The ATIV Book 9 Spin is not available worldwide, but for those of you living in the US, it’s definitely a device worth considering. A latest generation Core i7 configuration with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD sells for around $1300, which puts it on par with a similarly equipped version of the Spectre x360 and makes it $100 more expensive than the Yoga 900. For that kind of money you’ll also get a 2.9 lbs aluminum unibody, a 360-degrees convertible display with a QHD+ IPS panel, a full-set of ports and a 39 Wh battery.
I’ve added a complete specs sheet below for more details.
|Samsung ATIV Book 9 Spin 13.3-inch|
|Screen||13.3 inch, 3200 x 1800 px resolution, 10-finger multi-touch, IPS|
|Processor||Intel Skylake Core i7-6500U CPU|
|Video||Integrated Intel HD 520 HD|
|Memory||8 GB DDR3L 1600 MHz|
|Storage||256-512 GB SSD (M.2 SATA)|
|Connectivity||Wireless AC Intel 8260 , Intel Bluetooth 4.0|
|Ports||3x USB 3.0, HDMI, mic/earphone combo, microSD card reader|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home/Pro|
|Size||314 mm or 12.39” (w) x 220 mm or 8.69” (d) x 14.9 mm or .59” (h)|
|Weight||1.30 kg or 2.87 lbs|
|Extras||backlit keyboard, aluminum unibody|
Now, if you’re looking for a premium hybrid 13-incher, you probably read our comparison of the Yoga 900 and the Spectre x360, based on our reader’s Ash impressions, who bought both of them in his quest for the perfect ultraportable. When the Spin was launched, he gave this one a try, and below you’ll find what he thinks about this Samsung, after owning it for a few weeks. Go through the post and post your feedback and questions in the comments section, Ash and I are around and will help if possible.
Here are Ash’s initial impressions of the Samsung ATIV BOOK 9 Spin:
“I just got the Samsung Spin.
I’m about to turn it on and then upgrade the SSD to a 1TB Samsung and Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro. Hopefully all of that will go well and then I’ll begin testing it all out. First thoughts are that it is VERY well built. It feels even more solid than the Spectre’s aluminum case. It also feels very lightweight and looks beautiful. Tablet mode feels almost as good as the Yoga 900 in terms of weight. The device is not as long as the Yoga as you can see in the pics I’m attaching (included below).”
A few days later, he came back with more feedback:
“So far, I can say that the Spin feels much like the Spectre, but is even more solidly built. It’s also bit thinner feeling and lighter than the Spectre, but not as light as the Yoga 900.
The Spin’s case is very slick (almost too slick, like the iPhone 6, as in slippery). But that gives it a very smooth and clean look and feel. It also feels VERY solid inside out.
Samsung claims that they built this thing to last and I do not doubt it. I’ve gone over every inch of this device with a bright LED flashlight, looking for scratches and poor quality control. Samsung has outdone HP and Lenovo as far as QC is concerned. Out of the HP and Lenovo’s I’ve tried in the past 3 months (a total of about 15 devices), I had to exchange them all for a replacement for one reason or another, whether it was for dead/sleeping pixels, scratched paint, etc. This, my first Samsung, so far looks to be the only one I’ll need.
The type of finish that the Spectre has is a bit rougher (or rather a more matte-like finish), compared to the Spin. My palms slide around with more ease on the palm rests of the Spin. I’m not sure how to put it into words, but the Spin’s case simply feels very silky smooth to the touch. The chromed sides are a very nice addition as well, much like what the Spectre has. Tablet mode feels better than on the Spectre, but the Spin is not as light as the Yoga 900, so the Yoga wins here.
And then we have what was my biggest issue with the Spectre: the palm rest. Happy to report that the palm rest on the Spin does not get hot or even warm. I had 14 Chrome tabs open, while I installed various apps and there was no warmth on deck. The bottom rear became warm but NOT hot at all, ever so far. I didn’t notice the fan kicking in while all of those tabs were open or when watching a YouTube video to test, for about 10min. Actually, what I’m noticing now, over the sound of my TV, is that the Spin fan is humming away at a very low speed, thus it can hardly be heard, so it may have been on at other times earlier and I just didn’t notice it.
