I was on the market for a new laptop with my aging 15″ Santa Rosa MacBook Pro (MBP). With Intel finally driving the Ultrabook to compete with the MacBook Air(MBA) I was sure my next computer would one.
The Ultrabook market is still very new and growing with almost if not all manufacturers with their own product and take on the Ultrabook. Whilst there are laptops which match or even exceed the MBA it was always at a higher cost. I chose to go with Ultrabooks for personal reasons and decided a long time ago I would not be buying another Mac computer.
The ideal hardware would be:
With even the screen in mind it was at least £1000 at the time of looking and something that matched it completely was the Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A but that was going for in excess of £1500! Just for comparison the MBA price and spec that would fit was £1249.00 with the base price at £999.
In the end I found the Samsung 900X3C-A02 in the clearance sale down by about £250 although the discount is lower if you want to upgrade it to Windows 8 (which I qualified for a reduced upgrade free).
The 900X3C-A02 includes:
So it was down on the hard drive size in terms of what I wanted and also it didn’t have the Core i7 processor but it was under my budget.
The first thing I noticed was how big the box it came in. For something claiming to be thinner than the MacBook Air it was in a box which could fit a 17 incher. As it turns out there is an inner box to the outer one which is great protection during transportation.
The laptop is very thin but also well built. The case is made out of aluminum and there were hardly any flex in the frame or screen. There are 2 USB, one on each side towards the back where the hinges are. Only the one near next to the power port is USB 3 whilst the other is USB 2. The USB 3 port can also be used to charge devices whilst the laptop is off. This can be enabled and disabled through Samsung’s Easy Setting software.
One problem I did encounter was the proximity of the USB port next to the power. Using a SanDisk Cruzer it was too wide to have the power plugged in. This is a real design flaw as Samsung could have moved the USB port to the edge to give it more space.
Samsung included a recovery CD which is nice but the laptop does not have or come with a disc drive.
The Windows 7 Home Premium has been tweaked by Samsung so installing a fresh copy of Windows may not perform the same as the one included with the computer although it should not stop it from working.
Rather annoyingly the partitions
There were a lot of bloatware included with the laptop which was surprising on the small drive despite the partitioning of the drive. I removed the following software:
There are a lot of Samsung software which were removed without any problems. The bigger one was Norton which required a reboot. I liked the fact there were no stickers on the screen like T.Vs commonly have down the side. That was done in software called ePOP. It’s sole purpose is to display a software replacement touting the specs of the computer. It can be closed but I removed it as it was no use after the initial boot.
I have encountered some freezes when the system is heavy on IO. According to the forums it’s due to the SanDisk U100 SSD drive. It’s not the fastest drive and is a big let down in terms of hardware. When there is a lot of drive activity like swap files occurring the operations are queued which causes it to freeze until they have bee processed by the SSD. These freezes usually lasts no more than 10 seconds but it’s very frustrating.
It’s been reported one way around this is to swap the drive for something better like Crucial M4 but this involves invalidating the warranty because the drive is not meant to be swapped out but it can be done.
I upgraded the OS to Windows 8 Pro and all the drivers were available for the OS. I have yet to notice any problems but I have only been using it for couple of weeks. The boot up time seems slower than OEM Windows 7 it came with but it’s only by seconds. This may be the difference between Samsung’s customised Windows 7 V.S stock Windows 8. I had Intels Rapid Start disabled.
The multitouch scrolling in Windows 8 is also reversed by default. I’m not sure if this is a Windows 8 thing but it’s exactly the same problem (feature) when Apple released Snow Leopard where touch screen scrolling is inverted to mouse wheel scrolling. After installing the touchpad software there is a setting which can correct this.
Its been very good so far and I have been happy with it. I’m still conscious about the size of the drive but it may be a phobia of lack of space.