First Impressions: Samsung Slate PC, Series 7

Note: I was given a Samsung Slate PC Series 7 review unit this week to play with. Okay, maybe those weren’t their exact words, but how else would I describe it?

Note 2: I intend to write this as a series of two posts — First Impressions — covering Day 1 with the Slate and an overall review.

I’m a little confused, actually. I’m not entirely sure where Samsung intended to place the Slate PC Series 7 in a consumer’s lifecycle and I think if they figure that bit out, they’ll have done well.

To clarify, I don’t think it’s a bad device at all, but I’m unsure how this fits into my laptop+smartphone life. However, it is already clear to me that a comparison of the SlatePC with something like the iPad is not possible — the two do not deal with the same market or have the same goal at all. So I’m going to do my best to keep the iPad away from this discussion. The SlatePC is a PC replacement for someone who wants to be fairly mobile, where you want the full functionality of a PC operating system but the mobility of something like the iPad. So I think this is something that would compete with the Macbook Air for market share.

Staying on point, I can see how the SlatePC would be a good alternative to the PC for someone like me, who moves around, works with wifi where I can, considering it runs a full version of Windows (Win7). At the same time, this is where the problem is. For a devicefocused on having a touch screen, Win7 is extremely cumbersome to use with touch. Thankfully, the device does come with a compact docking station and external bluetooth keyboard (I’ll say it again, thank goodness, the on-screen keyboard in Win7 is pure torture to use with my fat fingers, and using it with the Slate pen feels like a game of whack-a-mole). But this is a software problem.

Going back to the hardware, the packing is simple and clean. I wish they’d put in a little crevice to unattach the device though — I ended up having to flip the whole thing over to get the Slate PC out. All in all, not a bad looking device on your table by any means.

But with Win7, the device acts more like a regular PC than a portable device, forcing you to carry around the keyboard/mouse and dock for usability. What’s more, without any data capabilities, you’re reliant on a wifi connection or one of those USB 3G modems, so I didn’t really benefit from having it with me while I was stuck waiting on my EmiratesID appointment.

So my first impression is that this is a good device from a hardware standpoint. Powerful, pretty robust, a little awkward sizing compared to other devices in this form factor — but not something that you cannot get used to. However, the software aspect is a major problem with Win7 not being ideal for touch/on the go.

That said, there is potential if packaged with Win8, where you’d have both aspects — touch and regular PC use — covered and the Slate PC has the hardware to run this — something I hope to test over the next couple weeks, so stay tuned!

Update: Part 2 of this review is available here.

Chirag Desai @Chirag