Samsung Smart PC Pro (XE700T1C) Review


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Samsung Smart PC Pro (XE700T1C-02AU) Review

Reviewed by Osiris

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Today I talk about my time with Samsungs answer to the Surface Pro; The Smart PC Pro also known as the 700T.

Background

With the release of Windows 8, its an exciting time to be looking at ? or getting back into ? windows based Tablet PC?s. Recently I had purchased and reviewed the Samsung Smart PC 500T (the atom clover trail based little brother of the 700T) and whilst ultimately pleasantly surprised and happy with this device, I was curious to see what the iCore version could bring to the table.

This device shares many similarities to the 500T so you may find this review mirrors that in parts ? I have tried to avoid making this a comparison between the two where possible.

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Unboxing and what?s in the Box

Unfortunately when it comes to packaging or even exceeding expectations within the packaging contents, this is an area where Samsung simply does not excel. It?s disappointing seeing unboxing videos of the beautiful Surface packaging or the extra goodies included in the Asus tablet offering and then unboxing a Samsung tablet:

1x Samsung Smart PC Pro

1x Black Matte Keyboard Dock (only selected units)

1x power adapter

1x Stylus nub kit

1x miscellaneous documents and stickers

1x Microfiber wiping cloth

I can understand why Samsung doesn?t place much value on the packaging or accessory contents; ultimately they will get tossed aside, stored away and not seen again until you are ready to move on to your next device. However, it would be nice to see them just go that bit further to provide the feel of a premium device from unboxing right through to use.

I will say the free cloth was a welcome addition, clearly setting the 700T apart from its clothless 500T brother?just stirring, ultimately it?s the device in the packaging that?s the exciting part and this rings true for the 700T and taking that seductive Full HD, icore based beauty out of the box.

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Build

Once you?ve brushed aside the plastic and tossed the box out the way and are holding the device in your excited hands you instantly start forming your impressions of the build and quality of the unit. My first thoughts upon picking up the actual tablet were:

  • Black Matte? finish makes the device aesthetically gorgeous
  • One windows button provides a sleek minimalist look seemingly a part of all windows 8 tablets
  • Simply solid

Whilst ultimately still plastic, I suspect the black matte finish, fans/venting combined with the extra thickness of the 700T is what gives it a superior feeling of solidness and construction over some of the other Samsung tablets on the market. Often the Android based Galaxy and even the 500T have been accused of having poorly built casing that ultimately lets down the device and at times even flexes from the plastic design. There is zero of that with the 700T.

The black matte finish of the device was a nice change over the glossy plastic usually associated with Samsung tablets. This is of course subjective but in terms of build I found the fingerprint marks on this to be a lot less noticeable than on other tablets even those of lighter colours.

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The 700T continues Samsungs love affairs with the plastic port cover design. Although handy for protecting the ports and keeping rogue dust out of your device, when trying to access the port you just can?t help but think to yourself ?is this going to be the time when this flimsy cheap thing breaks off?? and from an aesthetic point of view having little plastic coverings hanging off your device while in use just looks cheap.

Beyond the port covers though I can?t really fault the build of the device, yes some high tech vapour magnesium or carbon fibre back casing would be a lovely addition to this premium product, but at the end of the day the 700T feels solid and the quality of the back casing does not detract from the functionality and features of the device.

Ports

One of the great things we are seeing from Samsung in terms of Windows 8 tablets is the inclusion of lots of ports on the actual tablet of the device itself ? not just relegated to the dock. The Samsung 700T boasts:

1x USB 3.0

1 x Micro SD

1 x Micro HDMI Out

1x Microphone in and headphone/mic out

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It really is a pleasure having a full USB 3 port on the device and ready to go at your fingertips. Yes there are many ways you can easily get your files on to your Windows 8 device but I think in our personal and sometimes professional lives we often fail to realise how often we use USB drives and how easy they can be at transferring data between devices or storing data we may want to access later. I was surprised how handy I found the USB port on the 500T and the 700T has continued that experience with the added bonus of the much faster USB 3 port.

Not all the Windows 8 line up has the usb slot on the actual tablet device so just keep an eye out if you are looking into these Windows 8 tablets.

The micro HDMI out works with no hassles and as easily as you would expect. Yes, a full HDMI port would have been more useful but mini hdmi cables are starting to become common place and reasonably cheap. Connecting it to my monitor was a breeze and it simply worked. With 1920*1080 resolution I did not observe any lag with common tasks or multitasking. The same was true when video was playing out to it. I did not however test the audio return. Apparently a proper adapter does have audio return so you could output the video and sound to the monitor/tv device as well.

Weight

At 1.96lbs / 888g the Smart PC Pro still feels mobile and easy to carry around with you when you consider all the features this device is packing. For existing Samsung series 7 slate owners or those who have handled the 700T1A, it?s directly on par with that and the extra 20g is a great trade-off for the additional features the smart pc pro packs.

With small differences in weight I tend to think we unconsciously just adapt and it?s mostly not until we do comparisons with other devices that weight enters back into our minds. Using this device almost exclusively for a week straight there were very few occasions when I found the weight to be an issue. It carried fine in my satchel bag for work, was fine taking into meetings for inking and I didn?t feel weighed down carrying it around the office or at home.

It was really only with extended use in tablet mode on rare occasions that the weight of the device entered my mind. A long inking session with the device had me feeling unwieldy by the end whereas a similar sessions on the 500T had not produced that effect. Given the 100 odd grams difference between them I am inclined to think this may have also been a dual effect of the added thickness and potentially a little heat in the back.

Evidently people feel inclined to compare these portable desktops with the popular consumption based ipad tablet and yes holding the ipad in one hand (with or without case) and the 700T in another, there is clearly a difference in weight and size. Very unsurprisingly and obviously the iPad feels distinctly lighter and smaller than the 700T.

