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On Paper, A Compelling Windows 8 Tablet

Samsung's ATIV Smart PC 500T: An Atom-Based Windows 8 Tablet

There are tablets, and then there are tablet PCs. Thus far, tablets have limited us to mobile-oriented operating systems. They've employed touch almost exclusively for input. And they've typically employed SoCs centering on ARM's processor architecture. The latter category leverages hardware more commonly found in the notebook world. Tablet PCs are most often controlled by digital pens, Samsung's Series 7 11.6" Slate a shining example. 

Both serve distinct purposes. Tablets are lighter-weight devices that typically handle content consumption well enough, but fall short when it comes to getting stuff done. On the road, they don't replace your notebook. In fact, in many cases they actually become a second device to carry around, creating heft rather than alleviating it. 

Before now, Microsoft's Surface came the closest to bridging those two worlds. But, with constant use, we've discovered situations where we needed an app not already on the Windows Store, and not likely to ever appear there. Microsoft's approach is hampering a potentially stellar product, and that's disappointing.

And so we continue the search for a product able to live between the tablet and notebook worlds, endowing us with exceptional battery life, easy navigation, and diminutive dimensions, along with enough performance to run the apps we need, a keyboard, and an open software ecosystem. With its ATIV Smart PC 500T, Samsung has the right idea.

We might be willing to forgive the little system's so-so performance in common desktop apps and outmoded graphics performance, recommending against installing apps that simply demand more than the hardware can comfortably serve up. We're less happy about the glossy, cheaper-feeling tablet and very much plastic docking station, which, together are both thicker and heavier than the Surface. Moreover, while the 500T is sold with 64 GB of storage space, a baseline Windows 8 install immediately takes you down under 40 GB. Samsung is asking more than $750 for this thing with its keyboard, and we'd have a hard time living with the compromises it makes as a product.

Conversely, the ATIV Smart PC 500T emerges as a conceptual victory, giving us most of the attributes of a tablet, and a notebook's biggest productivity-oriented advantage: a keyboard. It simply falls short of perfection. Samsung manages to overcome much of what, after weeks of use, bothers us about the Surface, but in a form factor that's two times heavier, almost twice as thick, and not a whole heck of a lot faster. Yes, the docking station is easy to pop off when you don't need it. However, as far as we're concerned, once you leave the house with tablet and dock connected, that's the device you're lugging around all day.

Too bad tablets can't get drunk and hook up; we'd love to see what the kids of Samsung's ATIV Smart PC 500T and Microsoft's Surface would look like.

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  • 4 Hide
    knowom , January 2, 2013 3:47 AM
    Way overpriced would much rather just get a laptop.
  • 4 Hide
    tanjo , January 2, 2013 4:24 AM
    Too bad tablets can't get drunk and hook up; we'd love to see what the kids of Samsung's ATIV Smart PC 500T and Microsoft's Surface would look like.

    Don't know about the looks but they'd name it Samsoft.
  • 5 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , January 2, 2013 4:32 AM
    i wonder what a Surface with a Quad core Krait S4 would look like.
  • -9 Hide
    DjEaZy , January 2, 2013 4:43 AM
    ... An Atom-Based Windows 8 Tablet... two terrible things put together...
  • 7 Hide
    hp79 , January 2, 2013 5:23 AM
    I got one of these from Staples for $600 when they first released it.
    The battery life is amazing for me. Probably due to that fact that I never blast the brightness because it'll hurt my eyes. I usually recharge the battery overnight, once in 1-3 days. It's like a cell phone (I actually charge my Galaxy Note every night), where it stays connected. Press the power button or standby in the Windows menu, and the screen turns off, but everything else is still going on in the background. I can listen to music and press the power button, and it's just like a smartphone. All this while sipping very little power.
    I can play movies on my 1080p TV using cheap hdmi cable, and after watching 4 hours of movies, it still has 60% battery left.

    I really like the digitizer too since I also use OneNote 2010 on my x230t, which gets synched on the xe500t's OneNote 2010.

    Because I don't have to worry about the battery life at all, sometimes I just keep it on, running a movie or something while working on my desktop or laptop.

