Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus £1099
24th Jun 2013 | 11:30
Includes SideSync software to simplify file and content sharing
Samsung has rolled out a new pair of Ativ Book 9 Ultrabooks that mark an evolution from the company's sleek Series 9 laptops.
Like its predecessors, the Ativ Book 9 Plus is still a smart Windows laptop that combines internal horsepower with high portability. Joining it is the Ativ Book 9 Lite, which is essentially a stripped down version of the same laptop aimed at buyers on a budget.
Ativ Book 9 Plus - Design
Chiselled with an aluminium, uni-body design, the Ativ Book 9 Plus is one of Samsung's slimmest offerings, measuring 13.6mm at its thickest edge. It's a sleek number that combines moody dark tones (it's only available in ash black) with metallic edges to give it an understated yet elegant appearance. Unless you're planning on picking up a certain desktop PC that Samsung unveiled recently, it would easily blend in with other machines in offices or homes.
It tips the scales at 1.35Kg, which makes it slightly heavier than its 13-inch MacBook Air rival, but it's unlikely you'd notice the weight difference between the two. The Plus's full metal construction gives it a noticeably more solid feel over its Lite sibling, and we're confident that it would survive a knock or two. We found no areas of noticeable flex in its solid chassis, and its trackpad and buttons produced satisfying clicks.
One of the first things you'll notice about the Ativ Book 9 Plus is the display, which dashes beyond full HD into QHD+ (Quad High Definition) territory. With a 3200 x 1800 pixel resolution, the screen crams four times as many pixels onto the display over standard HD. It also packs more pixels than Apple's MacBook Pro with Retina's display, which possesses a 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution.
Simply put, the display looks fantastic. It renders text unbelievably sharp, while colours and images 'pop'. It features 10-point touch, giving users another method of navigating the tactile world that is Windows 8.
Both the Pure and Lite's displays can bend back 180 degrees to lie flat, which a Samsung representative told us is great for letting your friends also watch what's on the screen. Upside down. No, we're not sure why you would want to either.
Processors available in the Plus are Intel's fourth generation Core i5 and i7 offerings, and shared HD 4400 graphics, which is backed up by up to 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Samsung claims the Ativ Book 9 Plus can boot up from cold in under 60 seconds.
Samsung is claiming 12 hours' battery life from the Plus, which falls in line with other Haswell Ultrabooks. Bear in mind that the display may eat up that longevity like a ravenous boar, so we'll take that claim with a pinch of salt until we've put the model through its paces.
Casting an eye at its connectivity options, it features two USB 3.0 ports, a micro HDMI, mini VGA, an SD card slot, and headphone and microphone ports. Samsung has supposedly given the backlit keyboard a tweak over previous models to afford greater travel, though we didn't detect any noticeable level of sponginess; in fact, key presses returned fairly unsatisfactory feedback. It may be something that we would get used to over time, but we weren't overwhelmed with a sense of comfort during our short typing test.
Samsung is packing its SideSync technology with both the Plus and Lite models, which allows users to drag files from the desktop onto a smartphone. It works by displaying the smartphone's interface on the desktop in a window with which the cursor can interact. Text and content can be copied and pasted from one device to the other, and vice versa.
The feature refused to work when we tried to pair the two devices over the venue's guest Wi-Fi network, which was more than likely down to the levels of congestion in the room. After switching to USB pairing, it took under a minute for the two devices to connect and mirror what was on their respective screens.
Hands On: Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite
Samsung knows that not everybody will be able to cough up for the premium smarts found on the Ativ Book 9 Plus, so it's offering the model alongside the budget conscious Ativ Book 9 Lite.
First up, the Lite is no shabby customer. It's a little thicker (0.67 inches) and heftier (3.17 ounces) than the Plus and lacks its premium build quality, but it's still a good looking machine.
The Lite falls short at the screen, which has been reduced to a 1366x768 pixel-resolution. Predictably, its outputted visuals are a league or three below those found on the Plus, but should still be perfectly adequate for most users (and likely to make the model much cheaper).
It retains the same 10-point touchscreen and has a 'specially made' quad-core processor, in addition to shared graphics and a 256GB SSD drive. While most of the Plus's connectivity options are present, including Micro HDMI, mini VGA and USB 3.0, it lacks an SD card slot and security lock slot.
Battery life has also dropped to 8.5 hours in the model (for the non-touch screen configuration), and main memory is halved from the Plus down to 4GB.
Samsung is releasing both models later this year and the company has yet to reveal pricing details for the pair.