We’ve seen so many twists in the convertible tablet market lately—literally and figuratively speaking, thanks to machines that bend, twist, and fold in every direction—that we find it a little refreshing when something a bit more straightforward and conventional, such as Samsung’s ATIV Tab 7, comes along. Then again, who would have believed just a couple of years ago that we’d be calling the ability to snap a laptop-grade tablet onto a keyboard docking station, essentially converting it to a fully functional laptop, “conventional?”
By “conventional,” we mean that this slate/keyboard hybrid device doesn’t break-dance, do screen backflips, or turn itself into a pretzel, like the Lenovo Yoga 11 or Dell XPS 12. Instead, when attached, its two parts mimic a laptop, and, when separated, you can use the screen portion as a tablet. The ATIV Tab 7 we tested is Samsung’s $1,199-list challenger to Microsoft’s comparably priced and closely configured Windows 8 tablet, the Surface Pro. (The screen on the Surface Pro is an inch smaller on the diagonal, at 10.6 inches.) Almost identical on the outside to its 11.6-inch, Atom-powered Samsung sibling (the $799-list ATIV Smart PC that the Korean electronics giant released earlier this year), this new ATIV tablet is quite different inside and is priced as a premium slate. Like its Atom brother, though, it just doesn’t look all that premium on the outside. It’s a bit too plasticky-feeling for our liking. But once we got past that, we discovered a lot more to this slate than initially meets the eye.
On the internal-component side of things, the ATIV Tab 7 runs on the same Intel Core i5 processor found not only in the Surface Pro but in several other competing hybrids, such as Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga and Toshiba’s Satellite U925T-S2120. Because of that, it performed nearly identically to the Surface Pro and many of its competitors.
In addition, also like on the Surface Pro, Samsung has thrown in a stylus—but not just any stylus. The ATIV Tab 7 takes advantage of the company’s highly successful Galaxy Note Android devices’ S Pen technology, which, as you’ll see in the next section, provides several helpful ways to increase productivity. S Pen just may be the best stylus technology available for tablets; we find it well surpasses the implementation of the pen on the Surface Pro.
Despite its somewhat ho-hum appearance, we liked this slate once we got it under the tips of our fingers and stylus. Though the high-resolution (1,920×1,080) screen, at 11.6 inches, was somewhat tight for manipulating some aspects of Windows with our fingers, the S Pen picked up the slack there. And the screen displayed our test videos and photographs gorgeously, while a pair of great-sounding front-facing speakers played our music and movie soundtracks better than most other tablets or even laptops. We’ll take all-around performance over sexy-looking any day.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper.