on November 11, 2012
I bought this because I was looking for thin/light tablet to replace my current ipad/laptop combo. I needed a tablet with full Windows 8 so that I could run older programs and games. Besides the standard review, I will be updating this post with games that I find are playable on this Atom (Clover Trail) powered tablet.
Playable games so far:
Battle for Middle Earth 2
SNES Emulator: Using my iPhone as an SNES Controller.
Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
Playstation Emulator: Played a bit of FFVII, takes a lot of tweaking, but I got it to run smooth and look good. I haven't gotten the iPhone gamepad working with the emulator yet.
World of Warcraft
Basically, any old strategy, puzzle, adventure game should work. Current generation games will need the i5 I think. I'll be trying more games on the Playstation 1 Emulator soon.
When I first saw videos of windows 8 in action, I felt it was going to be Vista 2.0. After actually using it on a tablet, I feel it is the best OS for tablet computing. Switching between open programs, quickly seeing what is open, and having multiple programs up on the display at the same time is very easy to do. Some of these features are either difficult to do, or not possible on other mobile OS's. Powering on is very quick, even when the tablet is powered off completely. There is not much different between the iPad and Win8 in power-on times from a cold boot. For security, Windows 8 lets you login with a Windows Live ID, which syncs your settings across you're windows 8 devices (Backgrounds, passwords, etc). You can choose to use a standard password, or use a number (Pin) code (which is what I prefer for speed), or a picture login (you touch/swipe parts of the login picture and that is your password).
The Start screen is filled with active tiles (as apposed to dead icons like the ipad) that cycle through relevant information (Email/News/Weather/etc.) without having to actually open those programs. Time/Date/Battery/Wifi info can be brought up at any time by swiping from the right side of the screen. I used to hate having to power-cycle my ipads display just to get the time/date. Start screen tiles can be arranged in groups to your liking. You can swipe from the left side of the screen to cycle through open programs, or see a list. You can grab any open program and either slide it to your main window, or snap it as a side-app next to your main window, either to the left or the right of the main window. As an example, I like having my email up in a side-window, while browsing the internet in the main window. No more having to switch to my email app. You could also put a movie on one of your side windows, or music. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple/Google add these features in the near future.
The Windows desktop still exists, and is used mainly for legacy support for non-windows8 programs. Eventually all programs should have a Windows8 version that can run through the Start screen (aka metro interface). Until then, it is nice to know I can run Visual Studio, Photoshop, Morrowind =) , on my very portable tablet. As an IT professional, having a full version of Windows 8 is invaluable. Non-windows8 programs may run slow on these tablets with Atom processors, but it is a small trade-off to get a very thin and light tablet with a full version of windows 8.
The battery seems to last forever on these Atom powered tablets. I can use it all day for work, play games during lunch, watch movies when I get home, all without having to plug it in. And because I can't play a lot of graphics intensive games (yet), this tablet Is far outlasting my iPad.
In general Windows RT tablets are $500 for a 32GB version without a keyboard, and $600 with a keyboard. Upgrading to larger hard drives (64Gb/128GB) increase the cost as well. Windows RT will not be able to run old programs but they do use an ARM processor that has better graphics performance (for now). These Atom powered tablets are between $600 and $800. They start with 64GB hard drives, and some include a keyboard. Not all Atom tablets are the same. Some have digitizers, and some don't. I feel that the larger hard drive, digitizer, and full version of Windows 8 is worth an extra $50-$100 more over the Windows RT Tablets.
The display is nowhere near as good as the iPad 3/4s Retina display. But it is good enough for web browsing/email/MSoffice/light gaming. It is very bright, but hard to see under direct sunlight. I really wanted a 1900x1000+ display, but the cost is just too much. Overall I am happy with this tablets 1366x768 resolution. It is perfect for watching movies. If you do any kind of artsy graphics stuff, you may need to invest in the higher cost, more bulky i5 tablets until manufacturers see a larger demand from us for better displays, on thinner/lighter/cheaper tablets.
The size made me hesitate a bit before I bought this. Coming from an iPad, I was hoping for a tablet that had similar dimensions. The iPad seems more balanced for holding it with one hand by the edge of the tablet. This one is designed to be used primarily in landscape mode, but because it is so wide, it makes it hard to hold it by the edge. I have found that it is more comfortable to just hold it by placing my hand on the back of the tablet like holding a pizza. Some people may have to pass on these wide tablets due to the preference of holding the tablet by the edge of the screen. Functionally though, Windows 8 takes full advantage of the wide format for having multiple programs on the screen at the same time. The thickness is just about the same as the iPad, and I am happy with it. .38" vs .37"
Amazing. Stereo speakers on the edges of the tablet in landscape mode. It's nice to finally have stereo sound on a tablet for watching movies, listening to music and playing games. Don't expect much bass.