    Now the bad things are obviously the slower CPU, and everywhere-glassy plastic feel.
    There are also bugs in the drivers where the touch interface often stops working, especially in Skype. There were several updates on the drivers and bios, but I think they better keep working on it.
  • -6 Hide
    jonjonjon , January 2, 2013 5:46 AM
    this is so ridiculous how bad ms screwed this up. windows 8 could not be more a disaster. why would you release a arm and intel x86 version of the same tablet? with that said why use arm at all. maybe i don't see ms's infinite wisdom. if i buy a windows tablet i'm expecting that i can run all my x86 programs on it. i would love to be in some ms management meetings i'm sure you could get some good laughs. poor ms i almost feel bad for them.
  • 3 Hide
    demirci , January 2, 2013 5:49 AM
    "72% of Nvidia's Tegra 3, and 92% of Qualcomm's S4 Pro"
    This is not correct according to the graph.
  • -8 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , January 2, 2013 7:16 AM
    Talk to me when a tablet can run Crysis 3 on its highest settings. Then, I'll buy one. Then, the Desktop PC will be dead.
  • -4 Hide
    killerclick , January 2, 2013 7:59 AM
    Windows Vista had 2.2% after two months on the market.
    Windows 8 market share after two months - 1.65%, meaning it gained only 0.6% Nov 26 - Dec 26
    At the same time Windows 7 gained 0.4% to just over 45%.

    Metro is dead, it should be obvious even to Microsoft now.

  • 3 Hide
    killerclick , January 2, 2013 8:02 AM
    JOSHSKORNTalk to me when a tablet can run Crysis 3 on its highest settings. Then, I'll buy one. Then, the Desktop PC will be dead.

    No problem, they'll make Crysis 3 for Windows tablets, so it'll run exactly the same on the PC. It's what Microsoft is expecting devs to do with their apps.
  • 3 Hide
    serendipiti , January 2, 2013 10:44 AM
    "Too bad tablets can't get drunk and hook up; we'd love to see what the kids of Samsung's ATIV Smart PC 500T and Microsoft's Surface would look like."

    What have you been (or perhaps not been) doing lately, Andrew ? ;) 
    Christmas holidays and betrayals of the unconscious ? ;) 

    Happy new year !!!

  • 1 Hide
    ojas , January 2, 2013 10:51 AM
    It's strange, Tom's continues to use geekbench as a cross-platform benchmark, when AnandTech sated (in fact Anand himself did) that it isn't a great one to use...

    Anyway, why not use Sandra for Android and Windows? They've had working Android builds for quite a while now, and i'm sure Tom's Hardware gets beta software.
  • 1 Hide
    safcmanfr , January 2, 2013 10:52 AM
    Very interesting solution. I'd be tempted to leave the docking station on the desk (home or work) and use it as a simple tablet when on the move.

    I can't wait for the Surface pro with the touch/type keyboard, cos it should be lighter that the Samsung dock and easy to carry around.
  • 0 Hide
    safcmanfr , January 2, 2013 10:54 AM
    (especially as the tablet has a stylus, which means taking notes in a meeting doesnt necessarily need the keyboard...)
  • 0 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , January 2, 2013 11:31 AM
    windowsRT on exynos5 hardware should be Epic WIN.
  • 1 Hide
    damianrobertjones , January 2, 2013 11:52 AM
    DjEaZy... An Atom-Based Windows 8 Tablet... two terrible things put together...

    - Please grow up.


    During the review how many times did the keyboard disconnect, connect, disconnect, then repeat the cycle. Until this issue is CONFIRMED as being fixed it's not worth buying. Visit the 'tablet pc review forum for updates'. Other than that it's a very nice machine with wacom stylus. You can also grab back a load of space by disabling hibernation, virtual memory and system restore (if enabled).
  • 0 Hide
    damianrobertjones , January 2, 2013 11:53 AM
    killerclickMetro is dead, it should be obvious even to Microsoft now.

    Metro died a long time ago when they changed the name. I, personally, didn't see the sales as being anything other than what they are but once the 'games' start arriving and the kids take notice... .
  • 6 Hide
    cknobman , January 2, 2013 12:39 PM
    A windows 8 atom tablet might just be worth getting if Intel would stop using such POS graphics.
  • 5 Hide
    enewmen , January 2, 2013 12:57 PM
    I would have liked to see how and AMD C-60 does, even with a higher (9W) TDP.
    At least it CAN play Starcraft 2 at low settings.
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , January 2, 2013 1:10 PM
    demirci"72% of Nvidia's Tegra 3, and 92% of Qualcomm's S4 Pro"This is not correct according to the graph.

    Fixed. Andrew had the S4 and Tegra reversed.
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