Samsung's NP900X3A has been around longer than Intel's ultrabook campaign, though it would fit comfortably into the category anyway – Samsung was an early imitator of Apple’s designs.

In fact it was the original pretender to the MacBook Air throne as the thinnest and lightest laptop around. Since we first reviewed it, it has received an update with a faster processor.

However, it isn't that much faster - on paper, the Intel Core i5-2467M is a newer model than the Intel Core i5-2530UM sported by the NP900X3A we saw in May 2011, though the updated model achieved 101 points in WorldBench 6 - only seven ahead of the older model. 

While on the surface this isn't too shabby, the 11in MacBook Air and Asus Zenbook UX21E use the same processor to much greater effect, the latter outscoring the Samsung by 15 points. 

The reduced performance isn't limited to processor - the battery life is also not up to snuff compared to its competitors. We ran the Samsung NP900X3A-B01 for 303 minutes - a shade over five hours - yet other models with a 50Wh lithium battery ran at least an hour longer.

Even the Asus Zenbook UX21E, with a 35Wh battery, lasted longer. If that weren't enough, there's another issue - the Samsung NP900X3A-B01 runs hot and gets noticably warm on the underneath when it's been running for just a few minutes. Its fan seems to run more frequently too. 

But it isn't all bad news. The backlit keyboard is a cracker, easy to use no matter the lighting conditions and with nice, large, well-spaced keys. 

The screen, while far from showing the best colour depth or sharpest definition, doesn't have a glossy finish so is more comfortable to read. It's also arguably a good-looking design - Samsung has chosen a black finish in contrast to the lighter tones of the MacBook Air. But some may balk at the plasticky gloss black construction.

Samsung NP900X3A-B01: Specs

  • 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-2467M
  • 13.3in matt LED-backlit
  • 1366 x 768
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 4GB DDR3-1333MHz 128GB SSD
  • Integrated Intel HD 3000
  • microHDMI
  • stereo speakers
  • headphone jack
  • mic input
  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x USB 2.0
  • 802.11a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • gigabit ethernet
  • micro SD card reader
  • webcam
  • 50Wh lithium polymer non-removable
  • 329 x 226 x 17-19mm
  • 1.33kg
  • 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-2467M
  • 13.3in matt LED-backlit
  • 1366 x 768
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 4GB DDR3-1333MHz 128GB SSD
  • Integrated Intel HD 3000
  • microHDMI
  • stereo speakers
  • headphone jack
  • mic input
  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x USB 2.0
  • 802.11a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • gigabit ethernet
  • micro SD card reader
  • webcam
  • 50Wh lithium polymer non-removable
  • 329 x 226 x 17-19mm
  • 1.33kg

OUR VERDICT

It's such a shame that the Samsung can't squeeze a bit more speed from its processor or more life out of its battery, as it is a rather nice laptop. The backlit keyboard and non-reflective screen make it very easy to use in all kinds of environments. We especially like the ports at the side which can be hidden away when not in use.

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