Samsung ATIV Smart PC: Introduction

The Windows 8 tablet space at launch consisted exclusively of Tegra 3-based or Core i5/i7 ULV-based systems. That changed with the release of Krait and Clover Trail tablets like the ATIV Tab and Acer W510, respectively, but with 7W IVB and AMD Z60 on the very near horizon, we’re seeing the Windows 8 tablet market start to expand and evolve quite rapidly. After a very positive initial experience with the Windows RT slates, I was very eager to get my hands on an x86-based tablet. So when Anand gave me the chance to review one, I jumped at the opportunity.

And so we have the Samsung ATIV Smart PC, which is also known as the Samsung Series 5 Slate 500T in other parts of the world. It’s an 11.6” 1366 x 768 Clover Trail tablet that ships with Windows 8, 64GB of NAND, a laptop dock, and an MSRP of $749, and shouldn’t be confused with the more expensive ATIV Smart PC Pro (11.6” 1080p, Core i5, 128GB, Windows 8 Pro) or the no-longer-available ATIV Tab (10.1” 1366 x 768, Krait, 32GB, Windows RT). It’s pretty bad, though not quite as ridiculous as ASUS trying to make the distinction between the VivoTab (Clover Trail 11.6”), VivoTab Smart (Clover Trail 10.1”), and VivoTab RT (Tegra 3 10.1”).

Somehow, nobody has broken it to many manufacturers that the name of a product does really matter and just tacking on a suffix like RT or Smart PC means nothing if people don’t grasp the difference between them. The confusion generated by the naming schemes in use is a major factor in the somewhat lukewarm market response to many of the high profile Windows 8 devices. Part of the reason is down to the confusion generated between Windows 8, Windows RT, Metro, Modern UI, and the various other brand names used by Microsoft in relation to the latest Windows release, but the manufacturers haven’t helped things along much either. Microsoft itself can be pointed to as a culprit here as well, unless you think “Microsoft Surface with Windows RT” and “Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro” roll off the tongue easily.

Nomenclature concerns aside, I was actually pretty excited to check out the ATIV Smart PC. It, along with the VivoTab TF810C, were the two slates I had marked as most interesting in my mind during the lead up to the Windows 8 launch. Clover Trail meant good battery life and x86 compatibility, the inclusion of Wacom active digitizers were exciting, and the 11.6” PLS/S-IPS displays seemed promising. The two are very comparable devices, though the ASUS is priced higher at $799, and doesn’t include the laptop dock anymore (it did at launch.) That gives the Samsung a pretty sizable price advantage, as $749 is only about $50 more than the 64GB Windows RT tablets when the keyboard accessory cost is included—more than worth it given the disparity in features and capability. This is even more true when you consider that the street price of the ATIV Smart PC has been fallen to $549 without the laptop dock or $729 with (though we've seen it at $649 at Amazon on occasion).

Tablet Specification Comparison
  Samsung ATIV Tab Apple iPad 4 Google Nexus 10 Microsoft Surface RT Samsung ATIV Smart PC
Dimensions 10.46 x 6.62 x 0.35" 9.5 x 7.31 x 0.37" 10.39 x 6.99 x 0.35" 10.81 x 6.77 x 0.37" 11.97 x 7.46 x 0.39"
Display 10.1-inch 1366 x 768 IPS 9.7-inch 2048 x 1536 IPS 10.1-inch 2560 x 1600 PLS 10.6-inch 1366 x 768 PLS 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 PLS
Weight 1.26 lbs 1.44 lbs (WiFi) 1.33 lbs 1.5 lbs 1.64 lbs
Qualcomm APQ8060A
Apple A6X
Samsung Exynos 5 Dual
NVIDIA Tegra 3
Intel Atom Z2760
Connectivity WiFi WiFi , Optional 4G LTE WiFi WiFi WiFi , Optional 4G LTE
Memory 2GB 1GB 2GB 2GB 2GB
Storage 32-64GB 16GB—128GB 16GB or 32GB 32GB or 64GB 64GB
Battery 30.0Wh 42.5Wh 33.75Wh 31.5Wh 30.0Wh
Starting Price $499? $499+ $399+ $499+ $549

It seemed like the ATIV Smart PC would offer a good compromise between the mobility of the ARM-based slates and the power and features of the Intel Core-based ones, something aiming for the sweet spot of the Windows tablet lineup. After spending an extended amount of with it, I think it’s close, but there are some definite areas of improvement.

