CES quick take: New Samsung and Lenovo laptops lighten the load

Samsung Notebook 9
Credit: Samsung

Business travelers who need to work fast and carry light can look toward some interesting new laptops and tablets.

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If you’ve been reading these blogs at all, you’ll know that I was recently worrying about which notebook to carry with me to CES. It had to be comfortable to type on, reasonably fast, and light enough so that my back wouldn’t be screaming at me by the end of the day. I ended up with the Acer Chromebook R 11 (which is doing yeoman duty, by the way -- I’m really liking its keyboard and its touch screen, although the Chrome OS has turned out to be incompatible with a couple of my company’s online apps).

A couple of major companies have announced upcoming products that are meant to deal with the increasing demands of traveling businesspeople who want easy-to-carry but powerful working laptops and tablets. Samsung has just announced a couple of new, almost absurdly lightweight Windows 10 devices, the 13-in. and 15-in. Notebook 9, along with a tablet/keyboard combo called the Galaxy TabPro S.

I have to admit, on first look, I was pretty impressed with the Notebook 9. The smaller one, with a 13.3-in. display, weighs about 1.85 lb. -- when I first picked it up, my arm came up too fast because I was expecting more weight than I got. (The 15-in. version is about a pound heavier.) It’s slim, snazzy looking and has a bright, full HD display and a keyboard that I found very comfortable to type on.

The laptops will both come with Intel Core i5 or i7 processors; 128GB or 256GB SSD storage, 4GB or 8GB of memory; the 13.3-in. offers a single 1.5-watt speaker while the 15-in. comes with two 2-watt speakers.

On first look, I gotta say that this is something I wouldn’t mind slipping into my backpack for a business trip. No word yet on how much these lightweight wonders will cost; they’re due out sometimes early this year, according to Samsung. With any luck, we’ll have a full review for you then.

Meanwhile, Samsung’s answer to Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4, the Galaxy TabPro S, is an 12-in. AMOLED Windows 10 tablet that comes with its own keyboard cover (and no, you don’t have to buy the cover separately). The cover is very interestingly designed; it folds around the tablet if you just what to use it as a cover. To use the keyboard, you flatten out the cover and snap the tablet into a small base at the head of the keyboard area; the rest of the cover folds behind the tablet to prop it up at a slight angle (for typing) or at a lower angle (not sure why, but it does).

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S

The Galaxy TabPro S tablet fits into a slot in the cover...

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S

The back of the cover then folds up to prop the tablet into a typing position.

It took a little practice until I could figure out how to fold the cover behind the tablet properly, but once it was explained to me by an obliging company rep, it was pretty easy. The keyboard was adequate; I’m not sure it would be quite as comfortable on the long term as, say, the Surface keyboard, but it’s hard to really judge at this point.

Again, no information on the cost; the TabPro S is slated to ship in February.

Meanwhile, Lenovo has announced some of its own new thin-and-light systems: the hardy 2.6-lb. ThinkPad X1 Carbon, the Yoga 900S convertible, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga and its own answer to the Surface Pro, the ThinkPad X1 Tablet. I haven’t had the chance to try them out yet; I hope to get hands on later this week.

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