Overall, yes compared to a consumption based tablet the extra weight would be a consideration however if you find yourself tossing up between a 700T and say an ipad I would have to suspect you do not realise the vast differences in functionality and purpose between these two - albeit very good devices but ? very different tools. You would be better served comparing the 700T to an ultrabook in terms of functionality.

Fan Noise and Heat

Fan noise and subsequently heat from CPU and system can be the bane of tablet and notebook users. The 700T is not immune from this and the device sports passive vents on the back of the unit with the main active vents being at the top of the device.

With the CPU running at above-average to max capacity that fan can be heard toiling away doing its best to push that heat out. In an office environment it is noticeable ? but distracting? No ? but noticeable. The same is true with using it in a quieter area in your home.

Despite some audibility of the fan system, overall I didn?t see this as a major negative; by the end of my time with the Smart PC Pro I had found I was not even noticing it anymore. Samsungs own software for the device also provides a silent mode which can automatically (or permanently, till set otherwise) throttle the cpu to a point where the fan is essentially silent. [more on the performance of silent mode later]

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So with the right configuration of the device you would only notice this when you are doing intensive tasks like using Photoshop, cad, visual studio, gaming etc.

In terms of heat, my initial thoughts when first putting the 700T through its paces and the fans smoothly kicked in was that the active vents could double as a poor mans hair dryer. That ?not recommended use? for your expensive tablet device aside, when the cpu and system is being taxed for performance the device does get warm but not what I would consider uncomfortable. Much like the fan noise though, at times you obviously observe that the device is warm. The great news for the heat conscious is that when the fans are set to silent mode the heat simply isn?t an issue.

Boot and Resume

The icore and SSD doesn?t mess about with these two things: the boot up time is less than 5 seconds and the resume times from hibernation slightly shorter.

Coming out of sleep is virtually an instant on.

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Sexy Bios!

Battery Life

When considering a mobility solution like this, whether it?s for my own personal usage or I am canvassing solutions for organisations and others; battery life has to be one of the main things you consider. In the case of the ?Pro? or iCore based tablets I believe the Smart PC Pro has made good progress in this area although it still may disappoint some and delight others.

Packing a 49 Watt Hour battery, my usage and testing netted the following results for constant use:

  • Maximum Performance ? Battery drained in 3 hours 11 minutes
  • 40% Screen Brightness, auto fan mode, average cpu usage (some high and low intensive tasks) drained in around 5.5 hours
  • 40% Screen brightness, low fan (silent) mode, mix of internet browsing, BT, video watching and music playing, provided 6.6 hours.

Generally throughout the business day I was surprised I could make it through a whole day, however this was not using the device constantly, it was using it for inking when needed, some remoting and sometimes docked to the monitor, with the device put to sleep and screen off when not in use.

So depending on your usage conceivably this device is going to make a good dent at getting you through a day, I feel comfortable in saying short of playing games or producing CAD renderings or large brush strokes in photoshop for hours with high screen brightness, you can comfortably expect to get good performance for around 5 hours and lighter office or general desktop usage for 6.5.

Invariably it comes down to individual settings and what you are actually using the device for, but with the right tweaks I have heard some users of the 700T suggest they can get over 7 hours of battery life. With the screen off and an average usage operation simulated the device seemed to drain at around 11% per hour so conceivably with power saving mode and a low screen brightness (maybe adaptive brightness used) I can see this happening.

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The Surface commentary

With the suspicion floating around that Microsofts flagship Surface Pro will only get ?half the battery life of the surface RT? many users have taken this to mean just 4 hours for iCore based tablets. Clearly that is not the case with the Samsung 700T and despite the fact that the surface may still surprise people in terms of battery life, we must keep in mind the Samsung and other oem devices pack the 49Whr battery versus the surfaces 42Whr battery.

Screen

Without a doubt one of the big attractions of the 700T is going to be that Full High Definition display at 1920*1080 - yes it really is quite gorgeous and very cool to have that much room in an 11.6? space, armed with the power of a windows desktop.

With the FHD resolution and the 11.6? landscape display you can do some really great side by side multitasking on the Windows desktop. Whilst you can achieve a similar effect on the lesser resolution of the clover trail based tablets the FHD really lets you take full advantage of having that landscape based display.

Some comparisons of the Full HD (700T on the left / on top) resolution versus just standard HD:

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I found generally 40% screen brightness was plenty for my day to day uses. I did not have a glaringly bright day occur in which I could test the tablet outside but in the short amount of outdoor testing I did perform; with the brightness turned up the screen was still usable and the glare acceptable.

The screen of the 700T also has 10 point multi-touch capabilities so in the rare event you ever feel inclined to play a multiperson touch based game with your expensive device or maybe do some digital finger painting with both hands; you are set with this device.

The screen is definitely a big plus for this device and once you go FHD on a tablet it?s very hard to go back to the HD res of other tablets or notebooks. The only gripe I have whilst discussing the screen and resolution ? and this gripe is directed at some applications and Windows 8, not the hardware itself - is that:

  • Some applications, such as the photoshop UI do not scale well and initially it can be a challenge to get use to the tiny UI
  • Windows 8 itself whilst making improvements and the Operating system as a whole more accessible to touch in many areas; at 1920x1080 the OS is just not conducive to touch and in tablet mode when not in the metro UI, you are going to be pulling out the stylus all the time to drive the device.

It?s worth noting that potentially the first issue can be mitigated by using a higher or custom dpi setting (Out of the box the dpi by default was set at 125%). Windows 8 also goes a bit further and allows you to increase the font size of menu and taskbar items and whilst I had hoped this might make the tablet more touch accessible, it just seemed to detract from the aesthetics and not aide even half as much as I might have liked.