Very light. Just slightly heavier than the iPad 4. 1.65 lb. vs 1.44 lb. The wide format makes it seem heavier than it is though. I am leery of upgrading to the Surface Pro or any other i5 tablet because they start to reach 2 lb. or higher. I want my tablet to remain a tablet. Hopefully technology will advance quickly so that we can have thin/light/HD display tablets that have the power to play high quality 3d games and do artist stuff. For now, I opted to have a light tablet that makes sacrifices elsewhere.
Coming from an iPad I did not know what I was missing. Not all of the Windows 8 tablets have a digitizer, so you will need to decide if you want one that does, and shop accordingly. This adds an extra layer to the display that detects the stylus (it shows a dot on the screen when the stylus gets close to the screen). Hovering over a program or icon is the same as hovering your mouse over a program on a Desktop PC. you don't have to touch the screen. Touching the screen is like a left-click on a mouse. Pressing the button on the Stylus while pressing the screen initiates a right-click. (These functions change depending on what program you are using). The digitizer used in the Samsung tablets is a Wacom, which I believe has 1024 points of pressure detection. This allows you to change the thickness of the lines depending how hard you are pressing on the screen. In note-taking programs, when the screen detects the stylus is close to the screen, the program will ignore youre palm, making it much easier to take notes. Some programs perform great with the digitizer, and some are slow/delayed. I think the Atom processer does a good job with processing digitizer input for the most part. For artists, I would say a digitizer is a must have. The stylus is kind of small, and it is stored in the case of the tablet. It is very difficult to remove and I think they should have improved on this. Overall, I am going to like notetaking a lot better from now on.
The Intel Atom Clover Trail chip is optimized for windows 8, and battery life. Perfect for a productivity tablet. The built-in graphics processing unit (GPU) is faster than the iPad 2, but slower than the iPad 3/4. I believe this was to improve battery life, and cut down on costs. The drivers for the GPU need some work before it can play full screen 3D games at its full potential. Expect games to perform better after a driver update is released in the future. Advances in technology should allow Intel to provide a better gaming experience without sacrificing battery life, size, weight of the tablet. Aside from gaming, I am happy with the performance of the Atom. Metro apps are flawless. Older desktop apps can sometimes lag, but overall they work fine. I was able to watch full HD 1080p movies with no issues. Old games that don't rely on GPU's perform good. See my list of playable games for an example.
This has a full, built-in USB 2.0 port, and MicroSD slot, and a MiniHDMI port. The USB port is great for connecting Flash Drives/Hard Drives/ peripherals, without the need for an adaptor. I outfitted my MicroSD slot with a 64GB memory card where I Store my downloads/Music/Movies/Games. I have not tried the MiniHDMI port yet.
My list of Cons:
The Keyboard Dock is unavailable. Aftermarket covers with built-in stands are not available yet. I will be buying the Microsoft Wedge Mobile keyboard. The cover doubles as a stand for the tablet. This will be smaller than the official Dock making it easier to keep with me should I need it.
As already discussed. The Graphics drivers could use an update to take full advantage of the GPU.
The case is made out of plastic. It flexes and feels kind of cheap. This obviously does not effect the performance and features.
That's it. There used to be issues with sound and the digitizer, but Samsung updates fixed them. Just run the Samsung updater when you get your tablet. A work-around is to disable the sound/digitizer in the Device Manager, and then re-enable them. Or just reboot.
Note: If you royally mess up your tablet, you can restore it to factory defaults:
Hold down the Volume-UP button while turning on the tablet to enter the Windows Troubleshooting utility.
Also note that Windows Restore Points are not enabled by default. If you want to be able to go back to a certain point in time, do the following:
To enable System Protection: Go to the desktop, swipe the screen from the right side to bring up the settings panel. Click on "Control Panel". Click on "System and Security" and then click on "System". Then select "System Protection". Then press the "Configure" button. Turn system protection on, then create a restore point right away. Installing updates does not automatically create a restore point like I thought it would. Just create a restore point before any system updates to be safe (not necessary for program updates)
on October 28, 2012
As an owner of tablets before the ipad and all 3 ipad variations including the "new" ipad, I have always struggled to get rid of that feeling of it either being too cumbersome for use(pre-ipads), or just a toy with few cool uses(ipads). I think with this tablet, I have finally found what I am looking for. I am so happy with it, I am actually writing the first review I have ever done for a product.
