Some people will always hanker for the thinnest and lightest notebooks available, and are willing to pay a premium for the privilege. Samsung's new Series 9 900X4C panders to that market: it's very thin and very light for a 15in. notebook, and runs a third-generation Intel Core (Ivy Bridge) processor. However, it'll cost you around £1,000 (inc. VAT; £833 ex. VAT).
In many ways, the 15in. Series 9 is an expanded ultrabook rather than a thinned-down standard laptop. The battery is integrated into the chassis and inaccessible. There is no optical drive. Storage is delivered via SSD. Also, the range of ports and slots, while adequate, corresponds more to what you'd expect from an ultrabook than a standard notebook.
There's no doubting the Series 9's visual allure. Its listed dimensions of 35.69cm wide by 23.7cm deep by 1.49cm thick disguise the fact that the chassis tapers to a very thin front edge. The weight of 1.65kg makes this a very portable 15in. notebook. Add in the solid metal chassis (even the lid section has minimal flex), and there's a real 'wow' factor here.
Nor is the quality merely skin-deep — the screen, in particular, is superb. From an office user's perspective the display's matte finish is a real plus point, while its 1,600-by-900-pixel resolution offers enough width for side-by-side document viewing.
There's a keyboard backlight whose brightness you can change via a Fn key control; the screen brightness can be set to change automatically too — both functions rely on an ambient light sensor sitting above the keyboard area.
The touchpad is vast, and all the better for it. It supports multitouch gestures for moving between opened applications and the buttons are embedded in the main area rather than being separate. It has a lovely smooth feel and the pinch to zoom action is particularly responsive. The keyboard action is a little shallow. I didn't find it a big issue, but some people may feel it is difficult to work with.
Inside, there's an Intel Core i5-3317U processor running at 1.7GHz (or up to 2.6GHz with Turbo Boost) plus 8GB of RAM. The operating system is Windows 7 Home Premium, with storage provided by an 256GB SSD. Although we haven't tested it formally, battery life from the 8-cell, 62Wh battery seems above average for a well-specified 15in. notebook.
Ports and slots are, as noted earlier, relatively spare. There are three USB ports (two USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0), plus Micro-HDMI, Mini-VGA and small-format Ethernet ports — all three of which will need adapters. Samsung provides the Ethernet adapter, but you'll need to buy the others. Wireless connectivity is good — dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth 4.0 — and there's a flash card slot that accepts SD-compatible media.
If you like your 15in. notebooks slim and stylish, and don't mind paying a premium, take a look at Samsung's Series 9.