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

On Paper, A Compelling 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.

  • knowom
    Way overpriced would much rather just get a laptop.
  • tanjo
    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.
  • mayankleoboy1
    i wonder what a Surface with a Quad core Krait S4 would look like.
  • DjEaZy
    ... An Atom-Based Windows 8 Tablet... two terrible things put together...
  • hp79
    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.
  • jonjonjon
    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.
  • demirci
    "72% of Nvidia's Tegra 3, and 92% of Qualcomm's S4 Pro"
    This is not correct according to the graph.
    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.
  • killerclick
    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.

  • killerclick
    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.