Ability to hook up common usb peripherals and use them? Check - external DVD, USB stick were a breeze to use and install programs (.iso of software CD's, etc). Flawless, and convenient.
Ability to use the programs I have already purchased for my home machine? Check - Office 2010, adobe photoshop, etc - they all worked without issue. I just can't emphasize how nice this is to finally have in a tablet. I even put world of warcraft on for the heck of it - just because I could.
Ability to expand through a Micro SD card? Check - bought a 64GB class 10 card and have Apps installed on it (yes, you can install apps to the microSD card) as well as videos, games, MP3's and pictures. Very handy, doesn't fill the O/S drive with unnecessary items.
Great Screen? Check - even coming from a retina ipad user. Bright, vivid display with good sharp resolution. The auto brightness is a tad harsh at times, but that can be adjusted in the power settings.
Great battery? Check - hours and hours of play each day for the last two days, and the remaining battery life frankly blew me away each night (60%+ available). This is through installing programs, playing games, watching videos, surfing the web (can't count the number of times my son looped that gangum style song on you tube!?!). Very impressed with battery life for a full featured machine.
Windows 8? Not as bad as I thought. I was anticipating a train wreck that would take me a long time to get used to. It is well done and feels good on the tablet. Not sure I am up for putting it on my home machine yet, but on the tablet, it really goes a long ways to make it the experience it is. Also, Samsung includes a program if you use the "SW Updater" that puts the start button functionality basically back on your desktop. Samsung did a nice job with the pen that you get with the tablet as well - that thing is handy in OneNote, it can even read my terrible handwriting. When you have to bounce to the desktop, it is also a nice feature to be able to use the pen and click, drag, right-click. Not necessary, but nice none the less.
Processor Speed? Again, not as bad as I thought. I almost didn't buy it when I saw "atom". Perhaps intel should change the name, because this processor actually performs well. It seemed sluggish for the first few hours, but after that it has really been peppy. Perhaps there were some things installing in the background, or maybe uninstalling Norton bloatware did it, but the performance of the Atom processor has exceeded my expectations.
I think the build quality of the tablet is very nice - good clean edges, great sounding speakers that point toward you, well placed inputs on the edges. As far as "feel" of the materials, I find it very similar to my wife's Galaxy S3. It is lighter than I expected for the size, but the size poses issues I mention below (non-standard - nothing fits it).
Negatives? No docking station in stock anywhere - I mean I have tried all over. No Cases and covers available for it yet. I am currently using a $12 sleeve I bought at a discount retailer (actually fits nice, made by merkury) that will have to hold me over until I find something real. The charger for it is like a laptop charger that plugs into the wall (has a mini brick). I don't see any Car adapters for it available, and would guess it will be expensive as you can't seem to use a common USB type charger for it.
Overall, those few negatives aside which time may fix, I love this thing. More than I expected. Thanks Samsung and Microsoft for finally making the tablet I have been waiting for.
on November 14, 2012
I received this tablet with keyboard dock from Amazon on November 13 and experienced a number of problems, detailed in this review. However, I wanted to post my most recent experience at the top of the review so you can know what to expect if you buy the tablet today. My original review is posted below.
Latest Update 12/17/2012:
Samsung released driver updates at the end of last week for the chipset, sound card, and Bluetooth chip. I am glad to say that since those drivers were released, nearly every problem I've had with the tablet has been resolved. Sound is now 100% reliable with no clicking from the speakers, wifi connects reliably every time, and there seem to be no more random freeze ups. The keyboard dock has gradually become more reliable to the point where it has not disconnected in days (I think the connector just needs to "break in" a bit.) I have been pleased enough with this tablet over the last week that I ordered two additional units, one for the lab I work in, and another as a gift. The unit for the lab did experience keyboard disconnects at first, but over several days of use they have declined just like they did with mine. Like any first generation device, this one did have a few rough edges at first, but I'm impressed that Samsung has relatively quickly released updated drivers that solve nearly all the problems. For now I am leaving my review at 2 stars so that this review remains as the "most helpful critical review", but eventually I will update the rating to reflect my current feelings. If you have been eyeing this tablet and hesitating to buy it because of the reported problems, go ahead and buy it. If you run the included SW Update utility to get all the latest drivers, you will be very happy with the Samsung Ativ Smart PC.
