Samsung Ativ Tab with Windows RT review: first look
It’s been a long wait to see Windows RT in action, but here it is – and unsurprisingly it’s rather a lot like Windows 8.
Samsung introduced three Windows 8 tablets in Berlin, and while the Ativ Smart PC and Smart PC Pro are Intel-powered devices, the Samsung Ativ Tab is the long-awaited ARM-powered Windows RT baby of the three.
From the Start screen to the apps, Windows RT feels seriously snappy. Live Tiles glide past fluidly, and the apps spring into view with impressive immediacy. If Microsoft was hoping to rival the slick tablet experience of Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android, it seems to have pulled it off.
Windows RT is the cut-down version of the OS, but the essence of Windows 8 has made the transition from fully-fledged Windows 8 tablets almost entirely intact. The interface feels natural and intuitive, and responds instantly to the many thumb flicks and gestures.
However, Windows RT’s big draw for many will be the presence of Office RT, which provides ARM-friendly versions of Microsoft’s Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Skydrive integration is top of the agenda, too, with 7GB of free cloud storage thrown in as part of the bargain.
In use, it all works brilliantly. Tap any of the Office tiles, and the Desktop appears immediately, followed by a loading screen that keeps you waiting for a few seconds before the chosen Office app springs into view. From here, it’s familiar: the Office apps look identical to their full-fat Windows 8 cousins, and they work exactly as you’d expect. And to make it a little easier to throw together documents on the move, a variety of downloadable document templates get you off to a running start.
The touch interface feels surprisingly at home in Microsoft’s Office, too. The usual pinch-to-zoom gestures seem like a perfect way to zoom in and out of hulking Excel spreadsheets, and the ability to scroll up and down with a mere flick of the finger adds a welcome immediacy to scanning through or around lengthy documents.
From the moment you pick up the Ativ Tab, it’s hard not to be impressed. The build quality oozes class, with nary a hint of flex in the 9mm-thick metal body. Subtle curves make for a tablet which feels great in the hand, and at a claimed 570g this is by far the lightest Windows tablet we’ve laid our hands on.
At the heart of Samsung’s Ativ Tab beats a 28nm Snapdragon APQ8060A processor. This dual-core CPU runs between 1.5 and 1.7GHz and is partnered by 1GB of RAM. Given the slick feel of Windows RT, it certainly seems up to the task, and Samsung has quoted up to 12 hours of HD video playback from the internal lithium ion battery.
The 16:9, 10.1in display is bright and clear, with the excellent viewing angles we’d expect from any of today’s premium tablets. Of course, it can’t quite match the Full HD resolution or Retina-class displays of the iPad or Asus’ Transformer Pad Infinity, but it still looks pleasingly crisp.
Elsewhere, there’s a familiar range of features and specifications. A Micro SD slot supplements the internal storage; micro-HDMI outputs a 1080p picture to an external display, and a single USB 2 port provides connectivity to the wide range of Windows-compatible accessories. The upper bezel, meanwhile, conceals the front-facing 1.9mp camera, which is accompanied by a 5mp sensor at the rear. The presence of a TPM 2 chip is welcome, too, and bodes well for rolling out Windows RT devices for business and enterprise applications.
There’s no word regarding pricing or release dates as yet, but we’ll be badgering Samsung’s PR team for a review unit in due course, so stay on the lookout for the full PC Pro review.