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Samsung's Notebook Flash Is a Fun Take on the Budget Laptop

LAS VEGAS—Budget laptops don't typically leave a lasting impression on me, but Samsung's new 13.3-inch Notebook Flash isn't just any ordinary low-price machine.

Revealed at CES 2019, the notebook was designed to offer customers premium features at a not-so-premium price. The Flash delivers on that premise in a couple of ways.

Starting at $349, the laptop features a USB-C port, which is a rarity in an inexpensive Windows laptop. Perhaps even more surprising is the fingerprint sensor built into the deck of the Notebook Flash. That security feature is typically reserved for mainstream or premium laptops. Samsung also didn't cut corners with the Notebook Flash's display, either, including a 13.3-inch, 1080p anti-glare panel.

The Notebook Flash has an unconventional design that's appropriate for its target audience: kids and students. As expected, the Flash is made of plastic, but I like what Samsung did to make you forget about that fact. Carved into the deck of this charcoal black laptop is a woven-textile pattern that gives the chassis a rigid texture. The lid, for better or worse, sports a funky pattern with small black lines, as if it were topped with birthday sprinkles. The look reminds me a bit of beard stubble but you can come up a more pleasant association.

Samsung Notebook Flash
Starting Price$349
Display13.3-inch, 1080p
CPUIntel Celeron N4000/Pentium Silver N5000
RAM4GB
Storage64GB
PortsThunderbolt 3, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI, microSD
Size12.7 x 8.6 x 0.7 inches
Weight3 pounds

My favorite part of the Notebook Flash's design is its typewriter-style keyboard. (Google did something similar with the detachable keyboard on the Pixel Slate.) The rounded keys on the Notebook Flash felt comfortable to type on in my brief time with the device.

MORE: The Best 13-Inch Laptops: Portable Notebooks for Any Budget

The Flash isn't the slimmest or lightest laptop you'll come across, but at 3 pounds and 0.67 inches, it's compact enough to slip into a backpack and take to class. Port selection is decent at this price point: Along with the Thunderbolt 3 port, the Flash has USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 inputs, an HDMI, a microSD card slot and a headphone/mic jack.

The Notebook Flash offers decent components for the price, but you should keep your expectations in check. The base model will come equipped with an Intel Celeron N4000 CPU, 4GB of RAM and 64GB flash storage. For another $50, you can upgrade the processor to an Intel Pentium Silver N5000 CPU.

Samsung rates the laptop's battery life at 10 hours, which is just long enough to get you through a school day. We'll find out if that figure holds up when we put a review unit through our battery test later this year.

Phillip Tracy is a senior writer at Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he reviews laptops and covers the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News and NewBay Media. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, listening to indie music or watching soccer.