The aluminum unibody MacBook Air is even thinner and lighter than its predecessors, thanks to further design innovations. For example, Apple integrated flash memory right in the logic board instead of using an enclosed drive, shaving off 90 percent off the space needed for storage. The 2.9-pound notebook has a 12.8 x 8.9-inch footprint, but it’s the thickness (or lack thereof) that really impresses. The profile measures just 0.11 to 0.68 inches.
The Samsung Series 9 is made from a combination of duralumin, aluminum, and high-grade plastic, thus it can’t boast a unibody design. Nevertheless, the construction feels solid — even more so than the Air, especially when carrying it by one corner. Duralumin, a metal alloy used to make aircraft, is twice as strong as aluminum according to Samsung. The notebook is 2.88 pounds — a hair lighter than the Air — measuring 12.9 x 8.9 inches with an edge that tapers from 0.64 down 0.62 inches. So the Air is thinner at its thinnest point but the Series 9 is thinner at the thickest point.
Aesthetically, the Series 9 has a little more flair than the Air. Where the latter tapers in a straight line on the edge, the former includes a flowing arch outlined in chrome that offers some (but not too much) eye-candy. Under the lid, the two notebooks could almost be mistaken for twins. The island-style keyboard and large clickpad on the Series 9 are a clear nod to the Air.
Winner: Samsung Series 9
Don’t get us wrong. We love the MacBook Air’s sleek profile. But the Samsung’s curves and brushed black metal look makes it just a little more exciting.
With such thin designs come compromises in the number and variety of ports. The 13-inch Air has come a long way since the first generation, which only had three ports. Now it includes two USB, a Mini DisplayPort, a full-size SD card slot, and a headphone jack. The Series 9 utilizes a design element from the first generation Air: pull-down port drawers. It has two USB ports as well, though one is a USB 3.0 interface that will also charge devices while asleep. Additionally, there’s a Gigabit Ethernet (with included adapter) and a mini HDMI port, plus a microSD slot and a combo headphone/mic jack.
We wish that the Air included mini HDMI instead of DisplayPort (though you can buy an adapter), and we wish that the Series 9 had a full-size SD slot.
While the Series 9’s USB 3.0 port is a great feature to have, the Air makes it more convenient to access ports and transfer photos from a camera.