42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2013
The Samsung ATIV Tablet did not initially impress me when it was first released late last year. But walking into my local Microsoft Store (the only place I'll buy Windows 8 hardware due to their Signature treatment aka no bloatware) I was immediate wowed by the all-white version, which I did not know existed.
The ATIV Tablet features some impressive specs:
Windows 8 (full)
Intel Atom 1.8 GHz CPU
11.6 in SuperBright Plus LED (1366 x 768), 5-finger multi-touch support
Wacom digitizer and S-Pen
Dual front-facing speakers (1.6W)
64GB Storage (~30GB available due to full OS backup); microSD expansion
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver
1 USB 2.0
2 MP front, 8 MP rear cameras
Around 9 hours battery life
Optional full keyboard with 2 extra USB ports
Windows Experience Index: 3.2
The Samsung ATIV Smart PC tablet is quite impressive. Look, Samsung knows how to make hardware and while this device is very "plastic" it's also a very comfortable 1.65lbs. It's well built, doesn't creak and even has plugs for the keyboard dock holes to keep the device smoother looking.
The cameras are decent, the CPU handles Windows 8 just fine (for everyday tasks), you have plenty of storage (relatively), GPS and NFC and did I mention the kickass Wacom digitizer and S-Pen for handwriting?
That handwriting addition makes the keyboard...less important to have. Sure, if I were writing out a long article, email or paper I'd prefer a keyboard but for light data entry? The S-Pen is quite fun to use and allows you to use this as "just a tablet". Because as soon as you add a keyboard, the dynamics of the device change: you now act like this is a laptop and things feel a bit slower when you use it like that. Sure you can, but if you're use to an Ultrabook running Photoshop, you may get frustrated.
The speakers are dual, front facing with 1.6W of power and while they're not mind blowing, they're certainly better than most other Windows 8 tablets we've tried (and your hands don't block them when in use).
The ATIV Smart PC Tablet is a solid, well-built tablet. I like the size, the price, the performance and especially the S-Pen for note taking (I don't think I'll ever buy a tablet without one again).
Samsung also have their own proprietary update service that in theory, is a good idea. It checks for updates for everything: the OS, drivers, BIOS, etc.
Overall, it is a fantastic piece of art from Samsung again.
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T Review -- A Love/Hate relationship trending towards acceptance. ;)
Overall, I find I really like this tablet, in spite of some glitches and issues. Read the reviews carefully. If you can deal with the issues and get this tablet at a good price, I think you will be happy with it. (Prices for this item have varied greatly over time, so shop around for a good price!)
Update: As of this date (June 18, 2013) the 500T is #31 on the top 100 best selling "laptops" list and has been in the Amazon top 100 sales ranks for 244 days running. That surprised me quite a bit. So it seems there are quite a few who like this rig!
*** Note *** This review is for the tablet and keyboard dock, this item comes *without* the keyboard dock. Good news is, you don't need to worry about the flaky keyboard dock issues. Bad news is, the "desktop" mode is not as good without it. If you are focused mainly in the Win 8 "apps" and tablet mode, not an issue. But something to keep in mind. Of course, you can purchase the optional keyboard for this tablet if you need it.
Summary: Purely as a "tablet" experience, my Android tablets are far superior. However, it runs Win 8 which is a huge plus if you need that capability and opens a lot of new doors. So, it is a definite trade-off and one should consider carefully. Given the price, a small Ultrabook is a reasonable alternative, in my opinion, when you have the keyboard attached. However, without the keyboard, then a direct tablet vs. tablet comparison is the better "apples to apples" view. So already you can see both the dichotomy and the attraction. What is "desktop mode" without the trackpad (or mouse) and keyboard? A mess! So the dock is essential in desktop mode (for me, anyway). And then, in tablet mode, one compares this to a good Android tablet and the Android wins (in my opinion) overall as a much better experience. So what you are paying for here is a device that can live in both worlds... sort of a "jack of all trades and master of none" situation. The ultrabook wins hands down for desktop uses and Android (or ipad) wins as a tablet...but the 500T wins when you need (or want) both in one slim, portable device. And the 500T is not without it's charms (great screen, long battery life, etc.).
So, as a device that can serve as a tablet one day, and then act like a mini-netbook-ultrabook (with keyboard dock) the next, well, there you have something - if you need it. If you do, then the price may be justified and there are some nice features along with the many glitches. If you accept the quest and vanquish the endless updates, you may find the treasure you seek.
