Samsung ATIV Q Review

Samsung ATIV Q Review

Samsung blew the roof when it unveiled the ATIV Q, and not only with the record screen resolution of this convertible tablet/ultrabook device, but other novel ideas that beg to be approached with open mind, as there's barely a reference point for something like it.

Running hot-swap Windows 8 and Android on a 13.3” touch display with the eye-popping 3200x1800 pixels of resolution, powered by the latest Haswell chip endurance athlete by Intel, all stuffed into a thin and light body with a crazy hinge that slides the device into a tablet, notebook or hybrid “terrace” form – all of that is not for the faint of heart manufacturers, and has a recipe for disaster sign written all over it.

Has Samsung managed to give us a glimpse at the future of portable devices for work and play, or will the ATIV Q feel like it is way ahead of its time due to “details” like hinge construction, software scalability for such resolution, or simply overpricing? Read on to find out...


The first time you grab the ash black ATIV Q, it exudes the impression of a well-made, albeit mostly plastic 13” ultrabook. It is pretty thin at 14mm, and the 2.8 pounds (1.3 kg) of weight are more than reasonable for the true laptop power it holds.

When closed in a tablet mode, however, it has the obvious shortcoming of being a pretty big and heavy one, weighing twice what your average 10-incher does. It's not that your hands will get extremely tired when you hold it with both, but most of the time you need to rest it against your body for support. The form factor is somewhat more useful when reading or watching movies in bed, as you can lean it against the head-board or your knees and it takes much less space this way.

Perhaps the most interesting design part, and the one with the biggest question mark in terms of durability is the hinge mechanism that allows the screen half to slide from the default tablet form into a full-fledged notebook by snapping it into place behind the chiclet keyboard. Alternatively, you can flip it around and use the keyboard part as a stand, or simply float it parallel to the keyboard, forming a Z letter of sorts, for a total of four poses that should cover most situations you need.

To allay your concerns, the mechanism feels very sturdy and with an oily motion at the same time. These things get opened and closed many thousands of times and endure pressure tests before they leave the factory, so we wouldn't worry about its durability, yet only time and prolonged usage will tell how it will hold in the hands of the average careless user.

As if to prove that the hinge will last, Samsung placed the whole processor part in the stand behind the display part. This undoubtedly helps with cooling when in notebook mode, and also saves space for other stuff in the keyboard part, so if Samsung didn't make sure the hinge mechanism is sturdy enough, it wouldn't have built the heart of your ATIV Q right into it, given the whole flippity-flap concept of this convertible device.

The chiclet-style keyboard doesn't feature a trackpad, though Samsung does provide a responsive optical track pointer in the middle of the keyboard, with three mouse keys just on the edge.

The keyboard is well-spaced, with dedicated desktop mode and volume buttons column on the left, which, however, gets in the way of typing, especially if you are a touch typist. The keys are as big as they can be on a 13-incher, so typing is fairly comfortable when you get used to the keyboard, though the travel feels a bit shallow and mushy, which is a common issue with most thin ultrabooks. Another down point is that the keys aren't backlit, which can be a nuisance at night.

Looking around the sides, we find an a USB 2.0 port on the right, covered with a protective flap, a Power key underneath it, and a headphone/mic combo jack in-between. The left is reserved for a volume rocker and autorotate switch, while above them an RJ45 jack with a dedicated dongle and a power jack are situated. The side keys are easy to feel and press without looking, with enough feedback.

The rest of the connectivity options – an USB 3.0 and miniHDMI ports - are a bit oddly placed, on the left side of the stand/hinge mechanism behind the screen part, so you can't use them while the ATIV Q is closed in tablet mode. The microSD card slot is there, too, but on the right side of the stand. There is an HD 720p-capable front camera for video chat above the display.

Last but not least, the ATIV Q sports a built-in S Pen stylus, tucked conveniently on the right, so you can quickly jot down things with the S Note app, doodle with Paint, or annotate to your heart's desire, though the Q is a heavy setup to be used as a clipboard like you would with a straight-up tablet.


