Samsung ATIV Tab Review
With Windows RT running on the Samsung ATIV Tab, users may choose between the traditional desktop environment – think folders, taskbar, icons, and all the stuff one can find on a PC, or the new Start screen, populated with live ties in a true Modern UI fashion. Can you guess which one of the two we are more excited about?
The latter, of course! Since we have a tablet on our hands, the live tile interface is a lot more convenient to use as it has been optimized for touch-based input, unlike the desktop interface. Besides, the minimalist, Modern UI is so elegant and simple to use that even newbies will get the hang of it in no time. We just love it how nine out of ten features a casual owner would ever need access to are within a tap's reach, while a number of tiles constantly provide up-to-date information, such as weather data, news headlines, stock prices, and such. In other words, live tiles for the win!
Yet even though the Start screen is pretty straightforward to use, there are a few things that new users will definitely have to get accustomed to before they feel comfortable with the new UI. Actions such as switching between applications or accessing the application drawer, are performed using various gestures. (We described them thoroughly in our Microsoft Surface review.) Getting used to these gestures will take some time, but once you get the hold of them you should have no troubles operating your tablet like a boss. Besides, when you log in for the first time, a step-by-step tutorial is displayed teaching you what they are and what they do.
Switching to the familiar, yet boring desktop interface is required at times, however. That is where productivity software such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint are accessed from. Speaking of which, using Office on a tablet feels quite awkward, regardless of Microsoft's efforts to make the software touchscreen friendly. With their multitude of tiny buttons and menus, the applications in the pack just feel too cluttered, especially considering that the on-screen keyboard takes up the bottom half of the screen. But in case you have a hardware keyboard and a pointing device, then that's a whole different story.
The streamlined design principles of the Modern UI have been implemented with the software that comes loaded on Windows RT, which adds consistency to the whole user experience. Each app we open greets us with its minimalist looks, which aids us in getting familiar with the new experience relatively quickly.
One of the apps that you'll probably use quite often is the People hub, where all your contact information is accessed from. In addition to your account for Microsoft services, Facebook, Twitter, Google and the likes are supported as well, and contacts are merged together, arranged in alphabetical order. This is also where you'll be doing all your social networking as the hub has an integrated news feed, allowing you to keep an eye on what your friends are up to. The solution isn't perfect, however, as it has its limitations. For example, you can't attach photos to your posts and there is no way of posting to multiple accounts in one go, but until alternative apps make it to the Marketplace, this will have to do.
The stock weather application is a joy to have. Not only that it looks pretty, but it also provides a rich array of information, including an hourly forecast and radar maps of the surrounding area. Of course, up-to-date information is displayed on its live tile. Another handy application is Bing Maps (powered by Nokia), which features several layers of mapping data and can also recommend driving directions from point A to B.
Bing Daily and Bing Sports are meant to keep users informed on current events by providing headlines from a number of major news sources. Unfortunately, we were unable to add our own news feed or import our Google Reader subscriptions, which is quite disappointing. Bing Travel is like a catalog for popular tourist destinations from around the globe, but it can also help you with finding cheap accommodation or airfare tickets, should you decide to pack the bags and explore the world.
Processor and memory:
The Samsung ATIV Tab comes with a dual-core Snapdragon S4 SoC – the APQ8060A, with a CPU clocked at 1.5GHz, Adreno 225 GPU, and 2 gigabytes of RAM. For the most part, that hardware combination definitely gets the job done so the interface is buttery smooth, just like the case is with Windows Phone. We did experience a couple slowdowns during our testing, but as a whole, the tablet is very responsive.
Except when launching apps for the first time after logging on. Each time we open an application, it needs a while to load – up to 4 or 5 seconds on some occasions. That includes the Marketplace, the email client, the media players, and most of the other pre-loaded software. Thankfully, switching back to an app running in the background happens in an instant once it is loaded into memory.
There are 32 gigabytes of storage space on the Samsung ATIV Tab, but only about 23 gigs are available to the user. The rest is occupied by the operating system and all the pre-loaded applications. Still, that's pretty generous, and in case you need additional storage, you can always pop in a microSD card or just use a USB thumb drive. Furthermore, file compression à la NTFS is a feature included in Windows RT and is accessible from the “Properties” menu after right-clicking on a file or folder.
Software availability is by far Windows RT's biggest weakness, at least for now. Although the operating system looks and feels exactly like Windows 8, it only runs apps made specifically for Windows RT. In other words, none of the software you currently have running on your home PC will work on the Samsung ATIV Tab, unless it is ported and published in the Marketplace.
