Battery Life And Recharge Time
Battery Life & Recharge Benchmarks (Background Info)
The ATIV Smart PC 500T's six-hour battery life is unremarkable compared to tablets with ARM-based SoCs. When you compare it to tablet PCs like Samsung's Series 7 11.6" Slate, however, which only run for roughly three hours, it represents a major improvement.
We were naturally dubious of Intel's claims that it could match the battery life of ARM-based architectures, but here we have the 500T just under the Kindle Fire HD in our H.264-encoded playback test.
Let's try another workload less affected by fixed-function resources.
On the back of its two x86 cores, the 500T fares even better in our Web browsing and MP3 playback workload, passing a number of older tablets. Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire HD are both standouts in this test. Aside from those two, the Atom-powered system hangs right in there with the iPads and Surface.
Normalized Brightness Benchmarks (Background Info)
Though it might be common to use your mobile computing device with its screen at maximum brightness, that's not necessarily a balanced way to compare battery life. So, while we continue to include those numbers as an example of real-world use, we normalize to 200 nits for a re-match.
At first, doing this hit the ATIV Smart PC 500T particularly hard, knocking it to the bottom of our stack. It's hard for us to rail too hard on Samsung here; the 500T still delivered more than seven hours of run time in the video playback and Web browsing workloads. However, it's possible to get 10, 11, or 12 hours from competing tablets in the same tests.
Right before we published ARM Vs. x86: The Secret Behind Intel Atom's Efficiency, Intel let us know that new firmware and drivers were available for Samsung's tablet that should help its battery life. In fact, representatives mentioned, vendors continue tweaking their software infrastructures to further optimize what they're able to get from available battery power. So, we went back and updated any driver versions that had been released after our first round of numbers was run. H.264-encoded playback went up by 30 minutes, and our Web browsing workload picked up 23 minutes, just about tying Microsoft's Surface.
Now, that's not quite as impressive as what Intel showed us in its lab using Acer's Windows 8-based tablet. Again, though, the company readily admits that each vendor is doing something different, and our workload involves different power-consuming components, too. It'll take running battery numbers on more devices to get a clearer picture of how the Atom-equipped tablets fall in with the ARM-based competition.
Perhaps as a result of its pared-back graphics engine, Samsung's ATIV Smart PC 500T delivers some of the best battery life available in a gaming environment. Originally, it was bested only by Apple's iPad 2. But after our driver updates, the ATIV Smart PC 500T finishes in first place.
We also noticed that all of the graphics effects (blur, splashes, etc.) that were supposed to be exclusive to Nvidia's Tegra 3 are also present on the ATIV Smart PC 500T. On an Android-based platform, you have to have a device with Tegra 3 inside to get those features. On iOS, you need an iPhone 5 to get them.
Vector Unit, the developer, tells us that Riptide GP normally detects hardware before turning up the detail settings. However, when the company published to Microsoft's Windows Store, hardware detection was removed altogether. As a result, you'll see the nicer graphics on any system running Windows 8, including Samsung's Atom-based tablet.
The ATIV Smart PC 500T’s charging time to 90% capacity is just under two hours. To reach a full charge, you only need two hours and thirty-seven minutes. That's slightly faster than Microsoft’s Surface, but significantly faster than the first-, second-, and third–generation iPads.
In short, for every minute you spend charging the ATIV Smart PC 500T, you get a little over two minutes of use (at maximum brightness). With the Kindle Fire HD, every minute hooked up to the wall returns less than two minutes away. The third-gen iPad gets you between 1-1.5 minutes away for every minute of charge. In short, this is one of the ATIV Smart PC 500T's strengths.
We already know that Samsung's docking station contains no supplemental battery, unlike Asus' Transformer family. That means it doesn't matter if you have the keyboard attached or not; recharging time on the 500T is the same. The Transformer Prime's battery life nearly doubles with the docking station connected, but we're not including those numbers here because our focus is on the tablet alone.