Windows 8 tablets were never on the top of our list when it comes to buying tablets, for some reason, it is just not getting the attention it needs compared to Android and iOS devices. And today, PC manufacturers are designing various form factors for their products to match the operation of Windows 8.

Enter the Samsung ATIV Tab 7

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The ATIV Tab 7 from Samsung is a Windows 8 device that can be used as a tablet or laptop, just like ASUS’s Transformer tablets, the design isn’t inspiring but such kind of form factor has been proved successful in the Android platform. The ATIV Tab 7 packs powerful hardware under its muscle. Below are it’s specifications:

Intel Core i5 3317U 1.7GHz Dual Core processor (turbo boost up to 2.6GHz)

4GB of Built-in RAM

128GB SSD Storage

MicroSD expansion up to 64GB

11.6″ FHD LED Display with 400nit Brightness with WACOM Digitizer

Intel HD 4000 Graphics

microHDMI output

WiFi B/GN dual band, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 and AGPS

microSIM slot for HSPA+ Connectivity

5 Megapixel rear AF camera and 2 Megapixel front facing camera

1 x USB 3.0 on tablet and 2 x USB 2.0 on keyboard dock

4 cell battery at 6540mah

Windows 8 64-bit Single Language

S-Pen

At this time of writing, the processor that we’ve got for this unit is an older model and the newer model has the 3337U processor clocked at 1.8GHz. We don’t expect a 4th Gen Intel Haswell processor to be made available on the ATIV Tab 7

Design, Ergonomics and Display

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The ATIV Tab 7 weighs 880 grams and it isn’t thin either, although Samsung’s website states the tablet slim, if you compare this to any Android devices, this tablet is seriously a brick. Of course, this is a laptop and we should expect such kind of weight instead of comparing with Android tablets due to different internal hardware design.

Slotting the tablet into the keyboard dock doubles the weight, we do not have an exact figure for that, but it feels like carrying a 14” laptop and heavier than Ultrabooks. We find it frustrating that despite the weight, Samsung doesn’t add on any more stuffs other than two USB 2.0 ports, they should’ve included a built-in battery into the dock so that users are able to use it to charge thetablet if they run out of juice.

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The chicklet design of the keyboard is nice to type on and has solid and precise feedback. The ELAN branded touchpad is small and can be a trouble for some, the sensitivity isn’t great either, we wished Samsung could’ve packed a Synaptics branded touchpad for better sensitivity and touch.

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The tablet is made of plastic with a brush metal finishing, the screen is fitted with Corning Gorilla Glass and has a stunning Full HD resolution, it may not be the highest resolution in terms of tablet displays, but it certainly is no slouch in displaying crisp graphics and viewing the screen under direct sunlight is great thank to its Super Bright Display at 400 nits.

Performance

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Windows 8 would’ve been a superb operating system if it hasn’t changed the interface too much, the user interface and touch interaction is not a favorite for the majority. The fast SSD on the ATIV Tab 7 boots the laptop up in less than 8 seconds, applications run smoothly without any lags thanks to the Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM. The RAM of the ATIV Tab 7 is built-in so there is no way of swapping it out or upgrade it to 16GB, which may not be a future proof product as applications today are getting more RAM consuming.

S-Pen

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Samsung includes a S-Pen at the back of the tablet, which changes the way how users can interact with Windows 8. It may not have gestures like on the Galaxy Note, but helps in improving some touch interactions in Windows 8. For example, pressing the side button of the S-Pen triggers the right click button instead of holding your finger on the touch screen; app tiles can be arranged by just tapping the S-Pen on the app and drag to the location you want instead of holding down your finger to the app.

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We love to use the S-Pen in doing PowerPoint presentations, editing and drawing pictures, and note taking.

Software

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Samsung does include software of its own like its Galaxy devices, they are not preloaded but can be downloaded at the Windows Store for free at the Samsung section. Apps include S-Gallery, S-Note, S-Camera, and S-Player, which among them we find S-Note and S-Player useful in our daily usage.

S-Note allows you to take notes in a fun way, you get to have built-in templates and functionality is pretty much the same as theGalaxy Note version. S-Player lets you view media content in your hard drive, Facebook and Flickr, which saves you the trouble from going into app by app to view your stuffs.

Multimedia Enjoyment

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You have a tablet running on a full version of Windows and should expect perfect video playback. The ATIV Tab 7’s screen is gorgeous when watching Full HD videos and plays without any lags. However, the front stereo speaker is a disappointment as it doesn’t produce any bass but only crisp and loud audio.

Camera

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The 5 Megapixel Auto Focus Rear Camera is average, we would have expected a decent but not perfect quality however images don’t look sharp and colors tend to be washed out at times. Do check out the sample shots below.

Battery Life

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Remember people, this is a laptop rather than a tablet, we still call this a tablet due to it’s product name and form factor.Samsung rates the ATIV Tab 7 to have a battery life of 5.5 hours based on benchmark. In our tests using Samsung’s optimized power settings, we managed around 4 hours and 45 minutes on 80% brightness, both docked and undocked, continuous web surfing, streaming 4 minutes of YouTube, word processing, replying e-mails and some light gaming. Full HD gaming playback via external hard disk sucked the battery in 3 hours,

We expect the battery life to be at least 7-8 hours, but you can’t deny that the Core i5 processor and screen contributes to the huge battery drain, as we’ve said, if the keyboard dock has a backup battery on it, we’re saved.

Verdict

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We love the ATIV Tab 7 even though it isn’t perfect, we use it more like a laptop than a tablet, the bulky form factor and inconsistent experience on Windows 8 just doesn’t win us from our iPad or Android tablet. If you are looking a handheld form factor device that is able to do great presentation, note taking, graphics editing and running full fledge Windows applications, we definitely recommend buying the ATIV Tab 7, or else look somewhere for cheaper alternatives as Windows 8 just isn’t the perfecttablet OS at the moment. The ATIV Tab 7 is priced at RM3999 and RM3599 for the 3G and Non-3G version respectively, it is a competitive price tag for Ultrabooks. So here’s a summary:

Pros:

+ Powerful hardware

+ Gorgeous display

+ HSPA+ Connectivity

+ Reasonable price tag

Cons:

– Keyboard dock is heavy and should have a backup battery on it

– Heavy and bulky

– Average battery life

– Disappointing camera performance

– Windows 8 still isn’t so touch friendly

We rate the ATIV Tab 7 at 3.5 out of 5 stars

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