Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite: hands-on preview

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Samsung's premium ultraportable, the Samsung Series 9, is reimagined with a new name and a new focus, while retaining many of the elements that made the original laptop so special. We had some hands-on time with the new slim laptop, and while there's plenty that's changed, it's still a svelte, stylish system for use on the go.

The Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite is a 13in ultraportable, boasting a custom quad-core processor and AMD discrete graphics. But while the look and feel are still premium, the price isn't; the Book 9 Lite starts at $799 in the US, a dramatic drop from the $1,000 and up of the Series 9 (the UK price hasn't been officially confirmed, although online retailer Very currently has it pegged at £599).

The Book 9 Lite is Samsung's play for broad appeal, and the budget-conscious pricing is just a part of this change. The new laptop features a touchscreen, a brighter display for clarity indoor and out, and a 128GB solid-state drive providing quick performance and speedy boot times; 8 seconds for a cold boot, and only 2 seconds when waking from sleep mode. The display, however, is a bit disappointing, with 1,366 x 768 resolution and poor viewing angles, but such compromises are to be expected at this price point.

Samsung has outfitted the Book 9 Lite with a custom-made AMD quad-core processor (with 4GB of RAM), and while it may not go toe-to-toe with Intel's top four core Haswell chips, it should still offer decent performance for all of your day-to-day needs.

Less common for such a slim laptop is the inclusion of discrete graphics, with the newest AMD graphics processor providing visual oomph. Samsung also promises decent battery life (6 hours or better) for the new laptop, reporting impressive benchmark scores, but we’d obviously like to verify that with testing of our own.

The seamless moulded chassis looks good, with a cool finish and two colour options, Marble White and Mineral Ash Black. It's a little heavier than the past premium model, but at just under 1.6kg, it's not unreasonable for the price range. The Book 9 Lite is equipped with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, an SD card reader, and mini-VGA and micro-HDMI outputs for monitor use with a dongle (sold separately).

The Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite will be available at the end of this month in the States, and as with the price the UK release date isn’t yet confirmed, but Very has it marked down for 12 August (note that Very also has the release date of the Ativ Book 9 down as 9 August).