I purchased the version with the keyboard dock from Amazon on October 29, and received it November 13. The tablet itself is everything it's made out to be, but the keyboard dock has a major problem. While comfortable to type on, it has a terrible problem where the connection between the keyboard and the screen is lost randomly while typing. The problem occurs most frequently when the system is resting on my lap, as opposed to on a desk. It is made worse if I use the touch screen before typing, or if my legs are angled downward. I believe the issue lies in a poorly designed docking connector on the keyboard. While the tablet does "lock" into place, it is not locked tightly enough to ensure a secure and reliable connection. When the problem occurs, a firm press to push the tablet back into the dock usually resolves it, but it's really annoying to have to do this constantly. In addition, when the keyboard connection is lost, so are the USB ports on the keyboard dock. I've already suffered failed file transfers while installing programs due to this issue.
For the time being, I will keep the tablet and see whether this becomes a serious issue, or whether it's just an intermittent annoyance. However, I cannot recommend the tablet/keyboard dock combination to anyone since Samsung is charging a $100 premium for a keyboard dock that simply doesn't work properly.
I've used the tablet for a few days now, and my initial disappointment has been tempered somewhat by the amazingness of the tablet itself, as well as by discovering a method to reduce the frequency of the keyboard disconnects. First, regarding the keyboard dock. I discovered that if I firmly press the keyboard into the dock and then push the tablet to the right in order to fully engage the latching mechanism, the frequency of keyboard disconnects is reduced dramatically. I was initially experiencing keyboard disconnects nearly every 30 seconds, but after starting to push the tablet to the right when docking with the keyboard, the disconnects have decreased to maybe once or twice per day. It seems like taking a second every now and then to ensure the tablet is securely docked does a lot to prevent the disconnects.
Now, I haven't said anything about the tablet itself yet. Quite simply, it's amazing. There are a few minor issues that will probably be resolved with driver updates including occasionally glitchy Windows sound effects (resolved by reboot), and an unreliable S Camera app (though the Microsoft camera app works fine). The tablet is extremely fast and does not at all feel like an Atom processor. Websites load quickly and scrolling is smooth. The wifi signal strength is great, and it connected to my university's WPA-Enterprise encrypted network without a hitch (previous tablets I've had have struggled with this). The ambient light sensor is acceptable, though not the best (running SW Update to get the latest driver improves it a lot compared to the driver the computer ships with). The extremely wide, glossy screen looks spectacular and is great for viewing HD content (unlike the iPad's 4:3 screen). HD videos from Youtube and elsewhere play back perfectly. I was also impressed with the quality of the speakers. Despite having a super-thin slate form factor, the 2x0.8W speakers sound incredible - better than many laptops I've used, and the volume is louder than you'd expect to get from a device of this type. I was also impressed with the tablet's ability to play MP3's over Bluetooth audio (A2DP) while the computer is in sleep mode, and also how resume from sleep mode is literally instant (no more 5-10 second wait like on most Windows 7 PC's.) The inking experience is great, just like you'd expect from any Wacom-powered tablet, and it's very convenient to be able to store the stylus inside the computer. The included stylus is short (crayon size) and does not have an eraser, so beware that to erase ink in the free Microsoft OneNote app, you will either need to rely on the Undo command or select and delete the ink manually (there is no eraser tool in the free OneNote app, unlike the full Office 2013 OneNote). Another option if you're inking often is to purchase a full size Wacom stylus that includes an eraser on the top. (The tablet DOES recognize the eraser on other Wacom styluses, I tested it.) This resolves the issue with erasing ink in the free OneNote, and is also more comfortable to write with.
Overall, my feelings about this system have changed drastically from when I first posted the angry review about the keyboard issue, so I'm increasing my rating to 4 stars. The missing star is for the occasional keyboard disconnects, and the lingering driver issues with the camera and the sound card. I'll post another update if I discover anything new!
A new annoying problem has started to occur on my tablet. The wifi will frequently fail to connect when I turn the tablet on. I'm subtracting a star because of this. It often takes 2-3 attempts of cycling Airplane Mode on/off to get it to connect. I've tried uninstalling/reinstalling the driver to no avail. Hoping a driver update fixes this, because other than the wifi issue I am loving my tablet. Even the keyboard disconnects that bothered me originally have been less and less frequent. I credit that mostly to me being more conscious of whether the tablet is securely seated in the dock, and pushing it in every now and then to make sure.
