Unusually large, bright HD display; robust, fully multitasking performance; included dock and Bluetooth keyboard.
Costly compared to other tablets and laptops; no USB 3.0; Windows 7 not as touch-friendly as other tablet OSes.
AS IT ONCE AGAIN steals all the bestselling-tablet glory, the new iPad can lay claim to the highest pixel density per inch of any tablet display. But it can’t—nor can any Android tablet—identify as a full-fledged PC. Anyone hankering for a handheld touchscreen device with no compromises in computing capability should seek out something like the Samsung Series 7 11.6-inch Slate PC.
With an Intel Core i5-2467M, 11.6-inch LED‑backlit display, and 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium, the Series 7 Slate PC fully serves as a home or mobile machine in the guise of a 10-finger-sensitive touchscreen tablet. The 128GB SSD model we tested costs a pretty penny compared to lesser tablets, but includes a helpful dock/cradle and Bluetooth keyboard. A 64GB model shaves the price down to $1,099.
A Windows-icon Home button on the front of the tablet wakes the display, toggles the Touch Launcher, and when pressed with Power, is an alternative to Ctrl-Alt-Delete.
It takes 20 seconds to power up to the login screen, and then just four seconds to awake from sleep mode. It also takes a moment to boot the Touch Launcher, which presents a customizable tablet-homescreen-style interface of software icons, clock, and weather widgets that you can toggle on and off from the taskbar, the hardware Home button, or with a two-finger down-swipe.
We appreciate the standard webcam on the front of the Slate PC. It’s a good-looking one at two megapixels. We rarely had use for the 3MP rear-facing camera, and its quality falls well shy of the new iPad’s, but it’s nice to have. Both cameras are capable of HD video and are accessible from the Touch Launcher.
A monstrous 5,520 mAh battery powers the Slate PC’s large screen, high-powered components, and OS, which drain juice at a greedy gulp. Depending on the power settings, we got three to six hours of battery life. An undocked Slate using the Samsung Optimized power setting yielded the best lifespan: just under six hours of light use or more than seven hours just playing music with the screen off. However, if using the Slate PC as a workhorse computer, the battery life usually lasts less than four hours—not as much as we’d like. But just as with the new iPad, which DisplayMate reports as having battery life from 5.8 hours (maximum brightness) to 11.6 hours (medium brightness), the Slate PC lives and dies on the strength of its potentially super-bright screen.
When augmented with a mouse and an HDMI monitor, we happily used the Slate PC for almost all of our average daily needs—except for gaming—and it deftly multitasked its way through all the audio/video playing, word processing, web browsing, and messaging we asked of it. As far as efficiency and expediency go, non-PC tablets can’t compare.
The rub lies in the fact that more often than not we defaulted to using the Slate PC as a mouse-and-keyboard computer, not a touchscreen device. The problem is not Samsung’s hardware. At about two pounds and half an inch thick (compared to 1.44 pounds and 0.4 inches for the new iPad ), this Slate PC is not unwieldy for its size; the multitouch screen responds extremely well; and the display looks great and delivers sharp, smooth-flowing graphics.
However, Windows 7 just doesn’t invite the natural touchscreen interaction that we’re accustomed to on our phones and other gadgets. Some attempts to make the Slate PC more touch-friendly, like the Touch Launcher, do help somewhat. Swype is also included as a choice for the onscreen keyboard. The optional stylus ($46) helps greatly for touch-operating the many small controls in Windows 7 that aren’t as finger-friendly as typical tablet functions.
Still, we look forward to seeing how Windows 8 tablet PCs will improve on the touchscreen user experience with their Metro apps and interface optimizations. Samsung’s Series 7 Slate PC is proof enough that the hardware for such machines is up to snuff and will only get better; when Windows 8 brings the software side up to parity, we may finally see some truly Maximum tablet PCs.
|OS||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Processor ||Intel 1.6GHz Core i5-2467M Processor|
|Display ||11.6-inch, 1366x768 HD, LED backlit|
|Hard Drive ||128GB SSD (mSATA)|
|Memory||4GB (not upgradable)|
|Cameras||2MP HD webcam front; 3MP HD webcam rear|
|Accessories||Docking station and Bluetooth keyboard included|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, full-size USB 2.0, Micro HDMI, mircoSD, headphone/mic audio port. (Docking station adds full-size USB 2.0, full-size HDMI, Ethernet, and audio port.)|
|Battery||4-cell Li-Po, 5520 mAh|
|Dimensions||11.66 x 7.24 x 0.51 inches, 1.98 lbs.|