time every hour. It's gotten so bad that I have resorted to using a USB mouse because I can't use my laptop otherwise, which completely kills the travel aspect because I have to lug around a mouse too.

Bottom line: It's a great travel laptop. It's lightweight and sleek, too. For me, though, I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to computers since I'm on one about 12 hours a day between work and personal, and this laptop just didn't cut it. For the price I paid, I'm not willing to accept all of the nuances and frustrations. Samsung customer support is VERY poor. Amazon customer support is VERY amazing. The former treated me like I was an idiot but were offering repairs since it was under warranty but no other compensation. Amazon treated me with respect and offered a full refund. Guess which one won out. I'm returning this laptop as soon as I can and hoping to try my luck with another brand. Like I said above, I can't see myself living with this laptop for another 5 years, especially with the trackpad problems.
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on February 13, 2013
This is hands down the best laptop I've ever purchased.

It is incredibly fast, very mobile and very nice design and quality.

Quality:
Exceptional ! I've had gaming laptops with top components from respectable companies and with every single one I've had issues with the smaller things (mic, camera, speakers, etc). This is where they've saved some cash. Thankfully this is not the issue here and Samsung has paid careful details to every component, not just the CPU and RAM. There's really no fault I can find with this laptop and I've tried, really tried to find.

Fast:
Boots windows in 13s. Starts every application within the second. Can play any game !!! I'm serious, it does play every game. Most of them on very low or low, but still it does play them and it is very convenient. I'm a gamer and I'm usually very picky on this subject. To give you an idea, I have Alienware M17x R2 with maxed out specs, CF and so on and now I play the games on the Samsung. This is really weird, but taken the fact that it is 10 times quieter, lighter, this really won me over when gaming.

Overall, I really and I mean REAAALLY encourage everyone that is ready to spend ~1000$ for a laptop and wants something ~15 inches to buy this laptop. You won't find ANYTHING better. I've looked hard
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on September 30, 2013
I wanted to do a little bit of test-driving with this product before putting up my review. I had read reviews rating this notebook on both ends of the spectrum. Some noted issues with the track-pad while others seemed to use it just fine. Some complained about the size of the SSD. Some complained about the quality of the picture/text and the viewing angle. These are the 3 main discrepancies that I saw. Here are my comments to those issues:

Track-Pad: I personally have had minimal discomfort using the mousepad on this laptop. Other buyers complained about the sensitivity or it not working correctly. I bought this notebook primarily as my work computer, so to be honest I rarely use the track pad anyways. I use a USB mouse since any trackpad would hinder my ability to work on it, so honestly if you need to move the pointer with efficiency and accuracy, you should probably be using an actual mouse anyways. But as for when I am just sitting on the couch or in bed, the touchpad works perfectly fine for me. It does have some interesting features such as the pinch and contract/expand to make the text or interface of certain websites/applications bigger or smaller. A pretty interesting feature, but honestly not necessary. I am sure this can easily be disabled to avoid any frustrations. So while not PERFECT, the track-pad is FAR from a disaster.

SSD Capacity: The 120gb SSD yes does end up being about 92gb with OS and recovery partition. But honestly, what respecting computer consumer actually expects to get the full capacity of the hard drive advertised? After installing some programs and games, I still have over half of the remaining 92gb left. As long as you do not use the laptop for music/video storage you will be fine. (Get an external for all the other crap.)

Monitor Complaints: Again, this is a nit-picky thing that I have found to be a non-issue. Now I am the type of tech guy that gets headaches when I watch TV in standard definition, but the picture quality of the Samsung ultrabook is nothing short of satisfactory for a 1600x900 resolution picture. Text in webpages look fine, and I have had almost no issues with the viewing angle. While the monitor will not blow you away with ulta-real looking images, I have not once regretted getting this sub-1080p computer.

So in conclusion, this notebook was an amazing buy for me. The i5 processor speed combined with the quickness of the SSD makes doing my work a breeze since I am NEVER waiting on this thing. If you want a laptop just for general web-browsing and typing college papers, this thing is actually over-qualified. But the on-board graphics make this thing a no-go for gamers. It is a well-balanced piece of equipment that capitalizes on efficiency and heck, it damn sexy to look at. I constantly get compliments on it's appearance alone, not to mention its operations speed/power.

10/10 for my purposes. You will not be disappointed.
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on January 19, 2013
While I very much like the computer, the touch pad is a deal breaker. It is so sensitive that sometimes merely passing my hand over the pad opens a window. I know it sounds impossible, but it is true. I have downloaded the most recent driver and set the sensitivity setting to the lowest values. If you are willing to rely on an external usb mouse the computer will meet your needs. It is light, attractive, great battery life, and I find the screen to be fine.

I have upgraded to Windows 8 in the hope that might mitigate the problems with the touch pad, but no luck. As I bought the Series 9 to take with me when traveling, the use of an external mouse is not an option. Therefore, 2 stars is the best I can do on balance.
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on April 27, 2013
I was a little concerned about running with such a small hard drive. But after almost six months of using it I can say it hasn't been an issue. The bloatware is minimal. The included Samsung software is somewhat useful but there is some elements of it that seem unnecessary.
The build is solid. The screen is nice and I have grown to appreciate the matte finish. The charge connector is the only weak point. I don't know why you would make such a well built laptop and throw on such a cumbersome and seemingly fragile charger. The location isn't great either.
The price seemed a bit excessive, but I would probably buy another Samsung laptop regardless.
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on December 1, 2014
I bought this computer when I was in college; it was a huge commitment buying something so nice.

I have had this for over two years and still love it. It's light yet durable, very thin, very sleek, and still fast. It has held up to me abusing it with programming assignments in college, Netflix binges, and cross-country excursions. The backlit keyboard is convenient, the webcam is high quality, and I still get compliments on how it looks.
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