A lightweight slate computer with full PC capabilities running Windows 7, the Samsung Series 7 Slate PC (model XE700T1A-A02US) offers all of the features of a full-sized laptop in an extremely portable package, providing highly mobile users with the computing power they need for maximum productivity anywhere they go. Weighing less than two pounds and measuring only half an inch thick, the Series 7 Slate can truly be taken anywhere. Despite its compact size, the Slate is a full-powered PC with an 11.6-inch screen, powerful Intel Core i5 dual-core processor, a full version of Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium, and a 128 GB solid state hard drive.
- 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-2467M Dual-Core Processor
- 4 GB DDR3 SO-DIMM RAM
- 128 GB SSD (mSATA) Hard Drive
- 11.6-Inch Superbright Plus Display; Intel HD 3000 Graphics
- Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 7 Hours of Battery Life
- Product Dimensions: 11.7 x 7.2 x 0.5 inches ; 1.9 pounds
- Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds
- Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S.
- ASIN: B006KYY1AU
- Item model number: XE700T1A-A02US
- Date first available at Amazon.com: January 9, 2012
Awesome hardware – Very Mixed Feelings
On the surface, this tablet is a marvelous assembly of technology – practically something that I would dream of as a kid.
- Specs nearly identical to the 2011 MacBook Air 11″ – 128GB of SSD space, 4GB of RAM, and a 135.09 PPI display.
- Dockable to be a full workstation, and almost as light as an iPad. Lighter than any other laptop I’ve owned.
- A real pressure-sensitive Wacom tablet. Not as accurate as my wife’s Cintiq 21UX even after 3 calibration attempts, but still very decent.
Let’s start with the conclusion: I returned mine. Why?
1) Use the right tool for the job
As unfortunate as it is, this is the wrong tool for a programmer. I try adhering to the academic mantra: Programming is 90% thought, and 10% typing (I realize this is only applicable for certain situations, but humor me). Physical input shouldn’t be a big deal as long as you think things out first, right?
Indeed, editing code wasn’t terribly difficult with the on-screen keyboard. It just took a lot longer for typing symbols; however, losing half the screen is a major detraction. Imagine you have your keyboard on the bottom of the screen — the bottom of your document is going to be covered by the keyboard. You either have to move your keyboard to the top of the screen, or dock it and permanently lose half your screen.
A large portion of a developer’s working day is collaboration. I didn’t realize how slow conversations would get from the lack of a physical keyboard. Enabling Pen-flicks for copy/paste/undo did help to a degree. Handwriting was amazingly accurate, but how many WPM can you actually write? Maybe someone in or fresh out of college would fare better, but for not having written much with a pen in the past decade, I noticed that I did far more WPM with a virtual keyboard. I don’t get along with Swype (it doesn’t mesh with programming very well), so I can’t comment on if this would change your use of the device or not. In the end, a Bluetooth keyboard outperformed all other input methods by far.
This begs the question: How do you use a Bluetooth keyboard at the park bench, while balancing/tilting a tablet on your knees? It looks ridiculous!
Bottom line: If your primary use of the device requires heavy typing, and you’re not part of the younger generation that can do 50+WPM on mobile devices, you will most likely regret it.
Advice: Go to your neighborhood tech store and demo any 10″+ tablet with an on-screen keyboard. Google for, and take a WPM (typing) test. Your frustration levels will be inversely proportional to your score. YMMV.
2) Do you really need it?
Let’s be honest here. With a 3rd generation iPad having fairly decent specs, what’s the point of paying 2.5x to get this tablet? If you need the CPU power/real OS but need a keyboard/mouse to be effective, do you really need to pay 1.5-2x of an equivalent specced laptop/ultrabook for the select few situations that you’re away from a desk?
Think about what you would do with this device *without* a keyboard/mouse, as opposed to an iPad/Android tab:
- Word processing/Presentations: iPad does just as decently, especially with the 4-finger swipes for multitasking.
- Internet browsing: iPad does an almost better job, with the exception of lack of Flash and some JS incompatibilities. Windows 7 touch browsing has quirks with scrolling, and zoom is nowhere near as usable as iOS/Android, which means a lot of missed clicks.
