on February 5, 2014
Just my two cents worth:
This is definitely a great laptop, but like all laptops, there are pros and cons to consider. I'll go over the different aspects:
1. Cost: this is a premium laptop and it certainly costs as much. You can find the same system specifications in other brands like for at least $300 cheaper.
2. Battery Life: the battery life is great (almost 8 hours), but not significantly better than the industry standard, and that too only at brightness levels of 20-30%. If you like working at higher brightness levels, you won't get more than 5-6 hours of battery life.
3. Display colour: the colour are bold and brilliant. Some reviewers have mentioned a problem with the display of yellow on the screen. My machine also showed a deep mustard slightly greenish yellow. The problem was fixed through Samsung's firmware updates, but to the discerning eye, the yellow remains slightly off. In case you're finicky about these things, you may want to calibrate the monitor.
4. Display resolution: the ultra high resolution of 3200 x 1800 is a bit of a mixed bag. I'm not sure such a high resolution was even required on a 13.3 inch screen, not least since ultra HD media content is still ages away from becoming mainstream. The sharpness of the display is of course astounding. Text appears sharp and crisp, and high resolution photographs are a beauty to behold. However, several people have pointed out that applications designed to run on 1080p resolutions don't show text and alignment correctly on this laptop due to display scaling issues. Microsoft rectified some of these problems in its Windows 8.1 release, but this only addresses Microsoft applications. Third party applications are left to their own devices about whether or not support this resolution. I know from personal experience that Adobe Acrobat and Google Chrome now support it, but smaller software companies may not. To display those properly, you'll have to scale down the resolution of the display, which will sacrifice the clarity of the display. Tough bargain!
5. Keyboard: given how thin this laptop is, there isn't much key travel, meaning that the typing experience is rather flat, without much feedback. This doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. Friends of mine enjoy typing on it. However it is a tiny bit uncomfortable for my needs and I sometimes make mistakes on it.
6. Heat: do NOT use this laptop on your lap, on the bed, or on any soft surface that could block the heat vents on the bottom. That's generally advised for all laptops, but this one seems to shut down within minutes of its heat vents being blocked. My display switched off, and the laptop needed cooling for 1-2 minutes before coming back on. I guess that's one of the perils of a thin design. Aside from that, the laptop runs very cool and quiet most of the time.
7. Trackpad: Windows 8 laptops across different brands have had problems with their trackpads, usually due to drivers. While I don't use the trackpad much (I prefer a portable mouse), so far it has been perfect.
8. Wi-fi: some of the newer ultrabooks have reportedly given issues with wi-fi connectvity. Again, no problems here.
9. Speakers: the speakers on this laptop are unbelievably good for a laptop this thin. It's a commonplace that laptop speakers are usually crap, and even the reputedly good ones sound very tinny and flat to me. The speakers on this machine manage to be loud and sound deep, which is a very pleasant surprise.
10. Design, construction and form factor: let's face it, half the reason you're considering this machine is because of its gorgeous looks. This laptop is every bit as thin, light and beautiful as is advertised, plus the aluminium encasing also gives it a sturdy feel. Also, the design isn't about looks alone, because it's super-thin form factor also makes it very easy to carry in backpacks. I tend to stuff my bag with books, so I need the machine to not occupy too much room. This laptop is perfect for my needs. In fact, you'll have a hard time finding a case thin enough to fit this machine. This is the best fit I could find: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0096PD2Z0/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1.
11. Warranty: no matter how good a gadget is, there is always a chance it might fail. Therefore, one always has to consider the reputation of the brand in providing good after-sales support. Samsung is generally better in that regard than some other brands, so you know you're covered. Alternatively, you may want to get extended third party warranty service.
Hope this is helpful!
on December 3, 2013
EDIT: Included some pointers below! Also, if you have Samsung devices (such as AllShare on your Samsung TV), you can turn off auto-detection in your laptop by clicking the "Show hidden icons" button on the Taskbar and opening the dark grey fan/play icon looking button. You can disable/enable communications as needed between devices and stop those pesky messages from popping up on your TV/device.
As I sit down to write a review of this very machine, I ask myself -- "Should I review this as a standalone device or should I compare it to other Windows offerings?"
Well, I decided I'll do both since I figure this is a great way to test out the keyboard also. As a standalone device, this blows away my previous HP Pavilion DV6 or something like that.
My first impression:
Boots up quick from shutdown (like 2 secs?) and on my initial install, since I was already a Win8.1 user, it managed to snag some things off my desktop automatically.
Installing things on this machine is a breeze. Put on Microsoft Office 2013 Professional on this baby in a few seconds. Programs run immediately with very little downtime. There is some bloatware but, after a bit of uninstalling, it's as minimal as I like it.
Form factor is a huge improvement over my previous laptop, a HP Pavilion DV6 or something like that. The keys on the keyboard are spaced a bit further out than I'm used to but it's a non-issue since I type just as well. Also the keys have the right amount of sensitivity, even my corner hits. There's a satisfying but minimal thud with each key press and the keys can be depressed a fair bit. Not a lot of extra noise; just enough to give you the feedback. Some of the keys are very convenient -- I appreciate the use of FN key and the arrows keys.
