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Samsung Series 9 900X3A - Speakers, Screen and Connectivity

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


User Score:

From the 900X3A's class-leading touchpad things only get better, especially when it comes to audio and video. Considering how little space the 1.5W speakers have to play with, the volume levels they produce are nothing short of amazing. Admittedly they distort at maximum and are inevitably lacking in the bass department, but even with the volume turned down we would be more than happy to use these for entertainment.

Samsung Series 9 900X3A

If anything, the screen is even more impressive. In fact, if we hadn't just reviewed the Lenovo ThinkPad X220t with its lovely IPS-panel display, we would be classing this as the best display we had seen on a small laptop. As you might have guessed from that, the 900X3A still uses good old TN, but this 13.3in panel doesn't display many of the weaknesses we would usually associate with the technology.

First off, there are its viewing angles. Horizontally, they are close to infinite with hardly any drop-off in contrast or corruption of colour. Even viewing from the top results in minimal contrast and colour shift, leaving the image eminently viewable. Only when viewing from the bottom do things become unwatchable, and on a laptop that's not a likely scenario.

Then there's the contrast and backlighting. Backlighting was very even with not a hint of bleed, meaning no distracting pale splotches while viewing dark material. Black levels were also superb, so you can really pick out every detail in dark and gritty movies and games, regardless of how bright you set the backlight.

Speaking of brightness, this is another factor that sets the Samsung apart. At 400 nits, Samsung claims its 900X3A has the brightest display of its size in the world, and after nearly getting our retinas seared off we're not about to argue. The display can go from almost completely dark for ultra battery saving to painfully bright, which is handy when trying to work or play in a sunny location.

Samsung Series 9 900X3A

Combined with excellent sharpness, we really can't think of any negatives with this screen, especially since Samsung has made the excellent decision of going for a matt screen finish to keep reflections to a minimum! We would even say it beats that on the 13.3in Macbook Air, except Apple offers a higher 1,440 x 900 resolution compared to the 900X3A's 1,366 x 768. This may sound like a deal breaker but in use the Series 9 still feels like it has plenty of desktop real estate.

Rounding off the Series 9's audio-visual talents is high-definition (720p) webcam, yet another win over its closest rival.

Samsung Series 9 900X3A

Connectivity is also streets ahead, mainly due to the presence of USB 3.0. Because the laptop's tapered sides are too thin to accommodate even USB ports without sticking out, Samsung has implemented a rather nifty solution: three ports each on both the left and right side are found when you pull down magnetically-held flaps. We feared these would be a weak point and might break with constant use, but in our testing we found the mechanism to be very sturdy.

Samsung Series 9 900X3A

On the left we have a proprietary Gigabit Ethernet port which requires an adapter to hook up, a micro HDMI port and a USB 3.0, or SuperSpeed port. As a further point in its favour, Samsung actually supplies the Ethernet adapter as standard, rather than making it an expensive optional extra as with Apple's Air.

Samsung Series 9 900X3A

On the right you'll find a micro-SD card reader, 3.5mm headphone/microphone jack and always-on USB port which can be used to charge devices even if the laptop is turned off. Last but not least, Bluetooth 3.0 and Wi-Fi N are also on board.


April 8, 2011, 2:17 pm

'Thanks to its Sandy Bridge processor paired with a fast 128GB SSD,
the 900X3A trounces most laptops in the performance stakes.'

But the graphs show the test results for the Samsung X360? Or am I just missing something?


April 8, 2011, 3:12 pm

No, our bad, the top result was just wrongly labeled.
Thanks for pointing that out - fixed.


