In case you haven't noticed, we've gotten multiple opportunities to talk shop with Samsung executives over the past couple days. After we finished grilling the R&D team on higher-res displays, we sat down with the designers behind the latest Series 9 Ultrabooks, and they surprised us by whipping out a late-stage prototype -- aka, a glimpse at what these laptops might have been, were it not for a little extra hemming and hawing and at least one executive veto. You know what they say: a picture tells a thousand words, and we've got quite a few embedded below for your viewing pleasure. If you're obsessed with minutiae like the keyboard backlighting color, however, follow past the break for more on all those rejected design ideas, and feel free to let us know in the comments which ones you would've preferred.
2012 Samsung Series 9 prototype hands-onSee all photos
As Samsung neared the end of the design phase, it was decided that the laptop would have a brushed metal finish: the designers agreed it matched the company's "Arcflow" aesthetic, which emphasizes refined design and making PCs appear as slim as possible. Obviously, though, something changed by the time the Series 9 went into mass production, and that something was an order from senior management to sandblast the machine instead of drawing fine lines on it. We're glad somebody stepped in: as you can see in those pictures above, the final, smooth-surfaced version shows far fewer fingerprints than the brushed metal prototype. (We'll let you decide if you prefer the newer, slightly paler shade of gray.) Though Samsung execs wouldn't say to what extent sandblasting raises production costs, they do claim that it's tougher to achieve consistent results with sandblasting, and that this process is easier to pull off with lighter shades of metal (hence, perhaps, the revised color choice).
As for that aquamarine lighting emanating from behind the keyboard, Samsung says it initially experimented with white, and then blue, only to settle on that funky blue-green later on. Their rationale, they say, was that that "bluish white," as they describe it, was less bright, less overbearing than the white glow you'll find on other ultraportables. Additionally, as those last hands-on shots reveal, the company grappled with the laptop's shape. Even the final version, in fact, represents a compromise of sorts: the design team would have preferred even cleaner lines, but they were unwilling to hide the ports behind doors this time around. After all, one of the most common complaints the company received about the OG Series 9 was how much of a pain it was to use the various sockets. Lucky for the design team, at least, there's a precedent for not including Ethernet jacks on Ultrabooks... right?