The mobile PC market has exploded in recent years with laptops, netbooks, tablets, tablet PCs, slates, convertibles, transformers, hybrids, ultrabooks, and mobile workstations. There’s a size to fit any need – 4-inch all the way to 17-inch – and they can all come with pretty much any mainstream operating system to boot!
Modern sales trends indicate that consumers prefer a mobile tablet of around the 10″ size for general portability. iOS and Android are the common fare for tablets in this range with Windows 8 generally being relegated to Atom CPU’s because of cooling requirements for beefier CPU’s and the size restrictions of the 10″ form factor.
Given the characteristics of the smaller CPU’s in these units consumers would generally not have used a 10″ tablet for anything more than basic office work but now with the inclusion of Intel’s i5 CPU’s in the higher end models the game has changed completely. If you’re on the lookout for a device that is as portable as a 10″ tablet but packs a little more muscle to do that high-end Bitcoin data-mining, then you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Not only are there now many portable tablets out there with high-end processing power but they’re now also very affordable. Enter the Samsung ATIV Smart PC range.
The Samsung ATIV Tab 7 is an 11.6″ FHD LED convertible tablet sporting an Intel i5-3317U CPU and 4GB DDR3 1600Mhz RAM. The best part of all is it retails anywhere from as low as R15,000.00 (64GB SSD) to around R20,000.00 (128GB SSD) from retailers. What makes the Samsung ATIV Tab 7 so appealing over alternative 10” and 11″ tablets is the convertible nature of the device. The Tab 7 comes with a detachable keyboard which acts as a laptop base and melds neatly (and firmly) with the tablet to convert the 11″ tablet into a fully-fledged 11″ laptop.
The keyboard base is made of high quality material with the tablet locking mechanism grasping the tablet firmly and securely. The hinged connection is held in place by two metal hooks located inside the keyboard base’s frame and can be released by a single but solid press of the release button located in the centre of the front panel. Once firmly in place the tablet and base form one rigid unit which acts and feels just like any standard laptop. Although the bond is nigh unbreakable once the base and tablet are attached, it’s imperative to ensure you hear the reassuring soft snap sound lest ye be practicing your juggle scramble dance – only with this safety snap is the screen locked in place!
Given the nature of the design, the screen packs all the resources for the device since it’s also a detachable and standalone tablet. By virtue of the fact that the keyboard base is nothing more than a keyboard and dual USB hub, the design is not quite perfect. Despite the solid fitting between screen and keyboard, the screen is top heavy and if you are used to touching the screen with confidence while navigating Windows 8 you may find on occasion that the entire laptop buckles away from your finger in response to your mighty paws. This is a bit annoying but is easily avoidable once you learn to touch with care.
The keys on the base have a tactile and solid response and are well spaced out on the 11” form factor. There is no keypad which allows for the more luxurious placement of the keys and the trackpad is a single button design with no visible partitions. The keyboard base functions as the charging station when the tablet is docked but when the tablet is detached, the charging port is available on the underside which would usually connect to the keyboard hinge.
Each side of the keyboard base sports a USB port which is neatly hidden beneath a snug plastic flap. The plastic flaps appear to be somewhat frail but in all my years of using devices like this, despite my reservations with the flaps, I’ve never had a flap break.
The tablet is a sturdy 1kg and comes with all the essential features and more: A charging point, mini HDMI, volume rocker controls, a headphone / mic combo 3.5mm port, a separate mic, the power button, an auto rotate button, a USB 3.0 port, another mic, microSD slot, SIM slot, and slim stereo speaker bars flanking each end of the landscape screen. There’s basically nothing that this tablet is lacking.
All the buttons on the tablet are made with a glossy chrome material and barely protrude from the profile but they are still large enough and responsive enough to touch gently to get the desired results. Behind the screen and tucked neatly away is a removable stylus pen with soft-tip retractable nib. Although a little on the small side and a bit of a strange flattened ice-cream stick shape, it is still easy to use and feels very comfortable in the hand when writing.
The Smart PC Pro range is a giant leap forward for tablet power-users. The tablet packs a mean punch – the latest model sports an i5 3337U CPU – and it is by far the most affordable, convenient, and smartly-designed performance tablet that I’ve played with. Boot up time thanks to the SSD is under ten seconds and battery life is around five hours which, although not amazing, is perfectly suited for most users and given the performance capabilities, totally acceptable.
The full HD screen renders graphics beautifully and the responsiveness of the touch is superb. The ATIV Tab 7 will enable you to not only bring your tablet into your meetings but also do your high-end processing tasks without worrying about synchronising your tablet’s data to your workstation first. This tablet is not just a handy meeting companion, it’s your all-in-one office companion.
The Good: Perfect size for a tablet; Excellent processing performance and battery life; Includes all the vital ports on the tablet
The Bad: Can be a nasty surprise if the screen isn’t securely attached to the base; Top heavy screen when in laptop mode