- Email/Chat: iPad has push notifications even when in sleep. You put the Slate to sleep, and it’s out until you turn it back on — just like a normal PC. Personal preference favors the simple iOS mail client above Outlook/Thunderbird for most usage scenarios.
- Games: Most Windows games are not designed for touch. StarCraft II with touch was “fun” to try. But inaccurate right clicks (cascading double-taps are the only way to pinpoint, and even that is often unreliable) pretty much kills your APM. Playing WoW on Low settings was pretty neat, although nigh-impossible to navigate without a mouse. In contrast, iOS/Android games are designed for tablets and touch and “just work” for the most part.
- Artists with a need for pressure sensitive digitizer: Perhaps the best usage scenario for this device. Photoshop/Painter runs decently fast, and I can see how this would be an awesome portable sketchpad.
- Note-taking: OneNote on this tablet takes the cake here, because of its superior text recognition.
Truth be told, the majority of users I know of would benefit more from a cheaper laptop/tablet instead. In my opinion, until they can come up with a better input method, I just don’t know of many user demographics that would prefer this tablet over other form-factors. If you are seriously considering this product, please carefully think about your usage criteria so you don’t make the same mistake as I did.
3) Hardware problems
- You may or may not get a model with the commonly reported “screen lift” bug, where the adhesive holding the display glass to the chassis becomes loose, letting debris inside. Mine accumulated 5 pieces of small dust between the glass and the LCD panel in 3 days of desk-only use (not putting in bags or anything). They weren’t that big, but they also don’t come out. Against white backgrounds, they stand out quite a bit. Quite the eyesore, and who knows how many more would sneak in there in the coming years had I kept it?
- I was relieved to see that my Samsung logo on the back of the tablet wasn’t “a sticker” like another reviewer was claiming. I thought maybe I had a new hardware revision. Then one day, my wife was asking me about the unique logo on the back, with the “A” floating above the rest of the letters. Upon closer inspection, I realized I misunderstood the other reviewer – the individual letters themselves are stickers. The adhesive gets loosened from the CPU heat, and the letters start turning and moving. Great design, Samsung! Couldn’t you just have engraved the logo or something?
- LCD panel is not the best. Definitely not IPS, and subpixel RGB rainbowing on anti-aliased text is obvious when you rotate the device to Portrait mode. Black levels are sub-par, and often looks purple from any slight angle.
- Cameras are both terrible. Included utility only lets you take 320x240ish* resolution videos. If you have an iPhone or any recent Android phone, it’d easily outperform the rear-facing camera. Low-light pictures are unusably noisy. Front-facing camera is at a perpendicular angle to the tablet, so you have to lift up the tablet (held at a fair distance away), and look unnaturally “up” into the camera for the other side to have a decent/comfortable view. Otherwise, to them, it looks like you’re looking down on them, which you quite literally are. Who holds tablets up to face-level like that? I guess they probably designed it for use while docked or set down with their folio case.
- With only Windows 7 HP installed, and given how portable it is, it would be silly to carry around work/financial information unencrypted. TrueCrypt’s System Encryption works great, but you have no Bluetooth stack at the pre-boot stage – meaning you can’t enter the password without a USB keyboard (Park + No USB Keyboard + Windows Update = locked out tablet). Yes, it’s painful — but it’s just the cost of security. One disaster I had was when I installed some Samsung driver updates, and it somehow disabled USB during the BIOS/pre-boot stage — meaning I couldn’t use any keyboard until the OS booted (which is locked with the password). I had to look through the Samsung site until I found that you could go enter/navigate the BIOS with the side buttons, and re-enabled Legacy USB support, which brought back the USB keyboard. Wish there was an easy way of making Full-Disk Encryption happen with virtual/Bluetooth keyboard like in OS X, or a USB token, but that’s not necessarily this product or Samsung’s fault.
