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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  • RollingCamel - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    Just want to say TEAM17 make a decent touch-based Worms 2D and it'll sell like hot cakes. No need for fancy graphics just the old school 2D of Armageddon and World Party...
  • nerd1 - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    Too bad it took so long for this not-quite-long review....

    Personally I really hate any >10" tablet without inking capability, so it is actually great now OEMs are making tablets with active digitizers. I'd like to see the reviews for Thinkpad tablet 2 and Dell latitude 10 too.
  • VivekGowri - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    Yeah, that was my bad, it got caught behind some other stuff and has spent a long time sitting at the 90% completion state. Will be more timely in future.
  • hughtwg - Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - link

    I had a Thinkpad Tablet 2. In general Windows 8 or more specifically the Modern UI has very poor pen support. You can't use the pen to move around the UI like you would use your finger. You have to use the pen to activate the scroll bars. Unfortunately the TPT2 has very poor pen calibraition particularly along the edges of the screen. This makes using the scroll bars in the Modern UI a real pain in the butt. This also holds true for trying to hit the close or resize button on any maximized windows in the desktop. These issues and the lack of a good dock/keyboard are why I sold my TPT2 and replaced with an an Envy X2.
  • nerd1 - Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - link

    The main use for pen is inking - I cannot understand the LACK of active pen makes Envy X2 any better device.
  • hughtwg - Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - link

    For me the main use of a pen is not having to touch the screen. I use the pen on my Note II 99% of the time and I never ink. While I would prefer a device that supported a pen the difficulty of navigating the Modern UI with a pen made it mostly useless to me.

    What makes the X2 a better device then the TPT2 is the keyboard , battery life, ports, and larger screen. For me anyway. YMMV.
  • I am as mad as hell - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    1366x768... that's all I needed to read.
  • VivekGowri - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    You're not going to see higher than that on an Atom-based tablet, nor any of the RT slates. Disappointing reality, but I don't think Clover Trail would offer a satisfactory experience at 1080p anyways - maybe CT+?
  • Snotling - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    Do the test, plug in an old Atom netbook in a 1080p display... for everything except 3D games or HD video, it will be fine (and I'm talking OLD single core Atom) New Atoms are far more capable, especially for HD video.
  • jeffkibuule - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    My guess is battery life suffers running at 1080p resolution.

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