Chances are the above gripe won?t even be much of an issue for many and without having used a clover trail tablet where you can navigate the windows desktop easily with just your finger most people will be none the wiser. (On a positive note using the stylus to drive it all leaves your screen looking a lot nicer without the fingerprint marks)

Intel WiDi

WiDi is Intels Wireless Display technology, essentially allowing you to link up the Smart PC Pros screen to say a television, all wirelessly without the need for physical cables between the two.

I can see the this being a very hand feature for business users or presentations in the boardroom ? potentially even just your own home ? I was however unable to test this function not having the required setup for the TV but its still great to see support for this technology built right in.

Gaming

With the Intel 4000 HD integrated graphics chips onboard the 700T is ?gaming capable?. I personally don?t think these devices were designed with gaming in mind but certainly many popular games on medium to low settings are playable on the device. My testing was limited to WoW and it was able to run smoothly on a mix of medium settings, Guild Wars 2 eventually ran acceptably on a lower res and low settings. Apart from that with the 1:1 mapping on the chip, legacy games are actually playable (in fullscreen) and enjoyable for that quick trip down nostalgia road.

There is an outside chance that gaming performance on this device may actually pick up in the future. Based on Windows Experience index scores over on tabletpcreview.com, devices with the same or very similar hardware and using the Intel 4000 gpu, such as the Sony Duo Slider, are showing a reasonably higher graphics score over the 700T. Just speculation at this point but there is the potential a driver update in the future may allow the 700T to match that.

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Core i5 Goodness

As you can imagine, with the heart of this beauty being powered by a core i5 chip (sporting dual cores and four threads), there is not much that gets in her path that she doesn?t transgress with ease and a fluidly smooth experience for the user.

In most general desktop tasks such as Internet browsing, emails, word documents and inking, CPUz reported the cpu sitting at just 800Mhz with occasional jumps in IE, perhaps due to video/flash, raising it to 1.2Ghz. Beyond intermit spikes (eg opening task-manager) it was only things like larger brush strokes on photoshop that got the device constantly using its rated 1.7Ghz clockspeeds.

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Turbo-mode

Turbo mode allows the chip to really suck down the lithium ion juices and power itself up to 2.6Ghz for when you really need the extra grunt. It?s a strange mode though in all my testing I never actually saw it hit the 2.6Ghz mark. In max performance mode it would peak at 2.3Ghz and in some aspects of gaming it would jump to 2.3Ghz again, but it was not constant nor did it appear to jump above that to its maximum rated speed.

This is obviously a nice addition for those who want to do more high ended tasks on the device but as my max performance burn down results showed, ideally you would want to be near a power source to be using that setting often ? keep in mind the additional heat and fan noise in this mode as well.

Silent Mode (Low fan mode)

No turbo mode would be complete without an opposite silent or low fan mode. As mentioned earlier, in many desktop based tasks the device actually provides the user with a fluid experience at just 800mhz ? 1.2ghz. The silent mode or low fan mode settings (selected within the Samsung settings application) takes advantage of this point to throttle the device to a max of 1.2Ghz. In doing so it greatly reduces the audibility of the fans (seems to almost manage via passive venting) and the heat also becomes virtually unnoticeable in this state. Without being subject to increased cpu usage its this mode which allows for those higher battery life occasions.

Inking

Inking on the 700T was much the same as inking on the 500T, the only difference being that the core i5 Processor does a much better job of handling those large photoshop brushstrokes that the 500T struggles and lags with. Inking in one-note was as smooth and fluid as that of the 500T.

The only other difference was that the stylus silo on the 700T is not as tight (good ratio of firmness / ease) and the Metro based inking apps which seemed to lag on the 500T were able to run smoothly now due to the extra cpu power of the Smart PC Pro.

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For those who may have an interest in inking, I feel my comments and discussion of it from the 500T review would still be helpful and have therefore included those sections below:

Microsoft have a long history of innovation and implementation around Inking. I genuinely think it?s safe to say that Inking is Microsoft?s domain and after all these years it will be nice to see the technology they have tried to promote since the first tablets, finally reach the masses. Powered by the Industry leading Wacom digitiser technology the Samsung delivers a smooth and lag free inking experience right out of the box.

Its great to be back to a windows tablet with a proper digitiser and when you combine that with some of the powerful features of One Note it certainly makes for an attractive premise and thus far it is working well for me.

Inking Comparison

Some readers may be thinking that they have seen styluses and note taking possible on the ipad for example. This is true, there certainly are styluses available for the ipad however these are not active digitisers and so the difference in the inking experience itself is like night and day.

Even though some of the ipad capable styluses now feature pressure sensitivity and a more refined point (although still large due to the nature of capacitive displays) they then lack the palm rejection technology inherent in active digitiser technology and without which just goes back to that night and day experience between the two. Even if this does eventually make it into a software and hardware solution for these devices, Windows and OneNotes handwriting recognition and inking capabilities are simply years ahead of anything to be found on the platform. So again, if you are serious about wanting to move to digital ink and ditch the paper, I genuinely believe this range offers you the strongest option for achieving that task and or goal.

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S-Pen Stylus

Just like the Galaxy Note, the Smart PC Pro comes with an inbuilt Wacom active stylus or S-Pen - as Samsung calls it - delivering 1024 points of pressure sensitivity for all your inking needs. Whilst the s-pen does the job overall it is quite a small stylus and only featuring one button and no eraser its on the lesser side of styluses I have used. The good news is that since the Smart PC utilises a Wacom digitiser you have a range of alternative styluses you can purchase which will work on this units screen, even styluses with eraser functionality.

