Samsung Series 7 Slate PC

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August 29, 2012 10:00 AM PDT / Updated: August 29, 2012 10:28 AM PDT
Scott Stein

Windows tablets aren't new. In fact, we reviewed a Samsung Series 7 Slate last fall which, despite strong performance and a solid design, didn't seem to be a perfect product. They're coming back in a major way thanks to Windows 8's imminent fall debut, and Samsung's taken the opportunity to revamp its Slate in two different 11.6-inch forms: a Series 5 Slate with a next-gen Atom processor for $749, and a Series 7 Slate with a Core i5 processor for $1,199. Both have detachable keyboard docks and run Windows 8. The biggest new addition to these Slates might be their stylii: both come with the S-Pen, the pressure-sensitive Samsung stylus introduced in Galaxy Note phones and tablets over the past year.

The S-Pen slots into the side of the Slate and offers 1,024 levels of sensitivity. Depending on the software designed to work with the S-Pen, it could be a killer differentiating feature compared to other Windows tablets. Samsung's also installing MediaHub software to help out with entertainment and app access to Samsung's content.

The new Samsung Series 5 Slate runs off an Intel Atom Z2760, a next-gen SoC (system on a chip) that seems similar to the processor in the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 . In fact, so is the docking mechanism: the Slate pops into its keyboard-and-touchpad base and becomes a conventional ultraportable. Several other manufacturers seem to be working on very similar products. The Series 5 Slate has an 11.6-inch screen (at 1,366x768) and weighs 1.65 pounds, and measures 11.6" x 7.2" x 0.38". It comes with 2GB of RAM, a 64GB SSD, Gigabit Ethernet with an adapter, and Bluetooth 4.0. The Series 5 Slate also sells without the keyboard dock at $649.

Scott Stein

The Series 7 Slate weighs a little more, at 1.89 pounds, and it's thicker: 0.5 inch. Its 11.6-inch screen has a higher 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution. The Series 7 Slate (XE700T1C-A01US) comes with an Intel Core i5-3317U processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB SSD, as well as Gigagbit Ethernet with an adapter and Bluetooth 4.0, matching the standards of many ultrabooks.

The dream of a truly functional tablet/laptop hybrid goes all the way back to the Lenovo U1 Hybrid , and continues up through recent products like the Asus Transformer. The Samsung's Slate/keyboard solution has a touch screen as well as a full multi-touch trackpad, both of which can be used to navigate Windows 8's interface. The Series 7 Slate has both front- and rear-facing cameras.

Scott Stein

Closed up, the Series 7 Slate with its keyboard base is lightweight -- around 3 pounds -- but feels thicker than an ultrabook, more like a Netbook or 11-inch laptop. It feels easy to slide into a bag.

The Series 5 and 7 Slates look attractive, but not particularly different from previous Samsung Windows Slates, and have a bit of a different aesthetic than the generally sleeker, thinner Galaxy Tab Android tablets. The success of Samsung's Slates will go as far as Windows 8 tablet functionality will take them. If these slates can demonstrate excellent battery life and easy-to-use Windows apps, then they could be compelling hybrids. The $749 Series 5 Slate feels like the more interestingly priced device; the Series 7 Slate, at $1,199, is pretty expensive for an 11-inch device, even with its specs. Both will be available at Windows 8 launch on October 26.

(Note: these Series 5 and 7 Slates aren't the exact same thing as the ATIV line of PC tablets announced by Samsung at IFA in Berlin, but they seem to be pretty close to a U.S. equivalent.)

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Samsung Series 7 Slate PC

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About The Author

Scott Stein is a senior editor covering iOS and laptop reviews, mobile computing, video games, and tech culture. He has previously written for both mainstream and technology enthusiast publications including Wired, Esquire.com, Men's Journal, and Maxim, and regularly appears on TV and radio talking tech trends.