The wifi problem has continued. Yesterday it took me a full 10 minutes of playing with the Airplane Mode toggle, connecting/disconnecting, sleep/wake, restart, and full shutdown/restart, before it finally connected. I have an email in to Samsung support about this issue, but have not received a response yet. If you search for "Samsung Ativ Wonky Wifi", you'll find a professional review of the tablet that also mentions this issue. This wifi problem is really ruining the fun with this unit. At least the keyboard dock issue could be quickly fixed when it occurred by pushing the tablet into the keyboard dock, but this wifi issue has no easy solution and is extremely disruptive. I'm subtracting another star, and I'm thinking about subtracting another, especially if Samsung support can't help out.
on February 5, 2013
I am a college student and was looking for something to take notes using Microsoft's OneNote in class which is probably the best kept college secret since it allows you to search your notes by typing in keywords(great for doing homework efficiently or studying), but since I am kind of slow at typing using my laptop was not an option so I really wanted a tablet that could run a full version of Office. I did a lot of research before settling on the ATIV, but because it was one of the first Win8 tablets released I figured it would be the most stable by the time I got it in Dec 2012. For anyone looking to do a lot of inking on the tablet I recommend getting a full size digitizer pen with eraser. I use the ATIV every day and never bring the charger with me and it hasn't died after taking notes, reading emails, and using the internet for hours. I have the keyboard, but haven't really used it that much because I prefer to do any paper writing at my desk using the large keyboard on my 15.6" HP ProBook. From the limited time I have spent on the optional keyboard the keys seem to be a normal size and well spaced.
Adjusting to Windows 8:
I really loved Windows 7 and Win8 got so many negative reviews before it was released that I was worried I wasn't going to like it or it wouldn't be intuitive, but after only a few hours just messing around with my tablet the UI felt so natural that when I switched back to my iPhone I tried to use the same swiping motions to close apps.
- get a copy of OneNote (from the full version of Office)and "print" lecture slides to OneNote then take notes just like you would if you had actually printed them
- get a digitizer pen with eraser
The best part about taking all my notes on my tablet is that I never have to carry notebooks so my backpack is always so light!
on November 15, 2012
Coming from an Android, I must say this product is fantastic. Mine is extremely fast, without lag on all Metro apps, and the majority of x86 apps (word, excel, onenote..)
However, the standard x86 PDF reader (Adobe Acrobat) does lag a bit.. no worries though - the Metro PDF viewer is excellent.
EDIT I've changed the Adobe settings to .show current page only. and now it doesnt lag at all, even on my ginourmous PDFs
The digital pen is AWESOME. I had no idea what I was missing out on when I was using my capacitive-only Android. The pen is exceptional in the desktop mode because in desktop mode, icons are slightly small (11.6 inch vs 13/14/15 inch screens on regular laptops) and easy to mis-press when using the finger.
My tablet had no lag whatsoever during inking in onenote, samsung note, and MS Paint. I don't use photoshop, so I can't say anything about that.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED THAT YOU GET THIS TABLET WITHOUT THE KEYBOARD.
Keyboard is ~100 bucks extra and several reviews have mentioned problems about the keyboard falling out.
What I've done is get a $10 USB keyboard (Bluetooth works as well) and a 1-to-4 USB expander so I can use the keyboard while using flash drives and such. Once aftermarket cases come out, I'll get a case/stand for my Samsung 500t.
on January 11, 2013
I have had the Samsung for about 3 weeks now, and have been extraordinarly pleased with it overall. This is my fifth tablet PC (I acquired my first in 2003 and have used one ever since) and it seems to me that the 500T comes very close to "the ideal" in terms of what a tablet is most useful for. Specifically:
1) It has an excellent battery life (10+ hours, and maybe more)
2) It is very light
3) Its performance is admirable (for the MS-Office, Acrobat and browser applications that I would typically use it for)
4) Its price is remarkably low for what it delivers
5) Its pen performance is smooth and natural
For me, the last of these is the most aspect of a tablet. I teach at a university and have always used my tablets to take notes in meetings, for inking comments on student papers, for creating video instructional content that involves drawings and for reading/annotating articles. I have found that other so-called tablets--such as the iPad, which I also own--are good for entertainment but, lacking a stylus, are unsuitable for any of these activities.
