Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus – Heat & Noise
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.
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus – Keyboard
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.
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus – Touchpad
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.
In the usual Ultrabook style, the touchpad is oversized and its buttons are built into the pad itself rather than sitting below it. Like the keyboard, it’s a cracker.
Anything else to consider?
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.
Should I buy the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus?
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.
Score in detail
Screen Quality 9
Build Quality 9
Heat & Noise 8
Battery Life 8