Users looking for a productivity-friendly notebook with strong multimedia prowess and long battery life have a compelling option in the Samsung ATIV Book 9 (2014 Edition). The 15.6-inch notebook sports a colorful, 1920 x 1080 touch screen and rich speakers in an attractive aluminum chassis that's just 0.63 inches thick. However, with a price of $1,499, the ATIV Book 9 is rather expensive for a notebook that doesn't pack the most powerful processor or graphics. Is it worth the money ?
At 14.74 x 9.84 x 0.63 inches and 4.4 pounds, the ATIV Book 9 is significantly thinner and more compact than other 15.6-inch notebooks in its class, including the Toshiba Satellite P50T (14.9 x 9.6 x 1.1 inches, 5.2 pounds) and the Dell XPS 15 (14.6 x 10 x 0.7 inches, 4.6 pounds). The Book 9 is also slimmer than the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display (14.1 x 9.7 x 0.71 inches, 4.5 pounds).
According to our color tests, the ATIV Book 9's screen can display 98.2 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which is significantly higher than the 80.3 percent mainstream laptop category average. However, it's just slightly better than the Toshiba Satellite P50T's 87 percent and slightly behind the Dell Inspiron 15's 103 percent. The panel displayed colors with a Delta E accuracy rating of 5.5 (0 is perfect accuracy), which is a bit worse than the Satellite P50T's score of 3.3, but better than the Inspiron 15's mark of 11.9.
At 279 nits of brightness, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 is quite a bit brighter than the 256-nit category average, the 229-nit Toshiba Satellite and the 211-nit Dell Inspiron 15. However, the Dell XPS 15 measured an even-brighter 364 nits. Colors remained true even as we moved 90 degrees to the left or right.
The 10-point capacitive touch screen was responsive to all of our inputs. We were able to draw with all of our fingers at once in Windows Paint.
The audio was loud enough to fill a medium-sized room, and measured 86 dB on our test, exactly on a par with the category average, but a little higher than the Dell XPS 15 (84 dB). The Dolby Digital software allowed us to control the equalizer and change profiles for different types of sound, including music, movies and gaming.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Nevertheless, the keys felt fairly springy. On the Ten Thumbs Typing Test, we achieved a rate of 79 words per minute with a 3-percent error rate, slightly below our 86 wpm/1-percent norm. The keyboard's backlight isn't particularly bright but was more than adequate for seeing the keys.
The 4.25 x 3-inch, buttonless touchpad provided mostly accurate navigation around the desktop, though we did notice occasional sticking. Windows 8 gestures, such as sliding in from the right for charms or in from the left for the task menu, worked smoothly. Pinch-to-zoom also worked accurately, but we could not enable or use other multi-finger gestures, such as two-finger rotate or three-finger swipe.
The Book 9 stayed pleasantly cool throughout our tests. After 15 minutes of streaming video, we measured the touchpad at a cool 79 degrees, its keyboard at 89 degrees and its bottom at 89 degrees Fahrenheit. We consider temperatures below 95 degrees acceptable and those below 90 imperceptible.
Ports and Webcam
With its 1.6-GHz Intel Core i5-4200U CPU, 128GB SSD, 8GB of RAM and Intel HD 4400 graphics, the ATIV Book 9 provides strong performance for everyday tasks like surfing the Web and watching videos, but it's not good enough for gaming or professional video/CAD editing.
On PCMark7, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall performance, the ATIV Book 9 scored a solid 4,681, better than the 4,093 mainstream notebook category average. The Toshiba Satellite P50T, with its Core i7-4700HQ CPU, scored a much-higher 5,637, while the Core i7-4702Q-powered Dell XPS 15 reached 5,806.
The notebook's 128GB SSD booted into Windows 8.1 Professional in a mere 8 seconds, less than half the 19-second category average and the Satellite P50T's time of 17 seconds, and also much lower than the XPS 15's mark of 14 seconds.
The ATIV Book 9 completed the Laptop Mag File Transfer test, which involves copying 4.97GB of mixed media files, in 57 seconds. That's a rate of 89.3 MBps, about on par with the 86 MBps category average but way faster than the Toshiba Satellite P50T (24.5 MBps). The MacBook Pro (309 MBps) and Dell XPS 15 (231.3 MBps) were more than twice as fast, though.
The notebook completed the Open Office Spreadsheet Macro test, in which we match 20,000 names with their addresses, in 5 minutes and 21 seconds. That's somewhat faster than the 5:32 category average, but quite a bit slower than the Satellite P50T (3:59).
When we fired up a game of "World of Warcraft," a rather undemanding title, we got a rate of 41 frames-per-second at 1366 x 768 resolution with autodetect settings, which dropped to a still-playable 34 fps at the notebook's 1920 x 1080 resolution. However, those numbers are both less than half the category averages of 83 and 90 fps and well behind the Dell XPS 15 (86/59 fps).
When we turned the special effects up, the rates dropped to an unplayable 22 and 15 fps at 1366 x 768 and 1920 x 1080 resolutions, respectively.
The ATIV Book 9 lasted a strong 8 hours and 38 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery test, which involves continuous surfing over Wi-Fi at 100 nits brightness. That time is far better than the 6:19 category average, the Toshiba Satellite P50T's time of 2 hours and 38 minutes, and the Dell XPS 15's time of 7:07. However, the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display lasted 8 hours and 57 minutes.
Software and Warranty
S Player+ plays music and video files. S Photo is a very basic, touch-friendly photo editor for Windows 8's Modern UI that lets you crop, rotate or add effects to photos.
Like most laptops, the ATIV Book 9 comes with security trialware, in this case Norton Internet Security. There's also a 90-day trial of Adobe Photoshop Elements 11.
Samsung backs the ATIV Book 9 with a standard 1-year warranty on parts and labor. The company scored a solid 89 out of 100 in our most recent tech support showdown, earning it a third-place finish out of nine brands.
Samsung offers two configurations of the ATIV Book 9 (2014 Edition). Our review unit was the $1,499 base model, which comes with a Core i5-4200U CPU and a 128GB SSD. There's also a $1,899 configuration, which has a Core i7-4500U CPU and a 256GB SSD.
For the same price, graphics professionals can nab the lightweight, 13-inch MacBook Pro, which offers a Retina display, a faster processor, Intel Iris graphics and a 256GB SSD (the 15-inch Pro costs $500 more but has a quad-core CPU). The Dell XPS 15 is another good choice because of its higher-res screen and available Nvidia graphics. However, if you want a touch screen, 15-inch notebook that lasts all day and looks good doing it, you'll be happy with the Samsung ATIV Book 9.
|CPU||1.6-GHz Intel Core i5-4200U|
|Operating System||Windows 8.1 Pro|
|RAM Upgradable to||8GB|
|Hard Drive Size||128GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||n/a|
|Hard Drive Type||SSD Drive|
|Secondary Hard Drive Size|
|Secondary Hard Drive Speed|
|Secondary Hard Drive Type|
|Optical Drive Speed|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4400|
|Wi-Fi Model||Intel Dual-Band Wireless AC 7260|
|Touchpad Size||4.25 x 3 inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 2.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headphone|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Ethernet|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Card Slots||3-1 card reader|
|Warranty/Support||1 Year Standard Parts and Labor|
|Size||14.74" x 9.84" x 0.63"|