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

Samsung's ATIV Smart PC 500T: An Atom-Based Windows 8 Tablet
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Samsung takes Intel's Atom Z2760 SoC, the full version of Windows 8, and builds a tablet that begs to stay connected to its docking station. Is this the combination of freedom, performance, and battery life we've been waiting for, or are we left wanting?

As we made clear in Microsoft Surface Review, Part 1: Performance And Display Quality and Microsoft Surface Review, Part 2: Battery Life, Multi-Monitor, And More, there's a lot we like about the Surface tablet. Its integrated kickstand and Type Cover work well together. But the Surface isn't perfect.

Beyond the performance hiccups we managed to impose on it, Windows RT's restrictive software compatibility story is far from ideal. We had Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Skype, and a respectable-enough email client. What more could we want from a productivity-oriented tablet? Early on, we were forced to accept that everything we needed either came with the Surface or was available through the Windows Store.

Au contraire. Our CMS is optimized for Firefox and Chrome. Being forced to use IE10 made it painfully clear that playing in Microsoft's sandbox doesn't always work out (especially for Tom's Hardware editors who need to put stories into our system on the road).

Left: Surface, Right: ATIV Smart PC 500TLeft: Surface, Right: ATIV Smart PC 500T

What's the solution? We're not jumping back to iOS or Android. So, it looks like we're counting on Windows 8. The full version of it, which doesn't restrict what you're able to install. Microsoft's Surface Pro is coming soon, but extra thickness and a significant reduction in battery life (according to Microsoft itself) are going to have a fairly negative impact on our opinion, we're anticipating.

Besides, there are already other Windows 8-based touch-oriented tablets available, such as Samsung's ATIV Smart PC 500T, already available.

Thickness ComparedThickness Compared

What does it mean to go from ARM-based hardware running Windows RT to an x86-based Atom processor able to support Windows 8? Well, to begin, we're looking at a significantly different form factor. Whereas the Surface set out to be a tablet, first and foremost, with a thin little screen cover that just so happened to serve as a keyboard, Samsung's ATIV Smart PC 500T is more of a netbook able to detach from its keyboard.

The docking station is an important part of this story, both for what it does and for what it takes away from the tablet itself. Whereas you can attach the Touch Cover to a Surface and add just 3 mm of thickness and almost no weight, Samsung's dock is a lot more substantial. It incorporates a keyboard, a touchpad, and two USB 2.0 ports. But it lacks a supplementary battery. Consequently, the tablet is heftier than the docking station, making the two pieces a top-heavy, somewhat unsteady combination resting on your lap.

Back SideBack Side

In our hands, the Surface's chassis feels much better-built, although its matte finish shows fingerprints very readily. Samsung employs tons of gloss, so you see nothing but shine when you look at the device itself. However, the more slippery body also feels cheaper.

Specifications
Length
Width
Depth
Screen Size
Resolution
Aspect Ratio
Weight
Apple iPad 3 (3G)
9.5"7.31".37"9.7"
2048x1536
4:3
1.46 lb.
Asus Transformer Prime
10.4"7.1"0.33"10.1"1280x80016:101.39 lb.
Asus Transformer Prime +
Docking Station
-
-
0.71"
-
-
-
3.0 lb.
Microsoft Surface
10.8"
6.8"
.37"
10.6"
1366x768
16:9
1.5 lb.
Microsoft Surface +
Type Cover
-
-
.50
-
-
-
1.51 lb.
Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T
11.9"
7.2"
0.38"
11.6"1366x76816:91.65 lb.
Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T +
Docking Station
-
-
.87
-
-
-
3.2 lb.


This is not helped by chintzy plastic port covers plugging up each of the ATIV Smart PC 500T's I/O options. An impressive complement of micro-HDMI, USB 2.0, and microSD connectivity grace the edges of Samsung's tablet and dock. But the fact that you have to pull those covers off and leave them dangling any time a peripheral or cable is attached bothers us.

With its Intel Atom Z2760 (Clover Trail) SoC, the 500T is a lot more portable than any of the slates we've reviewed in the past, which also leveraged desktop-class operating systems as a selling point. Of course, we can't expect it to perform like a Core-based platform, either. This could cause trouble in a flexible environment like Windows 8, where you're free to install any number of applications that simply won't run well on a tablet.

But it's that dual-core, Hyper-Threaded x86 processor that emancipates us from Windows RT. So, even if it means paying a hefty premium, needing to buy Office, and tolerating a thicker, heavier form factor, we're willing to give ATIV Smart PC 500T a shot. This is far from a sexy piece of hardware, but sometimes you need a workhorse to get the job done.

TopTop

Although Samsung markets its ATIV Smart PC 500T as a 64 GB tablet, a little more than 51 GB is user-accessible. And, once Windows 8 is installed, you're only left with 39 GB. There's another potential problem. Ever tried to use a 60 GB SSD on your desktop? It's just not enough space. Our install was as minimalist as possible, too. Samsung gives you a long list of bundled extras that enthusiasts will want to uncheck (and we did). Some of the install processes crashed, though, and others were actually required before Windows' device manager would recognize all of the tablet's hardware.

Specifications
Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T
CPU
Atom Z2760 (Clover Trail), 1.8 GHz, 2C/4T, 1 MB L2 Cache, sub-2 W TDP, 32 nm high-k
Screen
11.6" SuperBright Plus WXGA (1366x768)
Memory
2 GB LPDDR2-800 Co-PoP (Package on Package), Dual-Channel 32-bit
System Drive
64 GB eMMC
Graphics
Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX545 @ 533 MHz
Operating System
Windows 8 (32-bit)
Wireless
802.11b/g/n
Display 42 Comments.
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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
    Quote:
    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.

    So...

    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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