Samsung's MacBook Air Challenger Ready to Ship

You can thank me in advance for not calling the ultra-slim Samsung Series 9 laptop a "MacBook Air killer," which it certainly is not. It is, however, a sleek featherweight of a portable PC, one that gives Apple's attractive Air a run for its money in the look-at-me competition. Unveiled at CES 2011 in January, the Series 9 will go on sale Thursday, March 17.

One look at this head-turner will tell you it's most definitely ready for its close-up. Like the MacBook Air, the 13-inch 9 Series weights just under 3 pounds. Measuring 0.64 inches thick, it's a little thinner than the Air's 0.68 inches. It costs a little more too: $1649 with Windows 7 Home Premium, or $1699 with Windows 7 Professional. By comparison, the Air is $1599 with 256GB of flash storage, or $1299 with 128GB of flash.

The 13-inch 9 Series has a 128GB solid state drive (SSD)--half the storage of a comparably-priced Air--but with twice the RAM (4GB vs. 2GB). For a detailed side-by-side comparison, see this PCWorld chart.

Like the Air, the 9 Series has a smaller, 11-inch sibling, which ships in April. It will include an Intel Core i3 Processor 380UM, 2GB of RAM, a 64GB SSD, and a 1366-by- 768, LED-backlit display. Samsung hasn't announced pricing yet for the 11-incher.

These ultra-slim laptops are built for affluent buyers, those who don't mind paying extra for a stylish machine that's dressed to impress. But Dell didn't have much luck with the Adamo, its MacBook Air rival. Will Samsung fare better with the 9 Series?

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci ) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

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