For me I see the s-pen as more of a handy addon as not every Windows 8 tablet that has inking capabilities has an inbuilt stylus silo. There is nothing worse than losing your stylus or heading into a meeting and not having it on you, so for me this was an important consideration and backup. It may also factor into your buying considerations as the Asus and HP offerings for example will require the stylus purchased as a separate accessory (these can be up to $50).

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Speakers and sound

The Smart Pc Pro touts dual stereo speakers which have been nicely placed as thin matching black slivers on the front of the device. It?s nice to have a tablet where the speakers have been placed in such a sensible position.

For a tablet I was really happy with the speakers of the 700T. They were very audible, a simple thing that so many tablets seem to struggle with so this was a welcome change. At high volumes though the speakers lose their base and become quite tinny but for movie / video watching I didn?t feel the need to get it up to those volumes to hear it with ease so this was somewhat of a non-issue. As you would expect everything sounds good with headphones on anyway as might be a quite probable way you will use the sound on the device when you are out and about.

Camera

Its strange that the 500T includes a flash and an 8MP back camera whilst the 700T has be relegated to a 5MP. I found myself slightly annoyed by this but for day light shots generally the pictures still came out reasonably well. The front facing camera you are likely to get more use out of is the saem 2MP HD camera and still performs skyping and other web chat tasks fine and with clarity.

Keyboard Docking Station

The docking station of the Smart PC Pro is exactly the same as that of its little brother with the obvious addition that this one is black as opposed to silver.

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The docking station for the Smart PC is a handy addon not only giving you a mechanism to sit and pivot your tablet but the full sized keyboard backs isolated keys with great tactile response which delivers an easy to use and full featured keyboard experience. The trackpad on the docking station allows for multi-touch gestures and these take some time to get use to and avoid. Initially I found myself performing them without intention whilst trying to drive the device. After using it for some time I am use to the trackpad now but its definitely on the lower end of the spectrum for trackpad quality.

Besides a keyboard and trackpad the docking station also provides two more USB 2.0 ports for the device.

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The tablet part of the device locks into the docking station reasonably easy and once locked in has a great grip - even allowing you to life the unit by the display if needed.

There is some confusion as to if the Samsung docking stations have a battery in them and I can confirm they do not (the 500T does not either). Its worth noting the rumour mill is circulating that early next year Samsung will provide a battery dock based option.

Whilst only a rumour it would be quite a sensible move on Samsungs behalf especially with more competition set to enter the iCore based tablet arena next year. Notable the Lenovo Helix which will feature a battery powered dock offering a solid 10 hours of corei5/i7 functionality to its user.

Conclusions on the Samsung Smart PC Pro (XE700T1C-A02)

Simply put, having a fully capable mobile desktop in a reasonably lightweight and fashionable form factor like this is fantastic. The FHD display and resolution is very eye catching and as beautiful to look at as it is to use ? especially in landscape mode taking advantage of windows side by side modes or metros snapview.

Again, a full usb port (USB 3.0) on the tablet itself was as handy as ever. Having the option of a dock that is very natural and easy to type on just gives your mobile solution that extra cheery on top.

If you need the power of a core i5 chip or a Full HD display then this is going to be a great solution and one I would recommend you consider or look into, but keep in mind the downsides none more so important as the battery life.

In spite of all the positives remember to ask yourself what do you really want to do with your tablet? That answer should guide your purchase not what specs a device has.

A full HD display does you no good if what you needed was all day battery life. Conversely putting down $1000+ for a tablet like this when all you wanted to do is browse the web and watch videos is not the way to go, you could have found better alternatives with less weight and longer battery life to achieves those tasks.

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  • 1 month later...

Thank you for the review, it was very helpful. I thoroughly enjoyed the read. I was wondering what Wacom pens would you recommend with this tablet? I need one with an eraser and would a bamboo create or capture pen work with this?

Thank you,

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Thank you for the review, it was very helpful. I thoroughly enjoyed the read. I was wondering what Wacom pens would you recommend with this tablet? I need one with an eraser and would a bamboo create or capture pen work with this?

Thank you,

Thanks mate, I believe the bamboo ones work but most commonly people on other forums just purchase the Think pad styluses of ebay they usually go for 20-30 have the eraser and work really well.

no battery in the dock? why? you would think that would be a given anymore in dockables

I think an optional battery dock would have been the best. Invariably adding a battery increases the price which on launch was already up there so without given people the option may have backfired. A few rumours suggesting samsung will offer a KB with battery as an option for the 500T and 700T but time will tell.

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  • 1 year later...

Thanks for this review, I actually registered to let you know it was great!

Your review adresses many points I have wondered about these hybrids by Samsung. I have just oredered a newer model for myself and this post took away the last doubts towards the machine I had in my mind.

Just out of curiosity, have you found any downsides with more use?

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi kjns, thanks for the feedback and thanks for registering.  Apologies I didn't see your question earlier.

 

I ended up using the non icore Samsung 500T for the most of the following year.  I went back to the 500T as I thought I didn't really need the power of the icore and the battery life on the 500T was a lot better, combined with connected standby.  Over that time I got a lot of use out of it although not as much business use (beyond note taking) as I might have liked.  I think Iin part this was due to me but also those keyboard docks I just don't think are the most efficient or useful accessory with he weight they add.

 

In general I was very happy with these but I have since changed to a Surface Pro 2 and I wouldn't go back to a model like this.  Its not that theres anything bad about these its just small things in the surface which I have really come to appreciate.  I won't go into detail unless its helpful for anyone but yeah that's how its all turned out.

