Samsung Ativ Smart PC Review

Samsung has long engendered a hate it or love it response from consumers. The company has historically produced powerful, high-quality products that often paradoxically look and feel much cheaper.

In the case of the new Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T, the situation is even grimmer. It’s large and the specs seem promising, but even a sleek new Windows 8 operating system may not be enough to distract from the overall performance.

Tablet Look and Feel

The Samsung Ativ Smart PC (500T) is big. The stats themselves, 11.6 by 7.2 by 0.47 inches, don’t accurately convey just how unwieldy this tablet is, especially when compared against the industry-wide trend toward smaller and sleeker designs.

It isn’t entirely unmanageable, but the size and overall design make for unusual user experience. The 1.89-pound weight won’t give you a workout, but it is noticeably heavier than most of its competitors after a long period of use.

The 11.6-inch size also means that typing is more difficult than on a 10.1-inch tablet, particularly for those with smaller hands. Again it isn’t a deal-breaker, but it’s very much an inconvenience.

Exterior

The Ativ Smart PC tablet uses its size to fit quite a number of buttons and slots. The top edge especially makes use of its space, with a power button and rotation lock switch next to a USB 2.0 slot on the left side.

On the right of the top edge, there are SIM slot and microSD slot which allow for easy boosting of the already solid built-in storage. Along the bottom are the power port and the connectors for the keyboard dock. The left edge sports a micro-HDMI slot and a well-designed volume rocker.

The front features a camera for video chat and the rear boasts a reasonably impressive 8-megapixel camera capable of recording in 1080p high definition. Tablet comes with S Pen stylus. Optional keyboard/docking station is available.

Display

The Samsung Ativ’s display is hard to pin down. It looks good enough for most tasks. Colors are vivid, contrast is sharp and brightness is at least adequate for daytime use. However, there are several flaws that detract from what could otherwise have been a very nice panel.

The brightness is marginally functional, but don’t expect to get a truly clear display under bright ambient lighting. It also lags behind in resolution and pixels per inch. The 1,366 by 768 resolution adds up to just 135 pixels per inch.

Again it’s functional, but it certainly pales in comparison to the significantly sharper, higher resolution displays found in many other tablets.

What is under the hood

The Samsung Ativ Smart PC features a 1.8-gigahertz dual-core Clover Trail processor and two gigabytes of ram. These specs are shared with most of the other Windows 8-based tablets on the market.

However, similar specifications certainly don’t mean similar performance. The Ativ Smart PC generally gets the job done, but it’ll drag its feet and fight the whole way. In desktop mode, lag is just a fact of life. Stability is also an issue.

Software updates may get things moving along properly at some point, but it’s not the best first impression to make. The lone bright spot under the hood is the Windows 8 operating system, which ought to appeal to anyone for whom productivity or Windows compatibility are primary concerns.

Tablet Comparison

The full Windows 8 experience is certainly one of the biggest selling points for the Samsung Ativ Smart PC, and it’s something the Windows RT-based Asus Vivo Tab RT and Microsoft Surface RT can’t offer.

The Vivo RT, however, boasts a much more impressive display in a more comfortable package. The Surface RT display also performs better overall, and it’s also easier on the user than the bulky Samsung.

For those who desire the full Windows 8 operating system, included a stylus and optional docking keyboard, the Ativ Smart PC may be the best choice. For everyone else, it’s difficult to find a reason to recommend.

What Customers Say

Though the Samsung Ativ Smart PC has its supporters, customer feedback has largely focused on its several flaws.

The keyboard dock occasionally disconnects, though customers report that firmly engaging the dock latches and nudging it to the right can reduce this problem. Additionally, connecting to a wireless network can be spotty upon powering up the device.

Repeatedly switching the airplane mode on and off or disabling Bluetooth seems to be one of the few workarounds until a software fix is released.