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Hands-on: new Samsung notebooks, Chrome OS devices

updated 11:20 pm EST, Fri January 13, 2012

We try Samsung Chrome OS, 5 Ultra, 9 series at CES

Samsung had one of its most sweeping notebook updates yet at CES this week and introduced multiple major updates to its notebook line. We had the opportunity to try them all at CES and came away with mixed reactions. Read on for early impressions, including whether or not the Series 9 will give Apple heat in the ultrabook category.

The new 9 series has Apple beaten in a pair of important metrics: weight and thickness. Even with the usual tie-downs at a trade show, it still felt very light and was unambiguously thinner than the MacBook Air. Its metal finish, one-piece multi-touch trackpad, and overall look are clearly taking some Apple cues, but unlike some ultrabook designers, Samsung clearly aimed to do better.

We liked the keyboard and generally liked the trackpad, although we'd still take the Air's extra multi-touch gestures. Performance is about on par, as it's using a 1.7GHz Core i7, but that with the solid-state drive makes it very responsive. Samsung has at least made it clear it's intending to stay competitive in the ultrabook space regarding design, even if the $1,500 minimum price may keep many people away.

What may be more intriguing on that front is the 5 Ultra line. Its construction clearly isn't as high end, and we weren't as much fans of the trackpad. However, the design at under 0.7 inches deep (on the 13-inch model, 0.8 on the 14-inch) is still thin for a system that has a full 500GB hard drive, and at 3.1 pounds it still felt light. Although we didn't have the luxury of trying it, Samsung is also promising a 20-second boot time even with the spinning hard drive. As much as Apple has some design advantages, it's not participating in this in-between notebook space, and that might be the 5 Ultra's real opening.

Samsung also had a pair of surprises in including both a revamped Series 5 Chromebook and a more official version of its Chromebox desktop. To be honest, they feel more like makeovers than real changes. Samsung said it had jumped from a dual-core Atom to a Celeron on the Series 5 and has a new semi-metallic shell, but it and the Chromebox don't feel like fundamental breaks other than in aesthetics. The performance is about the same, and there are still issues with offline use. Samsung also didn't give much of an indication of release plans for either the Chromebook or the Chromebox.

Series 9

Series 5 Ultra

Series 5 Chromebook and Chromebox

by MacNN Staff



  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The copy cat will have to lose their...

    copy when Apple changes its 3.5-year-old design this year. Such shameless creeps.

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It's really funny that...

    The sharp recessed area ('latch') is poorly designed on the unibody/MBP/MacBook Air, but they copied it verbatim. This proves how dumb they are. There is plenty of room for improvement, but they would rather chose the beaten path.


  1. chas_m



    $1500 minimum??

    Then no, I don't think Samsung will be giving Apple *any* "heat" in this space with the Series 9. Indeed, I'd say they are unlikely to sell very many of them, given the expense -- die hard Windows people are generally motivated by price over value, and since they can get both (PLUS Windows) in the MBA, there's really no contest there.

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Korean tax payers are going to eat it

    SameSong is going to either fold it up by the end of the year, just like the way they folded the hard drive operation, or they will continue to pour Korean tax $$$ into this worthless operation.

  1. juraiprince

    Joined: Dec 1969


    That Chromebox

    looks strikingly like a mac mini with a painted black top and two usb ports in front.

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not really

    It looks like an Iomega hard drive.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Chromebook is the new netbook

    And netbook is the old consumer grade computer.

    The new consumer grade computer is the iPad.

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