Whether you’re an Apple hater or a fruity fan boy, there’s no doubting how impressive the MacBook Air is. A number of PC manufacturers have attempted to mimic this ultra-slim notebook’s combination of gorgeous aesthetics and usable everyday performance. The latest is the Samsung 900X3A, which arrived in packaging that screams high-end appeal, which we opened to reveal a machine beautifully sculpted from black anodised aluminium.
Specification and screen
The 900X3A’s core specification leaves its Apple counterpart on the ropes. The processor is an ultra-low-voltage variant of Intel’s exceptional Sandy Bridge architecture, while 4GB of RAM and a 100GB Samsung-brand SSD make the machine feel more responsive than most desktops. That said, the Samsung is relatively light on connectivity. Just a single USB port on either side limits peripheral device options – although one of them is the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 variety.
Not to spoil the machine’s styling, all ports are concealed beneath two flaps. Complementing the USB ports is a mini-Ethernet connection on one side and a mini-HDMI and combined mic/headphone port on the other. Adaptors for all of these interfaces are provided as standard.
The 900X3A’s keyboard is an exercise in perfection. We required no time to get used to its full-sized keys, and perfect feedback meant that we were able to type at full speed from the outset. The large touchpad was more of a mixed bag. Despite the two buttons being deftly combined with the cursor section, it was all too easy to accidentally trigger one of the multi-touch responses. These are designed to ease usability by providing on-demand zooming and scrolling, but in reality we found ourselves inadvertently increasing browser magnification just by leaving a finger too close to the left-click area of the pad.
Another disappointment was the screen. With a resolution of 1366×768, the space on screen is par for the course for a 13.3in notebook. The competing MacBook Air, however, provides 1440×900 – and the difference in quality is marked. Despite providing solid viewing angles and a matt coating, the 900X3A’s display is far from being the best it its class. Fortunately, wireless connectivity is much more contemporary, with Bluetooth 3.0 and 802.11n networking included as standard.
Great graphics and battery life
Compared to previous integrated video solutions, Intel’s new GMA HD video solution is mighty. We were able to play popular mainstream games like Spore and The Sims at full detail, while more demanding games were still playable at slightly reduced resolutions. The Samsung is particularly strong as a traveller’s companion. Battery life with power-saving enabled is in excess of eight hours, while the backlit keys mean you can see what you’re typing even when flying the Red Eye.
All in all, the 900X3A is a great product. It looks just as impressive as its Apple counterpart and offers almost twice the performance. An inferior display and some ergonomic failings reduce the machine’s desirability somewhat, but even so this Samsung notebook is unlikely to disappoint even the pickiest of wealthy business travellers.
Contact: Samsung on 0845 67267864
- Wonderful aesthetics and great performance.
- For this price, we'd have liked a better screen.
A stunning slimline laptop that provides a realistic Windows-based alternative to the Apple MacBook Air.