We weren’t impressed with this year’s Notebook 9 Pen, Samsung’s attempt at a high-end ultrabook, but the company will be trying again in 2019. Samsung announced two new versions of the Notebook 9 Pen—a 13-inch and a 15-inch model—that it will show off at CES in January and release sometime in 2019.
At first glance, not much seems to have changed in the new convertibles, but upon closer inspection, Samsung has made some changes that will (hopefully) make the new devices worth their inevitably high price tags.
Regardless of how you feel about the blue-and-gold color scheme on this year’s Note 9 smartphone, Samsung clearly likes it because the company brought it over to the Notebook 9 Pen. The new device has that navy blue over most of its chassis, and its edges remain the only parts where silver pokes through.
The Notebook’s hinges allow it to flex into all the positions characteristic of a convertible, and it still comes with an S Pen (now gold) that lives in a holster in its chassis. The placement of the holster hasn’t changed, but the device’s slightly redesigned edges may make fishing the stylus out easier. However, the stylus doesn’t look any longer than the previous model, which is disappointing.
The keyboard features a new row of keys on the right side with Page Up and Down buttons. At the very bottom of that column is the fingerprint sensor, its position shifted to be to the right of the arrow keys rather than on top of them. This should be a less awkward placement as the reader on the current model was hard to press without inadvertently pressing an arrow key or two.
The new port selection inspires a love-hate response in me. Samsung nixed the proprietary charging port and instead included two Thunderbolt 3 ports that can charge the device. This is a welcome change because it doesn’t make sense to have a dedicated charging port on an ultrabook that also has Thunderbolt 3—it wastes space that could be used to include an additional port.
However, Samsung also got rid of most other ports, including only one USB-C 3.1 port, a microSD card reader, and an audio combo jack in addition to the Thunderbolt 3 ports. Gone are the USB-A port and the HDMI port included in this year’s model, and that will likely alienate some users.
The new Notebook 9 Pen models share design and most of their specs. Samsung hasn’t released the maximum amount of RAM and storage supported for either the 13- or 15-inch model, but we do know they will have LPDDR3 RAM and PCIe NVMe SSD storage. Both with have the latest 8th-gen Intel processors, and both will sport FHD displays, with size being the only differentiator between the two touch panels.
While the 13-inch model will have shared graphics, the 15-inch device will include Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics. Both include a 54Whr battery that Samsung claims will last 15 hours on a single charge. Considering this year’s Notebook 9 Pen only lasted 7.5 hours on our Wi-Fi battery test, we’re interested in verifying those claims with the new models.
Samsung also hasn’t released pricing yet, but we expect to see a starting price similar to that of this year’s Notebook 9 Pen: $1,399. Samsung will show off the new Notebook 9 Pen models at CES in January.