For the past week Iâve been using Samsungâs 15-inch Notebook 9. This Windows 10 machine has been put through its paces, replacing my iMac. While I will stop short of declaring my love for Windows, my view of the current Windows laptop landscape has been changed.
In a world focused on the battle between Samsung and Apple in the smartphone industry, itâs easy to forget the South Korean electronics giant is more than a single-product company.
Samsungâs Notebook 9 lineup is impressive on paper, checking all the boxes on the spec sheet. But how does it actually perform? As it turns out, rather well.
Light as a feather
Traditionally laptops larger than 13-inches are reserved for someone who more or less stays put. A combination of a larger screen and bigger battery in a 15-inch laptop often leads to a bulky and downright heavy computer to tote around in a backpack.
A video posted by Jason Cipriani (@mrcippy) on Apr 27, 2016 at 10:30am PDT
But with the 15-inch Notebook 9, Samsung has found the best of both worlds. Weighing 2.9 pounds, the Notebook 9 is deceivingly light. To put that into perspective, the 13-inch MacBook Air actually weighs a tad more than the bigger Notebook 9, at 2.96 pounds. Itâs 0.57-inch thickness is also thinner the MacBook Airâs thickest point of 0.64 inches.
Carrying a 15-inch laptop around in a backpack while traveling or moving between classes is no longer something to dread.
With a laptop thatâs thin and light, concessions are expected. However, Samsung was able to include a number of ports in the Notebook 9 without sacrificing portability. (Looking at you, 12-inch MacBook.)
On the left side of the Notebook 9 is a fast charging port, a USB 3.0 port, headphone jack, USB Type-C port, and a Mini DisplayPort. On the right side youâll find another USB 3.0 port, HDMI port, and a microSD card slot. If you use a regular SD card to transfer photos from your camera to a computer, itâs acceptable to raise your eyebrows at the choice to include microSD support.
With the quickness
The spec sheet will tell you the Notebook 9 is equipped with an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. But I will tell you, all of that adds up to a computer that hardly ever slows down.
Not once during my week or so of use did I feel as if I was pushing the Notebook 9 too hard.
My daily routine is a random combination of bouncing between web browsers with multiple tabs open, opening and closing applications, email, and using the calendar. Occasionally thereâs a YouTube video or browser-based game to distract me from the task at hand.
Not once during my week or so of use did I feel as if I was pushing the Notebook 9 too hard. In fact, I probably should have pushed it harder.
Itâs not a laptop designed for intense gaming sessions, but itâs more than powerful enough to power through common computing tasks with little effort.
Battery life remedied with fast charging
Samsung rates the Notebook 9âs battery life at “up to” 12 hours, but I was unable to hit that mark. With varying screen brightness throughout the day, I was able to consistently get between a respectable eight and ten hours of use.
Thankfully, the Notebook 9 comes with fast charging technology which means you can recharge a dead battery in under 90 minutes. Naturally, I put this claim to the test as well and found the battery to charge from dead to 95% in the 90 minutes Samsung quoted. Color me impressed.
Despite battery life not living up to Samsungâs expectations, having the ability to quickly top off a battery before hopping on a plane or heading out to a coffee shop is one Iâve grown to appreciate â first on smartphones, and now on a laptop.
Look, donât touch
This particular Notebook 9 variant doesnât feature a touchscreen, and Iâm OK with that. Nearly all touch-enabled Windows laptops Iâve used have all suffered from a screen that seems to move as you type on the keyboard. Itâs an admittedly subtle wobble, but itâs one that drives me absolutely crazy.
Not only does the screen on the Notebook 9 stay put as you type, but the added benefit of using touch to interact with Windows 10 isnât all that clear to me. Yes, Microsoft has done a lot to improve touch interaction in Windows 10, but at the end of the day Iâve found a trackpad to be just as, if not more, efficient than touching a screen.
The Notebook 9’s keyboard is comfortable and spacious; the keys have just enough travel to make touch-typing possible. As for the trackpad â it works as one would expect with no delay when you slide your finger across its surface.
The 15-inch model Iâm testing features a 1,920 x 1,080 LED display and it is gorgeous. Colors are bright and vivid, and overall brightness is more than enough for the harshest environments. The Notebook 9âs hinge makes it possible to open the laptop to the point the screen is touching your desk. The only real purpose for actually opening the screen this far is to share information with someone sitting across the table from you, but even then, itâs not all that practical.
Samsung also offers a less expensive 13-inch model, and more expensive 15-inch model with a 4K touchscreen.
I canât get away from bloatware
Samsungâs Galaxy line of smartphones has long been plagued by bloatware apps pre-installed by either Samsung itself, or its carrier partners. At least once a week I receive an alert on aÂ Galaxy S7 Edge I have, trying to convince me to visit a local Verizon store for an “enhanced experience,”
In that regard, the Notebook 9 is no different.
Of course, added apps and services have long been a staple of any Windows computer manufacturer, but itâs a shame we havenât moved past that quite yet.
The Notebook 9 comes with Norton Security pre-installed, and the app never stops bugging and alerting you. For example, almost every time I started a new Chrome browsing session, an alert would popup asking me to enable Nortonâs extensions.
Even the wording of the alert is one that gives off the impression the user has done something wrong. (Ex: “Attention! SAMSUNG recommends fulling activating your security software now.”) This alert always leads to me asking myself If Samsung really recommended I do that, why didnât they just do it for me?
I realize this is a battle lost long ago and one Windows users have to deal with on a daily basis, but itâs still frustrating.
For its part, Samsung has included some software tweaks of its own. Samsungâs SideSync app makes it easy to sync, share content, or even control your Samsung smartphone from the desktop of the Notebook 9. Using SideSync is a bit slow at times, but overall itâs a simple way to at least keep tabs on smartphone notifications keywithout downloading AirDroid or similar.
A stellar computer, no doubt
The Notebook 9 is currently priced at $1,100, down $100 from its typical $1,200 price tag.
an affordable 15-inch laptop packed with performance
At either price, itâs an affordable 15-inch laptop packed with performance.
The 13-inch Notebook 9 is on currently on sale for the ever-so-affordable price of $949, after which it will go back to its regular price of $999.
Both variations of the Notebook 9 are thinner and lighter than Appleâs MacBook Air, and are priced to match. For those interested in picking up a new Windows 10 machine, or possibly making the switch from a Mac, I donât you can’t go wrong with the Notebook 9.
Samsung Notebook 9 (15-inch)
Thin, lightweight â¢ 15-inch model comes with fast charging â¢ It’s a workhorse â¢ Screen is beautiful
No touchscreen â¢ Battery falls short of advertised 12 hours
The Bottom Line
Samsungâs Notebook 9 is fast, light, and wonât break the bank. You donât give up ports for portability, but you do have to give up a touchscreen.