 

I hope the above is helpful and thanks again for the comments guys, appreciate it :)

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      Background
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      Summary

      Specifications

      ** Make sure you check this, Canadian and AT&T models for example are reporting that they do not come with the S-Pen although they do still have the digitiser hardware in them, just don?t come with a stylus slot or stylus inbuilt.
      Unboxing and the Contents
      There?s not a lot to say about the unboxing and its contents to be honest, it seems Apple and recently Microsoft are still the only companies to cotton on to how much the initial unboxing can contribute to a good consumer first impression

      As you can see the box is pretty standard and as we open it up we are presented with:

      1x Samsung smart pc tablet
      1x Keyboard Dock (only selected units)
      1x power adapter
      1x Stylus nub kit
      1x miscellaneous documents and stickers
      That being said, despite a lack of fanfare or goodies within the packaging or its contents it was still quite exciting to reach in, pick up and start peeling the plastic off that Windows 8 tablet.
      The Build
      Once you?ve brushed aside the plastic and tossed the box out the way and are holding the device in your excited hands you instantly start forming your impressions of the build and quality of the unit. My first thoughts upon picking up the actual tablet were:
      ? It felt good in the hands in terms of the edges, cornering and materials used
      ? Screen feels firm, the one windows hardware button gives the front a nice minimalist look
      ? it was also surprisingly lighter than I had expected it to feel (more on that later) and
      ? The actual build quality was both more solid and of better actual quality than what I had been expecting.
      In some initial impressions and youtube videos people talk about and demonstrate creaking in the plastic back of the device. Many comments lament this being generally just typical of Samsung build quality. I agree this device does not have the same indulgently nice magnesium carbonate quality feel of the recently released Surface nor the beautiful to touch feel of say the Macbook Air for example - but it?s a step up from the Galaxy Note and other Galaxy products I have used. I have also been fortunate enough not to experience the creaking of the plastic as some users have found.
      I can also confirm I cannot replicate the further issues Gizmodo claims to have had around the build quality affecting the display of the screen.

      The actual design of the unit is quite minimalistic, the ports are tucked away at the edges and have covers, the two stereo speakers are barely noticeable slivers on the front sides and the buttons feel solid and raised enough to be tactile and easily felt (volume, auto-rotate, power on/off).
      Better build quality like the surface or even the series 7 Samsung tablets is always welcome but even with the plastic backing the device feels solid to both hold and use. The only area of build I can mark the unit down in would be on the port covers. Every time I use a port I keep waiting for these flimsy things to break off and seeing them stick out when I?m using the hdmi or USB ports just makes it look a bit cheapened.
      Ports and Inputs
      ?My kingdom for a usb port!? A common catchcry amongst many a tablet users has now been answered by Samsung (and most of the Windows 8 tablet line up). On the actual tablet device of the Smart PC we have the following bevy of ports and inputs:
      1x USB 2.0
      1 x Micro SD
      1 x Micro HDMI Out
      1x Microphone in and headphone/mic out

