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Samsung found the courage to put a full-size HDMI port on its 13-inch ultrabook

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Thin and light, but not light on ports

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Samsung Notebook 9  (2017)
Samsung Notebook 9 (2017)
Vlad Savov

The 2017 edition of the Samsung Notebook 9 comes with the claim of being the world’s lightest 13-inch laptop, and at only 1.8 pounds / 820 grams of weight, it probably merits the title. I tried it out here at CES 2017, and what’s interesting about it to me is how little Samsung has compromised in terms of connectivity with this new laptop, endowing it with full-size HDMI and two USB-A ports along with the new hotness that is the thinner and smaller USB-C.

Just look at the side profile of the new Notebook 9: display excepted, the chassis of this laptop is barely any thicker than the ports it provides. There’s a certain sense of efficiency extremism about this look that appeals to me — much in the same fashion that the stripped-down bezels around the display evoke a sense of futuristic minimalism. Those are the parts I like, and I commend Samsung for putting together a laptop that addresses its customers’ needs today rather that pretending we all need to hurry up and move into the future with it, as Apple’s latest MacBook Pro refresh has done.

Another thing this laptop has that Apple’s lack is a 180-degree hinge, allowing it to open into a fully flat plank of technology. I never feel the need to open a clamshell device quite that far, but I often find myself wishing for a hinge with a greater degree of articulation than Apple and many other companies offer.

Samsung Notebook 9 (2017)
Samsung Notebook 9 (2017)
Vlad Savov

But, taken as a whole, Samsung’s new Notebook 9 fails to impress. Yes, it’s made out of some neat magnesium alloy that helps it retain rigidity while being super light, but it doesn’t feel particularly nice to hold and its weightlessness makes it seem more like a toy than a serious PC. I didn’t love the feel of its keyboard or touchpad, and I certainly couldn’t detect an advantage to the extremely light weight. Personally, I might have traded up to a thicker, heavier machine that could offer me more than the advertised 7-hour battery life from Samsung. That’s exactly the move HP just made with one of its Spectre models, and I’d like to see more companies embracing the "more is more" approach when it comes to batteries.

If you do prioritize weight over battery life, the new Notebook 9 starts at $999 for the 13-inch model and $1,199 for a 15-inch version, the latter of which also gets a discrete GPU in the form of the Nvidia GTX 940MX. Both models will be available for purchase in the very near future, and are in fact available for preorder already.