Even touch-screen tablets can be problematic when used in conjunction with the pen, since putting your hand on the screen while writing can be interpreted as inking. MS-OneNote does a pretty good job of figuring out which you are using, but other pen-enabled applications, such as MS-Word, do not always get it right. On my Windows 7 Dell XT2 tablet, I permanently disabled the touch screen in Control Panel. In Windows 8, however, that checkbox option no longer appears to exist, which caused me considerable consternation. Fortunately, the Samsung provides its own option in its "Settings" application; my only complaint is that you have to restart the computer in order to switch between the two modes. Another of the Samsung built-in applications provides a substitute for the now-missing start menu, which is convenient for those of us just getting started on Windows 8.
When I acquired the Samsung ATIV 500T, I also purchased two other accessories that I feel are indispenable. The first was a class 10 64GB microSD card, which doubled my storage capacity and makes it easy for me to move documents around. The second was a Logitech bluetooth tablet keyboard. I chose this over a docking station for three reasons: 1) it was cheaper, 2) its stand (which is also its keyoard case) allows me to use the tablet in portrait mode, and 3) a number of reviewers had complained about problems with the docking connection. The only problem I had with the keyboard was that when I also tried to use a bluetooth mouse with it, the two interfered with each other enough so that I decided to use USB for the mouse instead.
Some comments on issues:
A number of reviewers complained about their wireless Internet connection dropping out. That happened to me for a couple of days but since then it has been perfect. It may be that some of the many updates I downloaded fixed that problem.
The first time I connected the microHDMI to my TV, nothing happened--which was disappointing. I acquired a different cable, however, and it worked perfectly. Since that time, I concluded that the original cable I purchased (which was quite inexpensive) may have been vendor specific, since it was listed as "Cable Matters 10 feet Premium GOLD Plated Micro HDMI to HDMI Cable for HTC, Motorola and other portable devices with Micro HDMI port".
Nothing is perfect, but there is only one real complaint that I have. Although the device comes with a 64GB SSD drive, it looks as if over 10 GB is used for a hidden restore partition and anothe 20+ GB is consumed by the operating system (and more than a little "crapware"). While I could have doubtless reformatted the drive and done a clean Windows 8 install, that looked to be more of an adventure than I was up for. At a minimum, why not put the restore on a microSD or USB stick?
I would also say that the stylus, which fits into the case, is about as comfortable for writing as a golf pencil and does not have the eraser end. While I give them kudos for fitting it into the case, I'd view it as suitable for writing only in an emergency. Fortunately, the tablet works perfectly with a stylus from my old Acer. Another reviewer mentioned that it worked with a different Wacom stylus. The nice thing is that these other styluses (styli?) is that they have an eraser end that works with OneNote and Journal (although I had less luck with MS-Word).
One other observation, which seems more related to Windows 8 as opposed to being specific to the Samsung, is that it does not do a very good job figuring out when you need the on-screen keyboard. Earlier tablets recognized when you were going to enter text (e.g., on a web form) and supplied an icon that made it easy to bring up the keyboard. Although I may just be missing a setting, I find I always have to go to the status bar to get the on-screen keyboard when I need it.
Other than that, it would be "nice" if it had a faster processer, more RAM (it comes with 2 GB and cannot be upgraded), a larger SSD drive (it comes with 64 GB) and could run 64 bit Windows applications. Of course, that describes the 700T model--so these are apparently available for about $500 more. Realistically, however, these features would come with their own price tag: shorter battery life. Given what I plan use this device for, I might even place a higher priority on mobility than on these other features, given that its performance is already quite satisfactory.
So... for $600, this strikes me as being one heck of a device.
on October 28, 2012
As mentioned by the other reviewers, this tablet will surprise you. It runs great without any major glitches! Of course, it's not going to break any speed records, but it's not sluggish at all. It does creak when you pick it up from one side, but so do many other Samsung devices. The hardware is adequate for what this tablet is designed for. The more expensive sibling, the Ativ SmartPC Pro, is faster with more RAM and storage at the expense of weight, battery life and heat generation.
Once you start using it and realize that this is a full-blown computer in your hands running full Office, Adobe suite, proper web browser with full flash and more, you won't go back to any other tablets such as iPad or Androids. Furthermore, if you are into inking and taking notes, S-Note or OneNote are perfect with the included stylus. I tested it with a 50MB word file with many pictures and didn't have any issues with inking and annotations. You can also annotate pdf files using Adobe reader. The possibilities are endless! Well done Samsung, and well done Microsoft!
on November 15, 2012
*Intel's new much faster Atom CPU that's x86 compatible and can run full Windows. Comes with Windows 8 but can be upped to Pro with a key. Full Windows means can run anything that it's fast enough or has enough ram to handle. So far all productivity apps I've tried work. I have full Office 2013 installed and I can run Onenote, Outlook, Excel, and Lync at the same time with no issue.