      Coming from the iPad I have to say it?s a pleasure having the USB port on the device and ready to go. I guess after not having it on tablets for so long I wasn?t really expecting to get much use out of it but this little addition has been greatly welcomed for quickly transferring files on and off the device and connecting my phone and other accessories when needed ? In both business and personal usage. Yes USB 3.0 would be great (see the smart pc pro) but just having a port without having to buy an accessory or stuff about is just how it should be.
      Not all the Windows 8 line up has the usb slot on the actual tablet device so just keep an eye out if you are looking into these Windows 8 tablets.
      The Mini HDMI out works with no hassles and as easily as you would expect. Yes, a full HDMI port would have been more useful but mini hdmi cables are starting to become common place and reasonably cheap. Connecting it to my monitor was a breeze and it simply worked. With 1900x res I did not observe any lag with common tasks or multitasking. The same was true when video was playing out to it. I did not however test the audio return. Apparently a good hdmi mini cable or the proper adapter does have audio return so you could output the video and sound to the monitor/tv device as well.
      Weight
      As I described earlier I was pretty surprised with the weight of the device and continue to be happy with this aspect.
      With the ipad 3 in its case I actually think they actually feel about on par. Over long periods of time and as you approach the 1kg mark tablets begin to lose some of their portability factor even if its only around reading for extended times. I had a suspicion the 700g arena of the Samsung might suffer from this problem coming from the ipad but perhaps because the weight is distributed across a larger surface it has not and at this point I cannot see it being an issue.
      Instant On, Online Standby, Hibernate and Boot Times
      One of the things I have enjoyed most about consumption tablets like the iPad and Galaxy tab is just being able to hit the power or home button and the device is instantly on and ready to go. I was concerned with Windows tablets that standby/hibernate or resume times would be tedious and put me off reaching for the device as often as I might the ipad or other tablet. The combination of power options within Windows 8 and the Online standby mode supported on clover trail architecture delivers impressive results.
      Throughout the day your device will enter an online standby or ?sleep? mode. This is a greatly reduced power state that can not only perform limited background tasks such as checking for email so that when you power on the device the latest mail is ready and waiting but it provides the same instant on functionality you get with any other tablet.
      Other Samsung smart pc owners have suggested hibernate is on by default, I am not convinced of this but nevertheless with some tweaking you can get it back. When in hibernate mode just like any other Windows notebook your desktop session is saved and the device enters an incredibly low power usage state. The resume time from hibernate is not as quick as the online standby but you can be back in your desktop within 10 seconds which given my work is saved and the incredibly lower power consumption for leaving it essentially on overnight or for extended periods with no usage, I have been very happy with.
      Initially I was pretty impressed with the boot time and I actually suspect a recent firmware update may have extended the time as whilst doing this review I clocked the boot-time from cold boot at 23 seconds to desktop. Ideally between standby/sleep and hibernate the device is unlikely to be fully powered down at any point so this shouldn?t be too much of an issue but its nice to know you can be on your desktop in less than 30 seconds unlike rebooting a laptop or netbook of old where a cup of coffee whilst you wait was the order of the day.
      Battery
      I mentioned at the start that battery life is one of the key things needed for a productive and good tablet experience. Regardless of whether you are looking at this from a business, student day to day or purely consumption point of view ? no one wants to be tethered to a power point and in terms of business usage to adequately utilise these you need the confidence in your device that you are going to make it through the day.
      One of the big promises of Clover trail is all day battery life and it delivers on this.
      Samsung rates the device at 14.5hours (Mobile Mark) and 10 hours video watching.
      To be honest it?s hard to tell how many hours I am actually getting from this device, whilst its getting me through the business day with ease, keeping a log of the actual hours used is a bit tricky (as im working across a range of devices and situations) for example, at 100% charge and keeping the device ?on? all day (display off / SoC standby) I typically come home from a from work with an average of 60% charge remaining. The actual usage time though may only be about 4-5 hours predominantly of inking / document viewing or writing / network usage (browsing/file transfers/rdp). On a single charge the device has gotten me through two business days worth of work, I would say this was with a conservative total usage time of 9 hours medium constant use over those 2 days and the device not being fully powered down at any point.
      To some extent non video usage is hard to gauge, I don?t know what was involved in achieving a Mobilemark of 14.5 hours, for my own light-medium usage I don?t see me quite hitting that mark but other Samsung users claim to hit 10hours with battery to spare so I question if the battery in my device is 100%.
      Nevertheless 2 hours of constant web browsing with max screen brightness seems to drop the unit just 20% giving you close to 10 hours battery life with constant usage and unlikely high screen brightness ? certainly on par with many common tablets.
      Samsung rates the unit at 10hrs of video watching but doesn?t specify the conditions used for that to be achieved. Using a screen brightness of 40%, wifi/nfc/bt turned off I was able to run several 1 hour tests of both 720/1080p video and in these instances the charge rate fell by 8-9%. Full screen brightness doubled the drainage as expected. I estimate you would get 7 hours of full video at max brightness. In comparison to the user reports from the Samsung Pro (iCore5) which taps out at 3-4hours under similar conditions. Extrapolating from that its easy to see the unit would hit 10hours under those the 40% no wifi conditions.
      Online standby mode will consume more power depending on how many applications you have running (as mentioned earlier it performs limited tasks for some apps/applications). Leaving it on overnight in this state - depending on your power settings - can see you drop 10%. Hibernate on the other hand in the same time frame will barely move beyond 1-2% drawdown.
      Overall I am very happy with the battery life of the Samsung smart pc and it achieves what no tablet pc without a spare battery, battery slice or spare power adapter has done before and that is provide me with a full day of battery life and the confidence that I can leave the charger at home and am truly free.
      With the device on it takes just under 2.5 hours to return to full charge.
      Screen
      Breaking the trend of 10? screens the Smart PC boasts an interesting 11.6? landscape based display. The landscape nature of this display might be off-putting initially for some but I have come to really enjoy and appreciate it ? so much so 10? just seems small now. Where the landcape based nature of this display really comes into its own is with multi-tasking. Being able to comfortably split the screen or utilise the snap view of metro apps with this display is just ideal. It really takes your ability to do more with the device, all at once, to a new level. The galaxy note has a similar function but in its apps but it?s a limited implementation whereas this flows across the whole system.

      Landscape size of the device allows you to comfortable multitask on both portions of the screen

      Comparison of ipad3 overlaying the Samsung XE500T
      In portrait mode e-book reading and in particular the inking experience shines ? its like inking on an A4 notepad. The hardware button to turn on and off the auto-rotation of the device is also a welcome implementation.

      Despite its HD limitations with the resolution of 1366 x 768, I find the screen to be clear and sharp. Web browsing, office work, inking, ebooks have all been fine. Viewing pictures and video on the device appears vibrant and well colourised. Being an LED screen backlight bleeding can always be a concern but on this unit at least I can find no noticeable bleeding. The 400nits rated screen brightness is also powerful and offers an excellent viewing experience.
      Its no secret that some are militantly married to their Full HD or retina displays and whilst I cannot claim to be in love with them to that extent I do prefer a FHD display wherever possible, so I was curious to see if this would be an issue with this device and the atom range in general (all limited to HD). To my surprise it hasn?t been an issue. If I put the ipad 3 and the Samsung side by side of course you can see the difference but the devices don?t detract from one another in the sense that it goes back to what I said above, the smart pc screen still looks clear and vibrant and text appears sharp.
      For me I would say the biggest downside of the screen has been its magnetic attraction to fingerprints.
      Video playback
      This is another area where the Clover trail atom delivers and will exceeds people?s expectations of the Atom processor.
      720p and 1080p video plays as smooth as butter.
      As well as playing smoothly the videos looked good on the screen and I have already clocked up a couple of unexpected hours watching videos on the unit. If its not enabled in the software by default (cyberlink for example) just enable hardware acceleration and you are away.
      Running a full version of windows, quickly installing VLC player allowed the device to play everything that was thrown at it. The device was even able to multi-task most general things whilst the videos played either in the background or docked to the side with the handy split screen feature we?ve come to enjoy since Win7.
      Inking
      Microsoft have a long history of innovation and implementation around Inking. I genuinely think its safe to say that Inking is Microsoft?s domain and after all these years it will be nice to see the technology they have tried to promote since the first tablets, finally reach the masses. Powered by the Industry leading Wacom digitiser technology the Samsung delivers a smooth and lag free inking experience right out of the box.

