Review: Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus (13.3″ QHD+ Touch / Core™ i7), my new laptop

After 3 years and a half of using a MacBook Air 13 inch as my personal laptop I finally decided to upgrade and went with an Ultrabook and Windows 8. After using a Surface Pro as a tablet I really started to like Windows 8 a lot. This new Ultrabook has  an Intel Core i7 4500U with a speed of 1.80 GHz and with a Turbo Boost of 3 GHz.

ATIV book 9 Plus

Look and feel

Yes, this laptop feels and looks a lot like the MacBook Air, and that is not a bad thing. I owned a MacBook Air for over 3 years and it definitely shaped my way of thinking about laptops. The first time I saw the ATIV Book 9 Plus it caught my attention, without even looking at the specs it made me want one, yes it is that good-looking. I’ve never owned a Samsung computer but the design and overall build quality of this Ultrabook is outstanding. The ATIV Book 9 Plus is only 0.54 inches tick and weights only 3.06 lbs (including the standard battery) and everything is wrapped in a sturdy yet sleek aluminum body. It feels solid and it looks great, the only thing I did not like about it were the stickers which I removed right after getting it out of the box. This Samsung Ultrabook is extremely light and much more powerful than my previous MacBook Air, it was an easy decision for me.

Portability

The ATIV Book 9 Plus is thinner than the MacBook Air. Its width, depth and height are 12.58″ x 8.78″ x 0.54” while the MacBook Air is 12.68″ x 8.94″ x 0.68“. However, the MacBook Air is slightly lighter weighting only 2.96 lbs while the ATIV Book 9 Plus weights 3.06lbs. If you have a MacBook Air you won’t notice the difference. This IS the Ultrabook that you want to carry with you at all times. It feels like carrying a magazine and it fits perfectly (if not loosely) in your messenger bag or backpack. I took this laptop with me a few weeks ago to a Hackathon in San Francisco and my backpack was so light that sometimes I had to open it just to make sure my laptop was still there.

Battery life is really good, I have been able to go without plugin it to an outlet for about 7 hours with programs like Visual Studio, the browser, email and a few other applications running. I am sure I could get it to 8 hours if I lowered the brightness and closed some of my applications.

ATIV Book 9 Plus thin

The sleek aluminum body is also really sturdy and I have proof of that. While at the hackathon, I left this laptop on my chair for a moment then I sat down on it by mistake for about a minute until I jumped from the chair terrified remembering I have left the computer on this same chair. While nothing happened to it, I do not recommend you do this.

Screen

The ATIV Book 9 Plus comes with a 13.3″ LED QHD+ 3200×1800 screen. And it is a touch screen. This is one of the best features of this laptop, right after the portability of it. It is true that once you are introduced to touch-enabled devices is hard to go back to devices that don’t have touch-enabled screens. I am sure all laptops will have touch-enabled screens in the near future. The ATIV Book 9 Plus packes 275 pixels per inch into its stunning 3200 x 1800 high-resolution display. The Quad HD+ touchscreen is 2.8 times sharper than Full HD and with true-to-life color SuperBright technology, it’s a 13.3″ eye-opening experience. The resolution of this Samsung Ultrabook is incredible and I don’t miss the 1440 x 900 resolution of the MacBook Air.

ATIV Book 9 Plus QHD screen

The Good

It is very fast, very light. The ATIV Book 9 Plus I’ve got comes with an Intel i7 processor, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM, 2 x USB 3.0 ports (one of them is a sleep-and-charge), micro HDMI, headphone/mic combo, 3- in-1 (SD/SDHC/SDXC) multi card slot, backlit keyboard, a 720p HD camera, and Bluetooth 4.0! Needless to say, it is certainly a lot of power in a very sleek and light package.

Some of the applications I use the most in this computer are gimp and Visual Studio and they both run great. Visual Studio starts in just a few seconds cold and that to me is impressive.

The  Bad

The touch pad and the mineral ash black finish. Don’t get me wrong, I love the color and finish of this laptop but my fingerprints are all over it, they are very visible and it bothers me. I know, first world problems. Also, the touch pad seems to always get in the way as I type, I have made some adjustments and it will take some time for me to adjust to it but that is just me. Some people complain that with such high-resolution in this laptop some programs in Windows 8 end up looking very small, with very tiny fonts and menus but that has not bother me a bit and there are ways around it.

ATIV Book 9 Plus touch pad

I bought this laptop at the Microsoft store as they had a $200 discount for a while and I couldn’t resist. Another great benefit of buying from the Microsoft store is that it comes with the Microsoft Signature Experience which means that all junkware, trialware and any other pre-installed manufacturer’s software is removed before you take it home. I recommend to uninstall any Samsung software if you end up buying this laptop from any other place.

Conclusion

If you are shopping for a new laptop and have considered an Ultrabook but are afraid about loosing some of the power and performance that you are used to with your big laptop or desktop, think no more. This Ultrabook is as powerful and fast as it is light. Also, the smaller screen is not an issue for me as I was used to it with the MacBook Air, but trust me when I tell you that you do get used to the smaller screen and is not an issue at all. My daughter was very happy to get my MacBook Air and I am very happy with this Ultrabook. The ATIV Book 9 Plus has become both my personal and development machine and it comes with me everywhere.

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