At CES 2019, we got to take a look the 2019 Notebook 9 Pro to see whether the Korean electronics giant has what it takes to compete head-to-head with last year's best laptops: Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2, Huawei's MateBook X Pro, and Apple's MacBook Pro.
Our early verdict: nicely done Samsung!
Now that the mighty MacBook Pro is no longer perfect thanks to its controversial and uber-flat keyboard, there's a real opening for PC makers to step in with some real kickass clamshells computers.
One such laptop is the Notebook 9 Pro. The 2-in-1 Windows 10 laptop launched in 2017, but it left a lot to be desired.
Good news for everyone, though, because the new iteration appears to have fixed all of the shortcomings of the original. The new convertible laptop is more compact (only 2.8 pounds), sports slimmer bezels surrounding the display, has better performance, and switches entirely to USB-C ports.
"More chiseled" is how I'd describe the 2019 Notebook 9 Pro. The clamshell has straighter diamond-cut lines with less curves and tapers, and you know what? The watch band-like edges give it a sleek look and sparkles more in person than in photos.
Like most laptops coming out this year, the most noticeable upgrade on the Notebook 9 is the thinner bezels surrounding the 13.3-inch (1,920 x 1,080) touchscreen. Sure, the bottom "chin" bezel is still hella thick, but the overall Note 9 footprint is more compact because of the narrower bezels. This is a design trend most laptop makers are expected to embrace this year so it's good to see Samsung jumping on the wagon early.
The best part is the HD webcam's located on the top bezel, unlike (ahem) Dell's XPS 13 and Huawei's MateBook X Pro, which aim the camera up into your nose.
For power, the Notebook 9 Pro's got plenty of oomph thanks to an 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processor and 8GB of RAM, and Intel UHD 620 graphics. The machine's also packing 256GB of SSD storage and comes with a microSD card slot.
Samsung rates the battery at "up to 15 hours" with support for fast charging. Of course, take the battery figures with a grain of salt; we'll have to do our own testing once we get a review unit to see how the Notebook 9 Pro really holds up in real life.
You also needn't worry about ports, so long as you're okay with USB-C. The Notebook 9 Pro comes with two Thunderbolt 3 ports on the left side and a regular USB-C 3.1 port on the right — all three of which can be used to charge it. Next to the Thunderbolt ports is a headphone jack. The power button also doubles as a fingerprint reader.
Another underrated feature on the Notebook 9 Pro is 802.11ac 2×2, which supports download speeds of up to 1.7Gbps. If you're not sure what that means: It's fast WiFi.
From what we've seen, the Notebook 9 Pro might be a real contender for laptop of the year. It's got all the specs, the touchscreen is fab, the backlit keyboard is a delight to type on, and the trackpad is responsive.
The only thing left to know is pricing. How much is Samsung's baby gonna cost? I tried probing Samsung's executives for some numbers, but they wouldn't budge. Fingers crossed it doesn't cost an arm or leg. Value is the name of the game and if Samsung can make the Notebook 9 Pro competitive with rival laptops, it stands a good chance at disrupting the current players when it ships in "early 2019."