The screen is, as previously mentioned, gorgeous. No issues with dead pixels or the like. I found no issue with the "yellow tinge" that some people are complaining about, though I did tweak it as soon as I could (please see the comments of this review for a complete step-by-step breakdown!). I also switched off the adaptive brightness, opting to control it myself. Also, despite being set at max resolution, I don't have any problem where things are too "small." It's the perfect size for me and what I would want with a notebook for this size. I haven't used this as a touch screen because, honestly, I don't want to smudge up the screen. This also has good viewing angles too.
Battery is still up in the air for me. I appreciate that Samsung limits the charge to 85% and I'll keep it that way. I'm getting estimates of over eight hours, though I've only used this ultrabook minimally.
Touchpad is great. It was a bit sluggish for me so I upped the sensitivity. Very good response and the left and right click do have dedicated areas on the bottom of the touchpad (despite no indication of such).
Fans only kicked up once and that was when I was installing a number of things at the same time. Even then, it was relatively quiet and did not exceed my TV's volume. It did become a little warm on my lap but I would not to expect it to stay liquid cool under stress.
Build quality feels solid. My folks were surprised something so thin still had heft to it and there is no bending when I pick it up. It opens fairly easily with one hand and has a good "set" hinge range before it loosens to the 180 degree opening.
Ultimately, I would recommend this device wholeheartedly to anyone. As a Windows device, I would argue it's definitely what Intel had in mind and represents that other non-Apple manufacturers can create great products also.
Previously, I was dead-set on the ASUS UX301LA-DH71T, which would arguably be the equivalent of this device. Both devices are great and I can't justify strongly picking one over the other. The ASUS offering is a bit faster but, for my uses, it meant relatively little since it would run a bit hotter, which I thought would be problematic in the long-term for these thin devices. Ultimately, it boils down to aesthetics and costs. If you feel that you can live waiting 0.5 secs longer for your PC to boot or load a program while saving around $200 with a slightly more future-proof screen, this is your choice.
I have also tried the MacBook Air 2013 and thought of buying it because it was so affordable. However, I'm glad I picked this one up instead. Though it costs more, the benefits are, in my eyes, worthwhile -- I have more storage, a better screen, a better CPU, and more software flexibility.
on March 11, 2014
I owned this laptop for a couple of weeks and was highly impressed. The design and build quality are absolutely stunning. I've owned the Asus Zenbook, Lenovo Carbon X1, etc and while they are all great, the design of the Samsung is second to none. Not even the Macbook Air can compete with this model in terms of build quality and design. Speakers are phenomenal for an ultrabook, keyboard is better than I thought it would be, machine is FAST, and wifi and trackpad both worked fine for me.
However, I had to return this item due to it not meeting my specific needs. Specifically, the screen, while gorgeous, was just a bit too much at 3200x1800 for a 13.3" LCD. When you have a resolution that high, everything (text, icons, etc) is super tiny (and I mean REALLY small) to the point where its impossible to read the text. In that case, you simply increase the scaling (font size, icons, etc) and Samsung has the default set at 200%. The problem with that is by making everything so large (200%) in order to compensate for the super high resolution, you fit less on the screen and end up having to do a lot more scrolling than usual when viewing web pages, etc.
I also tried simply decreasing the resolution to 1920x1080 and while that did improve things, it never looked quite as clear/sharp as a LCD with a native 1920x1080 (1080p) resolution. Besides, if you are going to run the Samsung at 1080p, then what's the point of having/paying for the Sammy's 3200x1800 super high resolution? You basically paid that extra money for the high res screen but then aren't utilizing it (if you run it at 1080p) so you aren't getting your money's worth. I can imagine if you are working with 1080p photos and you want to view the entire image natively in Photoshop and still have room for your palettes, it might be useful but otherwise, I believe a native 1080p LCD might have been the more practical choice for Samsung for this ultrabook. I get it though, Samsung needed a way to differentiate their product and likely got trapped in the higher specs game manufacturers play, and so probably didn't consider what are the real world usage scenarios and consequences are of putting such a high resolution on a relatively small 13.3" LCD.
The final nail in the coffin was when I compared the LCD on the Samsung to my 2 year old 13.3" Asus Zenbook that has a native 1080p screen. Running the Samsung at its native resolution with 200% scaling, there was simply no comparison to the Zenbook. The Zenbook's native 1080p screen simply looked sharper in my opinion and everything fit as it should, no unnecessary scrolling when viewing webpages, etc. I will admit that I have flawless 20/10 vision so for some with poorer vision, having really large fonts/icons/texts at 200% scaling for the Samsung may be ideal. However, for me, I just couldn't see paying the extra cash for such a high resolution screen when I wasn't going to be able to make use of it and the end result, when running at 200% scaling or at 1080p, was just going to be oversized or blurry text/font/icons that didn't look as clear as a native 1080p LCD.
