Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite: 13.3-inch slimline notebook with a secret

Quad-core coyness and a so-so battery life


Review It seems an odd paradox that the more a company tries to hide something, the more publicity it attracts. Apple certainly uses this notion to good effect, knowing that it can't keep those secrets indefinitely, but also knowing that when it eventually lifts its kimono, what's new in the garden customarily causes a commotion among the brand faithful.

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite

Hidden shallows: Samsung's Ativ Book 9 Lite

Apple is not alone in this scripted sensationalism, but when it comes to what's inside a product, hiding some of the basics any mildly curious buyer might be interested in knowing usually suggests that what is being hidden certainly doesn't have a wow factor about it.

So here I am with Samsung's slim, attractive and could-be-cheaper Ativ Book 9 Lite. At a glance, it could easily be mistaken for an Ultrabook, but at £500, this 13.3-inch touchscreen Windows 8 notebook is hiding something that its Lite moniker hints at.

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite

Delightfully laid back

OK, so at 1.44kg, it could be lighter, but that's not it. It measures up as quite respectable really – Samsung has been busy with the tape measure to ensure the Ativ Book 9 Lite is fractionally smaller than a MacBook Air at 324 x 224 x 16.9mm – yes, it's 0.1mm thinner than the 13-inch Air (324 x 224 x 17mm).

There's nothing particularly unusual about the 4GB of DDR3 1066MHz RAM (albeit slightly slow) or the 128GB SSD. Perhaps it is a bit "Lite" on RAM, but Apple wouldn't give you any more in a standard configuration.

Moving on, there's an AMD Radeon HD 8250 GPU in there and quad-core processor that apparently goes up to 1.4GHz. Well that's informative. Even the "x4 Quad Core" sticker on the palm rest doesn't want to flag up the fact that there's no Intel Inside.

The AMD GPU does rather give the game away though. So there's an AMD chipset in here, what's so bad about that? The company makes some decent low-power, low-cost chippery that keeps the Lite end of the market very well fed.

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite

Windows 8's basic system info doesn't reveal much

Maybe the issue isn't so much to do with what AMD is making, but more to do with what Samsung is doing with it. If you nose around the Ativ Lite with anything from System Settings, to CPU-Z to PCMark 8, you'll find no specific reference to the chip inside.

There are clues though, and the biggest one is the graphics chip, as currently the HD 8250 appears on only one AMD APU (accelerated processing unit). It's part of its Elite Mobility APU platform – formerly codenamed Temash – and unless there's something very tricky going on, it's the A6-1450 APU. The four cores run at 1GHz, peaking at 1.4GHz in Turbo mode.

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite

The Device Manager could say more too, even the Properties info is non-descript
Click for a larger image

According to AMD, this chip is "designed for touch small form-factor notebooks, tablets, and hybrids 13 inches and below". So is Samsung testing AMD's latest to extremes regarding suitability? Interestingly Acer has the A6-1450 installed on its 11.6-inch Aspire V5-122P model and it's not shy about it either.

Samsung's coyness aside, the Ativ Book 9 Lite didn't strike me as crippled, even if it is treading a fine line between tablet tech and notebook needs. How that Acer performs with its HDD remains to be seen, but being SSD-equipped, the Samsung consistently managed booting to login in 8 seconds and to the desktop in 12 seconds. For general use it, didn't complain much either, just occasional pauses to load apps but nothing especially troublesome.

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite

No clues in the BIOS either – click for a larger image

The only significant weirdness I experienced was with rendering a PDF that left multiple trails when scrolling. But this could easily have been bad PDF authoring or just the file size, as it didn't occur on any other PDFs I viewed. A couple of things worthy of note are that this AMD setup does run the 64-bit version of Windows 8, unlike the current crop of Atom tablets I've tested of late, which stay rooted in 32-bit mode – apparently it's a driver issue for Intel's babies that Microsoft hasn't fully addressed yet.

Next page: Atom smasher

Other stories you might like

  • DigitalOcean tries to take sting out of price hike with $4 VM
    Cloud biz says it is reacting to customer mix largely shifting from lone devs to SMEs

    DigitalOcean attempted to lessen the sting of higher prices this week by announcing a cut-rate instance aimed at developers and hobbyists.

    The $4-a-month droplet — what the infrastructure-as-a-service outfit calls its virtual machines — pairs a single virtual CPU with 512 MB of memory, 10 GB of SSD storage, and 500 GB a month in network bandwidth.

    The launch comes as DigitalOcean plans a sweeping price hike across much of its product portfolio, effective July 1. On the low-end, most instances will see pricing increase between $1 and $16 a month, but on the high-end, some products will see increases of as much as $120 in the case of DigitalOceans’ top-tier storage-optimized virtual machines.

    Continue reading
  • GPL legal battle: Vizio told by judge it will have to answer breach-of-contract claims
    Fine-print crucially deemed contractual agreement as well as copyright license in smartTV source-code case

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) has won a significant legal victory in its ongoing effort to force Vizio to publish the source code of its SmartCast TV software, which is said to contain GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 copyleft-licensed components.

    SFC sued Vizio, claiming it was in breach of contract by failing to obey the terms of the GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 licenses that require source code to be made public when certain conditions are met, and sought declaratory relief on behalf of Vizio TV owners. SFC wanted its breach-of-contract arguments to be heard by the Orange County Superior Court in California, though Vizio kicked the matter up to the district court level in central California where it hoped to avoid the contract issue and defend its corner using just federal copyright law.

    On Friday, Federal District Judge Josephine Staton sided with SFC and granted its motion to send its lawsuit back to superior court. To do so, Judge Staton had to decide whether or not the federal Copyright Act preempted the SFC's breach-of-contract allegations; in the end, she decided it didn't.

    Continue reading
  • US brings first-of-its-kind criminal charges of Bitcoin-based sanctions-busting
    Citizen allegedly moved $10m-plus in BTC into banned nation

    US prosecutors have accused an American citizen of illegally funneling more than $10 million in Bitcoin into an economically sanctioned country.

    It's said the resulting criminal charges of sanctions busting through the use of cryptocurrency are the first of their kind to be brought in the US.

    Under the United States' International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEA), it is illegal for a citizen or institution within the US to transfer funds, directly or indirectly, to a sanctioned country, such as Iran, Cuba, North Korea, or Russia. If there is evidence the IEEA was willfully violated, a criminal case should follow. If an individual or financial exchange was unwittingly involved in evading sanctions, they may be subject to civil action. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022