Also I was very happy to see that the Spin (unlike the larger ATIV 15.6″) has no vents on the bottom. Just front corner speaker grills (speakers are much better/louder than the Spectre). That matters to me because it means I never have to worry about placing the device directly on a pillow, blanket, carpet, etc. The vents are in the back, just like on the Yoga, though not as hidden.
Update: A friend saw my Spin and she demanded we go to Best Buy to get one for her. She had been looking at the Macbook Air, but after 5 min on my Spin, she was sold! After setting up her Spin, I can see that out of these two units, the quality control is looking good. Both have zero visible defects, scratches or dents/dings.
Keyboard and touchpad
The keyboard feels more like on the Spectre (which I liked). I am able to type better and it just feels nicer to tap these keys rather than the ones the Yoga has.
I’ve typed all of this on the Spin and again, I really like this keyboard. I have never used the XPS 13, so I can’t compare it to that. All I can say is that I like it much better than the Yoga 900 and a little better than the Spectre. Speaking of the XPS 13, I can’t help but think of this as being XPS 13-like, but with tablet/tent mode. Maybe it’s just the huge bezels of the Yoga 900, but for some reason, in-person, the Spin appears to me to have a fairly thin bezel.
I appreciate the fact that the keyboard’s backlighting turns off when you don’t use the keyboard for a short while and then instantly comes back on as soon as you touch it or move the mouse or touch pad.
Speaking of the touch pad. Both the Spectre and Yoga have touch pads that would make noise/move at even the slightest tap, as if loose/broken. No such issue here. You can do soft taps on the touch pad, and there will be no clicking sound unless you push hard enough to make a left or right click along the bottom half of the touch pad.
Later Update: I have fallen in-love with this keyboard. It is a pleasure to use and feels great. The touch pad is the best Windows touch pad I have ever used. 2 finger scrolling works perfectly in every app that I have tried. I am not a touch pad person, as I always use a wireless mouse, but this one is one is great and I’ll probably use it for flights and any other tight places. And as mentioned before, this touch pad does not rattle on soft taps, like the Yoga’s and Spectre’s do.
I thought the Spin had USB-C, but according to the Samsung site, it appears that only the ATIV Book 9 Pro has it. This was sad news, but due to all of the other things I love about this notebook, I am willing to forgive it. I am still not sure about whether or not the Spin has an active digitizer.
The screen is very beautiful, more so than the one on the Yoga 900. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I have come to realize that the Yoga’s screen does not look as pleasing to the eye as the Spectre’s or the Spin’s. This is one of those things I can’t put my finger on. I’m not talking about the actual resolution, rather I think perhaps it may be the type of glass/materials used to make the screen. For some reason, the Yoga’s display looks cheaper.
Samsung has done the best job with scaling. I had not even noticed it right away. After a few days of use I realized that every app that had looked way too small on the Spectre and Yoga looks much better on the Spin. Revo Uninstaller, Vuze, Dashlane are some of the apps that had scaling issues on the others, and all look great on the Spin.
Also, the screen, as advertised, can be set very bright, which leads me to believe that it can probably do better in bright sunlight than the other two.
The display driver has crashed twice so far. It instantly restarts and causes no interruption to usage. That happens on the Yoga as well.
One more thing, when I first turned on the Spin, as it was loading, I noticed a yellow tint on the screen, coming from the bottom right corner (right above where Windows 10 clock loads up). It goes away after Windows gets to the desktop. I don’t know what this is and whether or not it is an issue. I had read in the past about people having issues with some brands with regards to some kind of back light issue. It is just a bit annoying to see this every time the system loads up, but if it is like this on all Spin units, then I will live with it. If not, then I guess I’ll have to do an exchange which will annoy me most of all because it will mean having to switch my purchased 512GB SSD into another Spin unit.
Performance and daily use
Performance is fast and pretty much the same as the Spectre and Yoga, which was expected, given they share the same specs.
One more thing that I like is that the Spin is very easy to open up. No need to use a Torx screwdriver as the screws are just regular Philips screws. I unscrewed the bottom and it lifts right up (no clips or sliding).