However, you shouldn't t take my word for it. I would highly advise going to your local electronics store like Best Buy, etc, and simply checking out the Samsung in person. Open up a webpage in Chrome or Internet Explorer and see how it looks (pay special attention to the clarity of the text). Then open up the same webpage on another 13.3" ultrabook with a native 1080p screen. Compare the two side-by-side if possible and decide which one looks better to you. Then make your decision if the Samsung's 3200x1800 screen is right for you. For me, the Samsung's high res screen sounded great on paper but in real world applications and usage, that resolution just wasn't practical (and was overkill IMO) on a 13.3" screen for doing normal day-to-day activities like web browsing.
on March 18, 2014
My 2-year old Samsung Series 9 developed a problem that many others also report, a crack developed for no reason at the upper left of the main surface area and as a result the power input can no longer hold the charger plug. So the great IT department of my employer got me the replacement to that laptop, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus. This review is for the top-of-the-line one, with Core i7 processor, 8 GB RAM, and 256 Gig space. Note that this review does not factor in price.
CONS (a Windows issue, not a Samsung issue)
I only have one caution: the screen resolution is so high, so amazing, that Windows cannot deal with it well and it results in the desktop icons looking too small, and the many Office programs having buttons and writing that is too small. If you don't know how to fix these things on your own, avoid this laptop. In my case, I found ways around most of these issues by re-sizing the icons on the desktop, and in Word and other applications I increased zoom and/or font, and for Outlook email I got an add-in that lets you set a permanent zoom on all window pane viewings. But it took a few hours to get it right, find the third party add-in and the setting buried in Windows to let you re-size stuff more than 200%. But for me it worked and this "CON" is not at all a problem for me now.
I do wish Microsoft releases updates to all Office products to allow re-sizing of everything (buttons and text) at one click and make it smoother, to account for the ultra-high definition screens coming out.
--Performance. This thing wakes up in about 2 seconds! AMAZING. It is built specifically for W8, hardware and software work together to give you great performance, smooth, and very nice battery life.
--Build. This laptop can withstand a lot of abuse, as it is made of metal unlike almost all non-Apple laptops. This is Apple quality, for Windows. The only laptop I have ever owned that can look as good, actually better, than my wife's Macbooks.
--Looks. This thing is drop dead good looking.
--Gorgeous Touch Screen. It is the best laptop screen in the world, Apple or Windows. It also goes all the way back to flat. And you can use it as a touch screen, in case you want to use it like a tablet and use Windows Metro instead of the desktop to consume media.
--Track pad. As good as an Apple's, it is large and works great. For the first time I have really ditched the mouse.
Room for improvement: wish it had a nicer charger (like the Macbooks have, with Mag safe connectors).
This laptop is so nice I have, for the first time, started spending less time on the iPad and more time on the laptop to do common work stuff or read/work on emails.
on June 16, 2014
Admittedly, I waited a few months after purchasing my "Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus NP940X3G-K04US 13.3-Inch Laptop (Mineral Ash Black)" before writing a review. The reason for my delay was simple; I see too many reviews written immediately after customers buy products on Amazon. Generally (when customers have had a good experience) the hastily written reviews are overly flattering and are lacking in objectivity. Consider it analogous to "getting lucky" on a first date. People are feeling all giddy inside and have to get share their joy with the rest of the world.
As lovely as the sentiment is, reviews written in a giddy state of mind are of limited use to potential buyers. So in that spirit (one in which my computer and I "have been dating now for a few months), I feel qualified to write an objective review.
So let's get started. Just to set the background and for comparative purposes, my previous laptop was a Dell M1330 purchased back (to the best of my recollection) in late 2009. In its day, it was among the more expensive, thinnest and sleekest laptops out there. Of course, by now it looks like a brick next to the Samsung 9 (shortened name) I'll be making a few comparisons between the two as we go.
Let's start with the ordering process. I first placed and order "directly with Samsung" (from their website). As it turned out, they farm out the orders to a third party. Within hours, it was clear the order was totally messed up. I ended up cancelling that order and placing it through Amazon. (Lesson learned.)
My first impression when opening the box was a positive one. Even the shipping box was amazingly thin and small. The Samsung 9 is one of the sleekest 13" laptops out there right now. It felt "heavy in my hands" until I lifted the old Dell M1330. The Dell was "super light" in its day but felt like a box full of lead compared with the Samsung 9 when lifted side-by-side. The bottom line is that while light in weight, the Samsung 9 has a very solid feel to it, so feels "substantial".
The Samsung 9 is also physically very svelte. Again, in its day the Dell M1330 was just about the thinnest laptop you could find... but compared to the Samsung 9, it looks like Britney Spears in 2014. I can't imagine anyone finding fault with the physical appearance of the Samsung 9... but anything is possible, I guess.
My first disappointment came when I first cranked up the Samsung 9 and noticed the screen just didn't seem all that bright. I was expecting to hear the angel begin to sing after seeing it for the first time (after reading reviews of the screen before I made my purchase.) To make sure my eyes were not deceiving me, I sat the Samsung 9 (with the screen brightness set to maximum) next to my old Dell M1330 and sure enough, the old Dell screen was unmistakably brighter. A big "Oh poo!" uncontrollably flowed from my lips.
