Monday, July 15, 2013

Samsung's Ativ Book 9 Lite: A budget 13-inch Windows 8 touch-screen laptop (hands-on)

By SheebaSudeep

Update: Samsung has announced U.S. price, spec, and availability details for the Ativ Book 9 Lite. The U.S. version comes in one set $799 configuration, but two colors, "Mineral Ash Black" or "Marble White." The single config includes 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and the same 1,366x768-pixel touch screen detailed below in our original hands-on coverage.

The attractive feature is the custom CPU, which Samsung boases as  Quad Core Processor.These chips include AMD's excellent Radeon integrated graphics as well.

The Book 9 Lite's $799 price puts it in the same ballpark as several laptops with similar RAM, SSD, and touch-screen specs, but with Intel's mainstream Core i5 CPU. Some of those, including systems from Toshiba and Acer, aren't quite as thin or upscale-looking as the Book 9 Lite, but they're close.

Another potential concern is battery life. Intel-powered systems have outperformed comparable AMD ones for a few generations now, and the latest Intel CPUs, formerly code-named Haswell, are starting to filter down to budget laptops, and deliver very impressive battery life in our tests so far.

We'll have to wait until we get a review unit of the Book 9 Lite to test the performance and battery life of its white-label AMD CPU. If you're already interested, it's available to preorder now, and will be in retail stores starting July 28.


Outwardly, the Ativ Book 9 Lite is obviously seen as a sibling of the more pricey Book 9 Plus. They're both 13-inch laptops and both share the same wavy 'folded magazine-style' edging. The key difference is that the Lite has a plastic shell, rather than the aluminum body of its brother. 

The glossy white plastic of the model I was able to try out was quite attractive and reminiscent of some of Samsung's similarly glossy Galaxy Tabs. It was a bit of a fingerprint magnet, but a quick wipe with a cloth should solve that. The plastic body is likely to be a little more susceptible to knocks and bumps than the metal Plus, but it still felt reassuringly well put together in my brief hands-on.

At almost 17mm thick, it's quite a bit chubbier than the Plus. It weighs 1.44kg (3.17 pounds), which is marginally heavier, too, but not by enough that you'd really notice. It's portable enough to slip into a bag and can be comfortably carried around throughout the day without risking spinal injuries. 


Like the Plus, the Ativ Book 9 Lite packs a 13-inch touch screen. It doesn't share the same monster resolution as the Plus, plumping for a lesser 1,366x768 pixels. That's really the minimum I'd expect to see on a machine of this size.

Windows and specs

It's running the full version of Windows 8, which turns out that you're able to install all the standard desktop PC software you want -- great news, as the Windows 8 Marketplace still isn't exactly well stocked. Microsoft will be launching a major upgrade to Windows 8 later this year, but has said that all existing users will be able to download it for free. You'll be able to immediately upgrade this laptop to the latest software as soon as it's available. 

It's powered by a quad-core processor, which interestingly is a custom Samsung chip, rather than the more usual Intel processors typically found in Samsung 's laptops. The company wasn't forthcoming with details about the chip, nor did it give any indication as to how it's likely to perform against other laptops. We'll have to wait and see exactly what it's capable of when we give it the full review treatment.

A flash memory-based SSD with 256GB of space will be on board to take care of your storage needs and should ensure fast boot-up and resume times. 

OutlookThe Ativ Book 9 Lite doesn't share the same high-end specs or fancy metal build as its posh brother, but it's an attractive thing nonetheless that will hopefully arrive with a considerably cut-down price tag. 

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