Samsung: Best and Worst Laptop Brands
A relatively minor player in the laptop market, Samsung did nothing to raise its profile in 2015. The company rolled out a few thin-and-light laptops like the Ativ Book 9 and the Book 9 Plus, but its laptops fell short of the competition in battery life and used the same design language they've had for years. Though Samsung offers relatively good phone support, its Web resources were disappointing.
There's no denying that the Ativ Book in its many sizes (Ativ Book 9 (2015), Ativ Book 9 Pro, Ativ Book 9 Plus) is a sexy, sleek laptop. The inky blue-black aluminum chassis is gorgeous, with a premium look and feel. The lines are clean and the curves are rounded. And it rarely weighs more than 4 pounds. The problem is that the design language hasn't changed in the past three years. However, for 2016, the company is introducing a new, even-lighter line of Book 9 laptops in 13.3- and 15-inch sizes.
Of the few Samsung laptops we reviewed in 2015, most were good but not great. Despite their attractive aluminum designs and rich displays, the ATIV Book 9 and 9 Pro failed to deliver the same level of battery life, performance and pricing we got with competing systems. The company's Ativ Book 9 Plus was easily the best system it produced, with a bright, high-res screen and an attractive design.
MORE: Best Samsung Laptops
Tech Support (17/20)
We received excellent support from Samsung's phone agents and live-chat service during our tech support showdown, but it failed to deliver in every category. The company's customer- support reps on Facebook did a poor job of responding to our queries in a timely manner, and its online documentation database was out-of-date, focused almost entirely on Windows 8 and not Windows 10. We'd also like to see Samsung add laptop purchases to its Samsung Plus loyalty program.
Samsung backs its laptops with a modest one-year warranty where you're responsible for shipping costs if you need to send a product for service. The company also says it won't service "altered" products, which means that upgraded laptops won't be covered.
Generally speaking, Samsung machines are useful if you need high-end productivity software.
Samsung hasn't done much new with its apps this year, but it still provides a host of helpful utilities. SideSync, which lets you view your Galaxy smartphone or tablet's screen on your laptop, remains one of our favorite pre-loaded apps. Samsung also offers its own settings menu, software updater and recovery tools. Unfortunately, a few of Samsung's ATIV books came with bloatware such as Candy Crush, iHeartRadio and Netflix.
Known for making a handful of extremely thin Ultrabooks, Samsung spent the past year refreshing its existing models, without adding any substantial new features or designs. However, in 2016, the company will be releasing its 13.3- and 15-inch Notebook 9 laptops, which weigh just 1.85 and 2.84 pounds, respectively.
Value and Selection (6/15)
With the exception of a few inexpensive Chromebooks, Samsung makes a very limited selection of lightweight laptops with hefty price tags. Windows laptops from Samsung range from $1,200 for the ATIV Book 9 (2015) to $1,600 for the ATIV Book 9 Pro, which makes for a narrow range of both machines and prices. Generally speaking, Samsung machines are useful if you need high-end productivity software, but they're not great for gaming, and they're too expensive for most everyday consumers.
How Samsung Can Improve
If Samsung really wants to be a player in the U.S. notebook market, it needs to release more and better products. The company should also focus more on battery life for its ultraportables.