Samsung touts the brightness on its Series 9 at an impressive 400 nits. When comparing the two, we found the picture on the Samsung to be more vibrant but that blacks were deeper on the Air. However, the Series 9 has superior viewing angles because it uses a matte display; the Air’s screen is glossy. When watching video while leaning back, we had to tile the Air’s screen forward to avoid reflections.
Like most 13-inch notebooks, the Series 9 has a 1366 x 768 resolution display. The Air goes a step further, offering 1440 x 900. This means that the Air can fit more on the same size screen, which has its advantages.
Although the Series 9’s display is brighter and has better viewing angles, the Air ties this round up by cramming in more pixels.
The thinner the laptop, the less room there is for better quality speakers. Still, there was a big difference in audio quality between the Air and the Series 9. Apple placed the speakers underneath the keyboard, so sound pumps straight up from the deck. For such a slim machine, the volume and quality are impressive. The Series 9 speakers are thin little strips on the left and right edges of the casing. Volume was surprisingly loud, but audio quality was not-so surprisingly tinny and flat.
We played the same songs on both notebooks: Zoe Keating’s “Sun Will Set”, which features multilayered cello strains, sounded mushed together and indistinct on the Series 9, whereas there was some space between layers on the Air. John Barrowman’s soaring tenor in “All Out Of Love” had none of the characteristic depth on either machine, but the Air at least managed not to make him sound tinny and flat.
Winner: MacBook Air
The Air just sounds better.