      There was some concern amongst inkers and those who had already said goodbye to paper, that the atom processor may not be enough to produce a fluid, lag free inking experience but I can confirm - the atom clover trail processor delivers a lag free fluid inking experience..
      Whilst the inking itself is smooth and fluid as it keeps with your actual handwriting, the lasso or selection tool ? at least in OneNote 2013 ? can be laggy, but this is likely due to the indexing OneNote seems to do. Hopefully this will be corrected in a future update but its only an issue if you want to convert a packed full page of inked notes to text. It?s also curiously worth noting that the metro based One Note MX and Samsung S Note Mini apps do both lag within the Metro UI. Much like the lasso in one note though this is a software issue rather than a hardware one and not anything I think should detract users as the Windows Journal, full S Note software and importantly the very powerful One Note all provide a fluid and true inking experience.
      Its great to be back to a windows tablet with a proper digitiser. This is the first tablet (range of tablets), due to the all-day battery life, weight and the smooth inking experience that I believe would allow businesses - or those using these for business ? and students to actually ditch paper all together. When you combine that with some of the powerful features of One Note it certainly makes for an attractive premise and thus far it is working well for me.
      Inking Comparison
      Some readers may be thinking that they have seen styluses and note taking possible on the ipad for example. This is true, there certainly are styluses available for the ipad however these are not active digitisers and so the difference in the inking experience itself is like night and day. Even though some of the ipad capable styluses now feature pressure sensitivity and a more refined point (although still large due to the nature of capacitive displays) they then lack the palm rejection technology inherent in active digitiser technology and without which just goes back to that night and day experience between the two. Even if this does eventually make it into a software and hardware solution for these devices, Windows and OneNotes handwriting recognition and inking capabilities are simply years ahead of anything to be found on the platform. So again, if you are serious about wanting to move to digital ink and ditch the paper, I genuinely believe this range offers you the strongest option for achieving that task and or goal.
      S-Pen Stylus
      Just like the Galaxy Note, the Smart PC comes with an inbuilt Wacom active stylus or S-Pen - as Samsung calls it - delivering 1024 points of pressure sensitivity for all your inking needs.

      Whilst the s-pen does the job overall it is quite a small stylus and only featuring one button and no eraser its on the lesser side of styluses I have used. The good news is that since the Smart PC utilises a Wacom digitiser you have a range of alternative styluses you can purchase which will work on this units screen, even styluses with eraser functionality.
      For me I see the s-pen as more of a handy addon as not every Windows 8 tablet that has inking capabilities has an inbuilt stylus silo. There is nothing worse than losing your stylus or heading into a meeting and not having it on you, so for me this was an important consideration and backup. It may also factor into your buying considerations as the Asus and HP offerings for example will require the stylus purchased as a separate accessory (these can be up to $50).
      The only other criticism some will have with the S-pen is the actual silo. As mentioned above its great that it has this inbuilt but there?s no denying its really tightly in built. This is good in the sense that you should have no fear of your s-pen falling out and going walk abouts on the other hand it can be tricky to get out of the silo and based on one of my female colleagues test drives of the unit, I recommend being careful using your nails to do so.
      Performance - The Power of the Atom
      It?s no secret that in recent years Atom processors have not enjoyed the best of reputations. Often considered cheap and poor performing and made all the worse by being used with even cheaper components to produce those low cost netbooks. This has often resulted in a frustratingly slow and lag ridden experience for consumers. The new dual core 1.8ghz Clover Trail atom processor throws the past out the window and delivers an exceptionally capable, snappy and smooth user experience.
      ? Day to day use applications like Internet explorer open instantly are quick and response and show no signs of stressing the processor. Same for youtube etc
      ? Multi-tasking and switching between desktop and metro apps is smooth and flawless
      ? Office applications like OneNote and Word open in less than 1.5 seconds or simply just as quick as they do on your desktop.
      ? The device carves through 720p and 1080p content smoothly and without issue
      ? IE10 in the metro interface is a quick and enjoyable experience on the tablet.
      The only negative I could throw at the processor ? and I?m inclined to think it more a software issue ? is the performance of Metro apps. Much like on the surface they can take several seconds to initialise, generally once they are loaded the performance is great with the exception of the inking experience. For reasons unknown the metro based apps of OneNote MX and S Note Mini do lag when inking but I will stress again the desktop inking applications load quickly, run smooth and fluid.
      Gaming
      I must admit I am surprised how many people have asked me directly or just looking on other forums how often people ask about the gaming capabilities of these devices. Simply put, this device was not built for gaming. As you might imagine though some have tried, so the below video shows you how WoW runs on this device
      Photoshop
      Being a full windows based x86 tablet it can indeed run photoshop. The software starts quite quickly and is surprisingly descent for viewing psd files and content creation on small canvasses. It doesn?t however take much to produce lag or stress the processor; selecting a large enough brush size will demonstrate its limitations quite quickly. If content create and working with large canvasses and many layers is your thing than you are going to have to consider the surface pro or one of the oem pro models. (The only downside with the pro models is that the PS UI does not scale and is thus quite small on the FHD displays).

