Review: Samsung Slate PC Series 7

My initial thoughts with the Samsung Slate PC Series 7 are available here.

What a difference a couple of weeks can make I suppose. As promised during my initial thoughts, I pushed myself to break routine and use the SlatePC as my primary device over two weeks. Despite the fact that I’m not a traditional Windows fan as such (without getting into it here, the OS just bothers me over time, as any regular Linux or OS X user will tell you), the SlatePC is a good bet, particularly as a work device, with some caveats.

To start with, it’s the software/OS and not really Samsung that’s the issue here, as I’ve already raised. Windows 7 just does not allow you to really enjoy the SlatePC’s potential. With it, I ran the device almost entirely as a desktop computer, plugged into the dock with an external keyboard/mouse. I was unable to really use the touchscreen — either because my fat fingers couldn’t hit the x in one try ever, or because I kept playing whack-a-mole with the on-screen keyboard. The SlatePC though does come with standard specs you see in today’s laptops, so it did function well in this combination.

But that changed when I moved to Windows 8. For those who are ambitious, Samsung has officially put up a page dealing with this migration (which I think is smart in and of itself) with drivers for the SlatePC. I did face an issue with the touchscreen not being responsive, but the should-be-patented-process of uninstall driver, resintall driver sorted that out. And the device came alive once the metro layout was in place. Granted, this isn’t a Windows 8 review — which is probably a good idea to put through at some point.

Win8 also made the hardware seem better than Win7 did. For example, battery life jumped for a barebones 2.5 hours to almost 4–5 hours of use under Win8, which made portability that much better. I’m sure Samsung is already looking at putting together some apps to the Windows 8 Store, which might make development easier compared to builing their own custom ‘home screen’ they have on the Slate for Win7.

Much better touch experience with Win8.

So the net verdict: If you’re a Windows user and need a change or are trying of lunging around a 5-kg laptop around with you, with Win8 you should seriously consider this form factor. I’m sure the release of the Surface by Microsoft is going to add to the disruption, but I find it interesting that Samsung has already put together a device in this form factor that is a great fit for organizations, particularly with travelling employees.

I realize I’ve said that (professional/work device) a few times, but that’s because at AED4,500, I feel the price point is a bit steep to become an mass regular Joe device. But this price is actually comparable to current business grade laptops that fall in the same range with the same specs. Let’s not forget how much my shoulder thanked me as I carried just this to and from meetings. (With a shoutout to Chrome sync and Dropbox for making my to-and-fro use of two full fledged devices really easy).

In the real world though, my co-workers and customers eyed the device intriguingly. One of my customers felt it was a great idea to adopt the SlatePC considering they spend the same on bulkier 14" laptops that every travelling user they have complains about. And I’ll concede that note taking directly to soft copy made me immensely happy. As did interviewing and marking off CVs directly on screen. No, no screenshots of that are available, sorry.

So I’m geeky. Like you didn’t know.

There you have it. A good piece of hardware, a pretty looking device too and a tricky OS. Win7 might not let you get everything out of the device, but with Win8, there is tremendous potential. I don’t think Samsung really intends this to be a professional device though (purely based on current marketing and the way it’s listed under ‘Home’ on their site), but I do believe that’s where it holds its true potential.

Chirag Desai @Chirag