Samsung Series 9 (13-inch, 2012)

There are some small concerns, but the new Samsung Series 9 is an absolute pleasure to use.

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CNET Editor

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.

The original Samsung Series 9 was a sleek MacBook Air competitor, but would set you back AU$2499 for the privilege.

Flash forward more than a year, and with SSD prices tumbling and ultrabooks becoming the norm, we have the new Samsung Series 9, starting at AU$1599 for a model with Windows 7 Home Premium, or AU$1699 for one with Windows 7 Professional.


  • USB 3.0: 1
  • USB 2.0: 1
  • Optical: none
  • Video: micro HDMI, micro VGA
  • Ethernet: none
  • Wireless: dual-channel 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0

While the first had an attractive brushed metal finish, the new Series 9 is a plain dark blue with metal trims. It comes equipped with a 128GB SanDisk U100 drive and sadly, there's no larger capacity SKU available. A Core i5 3317U beats at the heart, with 4GB RAM, dual band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and under the tapered lip on the right hand side, an SD card reader.

Confusingly, Samsung has only included one USB 3.0 port, supplying a second that is USB 2.0 only. There's also a headset jack, and that does it for full-sized ports — everything else is handled by micro versions.

Just like the USB 3.0 port, Samsung's been a little stingy on providing adapters for these ports — it only includes the Ethernet adapter, the user will have to source their own micro-HDMI connector or buy the VGA adapter separately (which seems to not exist, with Samsung's own accessories page only advertising its micro HDMI to VGA adapter).

The keyboard is backlit in aqua, but is perhaps too faint for our liking. Still, Samsung has gotten the tactile response of the keys just right, with typing a pleasure. The clickpad is equally nice to use, including the simultaneous double finger tap for right click gesture. Frustratingly, the mouse driver is slow to load, meaning gestures like two finger scrolling aren't available for around 30 seconds after Windows has loaded and become responsive.

So there's a few minor concerns — however, they all fade into the distance with the beautiful, matte 1600x900 PLS screen. An IPS alternative, PLS provides richer colours and better viewing angles than the typical TN-based laptop display. Samsung's managed a vibrancy of colour here that's really quite appealing, and we hope will eventually reach all of its offerings. Off-angle, darks tend to become a bit lighter than they should, but this is still leagues ahead of most other laptops.

Add this to the fact that it's 1.16kg and 12.9mm high at its thickest point, and the Samsung becomes something that's worth the extra outlay, compared to other ultrabooks. Although it lacks any form of bassy punch, even the sound manages to be passable, usually an area vendors skip out on. Its down-firing speakers sound best when there's a flat surface beneath the laptop.

Application performance

Choose a benchmark: Handbrake | iTunes | Photoshop | Multimedia

The Samsung throws us no surprises, performing where its hardware says it should.

Battery life

And so we discover the Achilles heel. It's not necessarily bad battery life, but you can certainly get better out there. Samsung's fighting against two things here — the thinness of the laptop and its high brightness, gorgeous screen.


There are some small concerns — only one USB 3.0 port is a little odd, the backlit keyboard could be brighter and the battery life could do with a bit more pep. But the new Samsung Series 9 is a pleasure to use, with its screen, in particular, making it simply lovely to work with. We'd have no hesitations in slinging one of these under our arms

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"Horrible trackpad"

Nitro2013 posted a review   

The Good:Design

The Bad:Trackpad

Nice design but the trackpad is horrible! If you compare the trackpad with the one from Apple then forget the Samsung and go for a Apple MacBook Air. This is my first and last Samsung Ultrabook.

ManG Facebook

"sexy but buggy"

ManG posted a review   

The Good:light, solid

The Bad:display color range unacceptable, lot of sistem crash

I got this laptop 13 inch 1600x900. lot of hardware problems and the display color temperature and range is unacceptable! big distorsion on yellow/magenta in all new products.

TimothyE Facebook

"Hard to assess the computers brilliance WHEN THE TRACKPAD IS SO FRUSTRATING"

TimothyE posted a review   

The Good:Super light, compact proportions, solid build, brilliant looking screen


I find it SO hard to believe that a company could seem to get so many things brilliantly right in one package, and then stumble so hard in one specific area - THE BLOODY TRACKPAD.

If your considering buying one and read what the reviewer says and think "Yeah, i don't think that would worry me" - THINK AGAIN. Fair call Craig may have got a good test unit, similar to the only other reviewer not to give it less than 3, but it goes well beyond "Touch-pad driver takes ages to load on first boot, meaning some functions aren't available for at least 30 seconds" that was noted above.

The trackpad is unresponsive and sticky then reverting to oversensitive and clicks everything, to the point that a truckload of windows start opening up of applications you think your finger went nowhere near (I will admit, in the frustration, the applications did open lightning fast, so thats a plus...i guess).

I have been looking over the internet looking for a solution, and there have been many threads about driver problems, which claim that an update will solve the problem but upon closer inspection my software is up to date.

If you ever think that you will use this notebook as a portable unit, i.e. everyone i would assume, don't expect to be able to use it without an external mouse, because the experience is unbearable. Be warned.

