Samsung Ativ Book 9 goes high-res - CNET

Samsung Ativ Book 9 goes high-res

LONDON -- Samsung went head to head against Apple's MacBook Air when it first launched the Series 9 laptop. It paired high performance with decent battery life, all wrapped up inside an atom-splittingly thin frame.

It's back again to challenge for the top ultraportable spot. Along with a new name, the Ativ Book 9 Plus boasts a monster high-resolution screen, touch-screen operation for Windows 8, and boosted battery life.

Samsung hasn't given any word on availability or pricing yet, but don't expect it to come cheap.


From the outside, the Plus looks basically the same as Samsung's Series 9 ultrabook that the Ativ Book replaces. It shares the same blue-gray color, as well as the curving metal edging. Samsung reckons it's designed to look like a magazine folded over. I'm not sure I quite see that, but it doesn't matter -- it looks great regardless.

It still has a full metal construction. Not only does that make it look and feel like a considerably more premium machine than plastic-clad laptops, but it should also help it take a few knocks and bumps on the road. I wasn't able to put it through CNET's usual stress tests, but I'm confident it won't fall apart at the first sign of trouble.

It's a 13-inch machine, with similar physical dimensions to its predecessor. Getting it into a backpack or carry sleeve will be no trouble at all thanks to its superskinny 13.6mm design. At 1.39kg (3.06 pounds), you won't need to hit the gym before trying to carry it anywhere, either.

The keyboard and touch pad look basically the same as the previous model's, but Samsung has apparently given them a couple of tweaks. The keys have been given more travel and a brighter backlight, while the touch pad has been made more responsive. Whether these tweaks make any noticeable difference in everyday use remains to be seen.


Samsung has upped the Series 9's screen resolution to a whopping 3,200x1,800 pixels, making it possibly the highest-resolution 13-inch laptop around (although it's the same as its stablemate, the Ativ Q). I wasn't able to spend much time poring over test images, but the examples I did see looked crisp and clear.

The extra serving of pixels should make high-definition images and ultra-high-definition videos look brilliant. There's not a whole lot of video around that supports that kind of resolution right now -- movie releases on Blu-ray top out at 1080p -- but as UHD TVs become more popular, expect more and more titles to be released that take advantage of this quantity of pixels.

The Book 9 Plus seemed satisfyingly bright in my hands-on time, with vivid colors, too. I only had a short while with it, and it was in a fairly dim room where even the dullest of screens will shine like a supernova. I'm looking forward to giving it a proper look in our lab conditions.

The display is touch-enabled in order to take full advantage of the big, colorful tiles of Windows 8. It supports 10 touch inputs and was satisfyingly responsive in my hands-on.

Specs and features

Samsung has tinkered with the 9's hinge to make it lock in place when open. Apparently this helps it stop wobbling around when you're poking and prodding at the touch screen. With the lock off, you're able to push the screen right back so it lies flat against the table. I'm not really sure why you'd want to, but there it is.

Under the hood is an Intel Core processor -- one of the new Haswell chips. Samsung didn't specify exactly which one it will be, but presumably you'll be able to choose different models depending on your power needs. And, of course, the depth of your wallet. It'll provide SSD storage options, which again will likely vary depending on the model you opt for.

Samsung reckons the battery is able to keep on chugging away for up to 12 hours. That puts it in the same ballpark as the updated 13-inch MacBook Air. As always, that'll be a best-case scenario figure, so your own times will depend on how you use it. Run the processor ragged with video encoding and the brightness ramped up and you shouldn't expect to get anything like 12 hours.


The Ativ Book 9 Plus keeps the same sleek, attractive design as its predecessor but mixes in a glaringly high-resolution, touch-enabled display. It's almost certainly going to be a pricey piece of gear, but it could be worthwhile for media types for whom resolution is paramount.


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