The Notebook 9 Pen aspires to be Samsung’s chronicle of a MacBook, with a pricey, manly brew of components powering some singular app experiences. But a bland, plasticky extraneous will substantially advise a Chromebook instead, yet with an iconic S-Pen stylus that’s always prepared to jot a discerning note.
It’s a formidable dichotomy for this 13.3-inch, 360-degree automobile to reconcile, done even some-more severe by a Notebook 9 Pen’s MSRP: $1,400. To be fair, we’ve recently seen it for $100 or so reduction on some sites. Unless we adore Samsung’s S-Pen, though, a Notebook 9 Pen is vulnerable to like-priced (or cheaper) competition.
Still, we competence cruise some of a weaknesses to be strengths. For example, Samsung done a whole framework out of a special tradition magnesium alloy, with a look, weight and feel of plastic. Yet a light 2.14-pound weight (just underneath 2.5 pounds with a charger) is something your shoulders will conclude when we lift this laptop in your bag. Likewise, we don’t cruise a countless customizable settings and apps to be truly useful, yet they offer a grade of configurability a foe lacks.
Notebook 9 Pen specs and features
When a laptop is usually 0.65-inch thin, you’re going to scapegoat a few things in a specs. Here’s a list, that we’ll demeanour during some-more closely in a hands-on apportionment of a review:
- Display: 13.3-inch FHD (1920×1080) LED touchscreen
- Processor: 1.8GHz Core i7-8550U (Kaby Lake-R)
- Graphics: Intel UHD 620 (integrated)
- Memory: 8GB DDR4
- Storage: 256GB PCIe SSD
- Camera: Front-facing, 1280×720
- Wireless: 802.11ac (2×2 MIMO), Bluetooth 4.1
- Ports: One USB 3.1 Type A; one USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps) Type C (supporting 4K arrangement out and charging); microSD (micro SDXC standard), HDMI, headphone jack/mic in, fingerprint reader
- Battery: 39Wh
- Operating system: Windows 10 Home
- Dimensions: 12.22 x 8.13 x 0.65 inches
- Weight: 2.14 pounds, 2.5 with AC adapter
- Price: $1,399 (MSRP)
Of those specs, it’s value observant that a 256GB SSD in a exam section had usually about 83GB free. That could start to feel tight.
But a biggest beating was a display. At 308 nits (measured), it’s positively splendid enough. For a price, however, we competence pattern Samsung to broach a bit some-more than a customary 1920×1080 (FHD) fortitude that accompanies many low-cost notebooks. To be fair, higher-resolution screens move their possess compromises, as they eat during your battery life and other resources.
The other problem with a arrangement was other displays. The clear shade reflects Samsung’s standard quality—until we offshoot adult an outmost monitor: The Intel HD 620 integrated graphics cleared out my second shade some-more than other laptops do. Samsung provides a array of supplemental settings to adjust a tone mode, yet tweaking them done no disproportion for me.
Samsung S-Pen: The gateway to a app ecosystem
One of a best things about a Samsung Notebook 9 Pen is a S-Pen—not usually that it’s included, yet that it’s stored in a own, inner container underneath a keyboard. The storage container is spring-loaded, so pulling a coop in pops it out for use. Why other manufacturers haven’t adopted this simple, effective resolution is over me.
And yet…much has been done about a S-Pen’s ability to get stranded within Samsung’s Note 5 smartphone, adequate that a company redesigned a hardware. we found it’s difficult, if not impossible, to crowd a S-Pen inside a Notebook 9 Pen, tip out. But we did get it stranded fast. After a few days of angst, we threw counsel to a breeze and wiggled it free—phew!—without any apparent harm.
…and afterwards wedged it in again, clearly permanently. Imagine a conflict if we henceforth incapacitated a USB hang after inserting it a wrong way. Inserting a coop should not need this volume of care.
Once a S-Pen pops free, a S-Pen’s Air Command apps appear: a array of 5 options to write notes, write on a screen, and plan a apportionment of a shade onto an outmost display. Nothing has altered given a Air Command apps debuted on a Samsung Galaxy Book: Smart Select mimics Windows 10’s possess Snipping Tool, and Windows has authorised we to write on a shade for some time. Smart Select lets we lasso and save a few seconds of video as a GIF, and that’s a fun and useful apparatus for amicable media.
Samsung’s software: Sometimes superfluous
Stray from a Air Command apps, however, and a other bundled program is reduction compelling. In serve to a common Microsoft Windows crapware—hello again, Candy Crush Soda Saga—Samsung has installed a series of a own, self-explanatory apps and utilities onto a Notebook 9 Pen: Recorder Plus, Samsung Security, User Manual, Wi-Fi Camera, Samsung Gallery, Samsung Messages, Samsung Notes, Samsung PC Cleaner, Samsung Recovery, Samsung Settings and Samsung Update. TeamPL, a screen-sharing app, is included, as is LittleArtist, a sketch app, and a gateway to a series of WildTangent games.
What you’ll fast notice is that many of Samsung’s apps are branded alternatives to existent apps. Some, like Samsung Notes, seem remaining when Microsoft’s OneNote is higher and built right into Windows 10. Others seem peculiar due to their pithy ties to smartphones (Wi-Fi Camera, that allows a Notebook 9 Pen to span and use your smartphone’s camera as a webcam.)
