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Somewhere, sometime, someday, somehow, you'll find them

- Danielle Steel, Bittersweet.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Gadget of the Week - Samsung ATIV Smart PC

Last week, we embarked on a new exciting weekly tech series on CCM.
This was our first gadget of the week.

This week, our weekly gizmo is the Samsung ATIV Smart PC.
It is an 11.6 inch Windows 8 computer with 64GB flash storage.Other specs are a 1.8 GHz Clover Trail Intel Atom processor and 2GB RAM. See full specifications on the Samsung site.

Where is Stands Out
The Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T differs from many other tablets in two main ways:
  • it is a full-fledged Windows 8 device
  • it is a hybrid tablet-laptop hybrid with a keyboard dock.
  • has a full-sized USB 2.0 slot on the tablet itself.
  • the keyboard dock has an additional two USB 2.0 port
In addition, it features an 11.6 inch screen, whereas other hybrid devices such as the ASUS Transformer Book T100 and Acer Iconia W510 have a 10.1 inch screen.

Expert Reviews 
According to PC World, this device elicits mixed feelings:
The touch experience is excellent, but the overall size seems to be just a bit too large for comfortable use as a tablet. The ATIV performs well as a tablet, however, and the touchscreen is responsive and gorgeous. But the overall awkwardness because of the size makes it less than optimal.

 As a laptop, it’s well-suited for light duty use: checking email, browsing the web, doing a little word processing. However, you’d never mistake it for a full performance laptop. The 2GB of memory is limiting, and the system can get sluggish if you fire up several large desktop applications.

Over at Gizmodo, the verdict is almost damning:
..the Ativ 500T is a compromise. A bunch of compromises, crammed into a sorta-dorky looking tablet. For a lot of you, that's going to mean it's in a No Man's Land of mediocrity—despite a genuinely impressive trick of running desktop apps on this slender little tablet, just not worth it. But the new Atom SoC is a promising, mostly acceptable processor, if you know what you're getting into. For some of you, Intel has delivered exactly what you've been waiting for in a PC/tablet convertible.

Good Gear Guide does cut the Samsung Ativ 500T Smart PC some slack.
It may not be a terrier when it comes to speed, but the Samsung Ativ Smart PC 500T (XE500T1C-A01AU) is well built and can be used to good effect for Web browsing, media consumption and some limited gaming (with Windows Store games). We like its screen, the long battery life, the Wacom stylus and its keyboard. However, its dock could use a slightly better hinge and we think the tablet's storage capacity should be greater, especially considering the $999 cost of this unit. But overall, we think it's a good unit and it continues Samsung's good run in the mobile device space.

User Reviews
Those who have used this device have obviously had a thing or two to say.
Amazon User reviews can be both favorable and highly critical. Consider the following:
Sound is now 100% reliable with no clicking from the speakers, wifi connects reliably every time, and there seem to be no more random freeze ups. The keyboard dock has gradually become more reliable to the point where it has not disconnected in days (I think the connector just needs to "break in" a bit.) I have been pleased enough with this tablet over the last week that I ordered two additional units, one for the lab I work in, and another as a gift. - Mitchell Underwood

As mentioned by the other reviewers, this tablet will surprise you. It runs great without any major glitches! Of course, it's not going to break any speed records, but it's not sluggish at all. It does creak when you pick it up from one side, but so do many other Samsung devices. The hardware is adequate for what this tablet is designed for. The more expensive sibling, the Ativ SmartPC Pro, is faster with more RAM and storage at the expense of weight, battery life and heat generation.

Once you start using it and realize that this is a full-blown computer in your hands running full Office, Adobe suite, proper web browser with full flash and more, you won't go back to any other tablets such as iPad or Androids. Furthermore, if you are into inking and taking notes, S-Note or OneNote are perfect with the included stylus. - Ozan "..."

Good Gear Guide comments too is inundated with user comments and reviews:

Bought one recently and returned it the next day due to persistent crashing of the OS. Faulty memory was the cause. Received a replacement which I have had for approx 10 days now and am having lots of display problems with the screen constantly dimming and flickering making it very frustrating and difficult to use. If not for that issue I would be quite happy with it. I will probably return this one as well as I cannot continue with it like this. - Bryan.

I bought mine a month ago for my birthday but only started using it 2 weeks ago.
For what I pay and use for I'm 100% happy.
These are the functions that I use without problems (I can't comment on the other functions that I don't use).
Front and rear cameras, stream music & movies via XBox, Kindle Book, Mico SD card slot, Blue tooth, wireless connection to my home network (tandem to my Iphone away from free wirleless acesss) But the best feature of all is the USB port on the tablet allow me to watch downloaded movies)
I recommend this product to anyone that doesn't want to do more than I'm using it for. - Peter Pak.

PROS: Screen appearance, portability
CONS: digitizer pen not accurate, screen brightness flicker, screen reflection, lack of extra battery in keyboard, no SIM slot

Had basic success with this. Initial unit failed within days of purchase. Replacement unit back twice for repair
Convenient for travel and good for movies etc.
Digitizer pen does not work too well for precise pointing, the contact point is not near the pen point.
Wouldn't buy another one.- David.

Price and Availability 
Samsung ATIV 500T is available on Amazon at $599.