*Weight and size is comparable to a normal droid/ios/win RT tablet (Atom version is 1.68 lbs, whereas the iPad ran from about 1.6 to 1.3 depending on the generation/configuration)
*Battery life is on par with a droid/ios/Win RT tablet (I've been using mine literally all day for notes in meetings. Active non-game usage seems to eat the battery about 6 minutes per 1% or 10% an hour or 10 hours total life. MUCH better than one of the i3/i5/i7 tablets which will get less than half that.
*One USB port, one Micro HDMI port, one micro SD card slot. Not all the pending Atom units have Micro-HDMI on the tablet itself.
*Slower than a traditional x86 platform device
*11.6" widescreen form factor may be a bit wide for some people
*Not 1080p (1366x768)
*Not as bright as the crazy bright models of the Transformer (this runs at 400nits)
*Keyboard dock does not contain and additional battery like the Asus units
*Driver support is weak right now, particularly for video. 1080p hardware accelerated playback is supported by the chipset but is software decoded for most formats right now which eats a lot of CPU. 720p is also software decided right now but the CPU is fast enough to handle it with no frame droppage in a player like VLC. Games that use full screen panning play unacceptably slow such as Limbo. Even a lot of RT games that claim compatibility with ARM tablets run slow, although the RT versions of these games introduce detail level settings that can be adjusted manually. Both of these situations will likely improve with driver updates. Also sometimes the S-pen doesn't work after hibernation which requires a reboot or restart of the affected service.
*No USB 3.0 support (not supported by the chipset)
*Only one USB 2.0 port on the device itself (the keyboard adds two more)
*No SATA controller like the i3/i5/i7 units so SSD data transfer rates will top out around 15MB per second. Storage is essentially flash media rather than true SSD.
*Full Windows is a bit big for a 64GB storage volume (you'll almost certainly want to add a MicroSD card additional for storage)
*S-pen when fully inserted into the slot can be stupidly stiff. While this means you won't lose it, I've actually scratched the pen trying to remove it. (update: this is not true with every unit)
*Made of plastic versus aluminum.
While the above cons list is longer than the pros list (and I'm not even touching the pros/cons of Windows 8, just the device itself and how it's supported) let me be clear that I love this tablet. As a replacement for a laptop, it's piss poor. While the new Atom is fast it doesn't compare to a modern laptop. However, if your usage is light then it's a non-issue. Ever since I first bought an iPad 1 about 2-3 years ago I lamented the fact that literally everything I wanted to do I had to find an app in the iOS store (or other places) that let me do what I could already do on a PC. Remote Desktop, direct file transfer, printing, reading comics, movie playback, etc all required specific new apps, transcoding or in some cases just weren't possible. With this device not only do I get all the back, but it's true Windows so I can multitask everything. The wide screen lets me watch a video on the left half while I read IE on the other half. The Atom CPU is no speed demon and has to SATA support, but the OS cold boots in seconds anyway (much faster than my iPad boots) and while overall video driver support is weak right now natively supported apps like IE, Word, Excel, Explorer all scroll smooth as silk.
I also like to game. While of course this is no gaming rig I wanted to see how it played games. If you want to play games you'll be limited to older, indy or 2d games mostly. Point and click adventure titles run pretty well but the touchscreen may not register properly for these games. Here are some results:
Limbo - Unplayable (low frame rate)
Braid - Choppy but playable. Some areas are worse than others
Bastion - Unplayably slow
Sam and Max series - plays great, albeit in a frame. doesn't stretch to fill the screen
World of Goo - plays great
Bejewelled 3 - drops some frames during explosions but otherwise plays great. Also no issues with the touch screen.
Broken Sword - Plays fine, sometimes single clicks don't register using the touchscreen
Crayon Physics Deluxe - Plays fine
Gemini Rue (and presumably all the Wadjet Point and Click games like the Blackwell series) - performs fine but clicking with the touchscreen is tricky. I also noticed the same behavior when I used to play this game from my iPad via Splashtop
FTL - slightly slow but very playable, although when playing this game I get occasional video driver crashes. Intel dropped a new driver through the Samsung updater yesterday and I haven't tried it since then
Gratuitous Space/Tank Battles - little slow but playable. touchscreen control mostly works but scrolling the battlefield is quirky
Super Meat Boy - Crashes
Space Pirates and Zombies - playable but slightly slow
Home - Plays good
Lone Survivor - Plays good
Original X-Com - plays in a frame and touchscreen controls do not work
Torchlight - Playable at lower resolutions (around 25fps at 1024x768)
Games requiring full screen panning currently have issue. Apps that are natively supported by the OS can scroll smooth as silk such as IE and Office 2013 apps, so driver support will likely fix this issue in time. Games with relatively static backgrounds, however, work fine. Point and click adventure games (minus any touchscreen issues) and puzzle games are great.
