Samsung says the Ativ Book 9 Lite shares the same 'design identity' as the flagship Ativ Book 9 Plus (reviewed here). It certainly looks similar – no bad thing since the flagship Plus model is one sleek and attractive laptop. See all mid-range laptop reviews.
The name of the Lite model might suggest that this laptop is lightweight, but it is actually pretty thick and unavoidably heavy. Not by a gross amount, though at 18mm and 1.5 kg, which puts it at the chunkier end of slim ultrabooks. It also has a much more plasticky build but still feels well-made. We took a look at the white model but there's also a dark (Ash Black) version on offer. See also: What's the best laptop you can buy in 2013?
Its keyboard feels very plastic to the touch but offers a comfortable and tactile experience. The Lite's trackpad is more impressive with a large area to work with and the kind of responsiveness not regularly associated with cheaper laptops.
Although the Ativ 9 Lite might superficially resemble the Plus model, it's been downgraded internally as well to reach that sub-£600 price.
Samsung is vague about what processor is inside the laptop, stating only that it's a quad-core processor up to 1.4 GHz. But a little digging reveals that it's actually an AMD A6-1450 auxiliary processing unit (APU) with a Radeon HD 8250 graphics core. What Samsung is less ashamed about is the 4 GB of memory and 128 GB SSD.
It produced adequate results of 2142 points in PCMark 7 but only 15 fps in Stalker: Call of Pripyat at our lowest standard 720p/Medium-detail test. The graphics framerate especially shows that gameplay will be limited even more than with Intel integrated graphics.
Battery life, according to Samsung, is up to 8.5 hours from the built-in 32 Wh battery. In our tests the 9 Lite lasted 6.5 hours streaming a looped film on BBC iPlayer over Wi-Fi.
Our Ativ 9 Lite review sample came with a 13.3-inch touchscreen but a non-touchscreen version is also available if you don't think you'll need Windows 8 or its gestures – it will save you £100.
The screen looks reasonably good but has a low 1366 x 768 resolution – a long way from Samsung's Ativ Book 9 Plus with its Apple-like 3200 x 1800-pixel resolution and IPS technology. Viewing angles from this budget TN panel are pretty narrow too.
The Ativ Book 9 Lite's hinge allows you to push the screen back so that it's flat to the desk, in case you should find a use for this other than playing a two-player air hockey game.
There's no room for a real ethernet port, but Samsung includes an adaptor dongle in the box. The proprietary connector looks like Micro-USB but don't be fooled and try to force one of these popular cables in.
Other connectivity includes one USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, micro-HDMI, mini VGA and an SD card reader hidden away under a flap.
As with almost any laptop now, a 720p webcam allows you to make video calls.
Pre-loaded software normally falls into the 'bloatware' category but Samsung adds some potentially useful applications – SideSync and HomeSync Lite.
HomeSync Lite allows you to create a personal cloud to share media between devices and SideSync lets you control your phone with a keyboard and mouse, mirroring the display on the laptop's screen. This only works with Samsung Galaxy Android devices.