A heavy tablet that’s missing a lot.
Price: $1,399 | Website: samsung.com/au
By the time we got around to reviewing this tablet, we’d figured out a great, simple way to predict a tablet’s performance: feel how much it weighs. If it’s as light a small book, chances are it’s going to be running a low-speed processor with barely any memory or hard drive space. However, if it’s like this Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro, feeling surprisingly heavy for the slim dimensions, you can rest assured there’s some powerful silicon stashed inside.
Weighing 888g, the ATIV Smart PC Pro tips the scales at the heavy end of the tablet market and peering inside reveals why. At the heart of this powerful tablet is the Intel Core i5-3317U CPU, a dual-core, Hyper-Threaded critter that runs at the clipping pace of 2.6GHz under load. The inclusion of Intel HD Graphics 4000 makes it one of the few tablets to support DirectX 10 or above, but don’t expect to be playing the latest Tomb Raider with all the eye candy. Or any eye candy, for that matter. This might be a zippy tablet, but none of them have the oomph for gaming any more serious than Plants vs. Zombies. A solid 4GB of memory provides snappy multitasking capabilities but the one Achilles’ heel is the hard drive — a rather underwhelming 64GB SSD — and at this price we expected more.
All of these goodies are tucked away behind the sizeable 11.6-inch display. Unlike budget displays of this size, this is a true HD beauty, stretching to 1,920 x 1,080. Like other screens of this size and clarity, it’s wonderful for presenting Windows 8’s ‘Start’ screen with its richly coloured tiles, but makes navigating the desktop and its miniature buttons and icons quite the chore… unless you use the included digital stylus. Yep, Samsung is another company to realise how nice it is to interact with tablets as if they’re digital notebooks. Writing is extremely accurate and the button on the pen serves as a right-click button. Handwriting recognition is utterly amazing — it captured my nonsensical scrawl with ease. When not in use the stylus can be stashed in a small recess at the rear of the case.
For a tablet of this price, Samsung has surprisingly gone for a plastic case, which makes the device look and feel much cheaper than it really is. Cynics would suggest this choice of material helped keep manufacturing costs down, but it might also have been a weight consideration. The 12mm depth of the chassis has made it more than thick enough to host a full-sized USB port, as well as a micro-HDMI output and microSD slot. Two large slots on the bottom are the connection point for the chunky keyboard clip-on, which converts it into an ultrabook while bumping up the weight to 1.6kg. Strangely, there doesn’t appear to be a second battery in this heavy keyboard base — Samsung doesn’t list it on the specs page and plugging in the base doesn’t extend the battery life, according to the Windows battery display.
There’s no denying that Samsung has crafted a very powerful tablet in the ATIV Smart PC Pro, yet there are a handful of flaws that stop this expensive product from reaching perfection. A small hard drive, plastic chassis and battery-less keyboard are all strange omissions, although many will simply ignore these issues when they see the impressive stylus in action.
Pros : Excellent performance, stylus, HD screen.
Cons : Small disk, plastic case, low battery life.
Rating : 8 out of 10. Highly recommended.