Samsung Enters 2-in-1 Fray with ATIV Book 9 Spin

Following the likes of just about every notebook maker not named Apple, Samsung introduced the ATIV Book 9 Spin, a 13-inch ultraportable with a display that bends back 360 degrees to convert it from a laptop to a tablet. Available in November for $1,399, this Core i7-powered Windows 10 notebook looks to go head-to-head with the likes of Lenovo, HP, and Toshiba. Here's how it compares with others of its ilk. 

The ATIV Book 9 Spin's 13.3-inch display has a resolution of 3200 x 1800, which puts it in the same league, pixel-wise, as the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, the Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 (which has a 4K display), and the high-end version of the HP Spectre x360, which has a 2560 x 1440 screen. All those notebooks can also rotate their displays 360 degrees.

MORE: Best 2-in-1s (Laptop/Tablet Hybrids)

In our hands-on time with the ATIV Book 9 Spin, it felt and looked pretty much like previous Samsung notebooks, with the exception of a larger hinge. The Spin has the same aluminum case with polished edges that show off its various ports, which include USB Type-C, full-size HDMI, and USB 3.0. The keyboard, for better or worse, was similar to other ATIV Books; key travel was omn the shallow side, but should still be fairly comfortable to type on for extended periods. 

Weighing 2.87 pounds, the ATIV Book 9 is lighter than the Yoga (3 pounds) and Spectre X360 (3.26 pounds), and on a par with the smaller Toshiba (2.9 pounds).  The Samsung packs a Core i7-6500U processor, the same as in the HP and Toshiba, and is more powerful than the Core M CPU in the Lenovo. Also standard with the ATIV Book is 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. 

As we've seen with a lot of super-slim, super-light notebooks with high-res displays, battery life takes a hit, and it looks like the ATIV Book is no different. Samsung estimates that the ATIV Book 9 will last up to 7.3 hours on a charge (using a MobileMark 2014 test); that's about on a par with the Yoga 3 Pro, which lasted 6:29 on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (Web surfing via Wi-Fi with the screen at 100 nits), but better than the Toshiba (a below-average 5:17). The HP Spectre x360 we tested lasted 9:28, but it had a 1920 x 1080p display.

The ATIV Book 9 Spin wasn't the only new notebook launched by Samsung; the company is also introducing an update to its 15-inch laptop, the ATIV Book 9 Pro, which promises to be a strong MacBook Pro competitor. Available for $1,599 in November, this system has a 15.6-inch 4K (3840 x 2160) display, Core i7-6700HQ processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. Additionally, the notebook will have Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M graphics with 2GB of GDDR2 memory. This svelte system (14.72 x 9.83 x 0.7 inches) will weigh 4.45 pounds, and last up to 6.5 hours on a charge. 

However, the Book 9 Pro will face some stiff competition from the redesigned Dell XPS 15, which also features a 4K display in a smaller 14 x 9.3-inch package (that also weighs around 4 pounds), optional Nvidia GeForce 960M graphics, and up to 17 hours of battery life. Both beat out the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina when it comes to resolution (the Mac has a 2880 x 1800-pixel display) as well as price: If you want a MacBook Pro with discrete graphics--in this case, an AMD Radeon R9 M370X GPU--it'll set you back $2,499.

Although Samsung doesn't come out with many notebooks in the U.S., the ones that do make it to our shelves tend to be high-quality, so we're interested to see how they fare in our tests. 

LAPTOP Reviews Editor