Lastly, i do feel a bit gutted after purchasing this notebook after it receiving an editors choice award, but it is zoo hard to believe that a product with such a CATASTROPHIC fault could still maintain this prize.


"fantastic if you need something portable and fast"

pamb86 posted a review   

The Good:slim, fast, well-built and has a clear & bright screen

The Bad:shortage of USB ports, battery life?

I'm a little surprised at the other user review scores, as I think this ultrabook easily scores an 8 or 9.
The body itself is sleek, light and well built; very attractive. The screen is also clear and bright, and I find the keyboard to be easy to type with.

Some of the things I like about this computer is that it is snappy; the computer wakes as soon as you lift the lid, and it only takes about 10 seconds to start up if you're booting it from a completely turned off state, the processor is quick and I can run a large amount of programs at once with no performance issues at all. Also the keyboard is backlit which I find very convenient at times.
Contrary to what others have said, I think the touchpad is very nice to use. It is large and very smooth, and I love the gestures like two-finger scrolling. It has yet to crash on me.

One of the poorer aspects of this model is the lack of a VGA port and the shortage of USB ports. Of course, it is an ultrabook so you should expect to have the number of ports cut down, however I frequently get irritated at only having two usb ports, as I have a lot of devices that I like to charge/use at once. I guess if you're travelling you won't be plugging in all of your devices at once, so it mightn't be a problem for other people as much as it is for me. Also the battery life is a little shorter than I expected. It will last 4 hours max.

Overall I think this machine is really nice and performs well. I use it more than my desktop now, and I'm sure if you're a frequent traveller or someone who requires the portability of an ultrabook, it will be perfect for you.

CharlieL Facebook

"Should not be on the market with such a dysfunctional touchpad"

CharlieL posted a review   

The Good:sleek, light, fast

The Bad:Touchpad Touchpad Touchpad

The touchpad is a frustrating shocker - I would not have brought it if I had known it was this bad. I will be getting rid of it as soon as I can justify it.

BrettG Facebook

"Great spec's terrible touch pad"

BrettG posted a review   

The Good:screen, keybourd

The Bad:touch pad is terrible

I was bought this ultrabook by my work. On spec it looks the goods but unfotunately the touch pad does not agree with me. It often freezes or is unesponsive to my fingers. Others do no experience this when I ask for assistance so it simply gets returned and I get told they are unable to recreate the problem.

After looking on some forums i have discoverd that I am not alone.

It is such a shame as not being able to use the touch pad is a deal breaker.

Any suggestion for a similarly spec ultrabook thatuses different touch pad technology.

My boss and I are off to by a replacement.


Saileone posted a comment   

The Ultrabook computers can do well, the hold back are the prices, including the Samsung s9. Great Machine for short time before it is superseded.


aslsw66 posted a comment   

I'm looking at getting an ultrabook soonm and this one is at the top of my list. The only turn off is the small SSD, particularly after the recovery and hibernation partitions are included - I'm trying to find out how easy it is to swap it for a larger one.


Craig Simms posted a reply   

assuming there's no hardware whitelisting going on (which I doubt), it's pretty easy.

Source mSATA replacement SSD (if you want to get the same brand, you're looking at a SanDIsk U100, but this one looks nice too:

Remove ten screws, lift off base.
Remove one bridge PCB over the SSD.
Remove two more screws holding the SSD in, then remove SSD.
Replace with mSATA SSD.
Have a bootable USB stick ready to install your OS.

Here's a pic of the insides:


Craig Simms posted a reply   

Hah, apparently I can't a s s ume anything around here.


aslsw66 posted a reply   

Thanks for the detailed response - you make it sound so easy!

I guess this just confirms that this is the device for me.

I assume if I get a USB optical drive I can install the OS from that instead. I plan on getting an optical drive anyway as I still use one from time to time (this will be my main machine for work and leisure).


Craig Simms posted a reply   

Yes, you should be able to install from a USB optical drive no troubles.


guesttruck posted a reply   

i had same issue, that is why i bought it directly from korea- comes with wireless mouse and proper carry bag- on top of pouch. NT900X3C-a74, core i7 3517U, 256 ssd (samsung manufactured, not sandisk ssd like in cheaper versions).
only about $1900 after VAT(GST) return if you have someone to buy it for you in korea.


CampbellS posted a comment   

Hi Cnet do you know when its being released in Australia ???


Craig Simms posted a reply   

Hi Campbell,

Should be available now -- for instance, JB Hi-Fi has it right here:



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User Reviews / Comments  Samsung Series 9 (13-inch, 2012)

  • Nitro2013



    "Nice design but the trackpad is horrible! If you compare the trackpad with the one from Apple then forget the Samsung and go for a Apple MacBook Air. This is my first and last Samsung Ultrabook."

  • ManG



    "I got this laptop 13 inch 1600x900. lot of hardware problems and the display color temperature and range is unacceptable! big distorsion on yellow/magenta in all new products."

  • TimothyE



    "I find it SO hard to believe that a company could seem to get so many things brilliantly right in one package, and then stumble so hard in one specific area - THE BLOODY TRACKPAD.

    If y..."

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