There are about 10,000 apps currently available for Windows RT, and although some popular names and brands have already made their products available – Skype, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and such, there is still a serious shortage of quality apps. Official Twitter, Facebook and YouTube clients are currently absent. Alternative media players are also difficult to find, so you'll be stuck with the native ones for a while.
When it comes to gaming, Windows RT comes loaded with Xbox features, so once you log in, you will be greeted by your avatar. Your friends list and achievements are accessible too. But as the case is with the applications available in the Marketplace, there are only a few quality games available right now. There's Radiant Defense for all you tower defense fans out there. Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja are also in stock, although you will have to drop a whopping $5 in order to download them.
Web browser and connectivity:
Internet Explorer 10 is what you get with the Samsung ATIV Tab and Windows RT and we can confirm that it is fast, responsive, and as a whole, a perfectly usable browser. It has been altered for use with touch-based gestures, such as pinch-to-zoom and the likes. Moreover, it is competent in HTML5, so despite the lack of Adobe Flash support, embedded YouTube videos will work and act exactly the way they do on a desktop browser. Complementing the web surfing experience is the ability to open multiple tabs and to roam without the browser saving your history.
There are no words as to whether a 3G/4G version of the Samsung ATIV Tab will ever be offered, so for now, the only way of hooking up the tablet to the internet is via Wi-Fi. The device also supports Bluetooth and NFC for short-range wireless communication. Finding your way around is possible with the use of its GPS radio, which is also compatible with Glonass for improved precision.
1. ajac09 (Posts: 1367; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)
With me using windows 8 on my desktop computer I've been seriously considering getting a windows RT tablet but I may just use that money get a touch screen screen and have the complete experience there lol
7. AnTuTu (Posts: 968; Member since: 14 Oct 2012)
Come on iPhonearena.
iPad mini which is still running on the same s**tty platform is getting 8.5 and this beast is running Windows RT, beautifully designed is getting 7.2?
Pleaseeee for God sake
9. rassouli5 (Posts: 51; Member since: 16 Aug 2012)
I can't agree with you more... iPad is s**t, iPhone is s**t, Android is s**t... But Microsoft, no words can define its beauty and class and many many many great things about it...
2. snowgator (Posts: 3289; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)
Why have a 10 point scale if you can't round up or down? A 7.2? Not a 7? Or even a 7.5?? But a 7.2???
Outside of that, not knowing how fast the ecosystem will build is a legit concern. One can guess fairly fast as Windows developers should be able to port all apps to all devices, but it is a unknown factor. Also, not knowing what price it will be nearly defeats reviewing it at this point. If it is 100$ cheaper then the Surface or some other Tablets, this becomes a steal. 100$ more, it becomes a complete rip-off. But not knowing that truly makes it hard to gauge the value. Why not wait until all factors are known?
Samsung is excited for the tablets and laptops lines running Windows, and I would have no worries about grabbing one of the ATIV line up. How much they support WP is up in the air, but these tablets should be looked at as a huge cash producing opportunity for Sammy. Here is hoping they are priced to move.
3. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3024; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)
"...the ATIV Tab is close, but not as good as the Surface"
You said it Nick T.
Would definitely prefer the Surface...
I read somewhere (probably a Sammy fan) that the ATIV tab would kill the Surface. Well, whoever it is...you add the remaining 2.8 points if you will.
4. MorePhonesThanNeeded (Posts: 645; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)
Both rubbish to be honest, with 10,000 apps this Windows RT is creating a space for itself, but honestly why? What is with these low end resolutions on windows tablets? Reading this review makes me wonder what the hell is MS doing? Microsoft Office works but it's awkward and works better with a mouse and keyboard attached...um the reason tablets were made was to lose the bloody mouse and keyboard. Surface comes with it's own cover keyboard thing, yet again what the hell. Learn to make touch interface better or just don't come at all. Heck use voice recognition typing instead. No idea where this stuff is aimed at, but people sure like to flock to things just because they love a particular brand.
If it weren't for the royalties issues, I can bet that Samsung wouldn't have even bothered with this Windows RT garbage. It's garbage because it doesn't even know what it supposed to be, how the hell is the end user supposed to figure it out? Still being a windows OS eating up HD space like no other 9GB out of 32GB, awesome and that's all OS no OEM bloat or anything.
5. Mihai_10 (Posts: 1; Member since: 05 Nov 2012)
If I had money, I would still have bought it
6. PhenomFaz (Posts: 1104; Member since: 26 Sep 2012)
When it comes to Windows tabs you cant go wrong with either Microsoft or Samsung
10. manoy (Posts: 1; Member since: 18 Dec 2012)
I want this one!
This may transform how we work and play and will rock with Office 2013 ?!