In the end, I am satisfied with it for the price I paid, but I almost sent it back. Only by going through several days of updates (endless, slow updates!) and tweaks was I able to "tame" this to something I could live with. I am definitely not sure the average consumer should subject themselves to that experience, so I would say this device is best for a gearhead geek like me rather than the average user. Still I note in the reviews that several average users seem satisfied, so what do I know? ;)
Now that it has settled down, the wars are over, and it is behaving as it should, I am beginning to enjoy it more and more. My favorite thing about this device is the very nice screen which makes watching videos a great experience (using headphones or external speakers). Graphic images and photos look superb as well. Also, it is a slim, trim and very portable device. The final jewel that won me over was the excellent battery life. Getting 10-14 hours of real life use on battery is absolutely wonderful and a real treat. (If you actively manage power use, you can extend battery life even longer. If you are lazy and never worry about it, you will still get 8-10 hours easily.) That is a game changer for me and maybe you as well.
Initially, during my first 2-3 days of ownership, I would have rated this 1 or 2 stars, maybe 3 tops. But now that things have settled down, I would give it 3 at full price and 4 stars if you can get it at a good price. Value matters. If I pay more, I expect more. So please keep that in mind. Thus my final, somewhat generous, rating is 4 stars, overall, and based on my personal experience, price paid (low), and needs. (Screen quality, battery life, and the ability to run windows software are the big factors in the final rating.)
Runs Windows 8 so you can run legacy and most recent Windows software.
Very nice, slim profile for a large tablet. Very portable.
Boots up fast.
Includes built-in digitizer and S-Pen interface (Pen stores on back of tablet.)
No fan and no heat!
Keyboard dock when it works (It will eventually settle down - hang in there! See comments below.)
Long battery life!!!
Beautiful large display -- sweet!
Runs Windows 8 -- not really "tablet/desktop combined" ready -- lots of glitches, Windows 8.1 on the way will fix some of these issues (hopefully!).
Bluetooth is broken. None of my Bluetooth devices tried so far will work properly. Can pair, but not connect. Have tried many things, but nothing works (so far). [Confirmed many others having same issue, broken BT software. This is a big minus for me, might not be for others.]
Keyboard dock when it doesn't work. (See below. Can be fixed with time and effort.)
Limited (2) screen resolution choices available (affects games mostly).
Glitchy operation. For example, using headphones/external speakers sometimes it gets confused as to whether the internal speakers or external are "active." Easily fixed, but annoying.
Here are my thoughts, notes and comments from my use so far:
On sleep, turns off music. Android tablets are smart enough to continue playing your tunes even when sleeping. However, this is normal for Windows 8.
Endless updates!!! For the first several days be prepared for literally hours and hours of time updating your tablet.
Flakiness in general - settles down some after updates, but still glitchy in many areas.
Power button - position and short press on/off means *very* easy to accidentally turn on tablet when carrying it around. Would be better to have press and hold or slide like most tablets. (Did they actually use test this thing?) Volume control on side works well.
Speakers not working when turned off with Audio out plugged in and then removed and restart system -- even after two restarts. Had to plug speaker in, turn off, remove, and then it worked again - dumb!
ETD.sys BSOD error - keyboard touch pad driver related, I believe. (This was eventually resolved with further updates.)
Keyboard working better finally but still an occasional disconnect/reconnect. However, after many days and using the tip from another review here to put something behind the screen to push it forward, it mostly works fine now (even without anything behind it). My experience seems to confirm other review comments that it eventually settles down with a little wear and use.
Keyboard is fairly nice when it works. USB ports are good, but a shame no audio/video ports on the dock.
The S-Pen and built-in digitizer work well. For some this will be a very big deal, not so much for others. For me it is a very nice plus and a bonus over many similar tablet devices. You can write and draw -- the most natural thing in the word to want to do on a tablet. Nice!
Windows 8 sucks as a Hybrid OS -- It should have kept the Desktop and Tablet modes more separate. Tablet features interfere with desktop mode operation and make things harder. Desktop mode is fairly useless without the keyboard dock or an external mouse and keyboard of some kind. Maybe 8.1 will improve this.
Beautiful screen, rich colors and good color saturation, good contrast, good viewing angles -- excellent for movies and video, photos, etc.. One of the best things about this device.
