Samsung, we need to talk about your laptops

Samsung Notebook 9 Pen Hands-on Review
Matt Smith/Digital Trends
Matt Smith/Digital Trends

Samsung has never been that serious about its laptops.

That fact was never made more clear to me than when I got a tour of the company’s massive booth at CES this year. The booth was expansive, impressive, and covered everything from the Bixby AI service to modular televisions. In a tiny corner of the booth were a couple of new laptops and a new 2-in-1, all displayed with an uncharacteristic lack of fanfare. Unsurprisingly, the representative I was with didn’t have much of anything to say about them. Televisions and smartphones are flashier, and they’re where Samsung has focused its attention over the years.

The Samsung Notebook 9 Pen has a lot of potential. It’s extremely light, thin, has great battery life, and comes with the S Pen bundled in. Samsung even engineered a little hole for the stylus to fit into it. But that’s why it’s disappointing that Samsung didn’t put a little more care into ensuring that this was a great product that I could recommend.

The Notebook 9 Pen had the potential to surpass 2-in-1s in the same category like the HP Spectre x360 and Lenovo Yoga 920 — especially with how light and loaded it is. But instead, Samsung didn’t pay enough attention to things like the design, which is so nondescript that it’s almost as if it wasn’t designed at all. I wish Samsung had paid attention to the keyboard and touchpad, which are both mediocre at best. Even the S Pen, which is definitely the most interesting thing about the Notebook 9 Pen, feels more tacked on than truly translated into the PC world.

More than any of that, I wish that Samsung had paid a little more attention to the price of the Notebook 9 Pen, which starts at a hefty $1,400. It would have been far more interesting to get the price under $1,200, even if it meant bringing the processor down to a Core i5.

It’s not that laptops like the XPS 13, MacBook Pro and Surface Book 2 are perfect devices — they’re not. I might not agree with every choice made on those, but with those, it’s always clear that someone made an intentional choice. Call it first world problems, but the most delightful experience as a user of any product is to feel that the designers and engineers cared, that they paid attention to the smaller details of how the device is used.

I can’t really blame Samsung. Smartphones are where the money’s at, and with how well Samsung is doing in that space, it’s worth the attention. But using the Notebook 9 Pen made me wish Samsung took just a little more effort to move its laptops from just decent — to great.


Looking for a new laptop? These 5 notebooks are on sale through Presidents’ Day

If you're ready to ditch your aging notebook, you can score some fantastic Presidents' Day savings right now on Microsoft's Surface Pro 6, Dell's XPS 13, HP's Spectre x360, Lenovo's Yoga C930, and Dell's G5 15 Gaming laptops.

You could spend $1,000 on an iPhone, or buy one of these awesome laptops instead

Finding a decent laptop is easy, but finding one under $1,000 is a bit tricky. Luckily, we've taken some of the guesswork out of picking out a budget laptop. Here are some of our favorites, the best laptops under $1,000.

From Chromebooks to MacBooks, here are the best laptop deals for February 2019

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.

Don’t expect to see the new Dell XPS 15 with OLED display until April

There could be a delay in the release of Dell's new laptops with OLED panels. A new tweet from Dell executive Frank Azor suggests that these new devices might not come until a month later.

Switch your WMA files for MP3s with our quick conversion tips

The WMA codec may be great when it comes to multi-channel surround sound, but unfortunately, it falters in terms of compatibility. Check out our guide on how to convert WMA files to MP3 via web-based or desktop methods.
Virtual Reality

Getting into VR is spendy. Which headset is truly worth your hard-earned cash?

Virtual reality has finally gone mainstream, but how do you find the best VR headset for you? Check out a few of our favorites, whether you want the best of the best or a budget alternative for your mobile device.

Windows is getting a face-lift in 2020, but you can get a sneak peek right now

Microsoft is increasing the lead time for an upcoming major update to Windows 10, giving Windows Insiders the ability to test it right now, even though it's not set for release until 2020.

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will take your skills to a new level

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience and save more time!

What is Wi-Fi 6? Here's a look at the next evolution of the wireless standard

We're exploring the new naming convention for wireless standards, how it affects the devices you buy, and what the upcoming Wi-Fi generation is changing for the better.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-powered website creates freakishly lifelike faces of people who don’t exist

No, this isn't a picture of a missing person. It's a face generated by a new artificial intelligence on the website Here's how the impressive A.I. works.

The best Presidents’ Day sales 2019: Amazon, Walmart, Dell, and more

Presidents' Day sales are a great chance to score electronics, clothing, home and office stuff, and other goodies at a discount. We’ve smoked out a large handful of the best of these Presidents' Day deals, from tech to bedding, to help…

Keep your MacBook safe and dry with an Under Armour backpack for under $50

Under Armour is having a huge sale this weekend to help you on your quest for a better backpack. The UA Outlet Exclusive sale is going on now through Monday, February 18th, offering great discounts on stormproof backpacks.

Walmart Presidents’ Day sale: Instant Pot, Google Home, and 4K TV deals

Presidents' Day weekend is one of the best times of the year to find deep discounts on 4K TVs, laptops, Instant Pots, clothes, mattresses, and furniture. And Walmart is offering deals on all of those things and more.

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.