Samsung Ativ Smart PC coming to AT&T (hands-on)

Samsung joins the coming-out party for Intel-based Windows 8 tablets.

Rich Brown Former Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
Expertise Smart home, Windows PCs, cooking (sometimes), woodworking tools (getting there...)
Brian Bennett Former Senior writer
Brian Bennett is a former senior writer for the home and outdoor section at CNET.
Rich Brown
Brian Bennett
3 min read

Watch this: Samsung Ativ Smart PC

When Samsung's new Ativ line of Windows phones and tablets debuted at Germany's IFA trade show in late August, it was unclear when or if those models would be coming to the U.S. Thanks to AT&T's rollout of its fall line, we now know at least one of the tablets -- the Ativ Smart PC -- is bound for American shores.

The Ativ Smart PC is the middle child of the tablet line, which also includes the Ativ Tab at the bottom and the Ativ Smart PC Pro as a step-up model. The Tab will run the stripped-down Windows RT operating system, while both of the "Smart PC" versions run full-on Windows 8. The Ativ Smart PC uses Intel's next-generation Atom CPUs -- code-named Clover Trail -- and packs 2GB of RAM, 64GB of storage space (with a microSD slot for additional expansion), dual Webcams (2-megapixel front, 8-megapixel rear), and a 1,366x768-pixel-resolution display. (The Ativ Smart PC Pro runs faster Ivy Bridge Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs, and, among other higher-end specs, has a full 1,920x,1080-pixel screen.)

The first announced version of the Ativ Smart PC will come from AT&T, with the wireless provider's 4G LTE mobile broadband service onboard. Samsung hasn't said if the Ativ Smart PC will be coming to other carriers, nor if a Wi-Fi-only version is in the works. (The Smart PC also includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.)

The Samsung Ativ Smart PC tablet running Windows 8.
The Samsung Ativ Smart PC tablet running Windows 8. Brian Bennett/CNET

We had a chance to handle the Ativ Smart PC at AT&T's fall launch event in New York (see video above). In person, there's no getting around the fact that the Samsung Ativ Smart PC is one monster of a tablet. Its screen measures 11.6 inches diagonally, which is plenty big. While it offers a captivating view, using a slate this size anywhere other than spacious office or home environs would be comical. Imaging pulling out this behemoth on the train, bus, or even airplane. It won't help you make friends and might even spark an argument or two. Another issue is the Ativ Smart PC's portly profile. At 9.9mm thick (0.39 inch, and 19.9mm/0.78 inch with clamshell keyboard) and 750 grams (1.65 pounds, 1.48kg/3.26 pounds with keyboard), the device felt noticeably heavier and thicker than the 10.1-inch Asus Vivo Tab RT, a Windows RT tablet that's also available through AT&T.

While the Ativ Smart PC seemed relatively zippy during our quick initial hands-on, we'll be most intrigued to see if the new Clover Trail Atom CPUs live up to Intel's claims. The last generation of Atom processors were relegated to entry-level Netbooks, and their performance left a lot to be desired.

With an 11.6-inch screen, the Samsung Ativ Smart PC is one of the larger Windows 8 tablets.
With an 11.6-inch screen, the Samsung Ativ Smart PC is one of the larger Windows 8 tablets. Brian Bennett/CNET

As with other Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets, Samsung includes a detachable clamshell-style keyboard that turns the Ativ Smart PC into a makeshift laptop. Samsung has not yet indicated pricing for either tablet, and the only information we have regarding availability comes from AT&T, which says only that the tablet will be available for purchase "in time for the holidays."

We'll have a full review of the device as soon as we can get one in for testing.