Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite review

 Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite review overall
Users pay for the Ativ's slimline design, portability and its touchscreen, but this is let down by the poor display quality and unresponsive trackpad
Pros:
Quick start and wake-up times thanks to the SSD, lightweight and slim design, good keyboard, stylish, portable
Cons:
Plastic-feeling chassis, low-quality screen, average performance, unresponsive trackpad
Overall Rating:
3 Star Rating: Recommended
Price: £600
Manufacturer: Samsung
Model: Ativ Book 9 Lite
Processor: Samsung quad-core 1.4GHz CPU, AMD Radeon HD 8250 graphics
RAM: 8GB DDR3L, running at 1066MHz
Storage: 128GB SSD
Operating system: Windows 8 64bit
Display: 13.3in 1366x768 touchscreen
Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth v4.0
Ports: Mini VGA port, Micro HDMI port, USB3.0 port, USB 2.0 port, 3-in-1 multimedia card reader, headphone-out port, mic-in port, Ethernet port
Weight: 1.58kg
Dimensions: 324x224x17.4mm
Battery: Two-cell 30Wh battery


Samsung's Ativ Book 9 Lite was launched in the UK in August, and is the less powerful but more portable model in the Ativ Book series. Running Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system (OS), the Ativ Book 9 Lite has a solid-state drive (SSD) for quick boot times and a touchscreen for those rare times when you actually want to use the Windows Metro user interface.
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite review in the office
Measuring just over 17mm thick, we test to see if Samsung's Ativ Book 9 can prove a worthy contender for those in the market for a Windows 8-powered Macbook Air equivalent.

Design and build

The Ativ Book 9 Lite's appearance follows in Samsung's usual hardware design footsteps, arriving in two main colours, a blue-black or white. Our review model was the blue-black edition, which we feel looks a little more stylish and would probably show fewer marks and stains after long-term use.
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite review thickness
The Ativ Book 9 Lite's entirely plastic construction means it does look and feel rather cheap, but it's also very light for a Windows 8 device, weighing 1.58kg. It's skinny, measuring just 17.4mm thick, making it a brilliant device for travelling with and using in both the home and the office, for example.

The Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite's chassis is very smooth in hand, which lends to its overall slimline and elegant design. Despite its super-slim form, build quality is a strong point for the Ativ, too. Both the keyboard and the screen feel robust and sturdy, despite their plastic construction. We tested this by taking the screen and forcing it in opposite directions: we found there was little flexibility.
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite review closed
Another nice feature is that the Ativ Book 9 Lite's hinge allows the screen to be pushed all the way back so that it lays flat to the keyboard, making screen-sharing much easier if, for example, you are playing a two-player touch-enabled game with a friend.

Keyboard and trackpad

During our testing we replaced our everyday work and home laptop with the Ativ Book 9 Lite and used it to do pretty much everything for a week.
When testing laptops in this way we consider the keyboard one of the most valuable facets of a notebook device, so we were pleased to find that the Ativ's full-sized keyboard feels great to type on and is a pleasure to use for constructing long documents and complex spreadsheets. Its excellent travel and placement allows you to type quickly with little effort and without making too many mistakes.
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite review keyboard and trackpad
There's a good set of shortcut keys that run across the top of the keyboard, allowing you to change brightness levels and turn the volume up, down or off. However, there are no media playback shortcut keys on the Ativ Book 9 Lite, which we found quite irritating, especially when using Spotify while multitasking, meaning that we had to leave a word-processing document to open the app and change the track, for example.

One thing that really let down the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite during our time with it, however, was the multi-gesture trackpad. It proved to be a real nuisance to navigate due to its width, which felt a little too large when moving the cursor from one side of the screen to the other, as well as being made from an overly smooth material that made it difficult to operate in general, especially when performing more precise actions.

The default function for the trackpad's multi-gesture actions proved unusable for us. The cursor darted to an opposite corner of the display when we least expected it, so when we clicked on an icon, another window or application opened. The multi-gesture actions can be turned off, but even then the trackpad had a very "empty" feel when clicking the built-in mouse buttons, meaning that we naturally pressed harder to operate it, which not only required more effort but meant that the cursor moved slightly as we did so, making it less precise when selecting text, for example.

If you're dead set on buying the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite and can't get used to the trackpad – as we couldn't – buy a Bluetooth mouse to avoid the frustrating design flaws.

Display

Another aspect of the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite that we weren't too impressed with was the screen. Although it is touch enabled, with all commands proving to be very responsive to touch, the laptop's 1366x768 resolution display seemed to be low quality compared with those of other 13in notebooks we have tested lately.
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite review display
On close inspection, pixels are very visible around text and images, seeming somewhat fuzzy around the edges.
Though it was not the best we've seen on a notebook of this calibre, the brightness of the Ativ Book 9 Lite's screen proved vibrant enough for general day-to-day use, with the picture being viewable in a wide range of lighting conditions, even bright sunlight.
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite review display closeup
We used the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite in the garden with the sun directly overhead and we were still able to read what was on the screen, although as suspected, movies did look washed out, and the glossy screen meant that light was often reflected into our eyes when we were working outdoors.

The Ativ Book 9 Lite screen is by no means on the same page as Google's Chromebook Pixel screen, which has a very clear and vibrant display. However, at half the price of the Pixel, we weren't expecting an excellent display, and it is good enough for general use, such as working on Office documents and non-HD video playback.

Next: Performance, operating system and battery life | V3


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About Doru Somcutean

Hello, my name is Somcutean Doru and I'm from Romania.

I really like to read reviews and see what's new about technology, on D-BLOG I share with you articles/reviews that I find interesting. I also write some reviews in romanian...

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