I had set the screen to max brightness using all the normal techniques by right clicking the desktop, going in through the control panel, and even accessing screen brightness through that irritating Windows 8 "Charms bar" (Don't even get me started on the "Charms bar".) Nothing seemed to work.
One thing I did notice was that when I first would boot the computer, the display would be very bright for about one second, then roll-back to a very low illumination state. I suspected something was afoot. Digging in the cobwebs of my memory, I remember on previous laptops that screen brightness could be increased through using the Fn key and a function key. In the Samsung 9's case, this ended up being the Fn-F3 combination. I took a shot and tried that key combo several times in a row... when suddenly "boom!" the screen brightness shot up and stayed there! Success!
Some weeks later, I found reference to this Fn-F3 combo for brightening the screen (and it's "sister" Fn-F2 for dimming it) on page 53 of the User's Guide. There is no mention there, however, of the keyboard trick overriding the "automatic lighting" setting that the normal brightness controls do not override.
Somewhere along the line (I don't recall exactly where now) I did read that the "keyboard trick" using the Fn key did in fact override any automatic lighting adjustment. But no matter... Just know that if your new Samsung 9 has a disappointingly dark screen, clicking Fn-F3 repeatedly will probably solve the problem.
As long as we are on the screen, let's talk resolution. It's absolutely amazing. Frankly, however, other than "bragging rights", using such a high screen resolution doesn't really make sense. To be clearer about it, setting the resolution to the maximum 3200x1800 yields amazing resolution... but you won't be able to see the tiny icons or read software menus unless you have Superman's sight. Sure, you can work with the icons and the menus and perhaps find a compromise... but it all gets rather convoluted very quickly. I found a good compromise for myself by dialing back the resolution to 1920X1080 and everything seems fine. In fact, my fifty year-old eyes really can't tell the difference between the full resolution and the rolled-back resolution. I'm happy where it's set now.
One last thing about the resolution... The Samsung 9's resolution, even at 1920X1080 is higher than any HD TV that I've plugged it into (via the HDMI port), so the resolution automatically gets rolled back to match the TV output. Once I unplug the HDMI cable after watching a movie on my TV, the resolution automatically returns to where I sat it (1920X1080). This was not the case on the old Dell M1330. On that machine, I had to manually "dink" with the screen resolution and speaker/audio output in the control panel when plugging in/out of an HDMI link to the TV. The Samsung 9 is outstanding in this sense.
Just a word on the touch-screen. I almost never use it, as I just can't force myself to smear up that beautiful screen. I know Microsoft is trying to make everything "smart phone like"... but I'll keep the screen touching pretty much limited to my phone, than you very much. I did want the touch-screen for practicing writing in Chinese, however, so that does work well. Additionally, because I like hooking it to my TV for online watching, the popup keyboard on the screen allows me to use my (very inexpensive) remote mouse for typing in occasional URLs. (Ya... even in China, I must have my "Daly Show" fix.)
OK.... So now let's take a look at some of the other Samsung 9 features. (I'll try to keep these discussions a little shorter)...
The transformer is very compact. That's a plus. As with most modern power supplies, it is good for any voltage between 100-250 volts and 50-60 Hz. That means to move from country to country, one needs only use a power plug (shape) adapter. As I work the entire year internationally, jumping from China to Germany and (occasionally) to the US, I never need to worry about frying the power supply or the laptop with improper voltage.
One little "minus" is that power plug feeding into the laptop. It's "wimpy" and no larger than most mobile phone plugs. I tend to buy high-end laptops but keep them for 6-7 years, so durability is important. This appears to be a possible Achilles' heel but I could be wrong. It might last or it might not. Read my update in six years and I'll let you know. Ha!
USB 3 ports:
The Samsung 9 has only two of them. While some might consider his a minus for such a high-end laptop, I do not. The reason being that for an ultra-lightweight laptop, some compromises must be made in order to fit all that "stuff" into one machine. In other words, you don't buy a Ferrari F430 then complain that the trunk (boot) isn't big enough for your suitcase. I simply bought a compact 4-port expander and I'm good to go.
Likewise, the HDMI and LAN ports are "mini" sized to save space, so you will need adapters for them. If I recall, the LAN min-port adapter was included. The HDMI adapter costs only a few dollars. This isn't an issue for me, as I'm for anything that keeps the design thin.
I'm certainly not a big fan of "Chiclet" keyboards. I'm a very fast touch typist, so prefer the feel of a "conventional" keyboard. Typing on a Chiclet keyboard is tantamount to ballroom dancing in flip-flops. With practice it can be done, but will never be as elegant as wearing the proper shoes. Having said that, I again understand why Samsung went with the Chiclet... It allows the computer to be thinner (albeit it marginally) than if they had used a conventional keyboard. Again.. I'm all about the thinness, so can easily accept this compromise.
It would be fair to say I use a touch-pad only "once in a month of Sundays", so I'm actually the wrong person to ask about this particular device. Give me a corded travel mouse any day. (No real professional would risk the unreliability of using a cordless mouse during an important presentation.) ...