- A hint to all owners that are complaining about slow/missed keys: The on-screen keyboard is resizeable (drag bottom right corner). When your keyboard size is small, Windows 7 will get confused where your finger landed, and quite often pretend it didn’t notice the tap. Make the keyboard bigger, and not only will your accuracy increase from physical ease of use, the software will have less sensor ambiguity to deal with, leading to less headaches.
To wrap things up, this is a great tablet, no doubt. Hardware has come so far in the past decade, that it’s nothing short of amazing. However, when you compare this tablet to other offerings in its price range, it’s unfortunately nothing special that also may not benefit you. I used this tablet with the dock with dual (extended) displays, a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and it was indeed a very “cool” setup if I was not a programmer. But then again, if I wasn’t a programmer, an iPad would have probably sufficed.
I’m pretty disappointed that my quest ended with a dismal conclusion like this, but it was certainly a good learning exercise about portability and usability. I guess I’ll wait, once again, for the next generation of MacBook Air to come out. Thank you for taking the time to read my rant-filled review.
Best thing since sliced bread!!!
No I am not an employee – just a happy user who has has found the solution to every day computing problems. I have wanted a light portable powerful computer for years – this is close to being perfect.
I have a dual life – I am an engineer with 45 years experience in the computer industry. I love technology as long as it works. I am also a musician. I need to be able to write notes that include graphics – ie music – and I need to be able to store lots of pages of sheet music for when I rehearse or perform.
For the past 3 years I have used an HP touchscreen laptop – nice but heavy, and poor contrast on the screen. The Samsung solves my problems.
Yes the Samsung is expensive – but nothing else does the job. The Ipad is a great concept, but it is a mere toy compared the the Samsung, and not suitable for real every day work for college students or businessmen. You cannot sit in a meeting or a lecture and write detailed notes on an Ipad; anyway you still need a laptop to complete the days work. The Samsung can replace your laptop.
Most days I need to write or type notes, and also I need to have access to the full power of Office 10 for all my other computing tasks. With the Samsung and Onenote, the handwriting input is close to perfect, and if you need a keyboard, the bluetooth optional model is small cheap and effective.
Some complain about the size. For me I need a screen this size. I want to display a full size sheet of music, or a full 8×11 or A4 page document. On the Samsung the display is clear, bright and totally useable in most environments. the 9″ and smaller tablets are simply too small for many real world applications.
After 10 weeks daily use, I can say that for my applications (I don’t play games or watch videos) I get about 5 hours of use from a charge, a 30min ‘refresh’ at lunch time gives me an extra 2 hours each day. My system has not shown any sign of adverse wear – hopefully the case issue that others have noticed had been rectified.
Currently I am running the Win 8 consumer preview – excellent for touchscreen users!
At present I own 2 other laptops – I will replace these with tablets within a year.
I completely fail to understand why many Tablet reviewers – like PC magazine – do not include this product in their listings. It may be a little specialized, it may be a little expensive – but wow – it works!!
Whats wrong with it? – well, I would love to be able to be able to replace the battery, or get 10 hours daily use. I would like to have a place to keep the stylus. Nothing too serious.
One of my best PCs ever
My test was to try to consolidate my laptops and binders/notebooks into this one device. With Microsoft OneNote and the pen/stylus, I have been able to replace the paper files/paper notebook. Paper agendas I receive at meetings can be camera-snapped into the device. PDF agendas emailed to me can be saved to OneNote and written on. With the bluetooth keyboard and wireless mouse, I’ve been able to replace the laptops.
It was an expensive experiment, but I have all my information in one spot (saved to the cloud with OneNote) and I’m carrying alot less equipment/paper with me everyday!
Great slate with Win8
Make sure you update the drivers and especially apply the firmware update for the touch interface from samsung’s web site, otherwise you will have troubles on touch and hold (right click) while using Windows8.
