Prizefight (week of May 03)
Samsung Series 9 vs. Apple MacBook Air
Samsung Series 9 vs. Apple MacBook Air
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 durabilityDesign and looks count for a lot, so here's where we examine the look, size, feel, and sex appeal of the devices.
|Samsung Series 9 (13-inch)||4Feels cheaper than its $1,600-plus price would indicate, but by all means a very nice-looking machine.||4It's slim, it's sleek, and it's obviously a riff on the MacBook Air, but the Series 9's black frame and backlit keyboard hold their own. It does have some plastic bits, though.||5The Samsung Series 9 looks like a piece of modern art. Its wrapped sheet metal exterior design stands alone, and its plastic bezel doesn't bother me.||4.3|
|Apple MacBook Air Fall 2010 (Core 2 Duo 1.86GHz, 128GB SSD, 13.3-inch)||5Still the champ, not just because it looks nice, but because it feels like it could take a bullet for you.||5The all-metal thin-blade design of the MacBook Air is hard to beat. The screen bezel's still too big, but this is an envy-inducing laptop.||5Apple still knows how to do it. Its unibody design is elegant, and to get a 13-inch laptop this thin still amazes.||5|
Round 2: FeaturesLooks matter, but it's what's inside that really counts. Which laptop packs the most features into its tiny frame?
|Samsung Series 9 (13-inch)||4It adds most of the extras the MacBook Air lacks, but the small SSD drive is a bummer.||4Bluetooth, a backlit keyboard, a new Core i5 processor, and plenty of ports, although they do require dongles--however, its SSD storage caps at 128GB.||4The specs here are beefier with twice the RAM, a Core i5 processor, and Apple staples like a backlit keyboard. Plus flip-out ports for more connectivity.||4|
|Apple MacBook Air Fall 2010 (Core 2 Duo 1.86GHz, 128GB SSD, 13.3-inch)||3The current Air adds a second USB port and an SD card slot over the original, and 256GB is a comfortable spot for storage.||3The MacBook Air's sparse on ports and features, but it does offer twice the SSD storage on a model that costs even less than the Series 9.||3The MacBook Air has fewer ports, and its main feature advantage is offering more storage space for less money.||3|
Round 3: PerformanceUltraportables still need the juice to handle the many tasks we throw at them. Who can best flex its processor power and muscle?
|Samsung Series 9 (13-inch)||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.||4|
|Apple MacBook Air Fall 2010 (Core 2 Duo 1.86GHz, 128GB SSD, 13.3-inch)||4The aging Core 2 Duo is fine for what most people would use the Air for. The real winner is the superquick boot and wake times.||4The Air's Core 2 Duo processor is deceptively fast despite its age, especially in boot-up time, which trumps the Series 9. Graphically, the MacBook Air may be a bit better, but it's too close to call.||4Graphics performance gets a slight edge, but users won't really see it. Start-up from sleep was snappier here, too.||4|
Round 4: Battery lifeBattery life is key when you're talking ultraportables, so who has enough juice to go the distance?
|Samsung Series 9 (13-inch)||4Both are in the same ballpark, as we'd expect from superthin laptops with low-voltage processors.||4So close it's nearly a photo finish. The Series 9 edged out the MacBook Air at 322 minutes on our battery tests--that's over 5 hours of use.||5If I can get almost 5.5 hours of juice out of an ultraslim body, that's top of the class for battery life.||4.3|
|Apple MacBook Air Fall 2010 (Core 2 Duo 1.86GHz, 128GB SSD, 13.3-inch)||4Apple always does great on battery life, but since it seems to be so easy, the company should up its game and do better next time.||4The 13-inch MacBook Air's 5-hour battery life is nothing to sneeze at, but at 298 minutes, it comes short of the larger 2011 MacBook Pros, which average 7 hours.||4The MacBook Air comes in at just under 5 hours, an impressive feat of its own, but it's not better than the Series 9.||4|
Round 5: ValueWhich laptop makes more dollars and sense for you?
|Samsung Series 9 (13-inch)||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.||3|
|Apple MacBook Air Fall 2010 (Core 2 Duo 1.86GHz, 128GB SSD, 13.3-inch)||4The MacBook Air has always been pricey. For $1,099 it'd be a steal, but compared with the Series 9 it comes off as reasonably priced.||4Starting at $1,299, the 13-inch Air comes off as a relative bargain compared with the Series 9 (that's a hard feat to pull off, Samsung).||4The $1,299 looks sweet to me, and doubling the SSD storage for $1,599 makes it a great value. But add $249 for the extended warranty, and you're in the same ballpark as the Series 9.||4|
The winner is...
Apple MacBook Air (4.0 pts)
Samsung Series 9 (3.9 pts)
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