Samsung Series 7 Slate PC

 

We’ve seen a lot of tablets hit the market over the last year or two. Most run Google Android, iOS, or other operating systems designed for mobile devices. The Samsung Series 7 Slate is something different. It’s a Windows 7 tablet that takes full advantage of the touch-based features in the operating system, and which has hardware powerful enough to provide a pretty good Windows experience.

Those extra features come at a price. Tehe Series 7 Slate sells for $1149 and up.

Samsung loaned me a demo unit of to test, and while I’ve only spent a few days with the tablet so far I wanted to share a few initial thoughts. We’ll have a full review coming soon.

It’s not just the operating system that sets the Series 7 apart from the Android tablets I’ve reviewed recently. It’s what you can do with the tablet. Since it runs a full version of Windows 7 you can run full desktop apps including Microsoft Office, Photoshop, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and more. But Samsung also includes a finger-friendly app launcher and a handful of apps that run in full screen mode, much as they would on an Android, iOS, BlackBerry, or webOS tablet.

So at times, it’s actually a little tough to really tell the difference between the Series 7 and a much cheaper tablet. For instance, you can use the web browser to scroll through pages with your fingers or pinch-to-zoom. The browser feels a little faster than the one you’d get on a cheaper tablet, but the experience isn’t that different.

Where things do start to get different is when you exist the finger-friendly UI and start using a stylus to navigate the Windows 7 desktop experience. The tablet has a capacitive touchscreen display for finger input, but it also has an active digitizer that works with a digital pen.

This allows you to tap the screen with more precision, draw pictures with pressure-sensitive input, click or right-click, and generally use the Series 7 almost as easily as you could if you were using a computer with a keyboard and mouse.

Samsung also bundles a version of the Swype digital keyboard with the tablet. So if you don’t want to use the built-in Windows keyboard or handwriting recognition function you can pull up Swype and enter words by swiping your finger from letter to letter without lifting your finger from the screen.

Up until recently Swype was only available as an Android app, but I find it much easier to use than the default Windows keyboard. Unfortunately it has a way of taking over the input panel and popping up when you don’t need it, or when you’d rather use the Windows handwriting feature.

Samsung also loaned me the optional docking station and wireless keyboard which really does make the Series 7 into a sort of desktop computer. The 11.6 inch, 1366 x 768 pixel display is about the same size as the screen on my laptop, and I can imagine getting some serious work done with this setup. There’s also a full-sized USB port so I could plug in a mouse as well.

At nearly 2 pounds the Series 7 is a lot heavier than most Android or iOS tablets. The widescreen display is also wide enough that the device feels a bit odd when held in portrait mode. But at 0.5 inches thick, the Series 7 Slate is pretty svelte, even by modern tablet standards. It also feels very sturdy.

The unit I’m reviewing has a 64GB solid state disk, 4GB of memory, and a 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-2467M processor. It runs Windows 7 Home Premium and has a Windows Experience Index f 4.6.

I’ve found that at times the back of the tablet can get a little warm to the touch and the fan can be a little noisy when it kicks in to try and cool the computer down.

But so far the Samsung Series 7 is the fastest, most responsive Windows 7 tablet I’ve spent any appreciable time with — although to be fair, I’ve mostly spent my time with low-end computers with Intel Atom processors.

Is the Samsung Series 7 Slate worth more than twice as much as those devices thanks to the faster processor, higher quality screen, active digitizer and other features? It’s hard to say.

It’s definitely easy to justify spending more money to get those features. But $1149 is a lot of money to spend on a computer when you can pick up an iPad for $499, an Amazon Kindle Fire for $200, or a netbook for under $300.

I have a hard time imagining the Series 7 Slate unseating any of those devices. But it feels like a solid niche product that’s going to appeal to customers that really need to be able to draw on a tablet or use a stylus for other reasons, as well as customers that need to run Windows software rather than mobile apps on their portable tablet-style devices.

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27 replies on “Samsung Series 7 Slate PC – First look”

  1. Hello,
    Sorry to disturb you all. I had a doubt about SLATE Series 7. I hope you can help me out.
    1.Is sim Card slot available in SLATE SERIES 7?
    2.And Can i install the Software which we install in the Desktop?

    Plz let me know.
    Thank you.

  2. I picked up the 128GB version slate from Amazon US last week; it came with the pen, dock and keyboard.  What sets this apart for me is the ability to PhotoShop images on a portable computer.  That’s possible because the screen is a bright high quality IPS display with a digitizer.  No other laptop under $2000 has this combo.  I primarily work on RAW images from a Canon 5DII and  netbook Atom processors with 2 GB of Ram just can’t cut it.  Although not as smooth as my i7 Core desktop, the Samsung is usable and certainly portable!  And LightRoom is a breeze with the pen.  The only drawbacks is the micro-SD instead of full SD slot and only 1 USB which isn’t even USB 3.0.  Otherwise, for portable power computing, the Samsung Series 7 Slate (say that 5 times fast) is proving to be really fun.

