Images from The Verge and CNet

The trend for light weight, large screen laptops doesn’t end with the LG Gram 15, which I talked about previously. The other laptop in this category that caught my attention at CES is the Samsung Notebook 9. Samsung has always been able to deliver drool-worthy slim, light laptops that rival the MacBook Air line, and the Notebook 9 seems to be following in that. It’s not as light as the Gram 15 (2.2 pounds), but it is under 3 pounds, which is a feat for a 15.6-inch laptop. And due to the extra fractions of a pound, the Notebook 9 doesn’t have all the drawbacks of LG’s ultralight.

The reviewers don’t all agree about this machine’s strengths and weaknesses:

CNet — 3.5 Stars out of 5

  • The keys are on the shallow side, compared to Dell or Apple, but not nearly to the same extent as the 12-inch MacBook.
  • The glass touchpad is one of the better non-Mac ones I’ve tried recently, and it managed to scroll smoothly on a two-finger swipe without accidentally jumping into pinch-to-zoom mode, as I’ve experienced on a few other Windows laptops lately.
  • …battery life was a pleasant surprise, clocking in at 7:10 in an online streaming video playback test, second only to the 15-inch MacBook Pro among our recent reviews of slim midsize laptops.

LaptopMag — 4 Stars out of 5

  • [It has] a deck that places your wrists a few millimeters over the keyboard for better ergonomics. …[the] ergonomic design was comfortable for my wrists, but not my fingers. The keys have just 1.35 millimeters of travel and require 55 grams of force to depress, which caused my fingers to bottom out when I typed at full speed. Additionally, there’s a little flex in the keyboard, especially if you type with a lot of force, as I do.
  • …touchpad is one of the most comfortable I’ve used on a Windows machine, and it feels like one you would find on a MacBook.
  • …a productivity and multimedia powerhouse. My normal workload didn’t max out the i7 processor. With 12 Chrome tabs open, one of which was streaming a 1080p video, and OpenOffice Writer running in the background…

Yahoo Tech (doesn’t give ratings)

  • …it doesn’t feel quite as solid as the MacBook Pro. Apple understands that fit and finish matters and builds its hardware to extremely tight tolerances. The Notebook 9 doesn’t feel as exacting.
  • Its keyboard is wonderful. The keys feel sturdy and have plenty of travel, and the sound of each key press was music to my ears. I think Samsung’s keyboard is every bit as excellent as the MacBook Pro’s — and that’s saying something.
  • …touchpad is as smooth glass. Your fingers glide across it with ease. I did, though, run into issues with the touchpad’s palm rejection. …I use a MacBook everyday and have never had that problem.
  • Apple also lets you customize its MacBooks by selecting the processor and amount of storage you get — something you can’t do with the Notebook 9.

The Verge — 7.5 out of 10

  • …it doesn’t compromise specs in the name of design.
  • It’s as easy to carry around and slip into a bag as any ultrabook or ultraportable computer I’ve used, and it makes my daily workhorse 15-inch MacBook Pro feel like a brick in comparison.
  • The 9’s keyboard is roomy and comfortable to type on, though I found it to be spongier and less responsive than other keyboards. …[It] lacks backlighting, which is unforgivable at this price point.
  • …the large trackpad is smooth and tracks my fingers reliably, even with multitouch gestures. It also doesn’t make the cursor jump around the screen when I’m typing, so there are clearly some good algorithms in place to avoid false touches.
  • I’m less impressed with the dedicated Ethernet port (which requires the use of an adapter, why not just plug into a USB port?) and the microSD card slot, which would be much more useful as a full-size SD slot. Also, while the USB Type-C port can be used to connect or charge a smartphone, it can’t be used to charge the laptop, so you’re still stuck with using Samsung’s proprietary power connector.

As you see, there are varying experiences, especially with the keyboard and touchpad. At the starting price of $1,100, the Samsung Notebook 9 is expensive, though not nearly as pricey as a MacBook Pro, and does match some of Apple’s features, functionality, and power. I still don’t think this beats out my pick for Best Laptop For Writers, though it does look like a contender.

You can snag a Notebook 9 on Amazon. If you buy one, or own one now, share your experience in the comments!


Listen to all past episodes of The Write Gear, or…

Subscribe to The Write Gear via iTunes, Google Play, or RSS.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or here on Medium.

The Write Gear Blog

A blog (and podcast!) exploring the analog and digital tools writers use to write

K. Tempest Bradford

Written by

Spec Fic author, media critic, tech journalist. Host of ORIGINality, creator of the Tempest Challenge.

The Write Gear Blog

A blog (and podcast!) exploring the analog and digital tools writers use to write

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade