Samsung slims down with the Ativ Book 9 ahead of CES 2015

The Book 9 series from Samsung has always been one of our favorite laptop lines, and one of the early examples of how a Windows-based ultrabook-style laptop could compete with Apple’s MacBook Air.

Recent models have had 13-inch displays, high-resolution touchscreens and steep prices, with the flagship Ativ Book 9 Plus starting at $1,399. That model was an excellent overall example of the style, but not especially different from what the competition offered.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

The new Samsung Ativ Book 9 is a bit of a twist on the formula, dropping the screen size down to 12.2 inches and getting the weight close to 2 pounds (0.9 kg). In the hand, it’s incredibly light, but still feels sturdy and well-constructed. One of the reasons it’s so small is that this model moves to Intel’s Broadwell-generation Core M CPU, a processor designed for very slim laptops, tablets, and hybrids that will sell at a premium price.

Visually, it’s very similar to other recent Book 9 systems, with a matte metallic finish, black island-style keyboard, and relatively large touch pad. I found the smaller size still very easy to use in my brief hands-on time with the system, and the savings in desk footprint and weight were more than worth the screen-size tradeoff.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

The only major issue I had with the new Book 9 is its lack of a touchscreen. For now, you’ll need to trade up to the still-available 13-inch Book 9 Plus to get touch, which is frankly a must-have for anyone who spends a lot of time working in Windows 8. Despite this, the screen here still has a very high 2,560×1,600 resolution.

The Ativ Book 9 will be available sometime in the first quarter of 2015, starting at $1,199 in the US. International pricing and availability information was not available yet.

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