Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus review: first look

20 Jun 2013

With the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus, Samsung looks to be taking the Ultrabook form factor to the next level.

It's essentially a slight redesign of the handsome Samsung Series 9 900X3D laptop we recently reviewed. The chassis is a combination of brushed, dark silver aluminium,  measuring a mere 13.6mm thick when the sturdy lid is closed, and weighing a reasonable 1.39kg. Samsung has added a Kensington lock slot on the rear right hand side, but that's the only noticeable physical difference.

Pop it on the scales, however, and you'll soon discover it's a touch heavier than the previous Series 9. It weighs 28g more, something that's almost certainly down to the addition of a touchscreen and Samsung's new, ultra-high resolution 13.3in 3,200 x 1,800 panel.

As with the Ativ Q, announced at the same event as the Ativ Book 9 Plus, this gives the Book 9 Plus a Retina-beating pixel density of 275ppi, and its tough, scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass coating should keep it looking pristine.

The rest of the differences can't be seen in the photographs, but they add up to what amounts to a significant upgrade. There's improved palm rejection on the touchpad, so brushing its surface shouldn't result in the cursor jumping all over the place. There's greater travel for the keys on the keyboard, and a locking, two-stage hinge mechanism that's designed to stop the screen wobbling when dabbing the touchscreen.

The latter is a simple enough concept: open the lid and it stops at just past the vertical; give it a bit more of a shove and the 'lock' disengages, allowing the screen to be folded back to a more oblique angle, or all the way back so it lies completely flat (handy if you want to put your laptop in a desktop stand or even on a lectern while delivering a presentation).

Under the hood is a choice of either Core i5 or i7 Haswell ULT processors with Intel HD Graphics 4400, up to 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of SSD storage. This delivers, Samsung claims, a boot time of 5.9 seconds and a wake-from-sleep time of 0.9 seconds. That's impressive if it turns out to be true, and so is the quoted battery life of 12 hours. Based on our experiences so far with Haswell-based, that sounds a reasonable claim, although we'll have to wait until we have our review sample to confirm it.

In all, it's a very impressive upgrade to what was already an attractive Ultrabook. We're none too keen on the name change, but if Samsung can get the price right, it should have a winner on its hands.

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