The Apple MacBook Air has long been the sexy-thin ultraportable of choice, and for years it's been unchallenged by Windows laptops...until now. The Samsung Series 9 has risen to try to out-Apple Apple with a sleek, attractive 13-incher all its own.
Who will come out on top in this battle of the superthin laptops?
Round 1: Sexiness and durability
Design and looks count for a lot, so here's where we examine the look, size, feel, and sex appeal of the devices.
4These two laptops are surprisingly evenly matched, considering that the Series 9 has a newer Core-series processor. It's because Samsung uses a low-power ULV chip, which usually disappoints.
4The Series 9 uses a low-voltage processor that's slower than normal laptops, but it's faster than the Air--it's a newer Sandy Bridge Core i5. Its integrated graphics are about as good as the Nvidia graphics on the Air.
4You might think the Core i5 would dominate here, but its low-voltage design holds it back. Still, performance is solid.
Round 4: Battery life
Battery life is key when you're talking ultraportables, so who has enough juice to go the distance?
2Wow. If you're going to present yourself as an alternative to the well-like MacBook Air, try undercutting the competition, not, uh, overcutting it (it's so outlandish we had to invent a word to describe it).
3Sorry, Series 9: your $1,649 price tag is absurd. It's a great-looking laptop, but priced way too high for what it offers.
4I always purchase an extended coverage plan for my laptops, and though $1,649 is a lot, that includes a three-year warranty. Apple's is only one year.
The winner is...
Samsung Series 9 (3.9 pts)
In a surprisingly close battle, the Samsung Series 9 came close...but lost by a nose to the Apple MacBook Air. The Series 9's features and next-gen processor were big pluses, but that price tag was the killer in this one. Still, if you have a bottomless checking account, you'll be happy with either laptop.
Dan Ackerman: is a former radio DJ turned journalist and has written about technology and music for publications including Spin, Blender, and The Hollywood Reporter. He hosts the weekly Digital City podcast.
Scott Stein: has written about tech, entertainment, video games, and viral culture for outlets including Laptop, Maxim, Esquire, and Men's Journal. He also appears on the Digital City podcast.
Brian Tong: hosts Prizefight and other shows on CNET TV. He's ready to face off two gadgets at any place, any time.