The Bottom Line
Oct 11 2013 - Samsung's ATIV Book 9 Plus is an amazing ultrabook that features a few annoyances that keep it from being nearly perfect. The super high resolution touchscreen display is its standout feature that rivals even Apple's Retina displays. The battery life has also been helped tremendously but he new 4th generation processor. It would just be nice if Samsung could offer more configuration options as the 4GB of memory and 128GB storage is limited and the keyboard and trackpad both need some improvement.
- Super High Resolution Display
- Excellent Build Quality
- Long Battery Life
- Just 4GB of Memory
- Keyboard and Trackpad Could Use Some Work
- Intel Core i5-4200U Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 128GB Solid State Drive
- 13.3" QHD+ (3200x1800) Multitouch Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4400 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet (w/Dongle), 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, micro-HDMI, 3-in-1 Card Reader
- 12.6" x 8.8" x .54" @ 3.06 lbs.
- Windows 8
Review - Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
Oct 11 2013 - Samsung's Series 9 was considered a premium ultrabook that offered some good features in an ultrathin design. The ATIV Book 9 was the eventual replacement that took much of the same design as that past model but the Plus versions wrap it up with a new touchscreen display. It is just a bit thicker because of this but still very thin at .54-inch at its thickest. It still features an aluminum clad exterior but with a bit of a color change to have a bit more of a blue tint to it. The weight comes in at just over three pounds which is fairly common for this size of system.
The Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus uses the new Intel 4th generation of processors that offers improved energy efficiencies. The Core i5-4200U dual core processor provides roughly the same performance as a core i3-3337U common to many of the past generations of ultrabooks. This should be sufficient for most user tasks but will lag behind traditional laptops in demanding tasks like desktop video work. The processor is matched up with 4GB of DDR3 memory that provides a smooth enough experience in Windows but is a bit disappointing as more systems in this price range have moved to 8GB which helps more for demanding applications. The memory can also not be upgraded.
Storage like most new ultrabooks is reliant solely upon solid state storage drives per Intel's new requirements. For this system, that ends up being the 128GB capacity. This is a bit limited if the system is used as the primary computer as larger media files can quickly eat up that space. Performance is very good from the drive and results in fast application loads and boot times of just over ten seconds. If you do need additional storage space, the system features two USB 3.0 ports (one on ether side) for use with high speed external storage drives. There is also a standard memory card reader for use with the common SD flash cards.
The big feature for the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus though is the screen. It is one of the first to come to the market with the new super high resolution panels that is even greater than the Apple Retina displays. The native resolution for this display is 3200x1800 which is close to that required for 4K video. Admittedly, the detail is almost lost here as the 13.3-inch panel at that high of resolution is hard to see with the human eye. The downside is that not all apps are designed to run at this high of a resolution so you end up with either small icons or fuzzy images when they are scaled up to the display. Brightness, color and viewing angles are all spectacular making this great for just about any type of video task. The graphics for the system are handled by the Intel HD Graphics 4400 that is built into the Core i5 processor. This is sufficient for most uses of the system but is certainly not really suitable for 3D gaming at all. It does provide some nice acceleration of media encoding when used with Quick Sync compatible applications.
Due to the thin nature of the ATIV Book 9 Plus laptop, the keyboard for the system is a bit shallow. With such short travel, the keyboard suffers a bit compared to Samsung's other keyboards. The layout and spacing of the keys, even if quite nice for this isolated design, just doesn't quite live up to some of the competition. The trackpad design is quite large and uses integrated buttons. Its basic accuracy is good but has a few issues with some of Windows 8 multitouch gestures such that you may end up switching applications at times. Of course, the touchscreen display does alleviate some of this provide if you don't mind cleaning the screen frequently.
Samsung packs the ATIV Book 9 Plus with a 55.5 WHr capacity internal battery pack. This makes it slightly high capacity than Apple's latest MacBook Air 13. Between this and similar performance, one might expect it to have similar battery life. In digital video playback tests, the system was able to run for eight and a half hours. This is quite impressive and should provide it with all day computing but it still falls short of Apple's over ten hours. The likely difference is probably due to the high resolution display of the ATIV Book 9 Plus.
Pricing for the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus is roughly $1400, which is inline with many other premium ultrabooks. Apple's MacBook Air 13 is a bit more affordable and offers twice the storage capacity and memory along with longer running times but with the lower resolution display. Acer's Aspire S7 is nearly the same price and has twice the memory but a display that reaches just 1080p. Sony's VIAO Pro 13 is just a bit more expensive and offers much higher performance from a Core i7 processor with 8GB of memory and is extremely lightweight but runs very hot and has a lower 1080p display. Finally, the Toshiba KIRAbook 13 is a good deal more expensive but features twice the memory, and storage with a nice 2560x1440 display and a third USB 3.0 port but has the much less battery life.