Samsung’s Ativ Smart PC is positioned as an option for those who want the functionality of a laptop and a tablet in a single device.
Powered by Windows 8, this is a tablet computer that comes with a keyboard dock bundled.
Despite being punted as all-in-one devices, most laptop-tablet hybrids have so far failed to live up to the promise of serving as both a tablet and laptop. The Samsung Ativ Smart PC suffers the same problem.
That’s not to say the Ativ is bad. Far from it, in fact. Those looking for a Windows tablet and basic laptop will be well served, but anyone who places heavy demands on their laptop — beyond basic tasks such as e-mail and Web browsing — will have to look elsewhere.
The Ativ fails because the tablet portion of the device — where the computing functionality resides — hasn’t been kitted out like a regular laptop. Like the bulk of hybrid offerings, the Ativ is merely a tablet computer — albeit a good one — that comes with a keyboard dock with two USB ports.
We’ve seen a variety of other manufacturers try their hand at combining tablet computers with keyboard docks, with mixed results. The Asus Transformer was one of the best early examples, but the fact that it was powered by Android meant it couldn’t run the same applications as a desktop or laptop computer.
The Ativ sidesteps this problem by running Windows 8. This is the real deal, not the pared-down Windows RT used on many tablet devices, including Microsoft’s own Surface RT tablet. But the 1,8GHz Intel Atom processor and puny 2GB of RAM mean it’s not intended to handle things like imaging processing software, which for many precludes it from replacing a dedicated laptop.
Even opening Internet Explorer took about five seconds. Similarly, open a few applications and the Ativ slows down noticeably — a heavy lifter it is not.
With an 11,6-inch, 1 366×768-pixel display supporting five point multi-touch the Ativ’s screen is no match for the high resolution “Retina” screens on Apple’s iPad. Nevertheless, the Ativ delivers crisp images and text, good viewing angles and respectable legibility even in broad daylight.
In other respects, the Ativ stacks up fairly well against rival tablets in the specifications department. Its stereo speakers are surprisingly good, the internal storage of 64GB is generous — and can be expanded by a further 64GB using the microSD card slot — and the inclusion of a USB 2.0 port on the tablet itself is welcome.
There’s also a Sim slot on the top of the device and an HDMI port on the left-hand side. Unfortunately, Samsung has wrapped the tablet in glossy plastic made to look like brushed metal, giving it a cheap feel.
The accompanying keyboard, however, feels high end and offers decently sized Chiclet-style keys and an excellent and highly responsive track pad. Docking or removing the tablet from the keyboard is effortless and, thanks to clever design, the Ativ is also surprisingly stable when docked, unlike the similarly top-heavy HP Envy 2.
Samsung has even included an S Pen, its proprietary stylus normally reserved for its Galaxy Note handsets and tablets. The S Pen fits into a slot on the right-hand side of the device and doesn’t require a battery to work with the tablet.
The Ativ includes a range of Samsung applications like S Note — for making handwritten notes and converting them to text — and allows users to annotate screenshots or other images. For many users, the stylus may prove more of a gimmick than a necessity, but designers and visual artists may find it a welcome addition.
The usual tablet bells and whistles, like rear- and front-facing cameras (eight megapixels and two megapixels) are all present and accounted for along with an accelerometer, ambient light sensor, near-field communications chip, a gyroscope and support for media streaming using DLNA.
Battery life is good. Users can expect in the region of six to seven hours. That’s not the nine-plus hours you get from the iPad, but it’s quite respectable.
Overall, it’s hard to recommend the Ativ given the slow processor and lack of RAM. And when coupled with the keyboard, the Ativ is not much lighter than a regular laptop, and certainly heavier than many Ultrabooks. Considering Samsung wants R10 499 for it, we think most consumers would be better off buying a proper workhorse of a laptop and saving up for a separate tablet. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media