Samsung ATIV Book 6 Notebook Review

Design and Build Quality

Given the proliferation of Ultrabooks and sub-13-inch machines, our initial reaction upon picking up the ATIV Book 6 was one of surprise. It just feels somewhat heavy at 5.18 pounds and it is one of the bigger 15" rigs to hit the market this summer.

On the plus side, the ATIV 6 is wrapped in an aluminum casing, which feels incredibly sturdy. The phrase "built like a tank" applies here. In the past, we've chided notebook manufacturers for overtly using cheap plastics and gaudy accents, but Samsung didn't do that. The charcoal finish is classy, and the company has resisted the urge to add chrome or colorful accents. While this machine isn't an enterprise workstation, business-minded consumers won't be turned off here. This rig is built for travel (with a little extra heft), built for business, and built for at-home use.

The texture of the aluminum is nice to the touch; it's cool and smooth, right down to the palm rests. Even after we taxed the machine for hours on end, the palm rests were only barely warm. While we're on the topic, the interior is equally stately. The black, chicklet-style keyboard is backlit, with the keys offering nice (albeit a little shallow) travel, and the Function keys offer plenty of useful shortcuts to volume, brightness, media, and so on.

Samsung couldn't resist the opportunity to slap four stickers onto the right palm rest, but other than those (and a tiny JBL logo in the top left), the ATIV 6 has a clean look. On the keyboard, there's no denying that the inclusion of a numeric keypad shrinks the feel of the keys themselves. For accountants and number crunchers, perhaps the numeric keypad is a welcome extra. For us (and the masses, we suspect), it just feels too cramped. It takes some getting used to, as well. We experienced a high amount of typos during the first few days of typing until we adjusted to the layout.

Beneath the keyboard is a large, wide trackpad. As has become the norm, there are no physical buttons; it's just a single pad that you can click down on or use multi-finger gestures. The pad itself is solid, and response time is laudable. That said, it still doesn't live up to the current gold-standard trackpads used on Apple's Macbooks. For whatever reason, Windows laptops still can't quite nail the trackpad experience. Irregularities still exist from time to time, but things are getting better.

As for ports, the ATIV Book 6 is well equipped. Perhaps that's not too shocking given just how much room there is on such a large piece of kit, but at any rate, you'll find Ethernet, an AC power port, a VGA port, 2 x USB 3.0, a full-size HDMI socket, and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the left edge. The front and rear edges are bare, while the right edge is home to a full-size SD card slot, 2 x USB 2.0, and a lock slot.

The final design point we want to harp on is the 1080p multi-touch display. Unfortunately, the ATIV 6's display was disappointing. Not only is it super glossy, which makes it mostly unusable in outdoor situations, but the touch layer is so noticeable that it feels as if you're looking through a thick piece of glass when you stare at the screen. Even under office lights, it's not ideal. The reflections are unlike anything we've witnessed before.

If you can get beyond those issues, viewing angles and colors are both satisfactory. The screen also supports touch, and the touch input works well for flicking through web pages, scrolling, zooming, and the like.

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