Bottom line: This is a great tablet replacement that's even capable of replacing a netbook or other laptop option provided you aren't using resource intensive apps. Video processing or transcoding, sound editing, movie editing, etc are all a bit beyond the reach of an Atom CPU with 2GB of RAM, but Office apps work great. If you are looking for a tablet that is capable of much more than an iOS or Droid device then this is a great option. If you're looking for the power of a proper laptop, then you'll need to go with something like the Ativ Pro or Surface Pro but understand that you do so at the cost of at least half the battery life.
on November 23, 2012
I purchased this for my wife, I have the 700T on order for myself (but still waiting .. like 99% of the world for that model). So for now, I have been playing with the 500T w/ Keyboard - and I must say - This thing is awesome, and makes me even more excited for the 700T. There have been NO keyboard issues like some people reported, and like others have said - Even the Dual Core Atom is pretty quick. In Everyday operation, so far, I havent seen the proc go beyond 33%.
I have been in IT for 20 Years - and This is the PC I have been waiting for since Microsoft started the Tablet market around 10 years ago (Yes, it was Microsoft ... the world wasnt ready then and they werent thin enough) - Now they are and I must say, that I dont understand what anyone's issue would be with a Windows 8 Machine that has touch - Its just plain great.
My wife is a Mail Admin, but not a PC Expert - She loves Windows 8 and the new Start Screen..... I am very jealous, waiting for mine now ....
on November 5, 2012
Before I review the product, I would like to state my intended use for the tablet, so that you can understand better my angle of view. I'm a graduate student. I already have a high performance laptop with a big monitor to watch movies, play games, run big simulations, or do image processing. Therefore, I mainly need the tablet to carry around, read docs, and take notes (organize them and share them or archive them).
With this in mind, things that do matter to me are:
(1) Long battery life. This kills any tablets that use core-i processors, which consume much more power. (10h vs 4h battery life)
(2) Windows 8 (not Windows RT). The problem with the new Microsoft OS is that it doesn't have many apps at the moment. However, having an OS that is compatible with any x86 software instantly bypasses this problem, and in my mind, is a much superior option. To name a few, you can use MS Office with its full functions, or use your favorite browser, or listen to spotify using the desktop version (even though spotify hasn't yet published an app for Windows RT).
(3) Wacom stylus (s pen). As I understand, tablets with innate support for Wacom stylus have a extra layer in their screen so that they can register the position of the stylus even when it's not touching the screen. They are also much more precise than capacitive stylus.
So does this tablet actually deliver these promises? I give a definite answer: Yes.
The new windows 8 is fun to use and quite smooth. It does take a few minutes to learn the tricks, as many functions are hidden on the edges of the screen, but I soon got used to that. I did run into a few hiccups in my 2 days test, but they are not overly annoying or distracting, and I believe Microsoft will soon fix them.
The S pen of the tablet makes digital inking really feasible. I didn't use the S note application that Samsung provides, but used MS OneNote 2010, and it really shines. The precision of the stylus is quite good.(If it is slightly off, you can calibrate it in Windows 8) You can write fairly small, yet still readable. When you use the stylus, you can use your finger to navigate the pages, which is very convenient. The ink to text function in OneNote recognizes 99% of my handwriting when I write pretty fast. Even if you don't specifically change ink to text, the inking is still searchable in the program, which is another big plus.
The screen doesn't have high resolution like some high-end ones, but it's high enough to support Windows 8 Snap feature. It's bright, with good contrast. I tested the camera, but wasn't very satisfied. The pictures doesn't look sharp, and it's difficult to focus at the right spot. But again, these are features that are of minor importance to me.
To sum up, this should not be considered as a personal PC replacement, and it's not designed to be one. However, if you simply want a tablet to carry around, read some documents, and take notes, this is definitely the right choice for you. Admittedly, the price is a bit on the high end at the moment, and in six month there will be next generation products that are faster and cheaper. But there will always be better ones further ahead.
Pros: Windows 8 (not RT), S pen, long battery life
Cons: Screen resolution, Camera