But I'm getting off topic. The touch-pad is BIG; probably twice as big as the one on the old Dell M1330. For me this isn't a "feature" but rather a small problem. That is, I had to learn to type with my hands "hovering" above the touch-pad, lest I accidentally touch it and send the cursor on a wild trip through the underbrush. Try as I may, my palm will sooner or later (usually sooner) unintentionally swipe the touch-pad and produce unpredictable typing results. (This is most irritating to a touch-typist like myself who needs not look at either the keys nor the computer screen to type. I always seem to have typed at least 4 or 5 characters somewhere in my document where they were not meant to be before I can put on the brakes.)
Sure, I could turn off the touch-pad entirely, but (at least as far as I can tell) there is no keyboard way to turn it back on, were my mouse to unexpectedly die during a presentation. I considered adjusting the touch-pad sensitivity but that seems to kill the usefulness of having a touch-pad at all. So I live with this little irritation. For touch-pad fans, the over-sized touch-pad would be a "feature", not a problem... But for me, it's something I have just learned to live with.
In short, they sound amazing. They are the best sounding built-in laptop speakers I have ever heard. I must also confess, I do not listen to music on my laptop. As I mentioned earlier, I'm a professional, so don't use my computer for such frivolous pastimes. (You are hereby instructed to ignore any mention of my watching movies earlier in the review. Ha!) I do use my laptop for making Skype calls and for learning Chinese. This is where I have learned to love these speakers. I always had to use a headset for making Skype calls on my old Dell M1330. On my Samsung 9, the speakers make the caller (or the speaker in my Chinese Rosetta Stone) sound like they are right in front of me. I give the speakers a big thumbs up.
In a few words... there isn't any. If the fan comes on at all, I've never heard it. That's a big plus for me. I really dislike fan noise. (This was an issue on my Dell M1330.)
Surprisingly, the laptop came with surprisingly little bloatware on it. If I recall correctly, it had a lame Window's 8 version of Skype. To say that is useless would be an understatement. I simply uninstalled it and installed the desktop version. I'm happy to say the machine didn't come with any trial-versions of MS Office or anything like it. The few pieces of worthless software which I removed were Norton Internet Security (I have my own), Smart Adviser for Desktop (I don't really recall what this was... other than being irritating), Online Chat Consultation (This might be handy if trouble ever arises... but until/if it does, I removed the software). These few pieces of worthless software were easily removed.
Samsung does have its own "Software Updater" software. It does seem to work reasonably well. A popup window will appear when a new update is available. My only complaint is that even when no new updates are available a window reminding the user that "failing to install updates might lead to an unstable system" (to paraphrase). This silly message pops up a couple of times a week.
In short... it doesn't have one. This model came with the 256 GB Solid-State Drive and (in short) I love it! I actually wanted the 500 GB model available on Samsung's 15" laptop but it wasn't available on this one. More is the pity, as I could have easily lived with an increase in price to get the extra space. That said, I must admit I have had the bad habit of saving EVERYTHING (please excuse caps) on my system hard drives in the past. I mean really... do I need every photo I took 5 years ago available for instant access. In a word, "no". Having "only" 256 GB available has encouraged me to save things more economically. With large 2 TB portable disk drives now so small and cheap (I have two), there's really no need to save everything to my laptop.
Once you've had a Solid-State Drive, you are spoiled for life for so many reasons. The machine boots up so quickly (5-8 seconds) that I sometimes forget if I'm starting from cold boot or if I'm coming back from sleep mode. It's amazing!
The battery doesn't need to spin that mechanical drive, so a charge seems to last forever. Likewise, my old Dell M1330 could take 2 - 2.5 hours to do a backup or a full scan. This solid-state hot-rod gets those jobs done in 10-15 minutes!
Intel Core i7 4500U 1.8 GHz Processor and 8 GB DDR3 Memory:
This seems to be completely adequate for anything I do. Even video editing is fast and hassle free. (The Dell M1330 would overheat and complain processing even a relatively small video file.)
This is easy because it has none. Again, it is not included in order to save weight and space. Quite honestly, I don't miss having one. Almost all software is available for downloading now. Movies too are available in digital downloadable format. Likewise, backups are easily made to a large capacity hard drive. DVD's are "sooo 2005".
As I previously have stated, I do a lot of video editing work, so at some point can see the need to burn videos to a DVD or Blue Ray disk. For these times, I went ahead and bought a "Samsung 6X Slim Blue-ray Writer USB External Drive". How many times have I used it? That would be zero times... It's still sitting unopened in its box.
Honestly, as a frequent international traveler, the last thing I need is a computer bag full of DVD's and/or Blue-ray movies. The bottom line is that I don't miss the internal DVD player at all and welcome the light-weight and trouble-free life not having one brings with it.
Honestly, I rarely run the computer on battery power. Having said that, however, during the times I have not had a power plug handy, I have been stunned by how long the battery has lasted. I have never conducted any kind of "benchmark test" so can only speak toward my 'gut feeling' that you too will be delighted with the battery life, especially if you have just come from a laptop with one of the older processors and a physical hard drive.
