Customer Review

161 of 170 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular Tablet, but Problems with Keyboard Dock Disconnects and Wifi, November 14, 2012
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This review is from: Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T 11.6-Inch Detachable 2 in 1 Touchscreen Laptop (Personal Computers)
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.

Original Review:
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.

UPDATE 11/16/2012
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!

UPDATE 11/25/2012:
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.

UPDATE 12/2/2012
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.
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Comments

Tracked by 9 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 29 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 15, 2012 10:58:11 PM PST
D. K. says:
Yeah, very annoying. However, I noticed this happens quite often when I am typing, i.e. when I am "shaking" the keyboard, NOT the tablet. I wonder why.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 16, 2012 5:04:35 AM PST
It's not a solution to the problem, but it does seem to occur less frequently if I firmly push the tablet into the keyboard dock, and then push the tablet to the right to ensure that the latches have securely grabbed the tablet. After experimenting all day yesterday, I found that doing this reduced the frequency of the dock disconnecting from about once per minute to one/twice per day. I'll test it out more today.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 12:03:39 PM PST
Kartik Iyer says:
Hi Mitchell,
I jsut wanted to ask whether the keyboard has a battery attached for extending the tablet use time. I have heard conflicting reports, some say they do , others not
Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 5:54:02 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 19, 2012 5:58:01 PM PST
The keyboard does not have an extra battery. The battery life on the tablet is pretty good on it's own though. Samsung rates it at 13.5 hours, and in reality I'd guess I'm getting at least 7-9. I haven't actually tried to drain it all in one sitting because it would take too long, but after a typical day of use I'd say it's usually around 50% left. I work in a research lab, so I use this to keep a notebook about the experiments I work on, and search online for ideas and ordering equipment. So, it's not on all day, but it gets a lot of on-and-off use throughout the day. The battery overall seems on par with my girlfriend's iPad, and is definitely the longest battery life I've gotten from a Windows computer.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 2:35:43 PM PST
Eduardo says:
Mitchell, in your opinion, You recomend to me this tablet over others?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 6:36:52 PM PST
If you're willing to deal with some occasional glitches that will probably eventually be fixed by driver updates, then yes. The keyboard dock issue is definitely a hardware problem, but it has become nearly a non-issue for me after I started being more careful to firmly insert the tablet in the dock. This is also one of the only Win 8 tablets you can get today that has an active stylus input, and it's very good!

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 11:10:49 AM PST
I've noticed a lot of the same stuff. the wifi issue only seems to happen when I'm in an area with low bars, though. Thanks for the tip on pushing the tablet to the right when connecting the keyboard. Has anyone else here had issues with the s-pen. Mine quit working today.

Posted on Nov 30, 2012 8:55:04 AM PST
ZK says:
Can I suggest something? I dont know if it will work or not but I use it on my Win 8 PC and it helped with some issues, its a program called "Advanced system care" really fixes things up in the registry and looks up any errors.

Best of luck, I am between getting this tablet and the Vivotab (once it is released), but i dont know if its worth the extra price for the GPS and NFS... plus I like that samsung has the speakers on the front of the tablet not the back.

Posted on Dec 4, 2012 1:38:49 PM PST
Timmy says:
Thank you so much for your honest review. I wish I would have heeded this post. Those 5 star post negated this one and I bought anyhow. I got from another big online seller and as of right now, I have another 19 days to return for a full refund. Giving it strong consideration. Having a real love/hate relationship going on with this thing.
As far as your comments, as a person that has owned one for a week:
-random keyboard disconnects, confirmed
-buggy wifi, confirmed.
Oh, I feel such a fool... Talk about taking all the fun out of a device.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2012 4:21:20 PM PST
Possibly good news for you. First, I really think the keyboard disconnects get less frequent with time. The latching mechanism just needs to break-in a bit, and you also get more conscious about securely attaching the tablet after you've had it a while. Second, I think I may have found the solution to the wifi issue. I haven't updated the review yet because I haven't tested this as much as I'd like, but I think the wifi issue is caused by a bug with the Bluetooth Collaboration feature of wifi driver. This feature is supposed to reduce interference with the Bluetooth radio by suppressing transmission from the wifi card when necessary so that the Bluetooth radio has less interference in the 2.4GHz band. However, it seems to be suppressing it too much, and to the point that the wifi connection drops, or can't be established at all. What has worked for me is to disable Bluetooth Collaboration in the Advanced settings of the wifi driver in the Windows Device Manager. Load up the Device Manager from the Control Panel, double click on the wifi card (under Network Adapters). Go to the Advanced tab, find Bluetooth Collaboration, and set it to Disabled. I have not tested Bluetooth since doing this, but I suspect it should still work fine, since it supports automatic frequency hopping to avoid wifi interference regardless of the Bluetooth Collaboration setting.
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