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
Processor
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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  • Snotling - Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - link

    I don't know... what's the battery life on a Samsung GS4? Reply
  • Snotling - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    On a 11.6" display... Samsung! They have more pixels on their 5" smartphones.(GS4) Reply
  • MrSpadge - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    Yeah, at that resolution and size you don't even have to fiddle with font sizing to read stuff. How dare they offer this! Reply
  • powerarmour - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    That is definitely a competitive problem, I saw the screen on a Nexus 10 the other day... Wow! Reply
  • ab_aditya - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    A small correction - the iPad storage now goes up to 128 GB Reply
  • VivekGowri - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    Thanks for catching that - copied out of an old table and missed to update. Fixed. Reply
  • augustofretes - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    Will you review the Chromebook Pixel? It looks beautiful. And for a Linux user as myself it seems like a perfect device. Reply
  • PC Perv - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    Nexus 10 is $399+. I don't know why AT keeps getting it wrong while going extra miles to find the cheapest prices for Atom-based tablets.

    And while this may be somewhat of a moot point, Nexus 10 drives 2560x1600 while these Atom tablets are 1366x768, and they use similar sized batteries. Considering that screen time is probably responsible for 80~90% of battery life of these mobile devices, don't you think a bit more explanation is warranted in your battery tests?
    Reply
  • evonitzer - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    Indeed. I clicked on the link provided in the price comparison and it took me to Amazon where it is priced as indicated. Buy it directly from Google! Their price is always at $399 for the 16 GB version.

    I'm not sure Microsoft deserves the blame you assign them for their naming scheme. Windows Surface with RT and Windows Surface with Windows 8 Pro are names that exactly describe what they are. Once you get the distinction between RT and 8 Pro, it's very straightforward. It's better that they don't try to come up with a catchy name that rolls off the tongue but instead name their products exactly as they are. If Samsung followed the Microsoft example, they would call them Samsung Ativ 10.1 Windows RT and Samsung Ativ 11.6 Windows 8 Pro. Hideous names yes, but very clear.
    Reply
  • VivekGowri - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    That's odd, I didn't realize it said $462+, it should definitely be $399 on the Nexus 10. Fixed. Reply

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