Excellent Value – Some Complaints
- True Intel i5 computer with genuine Windows 7 PC in a slate form factor
- Crisp display
- Good capacitive touch screen interface
- Choice between normal touch-screen keyboard and Swype touch-screen keyboard
- Stylus hover sensor
- Full-blown computer when equipped with a Dock and mouse
- Micro SD chip adds extra memory
- Very quiet operation
- Short battery life between charges
- Glitchy screen rotation sensor
- Erratic shimmering auto-brightness management
- No manual screen brightness adjustment
- Difficult to get precise touch-screen taps without the stylus
- No embedded GPS
- No charging from a USB port
4.25 Stars out of 5
- 0.5 penalty for brightness control brain damage
- 0.25 penalty for screen rotation problems
The Samsung Series 7 Slate Tablet PC is one of the very few fully functional multi-role tablet PCs available. As a genuine Windows machine, it offers all the same capabilities a desktop PC or laptop can provide. Since purchasing the SS7 Slate, I have retired my laptop from customer visits. I use only my tablet PC. In addition to the keyboard and Dock, I always carry with me:
- a generic mouse
- a very small and slim 4-port USB hub
- a USB-to-VGA adapter
- a USB GPS receiver.
All this equipment fits in my Black Pindar Edition Messenger Bag Protective Tablet Carrying Case (see my separate review). I never take my slate alone – I always keep it in my carrying back for protection.
When I use the SS7 Slate at meetings, I often use it alone – no Dock or keyboard – flat on the meeting table. This lets me take notes without a laptop screen fencing me off from the other attendees. When onsite at a customer office, I set up the Dock, keyboard, and mouse. If I have a large screen monitor available, I connect it via the VGA-to-USB adapter. I also use the VGA adapter to project PowerPoint presentations in meetings.
I use the SS7 Slate as I would a full PC for emails, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, Adobe PDF files, graphics and Photoshop images. I develop PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, and complex and long Word documents on the SS7 Slate – exactly as I would on a desktop PC.
When I am not working, I use the SS7 Slate as a Kobo e-book reader. I also surf the web, mostly for news. I don’t play a lot of games.
On the road, I connect the USB GPS and use Microsoft Streets and Trips to make a kick-ass large screen in-car GPS map display. I find this very helpful when traveling in unfamiliar regions. I use my dedicated GPS for turn-by-turn instructions, and I use the SS7 Slate as a map overview to verify that my car’s GPS isn’t taking me somewhere I don’t want to go. My car has a 110V plug, so I can keep the SS7 Slate running indefinitely.
I use DropBox to synchronize non-sensitive documents between my SS7 Slate and my desktop in my office. I use a SecondCopy utility on my office file server to back-up my SS7 Slate’s hard drive. The same system backs up my laptop hard drive.
The power-up and Windows Resume sequences are quick and smooth. I have had no problems in this area. Without a keyboard, the BIOS settings page is a bit tricky, but the manual does explain how to access the BIOS settings page upon boot-up when the touch-screen keyboard is not yet active.
The touchscreen is intuitive and easy to use. The right-click function takes a bit of getting used to. I like the five-finger touch that brings up the keyboard. Speaking of which, there are two touch-screen keyboards in the SS7 Slate: the standard keyboard, and a Swype keyboard. The standard keyboard is a press-per-key (you have to press the keys M,E,M,O to spell memo), and the Swype keyboard also provides the same press-per-key as well as a swipe function (you drag your finger from M, then to E, then to M, then to O without lifting your finger). I find the Swype keyboard easier to use in some cases, but it does not have the dedicated number and cursor control keys like the standard keyboard does. Once the Swype keyboard is activated (and sometimes I activate by accident), it becomes the default keyboard, and I have not found a way to deactivate it without going to the Windows Task Manager and killing the Swype process.
I am really impressed with the handwriting input tool. Even someone with penmanship as sloppy as mine can write in your text and have the SS7 Slate recognize your handwriting with uncanny precision.
Samsung bundles a “Touch Launcher” that pops up when you press the dedicated launch button on the bottom of the Slate. I do not use it, because (1) I already find the windows application launch interface intuitive; and (2) I cannot customize the applets on the left side of the Touch Launcher screen. Other SS7 Slate users have told me they love the Touch Launcher – personally I find it adds an unnecessary layer.
