jrjBlog

Unboxed: Windows 8 Tablet - Samsung Ativ 500t

Playing with a new hybrid laptop, with a combination of new Atom processor and Windows 8...

I recently picked up a Samsung Ativ 500t tablet, which is one of the first Clovertrail Windows 8 tablets. I was excited about this device because I am highly skeptical about the usefulness of a Windows RT device (including the Surface RT) but wasn’t willing to give up on the virtues of System-on-a-Chip (SoC) based tablets: battery life, fanless designs, and highly mobile form factors, but I wanted compatibility with legacy Windows software. (If you do buy one of these, I recommend getting it from the Microsoft store linked above, as they remove all the crapware but don’t charge any more. I don’t get any kickback or anything, I just think it’s a better experience.)

When I roam the halls of Adobe, going from meeting to meeting, I tend to use one of two devices: my MacBook Air 11” or my third generation iPad retina. Both of these devices are excellent, but whichever one I bring I find myself wishing I had the other, and bringing both defeats the purpose. If I’m using the MacBook Air, I miss the iPad’s all-day battery life and unbeatable portability. If I’m using the iPad, I miss the MacBook’s full-size keyboard and assortment of full productivity tools. I bought this Windows 8 tablet in the hopes that it would fill a happy medium: the portability of the iPad, combined with the compatibility and keyboard of a laptop.

Samsung tablet next to 12-year-old HP tablet

Samsung ATIV 500t tablet meets its granddaddy: An old HP/Compaq (had both logos) Tablet PC from 2001

I haven’t had a chance to use the device in a real-world work environement yet, but based on playing around over the weekend I’m very encouraged that this device will fill my needs. The performance is acceptable, the battery life is phenomenal, and the form factor is excellent and flexible. The photos below demonstrate a comparison with my iPad and my 11” MacBook Air: it’s a little taller than the iPad, but about the same thickness and weight. With the detachable keyboard it winds up being a bit thicker than my MacBook Air, but noticably lighter.

I’m excited to try it out at work over the next couple weeks, and I’m optimistic it will find a valued spot in my workflow. Check out Paul’s preview for a more comprehensive look at the device and how it fits into the Windows ecosystem, as well as better photos (his review will be forthcoming, and I’ll link when it’s up.) Also worth a read: his comparison of Clovertrail and the current generation ARM devices running Windows 8 and RT.