Samsung recently released the Ativ Book 9 Lite ,  in both Black and white, and with an optional Touchscreen. The Ativ Book 9 Lite promises the style of the expensive Ativ Book 9 Plus, without the price tag. Steven Ambrose tests the new Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite to see if it lives up to that promise.

Samsung took on the ultra-portable laptop world with it original Series 9 devices. The Samsung series 9 were the original Ultrabook computers and competed head on with the Apple MacBook Air, both in price, features, and build quality. All the Samsung Windows devices now fall under the Ativ brand including the high end successor to the original Series 9, now called the Ativ Book 9 Plus.

The Ative Book 9 Lite is a slim premium looking laptop with all the ports tidily set at the back toward the screen. To save costs Samsung have made the laptop entirely of plastic, although it feels solid and fairly premium. The Ativ Book 9 Lite includes a 13.3 “screen, Quad core AMD processor with 4 Gigs of memory. All the usual ports and a 128 GB SSD drive are included.

The first impression when unboxing the Samsung was good. The Ativ Book 9 Lite feels solid, if a little heavy for its size, and has solid build quality and a good feel in hand. The chicklet style keyboard is comfortable with decent travel and feel. The included track pad is large and includes two finger navigation and is fairly responsive though at times it decided to do its own thing and with Windows 8 this could be frustrating.

The AMD processor is what lets the laptop down. It feels and performs like a 2009 processor. Boot times are adequate and in use the Ativ Book 9 Lite is fairly responsive but try to play even moderately difficult game or open too many spreadsheets or tabs in your browser, and the Ativ 3book 9 lite starts to stutter and run slowly.

The screen was also adequate but had low resolution at 1366×768 and a fairly poor viewing angle. I found myself adjusting the screen up and down to get adequate brightness as the panel also has a very average overall brightness. The screen colours were fairly vibrant and good enough for general browsing and watching the odd movie.

The Samsung Ativ 3book 9 lite runs full windows 8 64 bit and with the included 128 GB Solid state drive proved snappy enough for everyday use. Microsoft office worked well, unless you had huge Excel spreadsheets or Documents with big graphics. In these circumstances the low power of the processor and 4 Gig ram slowed the laptop to a crawl. The SSD hard drive helps but its small size makes it necessary to lug about an external drive even if you have a moderate amount of music movies and other files.

Samsung claim that the included battery should give you around 6 hours of life with normal use. I was expecting at least this, taking the slim Ultrabook style size, and low powered processor into account. In actual use we rarely got more than 4 hours of battery life. Watching a movie, which necessitated keeping the brightness fairly high, the power ran out at just over three hours.

In conclusion the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite is a bit of a disappointment. It looks the part, and is well made. It has a sleek profile and is compact and fairly light. The average screen, underpowered processor and poor battery life let it down. This laptop is best suited to light use for browsing the web, some emails, and easy document creation. All these functions can be done on any one of the current generation tablets just as easily. At an average street price of R8500, this laptop is poor value, and unless you must have a decent keyboard and a clamshell design you would be better off with a decent Samsung 10.1 tablet.

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Steven Ambrose – Executive Editor, CEO of the technology and strategy consulting firm Strategy Worx and a major gadget geek. A chartered accountant by training, Steven sports a history spanning from heading start-ups to running divisions of major multinational corporations, he ran and wrote for from 2006 to 2010, and now consults on technology and its impact on business as the brainchild and CEO of Strategy Worx. Follow him on Twitter