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Samsung Series 7 11.6" Slate: Breathing New Life Into Tablet PCs

Meet Samsung's XE700T1A Tablet PC

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In the world of tablet PCs, there are two form factors: slates and convertibles. The presence of an attached keyboard is the defining difference. Slates rely almost exclusively on a digitizer in order to translate gestures from a pen or touchscreen. Convertibles feature attached keyboards that let you type as you would on a notebook. Unfortunately, for true road warriors, convertibles are often larger and heavier than slates.

The Series 7 11.6" Slate is, as its name makes clear, a slate-style tablet PC. As a result, it ends up looking a lot like the iPad 2 and any number of Android-based tablets. Tablet PCs are generally bulkier, though, because they employ hardware that's more closely tied to the desktop than the compact SoCs dominant in the mobile space.

iPad 2 (3G)XoomEee SlateSeries 7 11.6" Tablet
Width7.31"6.6"8.2" 7.2"
Screen Size9.7"10.1"12.1"11.6"
Aspect Ratio4:316:1016:1016:9
Weight1.33 lb1.5 lb2.56 lb1.98 lb

Samsung does a stellar job of preventing Sandy Bridge-class hardware from bloating the size of its solution. The Series 7 Slate is certainly larger than the iPad 2 and Xoom, but really, it's about as thick as Motorola's tablet. It's a bit heavier than the tablets to which we're accustomed, but again, at under two pounds, that's completely tolerable.

Our only complaint about the Series 7's I/O is that you only get a single USB 2.0 port.




Samsung's Series 7 Slate has a brushed aluminum back that's polished smooth, along with a black acrylic display trim that effectively resists scratches. This thing certainly isn't bulletproof, but the design is assuredly more rugged than some of the tablets we've reviewed over the past year. Apple, for example, knows how to make a beautiful product. However, our reference iPad continues to age ungracefully. Our initial impression is that the Series 7 would hold up to a daily work routine better.

There is one noteworthy oddity: for some reason, Samsung decided not to include a built-in holder for its digitizer pen, presumably to reduce the Slate's thickness. That'll be of little solace when you lose the pen, though.

Although there are several tablet PCs on the market, we're most interested in the Series 7 Slate because it features a Sandy Bridge-based processor. That gives it the performance profile to potentially function as a notebook replacement, leaving a lot of the Atom-powered competition to fill in for more anemic netbooks.

Samsung complements the potent platform with some of the features you'd expect to find on a tablet, like front- and rear-facing cameras. There is no flash, limiting snapshots to well-lit environments, but we're still glad to see Samsung step up from Asus' Eee Slate, which only had a front-facing camera (not to mention an older, slower hardware foundation). For a more thorough refresher on that earlier effort, check out Asus' Eee Slate EP121/B121: A Windows 7-Based Tablet PC.

Apple iPad 20.3 MP (640 x 480)0.7 MP (960 x 720)None
Asus Eee Slate2.0 MP  (1600 x 1200)--
Asus Transformer1.2 MP (1024 x 768)5.0 MP (2592 x 1944)None
Motorola Xoom2.0 MP (1600 x 1200)5.0 MP (2592 x 1944)Dual-LED flash
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.12.0 MP (1600 x 1200)3.0 MP (2048 x 1536)Single-LED flash
Samsung Series 7 11.6" Slate2.0 MP (1920 x 1080)3.0 MP (2048 x 1536)None
Toshiba Thrive2.0 MP (1600 x 1200)5.0 MP (2592 x 1944)None