The Stylus is a Wacom enabled system, meaning you can hover the stylus over the screen without touching the screen, and the SS7 Slate senses where the stylus is pointing. This is great for mouse hovering, pull down menus, and for precise cursor positioning, since you know exactly where the mouse cursor is pointing before you click. You do not need to use the stylus – I use my fingers most of the time – so I keep my stylus in my carrying case most of the time.
The screen presents a good quality image. The colors are sharp, and the refresh is quick enough to eliminate ghosting. I HATE the brightness control. Many people in SS7 Slate forums have complained about brightness, and this is by far the weakest part of the SS7 Slate package. There are no manual brightness control buttons – you must control the brightness using the Windows interface. A built-in light sensor detects the ambient light, and adjusts the screen’s brightness accordingly. Unfortunately, this logic is a little psychotic, because the screen brightness frequently jumps from dark to bright, and back, without any external lighting changes. Like many other SS7 Slate owners, I have disabled the automatic brightness system through the Windows Control Panel. I have tried to find a way to re-map the audio volume control buttons to brightness control buttons, but it does not seem possible. I wish I could control the brightness using dedicated buttons on the side of the SS7 Slate.
The screen is supposed to rotate like the iPad screen does as you rotate the slate itself. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. It has a screen orientation lock button that works sometimes. Sometimes the screen orientation locks by itself, and the only way you can unlock it is through the Windows Screen Settings interface. I have locked the orientation in the landscape mode and disabled rotation.
The SS7 Slate draws 40W of power from the charger. That is a clue about how long battery this tablet will last between charges. Design is always a trade-off, and one of the things you trade off when you get a full-powered Intel i5 based tablet PC is battery life. The system lasts 90 minutes, or two hours tops, between charges. That is not long enough to work through most flights. There is nothing that can be done – this puppy uses a lot of power. It is not a failing of the SS7 Slate, but simply a constraint of the trade-offs that went in to making this product. Fortunately, 110v power sources are more and more plentiful – on planes, in cars, at coffee shops, etc.
All of the above factors – pros and cons – make the SS7 Slate Table PC a very good product for those of you looking for a full-featured PC in a slate form factor. I am stunned that there are still professional reviewers who compare the SS7 Slate to the Apple iPad – it is like comparing a convertible sports car to a pick-up truck. One is a toy, whereas the other is used to get real work done.
If you are a mobile professional who needs to pack the full power of a PC in a slim form factor, based on my research, the Samsung Series 7 Slate Table PC is the best product you can buy for the money – hands down. But if you think that, by paying more for the SS7 Slate, you will somehow enjoy a more meaningful recreational experience than your iPad can offer, then you simply don’t understand the tablet PC market. To witness, Samsung does not even list the SS7 Slate under “Tablets” on its corporate web page – you have to go to “Business Products” to find the SS7 Slate. You should take that is a big clue about what to expect from the SS7 Slate Tablet PC.
While expensive, the Samsung Series 7 Slate PC delivers solid value for the business tablet user. The fact that it also does most of the iPad things (email, games, e-book, etc.) means you only need to carry around one tablet PC on business trips.
The Samsung Slate runs Windows 7 brilliantly. The touch gestures, keyboard, everything work really well. I didn’t realize how easy it was to navigate Windows 7 with touch until using this.
I’ve been waiting patiently a long time for a great Windows tablet. I run a lot of Windows only programs and just prefer having the power and flexibility of a complete operating system with me. With the SSD drive, 4GB memory, and i5 processor – there is no doubt that this Slate is FAST.
I have a Samsung Series 9 notebook as well with similar specs and it’s about the same in terms of speed. It’s just fast, boots fast, loads fast, moves fast.
For extra space, you can easily pop in little Micro SD cards which are very cheap nowadays. But I have found the 128GB drive to be perfectly adequate for my needs.
This is a fantastic option if you need or want a full operating system in the palm of your hands. No complaints here.
It works brilliantly with Windows 8 and has become my Main computer. I would highly recommend it. The hand writing recognition is awesome not being a very good typist this feature is a big timesaver.