Intel has been promising its latest Sandy Bridge second-generation Core processors will propel the development of new ultrabooks: lightweight, super-thin notebooks that will become mainstream machines for personal computing. Now, Samsung is starting to make good on its promise with its Series 3 notebook computer, now on sale in the United States. With screen sizes ranging from 15.6 down to 11.6 inches, the Series 3 notebooks start at just 2.8 pounds and are among the least expensive Sandy Bridge systems on the market: instant rebates have prices circling $600 for the 11.6-inch model.
The 11.6-inch Samsung Series 3 sports a second-generation Intel Core i3-2357M processor running at 1.3 GHz, Intel HD graphics, and 4 GB of memory: the display offers a 1.366 by 768-pixel native resolution, and the system sports a 4-in-1 media card reader, Bluetooth 3.0, and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. For peripherals, the system offers VGA, HDMI, and USB connectivity—but there doesn’t seem to be an optical drive on board, and the system relies on a 320 GB traditional hard drive rather than SSD drives Intel has been touting for ultrabooks. Still, the price is appealing, with units starting as low as $600 from retailers after rebates.
Other entries in the Series 3 series sport 12.5-, 13.3-, 14-, and 15.6-inch screen sizes, step up to second-generation Core i5 processors, and offer built-in DVD±RW optical drives. Base prices for all the larger systems start at $749, although retailers are already discounting those down just like the 11-6-inch model.
For folks who are even more cost-conscious—or just Intel-averse—Samsung is also making a version of the Series 3 with an AMD Quad-Core A6 processor and a 15.6-inch display…with prices starting under $600.
The Series 3 don’t quite conform to Intel’s ultrabook vision: they’re still a little thicker than Intel imagined, and roll with traditional hard drives. But for folks looking for inexpensive mainstream notebooks with Sandy Bridge power, those distinctions may not be too important.
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