New notebooks & netbooks from Samsung

It’s an unfortunately week to have a launch, what with Christchurch in rubble and the rest of the country glued to the box and airwaves to catch more details about the carnage, friends, loved ones…

I don’t know if Samsung was really in the mood for the unveiling of its new range of notebooks (and other IT paraphernalia) at one of the SkyCity conference rooms in central Auckland. Samsung NZ managing director Rachael Cotton-Bronte told the two Witchdoctor representatives (Ashley Kramer was also in attendance) that its operation had been impacted quite seriously by the quake, as it has storage facilities as well as staff based in that beleaguered part of the country.

Still – life and commerce goes on, and the Auckland journalistic fraternity was here this lunchtime (squeezed in before an afternoon of retail) to get a good squiz at, and a good feel of, the Korean giant’s newest range of IT gear, which previously have wowed the crowds at January’s famous CES fair.

Rachael introduced things by announcing that in a very short period of time, Samsung in NZ has grown from a mere eight full-time staff, to 80. “IT is a significant part of that,” she said.

I’ve also heard this at Samsung events for slim-screen TVs and cellphones, but the mantra is that “Samsung is all about digital convergence and connectivity.”

It’s certainly true that, especially if you own all-Samsung gear, the various parts of your kit should work together spectacularly well, and in a fashion that is so seamless that we wouldn’t have imagined it even five years ago.

First on the menu were the least glamorous proposition: Samsung’s new laser printers. Samsung don’t do inkjet printers, which means it specialises in business applications rather than photo-orientated printers. Having said that, the images coming out of its laser printers didn’t look half bad.

What impressed me most was the ML-1865. This baby will retail for a mere $149. It’s a mono laser printer that is promoted as the smallest of its type on the market, with very simple software (to install) and equally simple to operate. For those who just need a basic printer (one that, nevertheless, is wireless-capable), with none of the fiddly crap the consumer has to put up from those dreadful all-in-one inkjet printers, this looks to fit the bill beautifully.

Samsung claims that its laser printers are either number 1, or number 2 globally, in every category. Personally, I couldn’t care less, but if their printers do the job and don’t waste ink needlessly (like some brands I could name), then I’m in with a grin.

We’re told also that Samsung is number one in LCD panels, and given a quick look at clever LED monitor “solution” (oh, how I hate that word) which enables the user to seamlessly, and wirelessly, move from mobile to desktop. The price? – A mere $899 for the 27-inch model.

The final part of the presentation is all about Samsung’s new notebooks.

The pitch is that the design is key for Samsung, but that performance (of course) is similarly important. You can’t help but notice the impact of Apple products on some of the new Samsung range (well, it was very apparent in its Galaxy S smartphone, so it makes sense). That can’t be a bad thing – it’s about time the PC world started taking notice of Apple’s logic.

Anyway, they pull out the QX412 notebook as a key contender. This is promoted as a 14-inch screen in a 13-inch chassis, and it certainly squeezes every last drop out of its screen size given the limited dimensions.

Perhaps the most exciting notebook is the 9 Series; it’s one of the lightest notebooks ever (1.31 kgs) and made out of duralinium, a new material that we’re told is used for aircraft design, and is two times stronger than conventional aluminium (or aluminum as the Yanks say). This very slim notebook is going, going gone for a mere $2899.

(See news about these notebooks elsewhere on Witchdoctor).

I asked Rachael what Samsung is doing to compete with the iPad, and she pulled out a Samsung Galaxy Tab, which looks alarmingly (but rather handsomely) very much like both the Galaxy phone and the iPad. She swears by it, and I’m hoping they’ll let me play with one, soon.

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