Samsung's new Ultrabook is slim, fast and incredibly portable. The refreshed Ativ Book 9 is one of the thinnest and lightest laptops I've ever seen, making it an enticing pick for mobile business users who don't want to sacrifice performance. The 12.2-inch premium device is set to launch sometime in the first quarter of this year, starting at $1,199. We went hands-on with it this month.
The first thing I noticed was the notebook's small footprint and featherweight design. Measuring less than a half-inch thick and weighing just about 2 lbs, it felt more like a tablet than a laptop in my hands. In comparison, Apple's 13-inch MacBook Air offers a slightly larger display, but it's thicker (0.68 inches at its thickest point) and weighs more (3 lbs). That makes the Ativ Book 9 the more portable machine — a perk for business users who want a machine that won't weigh them down on their daily commute.
The laptop features Intel's new Core M processor, which delivers fast performance without the need for a fan to cool the system. It also allows for a thinner, lighter design, and eliminates that annoying fan noise in the process. Other hardware highlights include a supersharp 12.2-inch display with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels, up to 8GB of RAM and up to 512GB of solid-state-drive storage.
Specs aside, the new Ativ Book 9 sports a luxurious design that lives up to the premium price tag. Its black aluminum body feels solid, and its curved sides give it a profile that looks even slimmer than it actually is. The backlit keyboard is equally attractive, with sculpted keys that feel snappy and comfortable for touch typing, and the large, chrome-lined touchpad is as responsive as you'd expect from a high-end Ultrabook.
I especially appreciated the premium feel of the Ativ Book 9's hinge. Opening the lid of the device feels as smooth as butter, and the notebook is sturdy enough that I was able to lift the lid of the machine with a single finger, while the rest of the notebook didn't budget an inch.
I also had a chance to test out some of the Ativ Book 9's built-in security features. For starters, I tried a handy pattern unlock mode, which lets you trace a shape on the touchpad to unlock your notebook. The feature felt responsive and reliable, and Samsung says the method is more secure than a simple password. Meanwhile, tapping the F10 key quickly blurs the display — or just individual apps, depending on your settings — to block onlookers from seeing sensitive information on your screen. You can also disable the microphone and webcam with one tap, in case you're worried about hackers hijacking those functions.
The new Ativ Book 9 will start at $1,199 with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. That's about $200 more than the MacBook Air and $70 more than the most comparable Surface Pro 3 model. On the other hand, it's $100 less than the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, and a whopping $300 less than the HP EliteBook Folio 1020, making it a nice middle ground for business users in the market for a premium work machine.