April 8, 2011, 3:41 pm

What?? No 11 inch version for europe? Gutted

Geoff Richards

April 8, 2011, 3:45 pm

@fireflud - we know! I wonder if enough of us clump together whether Samsung would consider reversing that decision...? :D

simon jackson

April 8, 2011, 3:50 pm

Very disappointed we're not going to see the 11 inch version :/ I'm in the market for an ultraportable, and whilst i think the 13 inch version is compact enough, and certainly very light and slim, i'd probably be inclined to trade some performance for an even smaller form factor. And what's the deal with ordering this sort of thing from the US? I'd always assumed this is one of those things i could just do - ordering over seas isn't usually a problem - but everywhere i've looked for a samsung series 9 wont ship the product internationally. What gives?

Great review by the way!


April 8, 2011, 4:43 pm

@Ardjuna: Ahh, now the laptop seems like a much more attractive proposition. Glad I could help.


April 8, 2011, 5:42 pm

@ Geoff: if they could bump the RAM to 4GB and SSD to 128GB on the 11inch version and make it available this side of the pond, I'll be the first in line :)


April 8, 2011, 7:08 pm

@simon jackson:
To be honest, this decision baffles us too. Good luck getting it from across the Atlantic!

Glad you like the review :)

Tim Sutton

April 8, 2011, 8:24 pm

Anyone looking to import from the US should take a look at http://www.bundlebox.com/

With shipping and VAT it doesn't usually work out much cheaper than buying here, but its MASSIVELY handy.


April 8, 2011, 10:46 pm

I love the look of this as I'm a bit bored of Apple's brushed aluminum look. If I was in the market for a new notebook this would be it, however I'm happy enough with my Macbook for now.


April 8, 2011, 11:12 pm

Can a microSD card still be accessed from within Windows 7 with the flap closed flush?

DOES the flap close flush with a card inserted?


April 9, 2011, 4:42 pm

I honestly cant believe why they are not able to offer IPS screen for the price that they are charging.
Small things like this makes the overall package compelling.


April 9, 2011, 6:41 pm

Samsung UK site says this: "Adding to the outstanding performance is the Intel® Coreâ„¢ i7 / i5 Processor" - does anybody know when the core i7 version will be available?
Not that the core i5 are available yet either.

Any specs for the 11inch version, by any chance?


April 11, 2011, 2:58 pm

An excellent question. Normally, the flap can't close once a microSD card is inserted, but if you push it in (as you usually would to eject it using the spring mechanism) you can close the flap and the card can still be read from - just take care when opening the flap again as the card will be loose.

Don't forget that Apple doesn't either, and to be honest the 900X3A's TN screen is so good it's almost not an issue.

For now, Samsung will only be selling the configuration as reviewed.
And there are no European specs for the 11in as it won't be coming out here.


July 27, 2011, 2:23 pm

Ardjuna, don't you think it's worth mentioning there's no DVD drive, or is it assumed that this standard on all 'slim' laptops nowadays.

Also 128 GB SSD (effectivley 98GB) is a quite stingy, especially as there's not much indication on the net of how to get this bumped upto 256 GB - same goes for the 4 GB to 8GB upgrade.

Are Samsung just holding back, trying to drip feed us the good stuff or is there more to it?


September 14, 2011, 3:50 am

Hmmm these reviews may be missing something? I've heard that WIFI on these thin samsungs is an issue. they don't have the powerful antennae (normally embedded behind the display) so they have a hard time sniffing out and latching on to quality signal.

Anybody hear/experience anything related to this?


February 22, 2013, 12:39 am

I was given one of these bad boys and I've put it to good use. The legitimate downsides are that it had moody wi-fi, not as durable as they would like (one of the curved panels on right side bent back (and i treat it like a princess)), and the power port on mine is broken. I need to wiggle it to get it to work. This kinda sucks, but other that it being kinda frail, I've never seen a machine start up as fast as this one, nor have I seen one that is legitimately cool. people see macbooks all the time and people see a mackbook air and they thing 'that dud's got money... showoff.." while this laptop people just say, "Woah that is sexy! Look at those sweet curves!" runs games fine (to an extent) and overall good computer!
(need to disassemble it to fix power port though)

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