One of my favorite new laptop designs, Samsung's Series 9, is finally available. I got a good look at the distinctive design, which is wrapped in a case of Duralumin ("twice the strength of aluminum"), at CES back in January. At the time Samsung wasn't discussing the price or configuration, but the Series 9 is now official (here's Samsung's Series 9 page and the press release).
The Series 9 is based around a bright (400 nits) 13.3-inch 1366x768 edge-to-edge display. It starts at $1,649 with a 1.4GHz Core i5-2537M dual-core processor, 4GB of memory, a 128GB solid-state drive (in place of a hard drive) and Windows 7 Home Premium. The only configurable option is the operating system--Windows 7 Professional adds $50 to the system price.
The Core i5-2537M is one of Intel's second-generation Core processors (aka "Sandy Bridge"), but it is a low-voltage chip that runs at 17 watts compared with 35 watts for the standard mobile processors. All other things being equal, the low-voltage chips are slower than their standard counterparts, but they delivers longer battery life and, since they generates less heat, they can be used in thinner and lighter laptops. Having said that, many computer companies are now fitting the standard second-generation Core processors into ultraportables as well.
The Series 9 weighs less than three pounds and is is only 0.6 inches thick (12.9 by 8.9 inches), but the ribbon of Duralumin that appears to wrap around the back hinge makes it look even lighter and thinner. The backlit keyboad and large "button-less" multitouch touchpad add to the upscale feel.
The Series 9 Windows 7 Home is available online now and will be in stores starting tomorrow; the Windows 7 Professional version will be available next month.
Also in April Samsung will release an even smaller Series 9 with a 340-nit 11-inch 136x768 display, 1.33GHz Core i3 380UM dual-core processor (the older Arrandale processor), 2GB of memory, a 64GB SSD and Windows 7 Home Premium. This one will weigh in at only 2.3 pounds putting it into netbook territory. Samsung has not announced pricing for this model.