I do recall one instance when I watched a couple of movies, thinking I was "plugged in" but was not... The battery still had about 60 percent of its charge left after the second movie. (I was watching the movies fed off of a memory stick, so there was no external DVD or hard disk eating up power.)
I was a little worried about problems with the wireless card before I made my purchase, as I found an unsettling large amount of complaints online about Samsung's wireless card. Those concerns were not entirely unjustified (if you will excuse the double-negative). Almost immediately, I started having connection problems. The darned thing would unexpectedly drop the wireless connection 10-15 times a day. By comparison, the old Dell M1330 could remain online for weeks at a time without ever dropping the connection.
I called Customer Support and was totally disappointed by the "help" I received. (I'll get to that story a bit later... please see below for that discussion.)
The "Software Updater" (see discussion above for included software) did inform me of two or three updates to the wireless card driver. I installed those updates immediately when they became available. The wireless card does seem more stable now. I say "seem" because I might just be getting used to a few connection glitches... It's like that door handle on your old 1982 Honda that you had to giggle just right in order to open the door... Eventually you got used to the glitch and didn't think about it much.
In fairness, I do think the connection issue is much better now. When I first got the laptop, the connection would repeatedly and completely fail. Now, however, the connection seems to continue, with only the connection icon going into "Unidentified Network" mode. Additionally, I have noticed, this seems to happen whenever I connect with ExpressVPN software. It seems to be only a "reporting issue" now.
Ok... Here's that discussion I promised you above. When I first started experiencing the dropped connections, I contacted customer support. It was immediately clear the woman who responded (it was done via email) had no clue as to the issue or to the bad reputation the wireless cards in Samsung laptops already had. She was clearly a "first line of defense" technician who had to look everything up in a manual. Her first instruction was to reset the computer back to factory settings... Then, according to her, if that didn't help she would schedule a repair at an authorized dealer close to me "in about a week".
I'm not surprised, as (let's face it) all computer manufactures have lousy service departments. They make their money selling computers not by fixing them. Dell is no better. I'd challenge anyone to find a computer manufacturer that actually gives acceptable support. Because my Dell was "top of the line", at least they had a special US team assigned to the M1330. I could speak with a domestic repair person right away. If a repair was necessary (which it was because the mother board fried) they sent a repair person out within a day.
So no... I wasn't happy with the so-called "service" of Samsung, especially given the "premium price" of the computer. Say what you will about Dell (as their service generally stinks as well), at least they made allowances for their high-end models and dealt with those models accordingly.
Back to the Samsung 9 wireless card issue and the warranty covering same... I was leaving the US in just a few days, so had no chance to schedule a repair appointment for a week in the future. As it turned out, the wireless driver updates did seem to help, so I'm good for now.
This brings up a point, however about warranties.... Not just for Samsung but for almost all other manufacturers. That point is that the warranty is good only if you have bought the computer in the USA and seek service there as well. Warranties do not cross boarders! It would be the same if you had purchased your laptop in Germany and had an issue while in the USA. In order to get warranty service, the buyer must ship their laptop back to the country where it was purchased... at their own (the buyer's) expense. Just be aware of this if you are a frequent business traveler or an expat like I am.
I found a workable solution for myself. For what it's worth, you can consider it too. Instead of buying one of those expensive extended warranties (in which you inevitably would need to ship your computer back to the US for service), work with a property insurance agent you trust. (As yes... person-to-person relationships really do pay off!) Buy what is call and "Inland Marine" policy on your laptop. It will be covered no matter what happens to it. If it's lost, stolen, dropped, or just quits working, a good agent will tell you to go ahead and buy another laptop so you can get on with your job. (Again, I must stress here how important it is to actually have a trusting relationship with your insurance agent.) I pay about $100 a year for this coverage. It has "saved my bacon" at least twice while working overseas.
OK... We've covered a lot ground here, so let me recap briefly.
After living with this computer for six months, I'm exceptionally pleased with it. No product is perfect of course, so I won't give it a 5 star rating (the bad warranty service alone pulls it down.) I wish it were possible to give star ratings to individual issues/components, but that is not possible on Amazon reviews. It's also not possible to give a "fractional star". So after all is said and done, I can easily give this laptop a solid 4-star rating. (I'd probably give it a 4.5 if possible.)
=========== Update !!! ========
After a couple more months of living with this machine, I cannot find a thing wrong with it (at least for how I use it). As I mentioned before, I rarely give 5 star ratings but just wasn't comfortable rating it at 4 stars, given my satisfaction with the machine. While I still wish I could give it 4.5 (not possible), I've decided to bump up my overall rating to a 5.
Do remember not to buy it "directly" from Samsung, however. Amazon gives a level of protection higher than going (so called) "direct".