      Video Processing
      This is another category of things to do on a pc that I wouldn?t purchase this unit for. Nevertheless much like the gaming someone has tested it so see the video below

      Overall I am pleasantly surprised and very happy with the power of the new atom processor. For day to day or business usage the Smart PC hasn?t missed a beat. I think if you do your research and consider why you want a tablet then its pretty hard to be disappointed and depending on what you expect out of an atom based pc you may be pleasantly surprised at the smooth and quick experience you get.
      Speakers and sound
      The smart pc touts dual stereo speakers which have been nicely placed as thin slivers on the front of the device. It?s nice to have a tablet where the speakers have been placed in such a sensible position.
      Camera
      The front facing camera worked without issue for skype and the quality was what we have come to expect from front facing cameras. Up until this point I have never really used the rear camera of a tablet but using this device to annotate a lot (inking) and making great use of OneNote to say goodbye to paper I have found the rear camera quite handy for quickly recording, sometimes scanning in ?sort of (better cameras needed) ? documents on the go. This is mainly centred around my business usage: a quick snap, drop the image into one note so I can review/record or annotate later, in some instances if you get the quality of the image correct OneNote will also be able to convert text in the image to text on the page.
      The output from the speakers is quite audible, I don?t have any methods of measuring this other than saying music listening/movie watching wasn?t an issue and the speakers are more audible than those on the surface. They aren?t without drawbacks though and certainly lack some bass which at higher volumes can give it a ?tinny? sound. For most usage though it was fine and as you would expect the sound output from the headphones is abundant and sounds good removing the issues with ?tinnyness? from the speakers at the highest volumes.
      Docking Stations
      The docking station for the Smart PC is a handy addon not only giving you a mechanism to sit and pivot your tablet but the full sized keyboard backs isolated keys with great tactile response which delivers an easy to use and full featured keyboard experience. The trackpad on the docking station allows for multi-touch gestures and these take some time to get use to and avoid. Initially I found myself performing them without intention whilst trying to drive the device. After using it for some time I am use to the trackpad now but its definitely on the lower end of the spectrum for trackpad quality.
      Besides a keyboard and trackpad the docking station also provides two more USB 2.0 ports for the device.

      The tablet part of the device locks into the docking station reasonably easy and once locked in has a great grip - even allowing you to life the unit by the display if needed.

      Fully open with the Dock Attached, good viewing angle for typing

      Closed with the dock attached
      There is some confusion surrounding if the Samsung docking stations have a battery in them and I can confirm they do not (the pro model docking station for the 700T does not either). This is of course an advantage in the sense that the keyboard dock is lighter than those being offered by the competition (Asus 810C / HP Envy X2) but where that is not a concern than you are missing out on a further battery which in the case of the Asus delivers potentially up to 19 hours of battery.
      Operating System and Software
      Windows 8 is still quite young but has already taken its share of beatings from many a commentator and user. Perhaps the mismatched UI that does not separate a touch experience from the desktop and touch devices is to blame. I?m not really going to discuss windows 8 in great detail other than to say on this device Windows 8 and its new UI really shines.
      Having the power of a full operating system backed up by a capable processor and an all day battery is something many of us have been waiting to see for a long time. I liked my short play with the MS surface but having a full OS just makes things so much easier not having to worry about if there is an app for this and that etc.
      Bloatware?
      It is disappointing that out of the box the device comes with an assortment of well, bloatware such as Norton Internet Security trial?despite Windows 8 shipping with the new and integrated Windows Defender. None the less performance did not seem to be too impacted except for internet browsing in desktop IE.
      One of the new Windows 8 features allows you to wipe the device with ease to solve this problem quickly - I will caution you not to use this option to hastily though, after doing this despite the Samsung Software updater it took quite a bit of fiddling to get all the drivers back on the device and for a short time until everything was loaded back on the inking experience did not feel as good. For cautious users perhaps just going through and uninstalling the pre-packaged software will be the preferred solution. That being said you do always have the option to restore to factory defaults. The system won?t let you use any of these options until you are connected to a power source.
      I will also say for anyone who purchases these that the first firmware update can take a long time to install so don?t panic if it seems frozen ? its not!
      Software Freedom
      Just on the software front, I will say it?s a welcome change not being tied down to any one piece of software. I can transfer files, music, videos anything any number of ways, I don?t need to buy 3rd party apps or do this and that, it just does it out of the box. I don?t want to sound Bias as my iPad has served me well, but saying goodbye to itunes as well as paper is just an added bonus of this device.
      Conclusion about the Smart PC Pro
      The new clover trail atom processor and all of the components of this device come together to deliver a tablet experience that is going to please and surprise many people. In most instances of day to day usage, business and or student usage, the device delivers an impeccably smooth user experience, slicing through tasks with ease.
      The landscape based 11.6? display really opens you up to some extra multitasking capabilities with the Windows split screen mode or even the metro apps snap view mode.
      The build quality of the device could be better but overall, all things considered, for a first gen product I feel Samsung has got a lot of things right here and for my own use I have not come across any show-stoppers and could comfortably recommend this device if it?s the right tool for your needs.
      I would recommend these atom range of tablet pcs for Business users, students, portable enthusiasts or anyone who is not expecting to run games but wants to do more than just browse the net and play movies (see below).
    • By Hell-In-A-Handbasket
      ?1,200 ($1,900) -- Core i7 model ?1,500 ($2,380)
      Source on
      http://www.engadget.com/2012/04/10/lenovo-ideapad-yoga-priced/#continued
      WTF, way to compete.
      I will admit its a berry nice machine that I was very eager to get. But not for 2 Fn Grand
    • By L1520
      Hi Everyone
      Can you recommend a decent tablet that can run Windows 7 & Windows 8, with 10" touchscreen, bluetooth & internal GPS, wifi (and 3g if possible) that could be used in my lounge & in my car instead of my WP7 phone for Satnav.
      I have an 8 month old Samsung NP-RC520 laptop (i5 processor, 6GB RAM, bluetooth, hdmi out etc) & and an HP Touchpad 32GB (with touchstone dock & HP case) running Android CM9 alpha 2 that I could put up for sale to cover some of the cost (not decided which price to sell them for yet - maybe ?450 - ?500 for them both as a package).
      My budget is whatever I can sell my laptop & Touchpad for, plus ?100 ish.
      If I buy from a retailer or e-retailer I'd consider refurbished.
      Any advice would be appreciated.
      Thanks!