Ability to run standard windows software is, of course, wonderful and the big draw here.
Performance is OK, fine for most things. Some lags here and there, programs slow to start, but operate fine. Occasionally, something takes a bit longer than expected and you must be patient. In normal operation it is responsive and fine.
Internal storage is slow, the Samsung Micro-SD card (64 GB Class 10) I installed in the Micro-SD slot seems faster than the internal storage. Hopefully, the internal storage is very reliable. Adding a Micro-SD card is absolutely essential. Plan for it and include the cost. It helps a great deal and you will need the additional storage as only about 39 GB is free on the internal.
Android tablets a much, much better out of box experience. (I'm just saying...)
Some older games run fine, some not, hit or miss, just have to try, but being able to run some older, legacy games is a nice treat. For example, "Panzer General 3D" loaded and runs, but slow between turns as it "thinks" -- animations and play is OK. Slow saves and other admin stuff. Playable if you're patient, but might get iffy with larger campaigns. Have not tested that yet, just a quick scenario. And due to the screen resolution limitations, it is a bit small, does not use the full screen. On the other hand, "Avadon - The Black Fortress" runs fine, looks great, and uses most of the screen. Planescape Torment also runs fine, but is small on screen like PG 3D as it uses a 640x480 portion of the screen only. Looks good, though.
As a tablet, it is sleek, has a great screen, works well for most things. A bit big and awkward compared to smaller tablets, but you get that great video/movie screen! Overall it's not a big issue. I got a small tablet stand for watching movies (without the keyboard dock attached) and it works great. Can also watch holding/resting in lap. No fan and no heat is a big plus.
Battery life is fantastic - wonderful -- and a huge plus. This was the thing that closed the deal for me.
Speakers sound pretty good for a tablet, not very loud, though. Ok for some things. Need headphones or external speakers for music and videos in my opinion.
Bluetooth is an ungodly mess. Most of my devices would not work. Would pair, but not connect. Think it is installing wrong drivers (incorrectly identifying the devices) not sure. Win 8 seems to have lots of Bluetooth issues. Also very clumsy to add devices and use them -- far worse than Win 7. How disappointing! Bluetooth should be easy to use, not the freaking nightmare it is here. A quick Google search will show many are having issues and feel the same. However, Win 8 BT on my Win 8 laptops works fine, so may be due to Samsung's choice of BT software. Others are reporting similar issues. Some rolled backed to earlier version of BT software and fixed it, others hoping for an update that will fix. I gave up for the time being. Will tackle it later when and if I have time. But a real negative for me as I use BT speakers a lot.
Tablet and keyboard look great and it has a very "netbook" feel in use, but with decent performance. Perfectly fine from physical use point of view. Web browsing and most apps run fine. Performance is surprisingly good at times.
The built-in digitizer and S-pen have a lot of potential that I have not even begun to explore yet. Using the note apps, it works fine and is fun to use. Later I will load some photo editing and graphics software and see what else is possible. It's a substantial advantage over other comparable tablets if you need it and a nice plus even if you do not.
Battery lasted 16-18 hours with intermittent use, sometimes heavy, sometimes light, sometimes idle. Battery life is *not* an issue. About 3% drain overnight which seems reasonable. I am getting 10-14 hours with constant use routinely. With light use, I have gone days without recharging.
USB flash drives w/kybd dock worked great - recognized and available very quickly.
Win 8 Experience Ratings:
Processor..... 3.4 (Acceptable. Occasional lags on intensive programs.)
Memory........ 4.6 (Fine.)
Desktop Gfx... 3.7 (Acceptable. Never notice any lag at desktop or start screen)
Gaming Gfx.... 3.2 (Oops! Not much for 3D Gaming...some old games will run OK, hit or miss)
Primary HDD... 5.8 (Slow! You can see why programs load slowly, most 5400 HDD's are faster.)
These scores are definitely in the "netbook" category, but for a tablet, they are actually fairly good. The proper comparison here is to other tablets, not to laptops/notebooks (IMHO). In use, things normally feel fine. There are the occasional lags, especially with some system tasks, but most apps and programs run fine. I had an Acer netbook and this is a much better experience.
One could argue that buying an Ultrabook and an Android tablet would be a better way to go. Depends on your needs and how many devices you want to lug around. For many, the 500T (or similar) will be a very reasonable compromise.