Samsung ATIV Smart PC: Design
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  • jtsmall - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    Then look at the HP Envy X2 here and here
    This dockable Win 8 Atom Z2760 tablet sounds like what you're asking for.
  • DanNeely - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    The Envy's currently at the top of my candidate list due to price; but it's a big bigger than I really want. I can stuff a 6.5" laptop into the pockets of holding in a few of my pairs of pants which, while a bit awkward, is less of a hassle than either carrying it loose or wearing a backpack for a single item. The 7.5" tall form factor of the Envy (and every other atom tablet/laptop combo) is too big to fit.
  • nerd1 - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    Envy x2 is almost perfect EXCEPT FOR the (current) lack of active digitizer solution. They said they will have some digitizer (Atmel?) but no one has confirmed that it actually works yet.
  • DanNeely - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    What's the current status of Clovertrail drivers? A number of initial reviews mentioned them still being a bit flaky; if those problems have been sorted out is something I was really hoping to see on a review dated a few months after launch.
  • powerarmour - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    Intel doesn't want anyone to talk about them, it's their massive Achilles heel on their PowerVR based chipsets, they are absolutely dreadful for anything 3D related, even 2D is pretty badly borked... :P
  • Death666Angel - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    Thanks for the review!
    I have the XE700T1C and am looking forward to your review of it. I had to decide between spending 850€ for good battery life but mediocre performance (even lower than the i3-330UM Acer laptop it should replace) or spending 1300€ for something that has enough battery life and all the performance I can expect and need in a portable machine. :D I expect that Temash/Kabini will offer more of a balance, but those are vapoware as of now. :(
    I agree that the dock could use a battery, really a shame they didn't include it. However, I do like the flaps on the ports. Gives it a cleaner look than having the stuff open. What would be your alternative to the flaps? :) I wouldn't mind them being slider mechanisms. But I take the flaps over open ports any day.
    On my XE700T1C, I had no trouble peeling off the stickers, so I don't think that is a big point. There is also nothing of importance printed onto it.
    You could do more to elaborate on the typing experience with the dock and the stylus experience.
  • Death666Angel - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    Forgot something. You say 10.1" is the nicer form factor. I disagree. 10.1" is fine if all you do is run Metro apps or desktop apps in full screen. But running 2 programs side by side is really terrible for me with 10.1" screens. The 11.6" screen of my XE700T1C has the perfect size to start running 2 apps side by side. The larger size also makes taking notes easier for me. I don't think one size fits everyone, so I'm not trying to tell everyone to use 11.6". But there are legitimate reasons to go to the bigger screen. The size difference is easily offset by the pros for me.
    And if people don't need the Wacom digitizer, they should think about the W700 from Acer. It is super cheap and has the best battery of any Core tablet. It doesn't offer a keyboard dock though (only a stand and a bluetooth keyboard). But the performance is ridiculous when compared to Atom powered stuff and it still usually offers 7+ hours of battery life. If people want a try with the higher performing Windows tablets they should look for the Samsung predecessor of the XE700T1C, the XE700T1A (Series 7 Slate) which comes in Celeron and Core i5 2nd gen flavors and a lower resolution screen without the keyboard dock but with a desktop dock and a bluetooth keyboard with an active digitizer. :) It costs as much as most Atom powered tablets with a few extras here cost.
  • powerarmour - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    Shame about the absolutely dire Clover Trail graphics drivers though...
  • beginner99 - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    The Mozilla Kraken Benchmark must contain an error. The Razr i beats clovertrail by a huge margin while obviously being much slower (medfield). Something is not right in that benchmark.
  • A.J. - Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - link

    That's because Razr i using Chrome-like browser in Android.
    You can easily get ~12000ms in Kraken using Chrome25 in the z2760 platform.

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