REVIEW: Samsung ATIV Book 9 Lite

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Samsung ATIV Book 9 Lite

The ATIV Book 9 Lite is a re-worked Series 9 ultraportable laptop from Samsung. Available in black or white and designed for mobile users on a budget, the system retains many of the desirable features as the ATIV Book 9 Plus, such as the same premium design, but is now made entirely of plastic and is powered by an AMD processor, so it can’t be called an Ultrabook. The new ATIV Book 9 Lite costs a more palatable £599 (inc. VAT) compared to the ATIV Book 9 Plus’s asking price of £1,300 (inc. VAT), but has Samsung made too many concessions to lower the cost?

Attractive Design

Samsung ATIV Book 9 Lite

With the ATIV Book 9 Lite, Samsung has set out to create a device that fits the needs of a larger consumer base, while preserving the sleek design (324 x 224 x 17.5mm, 1.44kg) and overall experience delivered by the Book 9 lineage. That doesn’t mean Samsung has cut too many major specification corners, either.

Thanks to the Solid State Drive (SSD) Windows 8 boots up in only 8 seconds, you’ll find files and programs load quickly, and resuming from sleep mode completes in just 2 seconds. The quad-core processor should be enough for all but the most demanding applications, and the pre-installed SideSync application lets you type and transfer files to virtual screens across ATIV computing devices and Galaxy smartphones.

Under The Hood

Samsung ATIV Book 9 Lite

The ATIV Book 9 Lite is powered by a custom-designed quad-core AMD processor (up to 1.4GHz), 4GB DDR3/1600 system memory, 128GB SATA 3 SSD, and an AMD Radeon HD 8250 graphics chipset. However, the centrepiece is the 13.3-inch glossy LED display (1366 x 768) with 10-point capacitive touch (non-touchscreen model available for £100 less) that allows for more intuitive navigation of Windows 8 (64-bit) compared to a mouse. When it’s time to get down to work, there is also a large touchpad with two integrated buttons that supports two-finger gestures to scroll up, down or across documents. Annoyingly, the trackpad is noisy when clicked.

You can’t expect too much connectivity from a mobile computer, but the ATIV Book 9 Lite covers the basics with micro HDMI, headphone, microphone, USB 2.0/3.0, SD card reader, Gigabit Ethernet (via the supplied external dongle), 802.11 b/g/n wireless and Bluetooth 4.0, and a front-facing camera. There’s no CD/DVD/Blu-ray drive due to size constraints, nor is there NFC, but more disappointing is a battery life of around 5 hours, which is half that of the ATIV Book 9 Plus and other Ultrabooks. Dim the screen and go extra light on the multitasking and you’ll get closer to the claimed 9 hours.

SideSync & HomeSync

Samsung ATIV Book 9 Lite

Samsung’s SideSync is a neat technology that makes sharing information between a Samsung computer and a Samsung Android-based device easy. SideSync automatically backs up and syncs new content, such as photos and videos, so you won’t have to worry about losing your important information, and it allows you to share your computer’s keyboard and mouse, so you can drag text and files from one device to the other, as well as type a message on your phone using the ATIV Book 9 Lite’s keyboard. You can also display a fully interactive, virtual version of an Android device on the ATIV Book 9 Lite’s screen..

HomeSync Lite is a software solution that allows you to back up content using the ATIV Book 9 Lite’s built-in storage and access it away from home with other devices using cloud technology. HomeSync Lite also supports external hard drives, so you can store and consume as much as you want, and new pictures or videos taken on your Samsung mobile device can be automatically uploaded to the ATIV Book 9 Lite.

Finely Crafted But Lacking Power

The ATIV Book 9 Lite is a practical choice for business travellers looking for reasonable performance with light productivity applications such as word processing and Web browsing—even if there aren’t the eye-catching features you’d expect from more expensive machines such as a brushed-aluminium chassis and a Full HD display.

The biggest drawbacks are a disappointing battery life, low-resolution screen, and the fact that the ATIV Book 9 Lite’s full potential is only realised if you also own a mobile Samsung device—a Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note II, or Galaxy Note III—and intend to use the two together. If not, there are better priced ultraportables from the likes of Dell, HP and Lenovo which also have more power under the hood. [3.5/5]