J&R let Samsung's Series 5 Ultra out a bit early last week, but today Samsung's officially confirming that its 13.3- and 14-inch ultrabooks are headed to the US on January 30th. Just like the overseas model, the 14-inch Series 5 has an onboard optical drive, yet still only weighs 3.9 pounds and measures .82 inches thick. The .58-inch thick 13.3-inch version has a similar design, but weighs just 3.24 pounds since it drops the disc drive. Although, both make room for an SD card reader, Ethernet, full size HDMI, and two USB ports each.
The entry level 14-inch ($949.99) and 13.3-inch ($899.99) versions of the systems have 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-2467 processors, 4GB of RAM, integrated graphics, and a 16GB SSD and 500GB hard drive combo, which Samsung says still allows for fast resume and boot times. They also have eight-cell batteries, 1366 x 768-resolution, 300nit displays, and integrated graphics in common. Sadly, the 14-inch model doesn't get an SSD-only variant, but the there will be a $1,099 version of the 13-inch Series 5 Ultra with 128GB SSD.
I got a chance to see both of the systems a couple of weeks ago, and while they're certainly not as well made as the new Series 9, they seemed well made for the price. The 300nit screens quite bright, and just like the Series 7 Chronos, they are matte. While I was happy to see the basic two mouse button set up underneath the trackpad, I was rather heartbroken about the lack of a backlit keyboard. And that's likely why the Series 5 Ultras, or at least the 13-inch version, will have a hard time taking on HP's Folio 13. For the same amount of money, HP offers a faster drive (a 128GB SSD standard) and a backlit keyboard. But, hey, if you're just clinging to your DVD collection, the 14-inch version might just be the ultrabook for you.