So would I recommend this laptop? If you are a power user and a traveler in need of a lean-mean machine... absolutely! We have been "dating" now for 6 months and the love affair is still going strong.
on November 18, 2013
Okay, so, I've been using this Ultrabook-class machine for a good week now as a replacement for my LCD-damaged Sony Vaio Z (which, back when it was new, had a comparable higher-than-normal DPI display).
Overall, it's a very nice machine. The metal construction gets nice and cold when the machine is in standby, it boot and wakes up quite quickly. This model came with 8.1, however the very first thing I did was wipe it and put on 8.1 Pro (I needed domain-joining capabilities) which was relatively painless. The keyboard is a touch shallow, however I can't imagine it being any better on a machine this thin. It's quite good for what it is! The touchpad is responsive...almost too much so. The touchscreen seems to work as expected, though I'm not the type to really use that a lot.
Performance is decent, it matches my previous laptop in all categories (CPU performance, RAM, and even SSD size)...however it does so with a much more power efficient (Haswell) processor and at almost half the thickness. It managed to crunch through some builds in Visual Studio 2013 as well as some Content-Aware Fill in Photoshop CS6...not the fastest laptop, but again, this is an ULV processor.
Now, onto the LCD. This is both the reason to get the laptop, but also the reason the laptop only gets 4 stars. I'm not going to get into the not so great scaling in Windows 8.1 with some applications...the applications need to fix that. The high resolution screen is fantastic when viewed from a couple feet away...it's very, very sharp. However, the moment you lean in close (granted, I have extremely great vision) things can look a little wonky...it's clearly not an RGB subpixel arrangement. Doing a little bit of research, it seems to be an RGBW arrangement (the W or Clear lets the display get ridiculously bright for not much power) with shared subpixels amongst pixels. Even with the 3200x1800 pixel count, the subpixels are noticeably not square to me when dealing with things that are straight lines. Now, I'm sure most people out there wouldn't even notice...but my husband and I noticed it within seconds of booting up the machine (granted we both work in the tech industry). If it were an RGB arrangement (even if it was less bright) at the same pixel density, it would get 5-stars easily.
A quick aside, and the reason why I didn't return this laptop and see if one of the 2560x1440 pixel devices have a better subpixel arrangement, is that the speakers on this are fantastic.
All in all, viewed as a whole package, this is a very nice laptop...especially if you don't mind dealing with such a high resolution display!
on December 21, 2013
So first of all this is a truly gorgeous product, form factor is tops.
It is very firm and sturdily built. I can pick it up by the screen and I feel no give or wobble at all.
The adaptive brightness is a bit of a nuisance but as said before by others it can be turned off.
The i7 has been snappy so far and load times across the map are very very fast.
One thing I have noticed is that sometimes the touchpad will lag? I don't know why this happens exactly but every now and then I will be scrolling and suddenly not be able to anymore, the touch screen still works during these times so I know the computer itself isnt bogging down it seems to just be the touchpad. This problem only lasts about 6 seconds or less when it ahppens so not too big of an issue. Probably fixable with a firmware update or some such.
The resolution is amazing and the viewing angles are superb.
Ill update after I have been working with it a bit more. Im only 1 1/2 weeks in now.
on June 18, 2014
I've now had this laptop for several months. I can't say better things about it!
The touchpad is sensitive, intuitive, and easy to use. This was important for me coming from a Mac, since their touch pads are amazing. Expectations exceeded. The touch-screen I thought would be more of a novelty, but I find myself using it more and more as I remember that I can actually touch the screen. I'm a graduate student, so it's perfect for scrolling while I have books covering the keyboard or while it's on my lap at an angle that makes it tough to get to the touchpad.
Operating system works well. Much much better than the ASUS Zenbook that I got previously when my Mac died. The ASUS had issues with scaling and screen resolution of many apps including the desktop itself, Chrome, Firefox, and Adobe programs. By this I mean that every time I opened the laptop after sleeping, the scaling and resolution were different than I left it, usually microscopically small, and I do mean TINY. Not just 10 point font...more like 2 point font. It was ridiculous. So as much as I loved the way it looked, I had to return it. This laptop has a less-sharp resolution (numerically, not really visibly), which makes the fonts (like in Adobe) much more legible, even though those (Adobe) are the only programs that do this on the ATIV Book 9 Plus.
Windows 8 is not this computer's fault, so I'm not going to talk about it. You can tweak a few things on Win8 and learn a few quick keyboard shortcuts and life is much better. I do not use the "apps" that Windows 8 touts. They're stupid--just avoid them if you don't like them. :)
Very portable laptop. Light, loud enough speakers that I can set it quite a distance away and still hear clearly, the screen sortof "locks" into position past about 100 degrees (like slightly more than a 90 degree angle), so there's not much jiggling past that point. However, I will note that sometimes, when it's right at 90 degrees or a bit less (like if I'm laying down with it on my stomach) and I move too quickly, it does tend to want to try and close on me. No biggie. Just be mindful.