Now here is where I feel like a fool. I had purchased the Samsung 1TB 850 Pro SSD, thinking that it would fit this laptop. I have since learned about the type of SSD drives many of these ultrabooks use. So I found the right type, at a local store and picked that up this morning. It’s the same 512GB SSD that comes in the Yoga 900. Once again, very easy to install it into the Spin. I had a little bit of trouble cloning the original Spin SSD partitions to the new one, because I don’t have external connectors and cables. I ended up exporting the Samsung recovery partition, to a UBS stick and with a Windows USB boot disc, I was able to reinstall Windows and all of the Samsung drivers and apps on the new SSD.
BTW, Samsung also wins the award for least amount of bloatware. Norton and Skype are the only two apps that I ended up deleting.
Issues: After I reinstalled Windows on the 512GB SSD I installed, my Logitech MX revolution mouse looses connection each time I have to restart Windows. I hope to find a solution soon, as it’s driving me crazy and I am a wireless mouse kinda guy.
Update: I still have the issue with my Logitech wireless mouse when I restart the system, the mouse says connected, but it will not move. This only happens on restart. It doesn’t happen from waking from sleep or starting from powered off/shutdown.
One more thin I should add is that unlike with the Spectre, I have had zero Wi-Fi connection issues with this Samsung. The Spin does have a different wireless adapter than the other two, which both use Intel, while this one uses a Qualcomm Atheros.
Battery life, is the only thing that I would consider to be not that great. Radios on, Chrome browsing, 20% brightness, yields between 6 and 7 hours so far as tested in the middle power management setting.
Samsung include a very lightweight and small power brick, along with it’s very thin cable, leading up to the laptop port. The power brick has a small blue light on it. I also like the power button on the Spin. On the Yoga, just by picking it up, I kept accidentally pressing its power button and sending the unit to sleep. The Spectre has the best power button of the three, as it is hardest to press, but the Spin’s is almost there as well.
Something else that I noticed and liked is that when you power off the Spin while it’s plugged in, the screen will display a 2-inch green animated battery icon and text telling you how long until the battery is fully charged.
Other than the issue with my mouse and the 6 to 7 hours of battery, this device is just about perfect. The hinges are small and move with ease, but also feel solid. The fan has kicked on many times, but was never too loud.
So far I feel like I’ve found the right ultrabook for my personal and business needs.
Update: I’m still loving everything about the Spin, other than the 6 to 7 hours of battery life. I like the design and feel so much that I considered upgrading to the 15.6-inch version, but then I figured I’d maybe not like the extra 2 pounds and that perhaps I’d have heat issues with the dedicated graphics card and Quad i7 CPU.
I also figured that if I were willing to move up to 15-inch, then I might as well go with the XPS 15 which has better specs than the Samsung, for the money (16GB RAM vs 8GB, 1TB SSD vs 256GB SSD and more). I did look into it and even read the XPS 15 forums. It seems that people are only getting 5 to 6 hours of battery on the new 4K XPS 15.
So after rethinking it all, I’m going to stick with the Spin and just purchase a high-res external display for when I’m in my home office and want a bigger screen.
After all of this, I would say that the Spin and x360, are the overall best 2-in-1’s currently on the market.”
Andrei: Thanks Ash for your detailed impressions.
From what Ash is saying, it looks to me Samsung did a great job with this computer. There’s no surprise the build quality is top notch and the touchpad is very good. The previous ATIV Books had some shallow keys and problems with high temperatures, I’m glad this isn’t the case here anymore.
Personally, I’m astonished by how long this thing can last from only a 39 Wh battery. If anyone else owns the Spin and can share some details on battery life, that would be great.
Compared to the Lenovo Yoga 900, the Spin is a better built machine and gets a superior keyboard. It’s not available with 16 GB of RAM though and it’s more expensive.
Compared to the HP Spectre x360, the Spin is more compact and lighter, seems to rn a bit cooler and not encounter any Wi-Fi issues, but at the same time it lacks a digitizer, which could be a deal-breaker for some of you.