With a screen that PCMag.com calls "jaw dropping," construction quality and materials that scream "high end," long battery life and enough power to tackle anything but competitive gaming, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus has rocketed to the top of the charts in reviews. It's a little pricey, critics say, but most admit that you get every bit of the laptop that you pay for, and then some.
A high-performance Ultrabook. Driven by a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 (Haswell) processor, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus performs similarly to other like-priced premium Windows Ultrabooks, such as the also well-regarded Acer Aspire S7 (Est. $1,330 and up) . Outfitted with a fast 128 GB SSD, integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400 and 4 GB of RAM (all also typical of this class), the Book 9 Plus is certainly not a high-end gaming laptop, but it can handle just about anything else you throw at it with ease. The eight-hour battery life isn't class-leading in tests, but at between eight and nine hours, it well exceeds what the average Ultrabook can deliver. For those who want or need even more power, a Core i7 version (Est. $1,800) has been announced but has not started shipping at the time of this update.
The display is the difference. While the Book 9 Plus stands on equal terms with other premium Windows Ultrabooks in terms of raw performance, its screen leaves most competitors in the dust. It's a QuadHD+ touch screen with a Retina display demolishing resolution of 3,200 by 1,800 pixels. "Jaw dropping" says PCMag.com. It's also 10-point touch sensitive, so you can get the most out of Windows 8 touch features. One drawback to all the extra pixels, CNET says, is that not all that many Windows 8 apps can take advantage of them, so you'll likely be dialing things back to a more normal 1080p resolution much of the time. The hinge swivels 180 degrees, so the display can lay flat on the table, but not flip around or detach for use as a slate. We found different opinions regarding the keyboard. TrustedReviews.com calls it "a near-perfectly executed keyboard, restricted only by the size demands of the Ultrabook class." Laptop Magazine and Engadget.com complain that key travel is a little shallow, which can lead to dropped letters for some typists.
Thin, light and beautiful. The Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus should quickly become a business traveler's best friend. The touch screen adds a little bit of weight and girth to its predecessor, but not very much. Its footprint is smaller than a 13-inch Apple MacBook Air (Est. $1,050 and up) , CNET says, though at 3.06 pounds it does weigh just a skosh more than the 2.96-pound Air. Speaking of the Air, the Book 9 Plus also uses aluminum unibody construction, though here it is painted a grey-blue. Laptop Magazine calls the package "quietly gorgeous, serving up a bevy of clean lines and soft, rounded curves."
Solid construction, solid support. Samsung has developed a solid reputation among laptop users. It takes home a Readers' Choice award at PCMag.com for overall customer satisfaction. Ben Gottesman adds that Samsung has also become one of the most reliable laptop brands; a lower percentage of Samsung laptops needed repair over the year before the survey than any other brand. Should problems arise, Samsung also fares relatively well in Laptop Magazine's ratings of technical support, finishing in third place behind Sony and Apple.
A premium product at a premium price. Cutting right to the chase, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus is a pricey Ultrabook. However, even experts who complain about the cost admit -- however begrudgingly -- that for what you get, the price is justified. Build quality, company reputation, computing performance and that super-high-res screen all combine to create one appealing package.
The Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus earns an Editors' Choice award here. "The Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus goes toe to toe with the best premium ultrabooks, then tops it off with a jaw-dropping high-resolution display," Westover writes.
Review: Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus, Brian Westover, Oct. 17, 2013
Yes, Stein says, the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus is an expensive Ultrabook. "Nevertheless, it's hard to beat the pure package that the Book 9 Plus offers," he adds, calling it one of his favorite Windows 8 laptops.
Review: Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus Review: High-resolution, Small-footprint Premium Laptop, Scott Stein, Oct. 15, 2013
3. Laptop Magazine
The Acer Aspire S7 gets an edge in the premium Ultrabook class at Laptop Magazine. However, Smith adds, "the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus offers a sharper screen for $100 less, making it an excellent choice for shoppers craving a lightweight notebook with solid computing power, long endurance and a beautiful display."
Review: Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus Review, Sherri L. Smith, Sept. 19, 2013
4. Notebook Check.net
This incredibly thorough German site looks at a European version of the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus. "Samsung has created an overall well-designed premium device that only exhibited a few shortcomings in our tests," Schönborn writes. It earns a purchase recommendation, "although potential buyers can choose among many, not less attractive alternatives."
Review: Review Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus 940X3G Ultrabook, Till Schönborn, Oct. 9, 2013
The Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus earns a Recommended award here. Long battery life, "near-flawless build quality," and a terrific screen are why. "Ultrabooks don't get much better than this," Williams writes.
Review: Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus Review, Andrew Williams, Aug. 29, 2013
"The ATIV is certainly one of the best Ultrabooks we've seen to date," Odzantis says. The Samsung Book 9 Plus earns another Recommended award at this British site.
Review: Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus review, Nick Odzantis, Sept. 26, 2013
Engadget.com doesn't rate or rank laptops, but its reviews are comprehensive, hands-on, and Wollman's conclusions leave little doubt about which laptops are winners, and which are not. Here, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus is called a "fantastic option" among similarly priced and also excellent Ultrabooks.
Review: Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus Review, Dana Wollman, Sept. 30, 2013
The Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus earns both Editors' Choice and Best of the Year honors here. The review isn't as in-depth as some, but testing is done. Fields is impressed with the laptop's display, overall performance and styling.
Review: Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus Review, Josh Fields, Sept.13, 2013