Also no internet connection issues--again with the ASUS, the internet connection was spotty and would go out periodically (like every 20 minutes I had to restart the internet connection--sometimes it fixed it, sometimes not). My husband is a computer guru and tried everything that the ASUS forums suggested, from uninstalling and reinstalling to updating the drivers, and turning off settings that I never would have been able to find on my own. The ATIV is just peachy. :)
One more thing to note, and I'll update if anything comes of it: The fan, about a week ago, started making more audible noises. Not necessarily during "times of high stress" on the system, sometimes I'm just browsing Facebook with one tab open. I haven't dropped the computer or dinged it around unnecessarily. Husband-computer-guru said this just sometimes happens and isn't a sign that there's something wrong. His has been doing the same thing (he's got a Dell) since about 6 months after he got it.
BUT the fan issue for me only lasted that one day. Hasn't happened again since. So, like I said, I'll keep ya updated. Any more questions, feel free to comment and I'll answer ASAP!
on February 19, 2014
This is a quick comparison for Samsung Ativ book 9 plus ultra book, Toshiba kirabook i7s (4th Gen processor) and Asus Zenbook UX301
1) Design. Samsung Ativ book 9 looks better. Asus design looks good. Kirabook is okay.
2) Keyboard. Ativ book Keyboard is better. Asus zenbook and Kirabook keyboard are good too.
3) Speed and performance. Toshiba Kirabook i7s is faster. Tested with several apps and Toshiba kirabook is more responsive than Ativ book and ASUS zenbook. Kirabook Fan is quiet all the time which is a greatly improved from previous Toshiba kirabook i7 (3rd generation). Asus zenbook often crashed and sometimes it is less responsive. Not sure if it is due to its windows 8. Kirabook comes with Windows 8.1 Pro, which is very stable.
4) Weight. Both Zenbook and Kirabook are lighter. Less than 3 lb. Samsung Ativ book 9 plus is a little bit over 3lb.
5) HDMI and USB ports. Kirabook has one HDMI port with 3 USB ports. Samsung has only one micro HDMI port with 2 USB port. Asus only comes with one micro HDMI port with 2 USB port
6) Screen. Samsung Ativ 9 plus is slightly better due to its higher resolution. I like Kirabook screen color better. It looks nicer. Asus screen is good.
7) Toshiba Kirabook comes with 2 years' Norton Antivirus service. Samsung Ativ book only comes with 6 months Norton service. Kirabook also comes with Adobe element 11.
8)Battery life. Kirabook has a 15% longer battery life than Samsung Ativbook and Asus zenbook
Overall, I like kirabook better due to its stronger performance and longer battery life and nicer screen. Although its design is not as attractive as Ativ book and Asus zenbook, I still will give the kirabook 5 stars and Samsung 4.5 stars due to its performance difference. Asus zenbook failed me with often crash windows 8, maybe it is due to its window 8 OS.
on June 15, 2014
After 17 months of use, battery has started showing wear and tear. When battery is about 20%, it suddenly dies leaving OS no clue what happened. I expected a bit more battery life before it showing wonky behavior.
2ndly, I have started seeing black spot in screen, dead pixels. When you load a page with white background, you can notice them clearly.
Getting disappointed in overall Samsung quality. Taking another star off for failing to meet quality standard for long term use.
I have owned this ativ book 9 for almost 4 months now. And into 4th month, right hand speaker has stopped working. This is really frustrating that you have paid almost $2000 and your equip has a hw malfunction already. I still need to deal with customer care, will update my reviews about customer care later.
Now to review part after using this product for 4 months:
I am using this laptop for my office work mostly and personal work. I am a software professional and needed a laptop that could run lots of tasks in parallel. I think it was a better laptop given the specs on the sheet at the time of buying and picked this one over ASUS.
Software: I needed to install a linux flavor (Ubuntu) for my work, so I totally wiped Win 8.1, I had fun with win 8.1 though, but doesn't suit my needs. Installing a Linux was no easy job given UEFI boot enforcement. But luckily after getting BIOS update, you could set to compatibility mode and install linux as a non-uefi boot OS. This laptop does have Win 7 support and all drivers are available to download.
Overall performance is pretty good, thanks to i7 CPU and SSD. But the fan does kick in early as early as you start playing a full screen video. I do not think it is that quite either, noise level is bit higher. And still it does get hot, quite hot that you must use cooling stand.
Display is not that bright to the level I expected but overall great. No issues with dead pixels so far.Battery life is OK and up to 5 hours with brightness set to full. I feel if I do not set it to full, the screen is hard on your eyes.
Keyboard is bit wonky, and not really a premium feel. I am no fan of Macbook, but their keyboard is really premium. If you wanna compare these two keyboard, Samsung is a looser here and it is really a big pain point because I do spend 6+ hours typing. I am not sure it's just my laptop or what, but often while typing, the Page Up/Down keys gets triggered for no reason and cursor ends up in wrong line. It happens quite often.
Sound: Speakers sound is of good quality (when they are working) and loud enough without distortion.
WIFI: No issues here so far. Good to have 5GHz wifi support.
Design: It has a great look. This laptop is thin, light, and a sturdy feel with aluminium encasing.
Warranty: You may wanna buy an extended warranty because it does fail! and given such a high price it may be a good option. Otherwise, one year warranty is there.