October 18, 2013
So, a few weeks ago I wrote a post about how I preordered the ATIV Book 9 Plus. After that post, I eagerly waited weeks for the pre-order date which then came and went. I contacted Amazon and they said they didn’t know what was going on, but that it was going to be delayed a full month. They upgraded my shipping to 1-day for free, but that didn’t really satisfy me.
So, I visited the Samsung website and they said they had them in stock and that they “ship in 2-3 days”. The cost was $200 more than amazon, though. Nonetheless, I bit the bullet and put the order through. I kept my amazon order open as a backup, but fully expected to get it from Samsung. Then the next day I get an email from Samsung saying they were back ordered and they didn’t know when they would be shipping my laptop. Almost immediately after getting that email, I got an email from Amazon saying they were wrong, my order wouldn’t be a month delayed, and that it was shipping! I cancelled my order with Samsung and eagerly awaited my laptop. Incidentally, a month later Samsung mailed me the cancelled laptop anyway, and I had to mail it back to them. Chaz, the guy on the phone, said that he had never seen an order that was clearly marked cancelled ship a full month later before in his entire time at Samsung.
Anyway, now a quick review of the laptop:
- The build quality is top notch. It’s light but feels dense. It feels very high end
- The touchpad is great. It feels very smooth. Out of the box if you run your finger from one side to the other it travels the whole screen. The two buttons are hidden underneath the pad, so they’re there if you need them, but not in the way when you don’t. It’s large. best touchpad i’ve ever used
- The touch screen is nice. I wasn’t sure how much i’d use the touch screen, but I find myself using it every day. It’s almost “automatic” now without me thinking about it. It sort of became ingrained in me the same way the hot corner on the activities overview did. I even find myself touching my monitor at work now without realizing it. I get frustrated when an app doesn’t support swipe scrolling
- The keyboard backlight doesn’t work if you install using EFI. This is a limitation of the samsung-laptop kernel module
- The keyboard is quite good. The buttons are large and spaced well. They have reasonable travel, and a nice tactile feel. The arrow keys are in a good place, and the backspace key is full sized.
- I don’t normally use the speaker on my laptop much (if i’m using sound, it’s usually through headphones, but the speakers on this laptop are the best i’ve personally had in a laptop before. This despite them being bottom facing. They’re loud and vibrant. I’m sure there are better multimedia laptops out there, but this was a pleasant surprise
- The software isn’t 100% ready for the screen resolution. A lot of effort has gone into making hidpi screens work well from Alex, Emmanuele, etc, but there are still some rough spots. gnome-shell doesn’t support hidpi directly, yet, just font scaling, so it ellipsizes some text it shouldn’t. When logging in with a lower than native mode, the text gets scaled way too big. Firefox needs a layout.css.devPixelsPerPx = 2 option to be readable. Just some niggles here and there
- It doesn’t always wake up from suspend
- There are various video driver problems. Sometimes tiling artifacts show up on screen when scrolling or mousing over an icon in the dash. Occasionally the screen shows solid white instead the scan out buffer at boot up (has happened twice so far in the weeks i’ve owned it).
- Xorg shows a huge list of resolutions but omits the two most useful ones aside from 3200×1800 (the 16:9 ones: 1080p and 1600×900). It’s easily fixable with a file in xorg.conf.d, though. And most of the time I run in 3200×1600 anyway. Note, though, 1080p and 1600×900 both look fantastic too. It’s not like with most screens where if you go non-native everything turns fuzzy. I’m not sure why.
- My model only has 4GB of ram and a 128GB ssd. There is a newer model available for preorder now with 8GB and 256GB SSD though.
- Battery is pretty fantastic. I get like 7-8 hours on it unplugged
Overall, I really like the laptop. There are some issues, but for the most part it’s a big upgrade.