Like Samsung's smartphones and tablets? You might also like its new PCs. That seems to be the message Samsung is sending, anyway, with the two updates to its PC offerings announced Monday at CES 2014--a complete revamp of the ATIV One 7 all-in-one and a less-exhaustive upgrade of the ATIV Book 9 laptop. Both are fine machines in their own right, though it's clear that Samsung hopes you'll buy into its entire ecosystem, from phones to tablets to computers, in order to get the most out of your devices. (Follow CES 2014 live, and get the latest CES news here.)
ATIV One 7 2014 Edition
Samsung's Galaxy line of phones and tablets holds a large portion of the Android market, so it isn't surprising to see Samsung try to capitalize on entrenched Galaxy users with its PC hardware.
It starts with design. The ATIV One 7 2014 Edition eschews last year's black, HDTV-like design for soft white curves. And at first glance, it's basically a gigantic Galaxy S4 with a 24-inch 1080p screen that's mounted on a base in landscape view. It's a smart move for Samsung--capitalizing on the now-ubiquitous look of the Galaxy devices could make it easier for consumers to instantly associate Galaxy phones with this computer.
It's an attractive machine no matter what phone you use, but the design indicates Samsung is clearly aiming this at those who've bought into the Galaxy ecosystem--even more than it did with last year's model. Does your Galaxy phone mean that much to you? Samsung is betting on it.
(This incarnation of the ATIV One 7 is also suspiciously iMac-like, if we're being honest.)
The ATIV One 7 includes Samsung Link and SideSync 2.0, two proprietary Samsung technologies that turn the computer into a cloud hub for video and music storage, and allow you to hook your Galaxy phone into your computer (for instance, by answering text messages from your PC). And you'll even be able to access your ATIV One's music library from your Galaxy phone or tablet while the computer is powered down.
And with included HDMI in/out, the ATIV One 7 looks like it will be a great entertainment hub even if you don't own another Galaxy device.
But is it enough?
We'll see. Outside a few perks (like a 178-degree viewing angle), the machine has mid-range specs, with a fourth-generation Intel Core processor (i3 or i5) and an integrated graphics card. That's solid, but isn't going to push the PC envelope the way the Galaxy phones push the mobile market forward.
ATIV Book 9 2014 Edition
The 2014 ATIV Book 9 received a more incremental change than its desktop counterpart. It looks almost exactly like last year's model, though if you get the ruler out you'll find that its 1080p touchscreen now measures 15.6 inches compared to last year's 15.0-inch version. Despite the slight increase in screen real estate, Samsung also managed to drastically boost the advertised battery life: The company says the 2014 edition will last up to 14 hours on a single charge, compared to 11 hours for last year's model.
The Book 9's keyboard also gets an upgrade, as Samsung ditched the flat keyboard from last year in favor of a curved surface.
Apart from those changes, the Book 9 is in most respects similar to last year's machine--a 4th-gen Core i5 processor (an upgrade to the i7 is also available), Intel integrated graphics, 8GB of DDR3 memory, 256GB of storage, and the same aerodynamic black shell.
Samsung Link and SideSync 2.0 have also found their way into the Book 9, increasing the notebook's utility for Galaxy owners if no one else.
Again, it's a fine machine, though not world-changing. The Galaxy integration is the main draw here, and we'll see whether it plays out well for Samsung in this faltering PC market.
As for when you can bring either of these shiny new PCs home with you, we don't know yet. Samsung has yet to announce pricing or availability as of this writing.