Samsung has refreshed its flagship Ativ Book 9 Ultrabook with Intel Haswell internals and a Full HD display
Samsung didn’t update its 15in Series 9 laptop when it launched the 13in Ativ Book 9 Plus last year, but with CES under way the time has finally come for the larger flagship Ultrabook to receive a facelift along with a new name.
The 15in Ativ Book 9 2014 edition improves on the outgoing model with a Full HD, 1,920×1,080 touchscreen display that’s 25% brighter and a lot sharper than the old 1,600×900 panel. It’s also slightly bigger, stretching from 15 inches to 15.6in. An improvement, yes, but still behind the super high-resolution 3,200×1,800 screen found on the 19in Ativ Book 9 Plus. It looks great too, with the extra brightness really shining through on the brightly-lit show floor.
Other upgrades include a full-sized HDMI port, instead of the Micro HDMI found in the old model, and new energy efficient Intel Haswell processors which help boost battery life from 10 hours to 14, as well as provide better Desktop performance and gaming potential.
The keyboard has received a significant upgrade with new contoured keys that have been UL (Underwriters Laboratories) Certified for comfort and usability. Each key is still backlit to help with low light typing. In use we found it to be excellent, with a nice crisp action. The keyboard tray is now slightly recessed too, apparently to increase typing comfort. The huge touchpad below the screen has a smooth surface which your finger glides over, no complaints here either.
Finally, a Wolfson DAC supports lossless audio playback through headphones or external speakers. You might not get the benefits through the integrated speakers, but with more streaming services now supporting lossless playback we’re sure music fans will appreciate its inclusion. It will be interesting to see how well it performs against similar high-end DACs in external enclosures, or whether there are quality issues, stemming from interference, caused by packing it into such a slender chassis.
As expected the laptop feels incredibly well designed and well made. We’re not quite sure who wants a laptop with a screen this big, but is willing to pay the premium required for something this slender and well engineered. It’s neither an everyman device nor a true ultra-portable. Still, it’s undeniably lovely and we certainly wouldn’t want to put anyone off if it fits your needs.
Samsung has yet to reveal pricing or availability for the UK, only confirming there would be two models available at launch; a base spec with an Intel Core i5 CPU and 128GB SSD, and a more powerful Core i7 model with 256GB of flash storage. The more expensive of those will cost around $1,400 in the US, so expect to pay well over £1,000 in the UK.