Review Price £1,200.00
When performing light tasks, the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus is silent. The rear part of its underside does tend to get a little warm, but that is fundamentally unavoidable in a slim aluminium laptop like this.
Under pressure, the fans kick in, whose output sits towards the rear of the Ativ's bottom panel. It uses a pair of fans to avoid having them have to rev too hard. And that - along with the efficient innards - helps to keep the laptop pretty quiet in all situations.
The Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus has a low-profile Chiclet keyboard that’s very similar to the keyboard of the last Samsung Series 9 laptop we looked at. It doesn’t have the firm resistance and meaty key press action of something like the Lenovo Thinkpad X1, but it is crisp and even.
Clearly-marked second functions are used across the F1-12, arrow and control keys, giving you quick access to the screen/audio settings menu, as well as the usual brightness and volume controls. It also lets the keyboard pack in, Home, End and Page up/down buttons without squishing any of the keys unduly. Shallow travel aside, it’s a comfortable keyboard to type on.
The Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus also has a keyboard backlight that shines a cool white glow through the keys’ lettering. Secondary function keys give you a great level of control over the level of the keyboard light too. This really is a near-perfectly executed keyboard, restricted only by the size demands of the Ultrabook class.
The Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus’s touchpad is also great. Like the MacBook Air, it has a textured glass top layer that feels fantastic on the fingers. It’s smooth, it’s responsive and it looks great too.
This is a flagship laptop, but there are a few things to mull over when buying a laptop of this type. You don’t get an optical drive, there’s no dedicated graphics chip and connectivity is a little limited compared with a leviathan desktop-replacer.
If your Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus is going to spend a lot of time out of the house, or even being taken from room to room, its design is perfect for the task. But if it’s going to sit on a desk at home all its life, you’re missing what it’s all about.
The Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus is a luxury laptop. While you can customise your spec a little to stop the price from floating into the stratosphere, there are few compromises in its design – and that’s reflected in the laptop’s £1,200 starting price.
Is it poor value? No, but if you’re willing to step down a spec rung or two, and don’t mind trading the fantastic display and touchscreen, the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite offers a similar body for half the price.
Serious typists may prefer the (admittedly less pretty) Lenovo X1 Thinkpad Carbon and the cheaper (but chunkier) Samsung Series 7 Ultra is a better gaming machine. And if you're not bothered about the top-notch screen, the Sony Vaio Pro 13 offers very similar performance and similarly slim-line design for less money.
However, if a Windows 8 alternative to the MacBook Air is what you’re after, you really can’t do much better. Other laptops with as high-res screens as this will come soon, but for now this is the screen King of super-slim laptops.
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It may not come cheap, but the Samsung Ativ 9 Plus looks and feels its money. It’s a great looking laptop of near-flawless build quality and a brilliant screen. The superb screen resolution ensures that other laptops using similarly up-to-date components will offer better battery life, but thanks to the optimisation of the Intel Haswell CPU, it lasts for a full day of work anyway. Ultrabooks don’t get much better than this.
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