[Update: It's worth noting that, is it did with last year's Portege R705 model, retailer Best Buy is selling one of the Portege R835 models at a steep discount. The Portege R835-P50X, with an Intel Core i3 CPU, Wireless Display, and WiMax, is available for $749, while its original list price is $899.]
If you're looking for a thin, stylish 13-inch laptop, this is your lucky month. We've seen an influx of eye-catching, highly portable notebooks making their way through the CNET offices, including the Toshiba Portege R835 and the Samsung Series 9. Add in the current second-gen 13-inch MacBook Air, and you've got a trio of worthy choices at this screen size (we're still waiting to get Sony's new 13-inch Vaio S, which also looks promising).
While the MacBook Air has been the gold standard of ultrathin 13-inchers, the new Samsung Series 9 NP900X3A has done its best to emulate the style on a Windows laptop. It certainly surpasses the MacBook Air in one important category: price. The real question is, do you actually need a superslim laptop if there's a nearly equally lightweight, slightly less-thin option that's much more affordable?
The Toshiba Portege R705 was an Editors' Choice laptop in 2010, and its successor, the Portege R835-P56X, ups the ante in 2011; it earned Editors' Choice honors, too. Its $900-range price is more palatable, and it even has an optical drive in its thinner-than-a-MacBook-Pro chassis.
Toshiba Portege R835-P56X review
Samsung Series 9 NP900X3A review
Apple MacBook Air review
Each of these three systems has its strengths and weaknesses, as well as fans and detractors. We gathered them in one place for a friendly head-to-head-to-head comparison. Check out our cheat sheet of specs below, then click through the rest of our feature to take a tour through our commentary on several key categories: size/weight, battery life, design, price, screen, keyboard, and touch pad. We're not sure there's a clear winner, but if you are, make your case in the comments section below.
|MacBook Air 13-inch||1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo||2GB||128GB SSD||2.9 lbs.||$1,299|
|Samsung Series 9||1.4GHz Intel Core i5-2537M||4GB||128GB SSD||2.9 lbs.||$1,650|
|Toshiba Portege R835||2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M||4GB||640GB 5,400rpm||3.2 lbs.||$929|