    1. Yeah the USB port is definitely capping out at around 35MB/s after extensive testing with USB 3.0 devices. So it’s definitely just plain old USB 2.0… Maybe the MicroSDXC cards will be a better bet? XD

  3. well brad, nice entry, really. but i think you still have not the slightest idea how to use windows on a slate. this works quite differently from only “fingering” around on an android or ios device. just one tip: activate all pen options first, optimize (means enlarge menu ribbons and window characteristics for finger usage, same for the start menu options and put the screen keyboard into autoexec at start up it will the be ready at the side all times afterwards) and then take some time to detect the real power of inking input. the stylus is not for just “tapping” around on the screen. use e,g the clipping tool and the ability to ink on the desktop too … and much more. and yes, the power of real hand writing recognition in windows. enjoy

    1.  I set up a dual boot with Windows 8… and I’ve used it as my main PC for a week since, without using Windows 7.  This tablet was designed for Windows 8 and it runs just as stable as Windows 7 did (but smoother, I think).  Put Windows 8 on it and you’ll never go back, it’s a tablet OS that feels better than any of the cheap iPad-ish “tablet” operating systems.

      I love my iPhone and my MacBook Pro, but I need Windows for some stuff and Windows 8 is easily the best tablet OS I’ve tried so far.  I mean sure, the iPad is solid, but it’s ultimately hampered by the focus being on a fast learning curve for new users. The result is that you need to switch apps to do a lot of stuff because that’s just how people are taught the OS (app-based).

      Really there should be snapped apps side-by-side like Windows 8 does along with all common preference panels (ex: pull down to select WiFi and adjust brightness, or even to search for items, instead of interrupting your current app to make adjustments or go to home screen search).  At the very least, the iPhone home screen should be able to overlay itself like Lion’s new app launcher instead of making you hide your app to see it.  On the iPhone that made more sense but on tablets Windows 8 has the right idea (at least for me) and makes Windows actually enjoyable to use for the first time in forever.

  4. I am a current owner of the first i5 windows 7 slate from ASUS the Eee Slate. It basically has everything hardware wise that this unit from Samsung does but in a more bulky package. I love it! This new unit from Samsung would be at the top of my list if I was in the market for another slate or notebook. Windows 7 does surprisingly well as a tablet OS. The on screen keyboard is ok for general entry for surfing and such, the bluetooth keyboard that came with my unit works perfect for when I need to do more typing intensive tasks such as posting here. I am able to run Office 2010, Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 and EVE online all at the same time try that with an iPad or an Android tablet. I get about 4 to 5 hours of battery life and would guess that the Samsung would do about the same. It is an amazing time in mobile computing.

  5. With a tablet, I decided to go with smaller, lighter, and cheaper, albeit slower.  Plus, after working for a couple of years with an OQO which sounded like a vacuum cleaner when it got hot, I prefer a fanless design. I’ve been very happy with my Win7 HP Slate 500 for the last year. The 1.86GHz Atom can handle Office with no problems (although it doesn’t have the GPU for video editting). Inking is something that phoneOS users and laptop users need to try to appreciate.

  6. Interesting that in the usa, the keyboard is optional. Samsung Europe were recently telling me that it would ship with the keyboard.

    1. Did you get any information about availability in Europe? I didn’t get any reply from them. One of retailers said that this product will be available only when Windows 8 gets released which seems to be very disappointing. I’m ready to buy this one today if it’s available but … US only for now.

      1. I’m waiting for a statement from Samsung Germany. If they wait until Windows 8 is launched the Sandy Bridge platform will be out of date – unless they make a refresh.

        1. I tried Poland and Ireland, but I guess that isn’t much of a difference, if it’s released, it will be everywhere.

        2. Just a little update on this side. Slate is available in the UK! Only 64GB version though.

    1. In the US they’re calling it the Series 7 Slate — or at least that’s what they called it when they offered me the loaner. 

      Officially, I think it’s the Samsung Series 7 Slate XE700T1a.

  7. It would be great if it had a 7-10 inch screen. Although, that would probably mean it’ll have an Atom so I still won’t get it.

    I have to say the internet experience on an Android or iOS tablet is still far from the one you’d get from an OS that runs a full desktop class browser with a mouse and keyboard.

    1. I’d buy 10.1″ version (no Atom) for sure. Even for just internet browsing, I’d take a Windows 7 device over an Android or iOS one any day.

      I like how the pen can emulate a mouse pointer but it would be nice if there were an optical trackpad and buttons in the bezel too. Is there a silo for the pen?  Does pinch zoom work in other browsers without extra add-ons/extensions?

      1. No pen slot for the Samsung Series 7 Slate and you’ll likely have to wait till Windows 8 for better touch UI integration.

      2. I assume the pen requires a battery. Would be useful if there were a slot for the pen that also charges it.

      3. While I, too, prefer a 10″ version with the same specs, I’m still interested in this device. The active digitizer does solve the limitations of not having a physical mouse. I guess I could fashion some primitive holder for the pen since I’d like easy access and stowing of it. I’d rather not carry the stylus in my pocket and my bag wouldn’t always be within reach.

      4. Ya, I really like how the stylus works. I for sure won’t be using it for inking though.

        1. Ya, I don’t see the point of inking other than for quick mark ups. I’m glad the pen can act like a mouse though. Too bad there’s no slot for it.

  8. Even without the pen, a 2nd-gen core i5 cpu with turbo up to 2.3Ghz in this weight is a world first and a serious work tool. If I was an exec I would he asking for one of these, with two docking stations, for the ultimate lightweight hot-desking productivity solution.

  9. well, the real point or argument is, that you can use pen/stylus input in any of miscrosofts applications or other peninput ready applications and that you might want to start working with journal and one note with the stylus in inking mode. apart from this, one should go to the miscrosoft webpage and start downloading all the free pen stuff present there. this will make a win tablet a real workhorse for integrated stylus/inking and desktop work. there is no match for this neither with android nor ios.

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