Performance and software
Our Notebook 9 Pen review unit is the entry-level model, which leans on an eighth-generation Intel Core i7-8550U processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. While the machine's port selection left me scrambling for dongles and USB hubs, the Notebook 9 Pen handled my daily workflow without hiccups or drama. Dozens of Chrome tabs, lots of Photoshop work, prolonged Spotify sessions and even a bit of light gaming -- the Notebook 9 Pen handled everything I threw at it with poise.
Just don't expect to game hard on this thing: Building large, unruly structures in Minecraft was no problem, but the machine's lack of dedicated graphics means you'll have to save your Overwatch matches for a different device. Battery life was unremarkable though. On a full charge, I could squeeze 10 hours of work from the Notebook 9 Pen if I managed things well -- otherwise, that figure tended to hover between five and six hours on days when I really need to get some work done.
In addition to all the niceties that come with Windows 10, Samsung's own add-on software was remarkably helpful. Recorder Plus serves as a one-stop shop for all of your voice recordings, and the ability to add time-coded "bookmark memos" made notating interviews a breeze. (As someone who has to transcribe such calls pretty frequently, thank you, Samsung.) Samsung Messages, meanwhile, is essentially a Windows-friendly take on iMessage for Galaxy phone owners. Ultimately, the most useful addition to the mix was the Samsung Settings app, which offered easy access to a number of options that would normally be a touch more difficult to find. You can, for instance, quickly change the punchiness of your display colors, enable HDR for videos, fire up battery-saver mode and even toggle a face-smoothing Beauty Mode for the laptop's front-facing camera.