On a other hand, you’ll wish to dive into Samsung Settings, that lives in your taskbar by default and allows we to tinker a bit with a Notebook 9 Pen even over what Windows allows. One accessible adjustment, for instance, is a toggle that puts a cover in “Quiet Mode” and shuts off a differently determined fan. (Take note: Though Quiet Mode sounds convenient, opening forsaken by about a third when we spot-tested it.)
Other useful Samsung Settings embody controls to configure a laptop to assign usually adult to 85 percent of max capacity, that is easier on a battery. In a swarming environment, we can configure a cover to uncover usually a tip 3 entrance points, good for when you’re acid for a wirelessly tethered phone.
A few settings are some-more puzzling. we listened no disproportion after adjusting a “audio effects.” A “battery plus” mode that trims CPU use even serve indeed incited off a Quiet Mode mentioned above, that incited on a fan again. Meanwhile, toggling on a Beauty Camera duty within a Camera app did zero for me. (Don’t even consider it, reader.)
Beware a Samsung Setting that promises to ramp adult a liughtness for “outdoor mode:” It gets nowhere tighten to being serviceable in splendid sunlight, yet it manages good adequate in a shade. A identical environment relates HDR effects to adjust videos, somewhat lightening videos that we can play behind on a notebook’s non-HDR display.
Hands on: The keyboard and trackpad
Samsung’s keyboard isn’t generally gentle to form upon. The keys are pleasingly stretch (and spill-resistant, too) yet a bit smaller and shallower than I’d prefer. A enlarged hitch of typing leaves my fingers feeling a bit like I’d left jogging in a wrong kind of shoes. Perhaps Samsung is practically nudging us to use a onboard stylus instead?
Samsung maintains ultimate control over a backlight, that turns on when a Notebook 9’s ambient light sensor decides it’s needed. A duty pivotal controls this as well, yet Samsung’s Settings program also lets we to adjust a liughtness of a backlight around a slider, yet in counterfeit 30% increments.
The distance of a trackpad is about average, compelled by a comparatively brief abyss between a front and a behind of a keyboard. However, it’s manageable opposite roughly a whole aspect area, and a silken aspect allows for easy navigation.
One of my favorite facilities within Windows 10 is Windows Hello, that fast identifies we with possibly a fingerprint reader or abyss camera. (Fortunately, Samsung did divided with Samsung Flow, a Rube Goldbergian-scheme it used on a Galaxy Book, that compulsory a Samsung Galaxy phone for authentication.) The Samsung Notebook 9 is a initial laptop I’ve seen that offers both—and if one can’t brand you, a other should. It competence be overkill, yet it’s a form that’s value applause.
The audio outlay from a Notebook 9 Pen speakers sounds both gloomy and flat, though any of a encouragement technologies other manufacturers include. As with many laptops, headphones are recommended. (The Notebook 9 Pen Windows Sonic practical approximate sound encouragement for headphones is still enclosed as partial of Windows 10.)
Samsung’s choice of ports feels suitable for a transition between USB-A and USB-C: There’s simply one of each. Personally, I’ve come to like how a charging-capable USB-C pier lets we energy your laptop with a phone horse in a pinch, and Samsung’s pier includes this capability. A (user-supplied) dongle can be used to bond an outmost display, or we competence use a HDMI port.
Performance: Very good, save for battery life
Underneath a Samsung’s Notebook 9 Pen mild-mannered extraneous is a flattering absolute mainstream laptop. Compared opposite a series of midrange notebooks during generally allied prices, a Notebook 9 Pen’s 8th-gen Kaby Lake-R Core chip helps rouse it to a tip of a opening chart—with an difference for graphics, where a integrated Intel UHD 620 hits a wall. And while a battery life doesn’t dwarf a competition, a Notebook 9 Pen yielded tighten to 10 hours in a outline tests, that should sufficient until we can lane down a charging outlet.
Although many of a reviews are conducted with usually PCMark’s Work exam as a magnitude of bureau performance, we like to supplement a Home and Creative tests as well. PCMark’s Work scores magnitude a opening on standard bureau tasks: word processing, spreadsheet work, and a like. Any laptop scoring over 2,000 will hoop mainstream applications usually fine, and it’s a cake travel for a quad-core CPU like a one in a Notebook 9 Pen. Nevertheless, here’s a above-average performance.
PCMark’s Home tests highlight a laptop a bit more, mixing web browsing and light gaming. (Although we don’t mangle it out, a gaming scores reported about 6 frames per second, so don’t pattern to be personification too many first-person shooters.)
The Creative tests are directed some-more during calm creation, that currently includes print strategy and video editing. Here, a Notebook 9 Pen tops them all.
Maxon’s Cinebench benchmark is formed on a Cinema 4D veteran animation software, boiled down to a exam that renders a specific 3D stage opposite one or all of a processor cores. (We’ve tasked a benchmark to highlight all 4 cores.) That creates it an glorious exam of how good a Notebook 9 Pen will transport in multi-threaded apps. Among a comparison of notebooks, a Samsung Notebook 9 Pen performs well—helped in partial by Intel’s transition from dual to 4 processor cores in a 8th-gen parts. While no one expects a Notebook 9 Pen to be used for veteran animation, it’s a good comparison.
Another highlight exam is HandBrake, an open-source apparatus we use to modify a Hollywood film into a format that can be played behind on an Android tablet. While Cinebench is some-more of a sprint, a HandBrake analysis is closer to a marathon, measuring opening over time. The Notebook 9 Pen posted one of a improved scores.