Samsung Series 9 900X3B Review - Usability, Screen and Audio Review


The Samsung Series 9 900X3B doesn’t slip up when it comes to usability. Its chiclet keyboard sports a roomy layout with good spacing, and keys that offer excellent feedback despite the relatively shallow travel thin laptops afford. Again, it’s an area where Samsung’s ultraportable easily matches the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s and Apple’s Air, especially since Samsung also provides adjustable keyboard backlighting.

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It’s the same story with the 900X3B’s huge buttonless glass-surface touchpad. It’s lovely to the touch, large enough for comfortable gestures, and flawless in its responsiveness. Windows still can’t match MacOS for multi-touch gestures but this is among the closest alternatives.

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Screens have been the one consistent points of weakness on most Ultrabooks to date, and in fact on ultraportable laptops in general. The exceptions were the non-convertible version of the Lenovo ThinkPad X220t with its IPS display, the MacBook Air 11 and 13in with their decent TNs, and Samsung’s own previous Series 9 900X3A, which quite simply had the best TN screen we had ever seen on a laptop. Its only real downside was that its resolution was the common 1,366 x 768, where 13in rivals like the Asus Zenbook UX31 offered 1,600 x 900.

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With the new Series 9 900X, this has been remedied. Samsung’s latest ultraportable sports a lovely semi-matt 13.3in panel with a high 1,600 x 900 resolution and incredibly narrow bezel. Best of all, it actually uses a PLS rather than TN panel. This mostly eliminates TN’s weaknesses, providing near-flawless horizontal and vertical viewing angles.

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Black levels are close to excellent, with only the darkest shade on our greyscale invisible. This means you’ll miss almost no detail even in dark movies and games. Meanwhile colours are bright and vivid without being too oversaturated, and sharpness is excellent thanks in part to the high resolution. There’s also very little backlight bleed or unevenness, with only some very mild undulations in light level near the bezel’s edge.

Thanks to the unique combination of excellent viewing angles, deep blacks and colours, a matt finish and its 1,600 x 900 resolution, we have little hesitation in calling this the best screen we’ve yet seen on an portable laptop. It’s truly a worthy accompaniment to Samsung’s most premium ultraportable and we can only hope that, one day, all laptops will have displays this good.

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A laptop so thin can’t possibly produce good audio though can it? Well, yes, apparently it can. The 900X3B’s side-facing speakers, subtly integrated into the base, manage adequate volume levels with plenty of clarity and detail, and even a halfway decent amount of bass. Combined with the amazing screen, it makes this a great laptop for watching movies on the go.

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