The 13.3” 3200x1800 pixels screen is with the record high 275ppi density for its size. For comparison, even the 13” MacBook Pro with Retina Display sports 220ppi, so Samsung takes the cake here, and will likely keep it for a while, considering the other virtues of the groundbreaking touchscreen panel on the ATIV Q.

Besides being the most resolute screen you can find on any ultrabook or convertible device, it is also very bright and with high contrast. Viewing angles are great, too, with barely a horizontal or vertical shift in brightness or contrast at the extremes.

Samsung says the panel can reach peak brightness up to 600 nits outside under direct sunlight, which would help tremendously with outdoor visibility, given that the screen reflections are kept in check here. Our measurements showed about 320 nits maximum brightness inside at the center of the display, which is in line with Samsung's advertised 300 nits average maximum when not in SuperBright mode.



46. whosteeno

Posts: 2; Member since: Aug 19, 2013

Anybody notice that when you type in samsung ativ q in google adorama camera has it listed for 1398.00. When you go to there website its not there??? Coming Soon i hope!!

45. BooBooooooo

Posts: 57; Member since: Aug 07, 2013

i wonder how much it is smooth on its vertual os android

39. Wiidesire

Posts: 3; Member since: Jul 17, 2013

Is there are more detailed test upcoming? If not I have some questions: How is the brightness in the sun? Did you actually test it? Some more detailed information about the battery please and how it performs. And is 4GB Ram enough? And in what situations is it full? How far can I multitask? Android+ Windows running, how much does it take without any programs running?

38. twospirits

Posts: 6; Member since: Sep 19, 2012

Too bad i can't edit and add to my previous comment. Anyway,.. Just noticed the review was updated a bit. I noticed that the article states more info on the ram. Out of the 4GB ram 1.5 is for Android and 2.5 for Windows which the ratio is changeable with a slider. Then out of the available space in the system, 16GB is for Android. Good to know.

37. twospirits

Posts: 6; Member since: Sep 19, 2012

Although I can probably dismiss the fact that it only has 4GB of ram, I feel that regardless of gorilla glass, that it would get scratch since the display is always out in the open. The device is marketed as a tablet/laptop hybrid, but in reality, that is only half true. Unlike a laptop when you close the lid, the display is protected. This device won't be. I've heard that there will be a cover but I don't see how it would attached to it. I would have prefered that Samsung would have updated their current ATIV hybrids like the 500T and 700T instead of replacing them with this new form factor.

36. gregzeng

Posts: 8; Member since: Jul 17, 2013

Like every other PC or Mac-PC, it can also run many versions of Linux, such as Ubuntu or Kubuntu, These Linux operating systems can multi-boot from a flash-sick or flash-card, or from the onboard drive storage. I expect it to be more powerful than Windows-7 on the same hardware, but with much less demand on the memory and storage spaces. Of course it will read-write to bothe the Android and the windows parts of the computer, like most Linux operating systems can.

35. twospirits

Posts: 6; Member since: Sep 19, 2012

IMHO, any tablet bigger than 10-11 inches is really marketed to those other than the user tablet user that would use the device for the usual media consumption (videos, news, social media etc). Those folks would be fine with any other tablets on the market. This tablet (much like the Sony Duo that are bigger) would be for those that really want to multitask and have open numerous apps in Windows and Android. As you open more and more apps the system would most likely come to a crawl with only 4GB of ram. Granted, I do agree that it would get hotter with more ram and running alot of apps. It's a shame that the review didn't go further into depth on running numerous apps in both OS's.

32. wynand32

Posts: 7; Member since: Jul 17, 2013

My biggest question is: what resolution does Android run at? The full 3200X1800?

33. Daniel.P

Posts: 127; Member since: Jul 14, 2011

It runs at 1920x1016 (not including the navigation bar)...

40. wynand32

Posts: 7; Member since: Jul 17, 2013

Oh, that's a HUGE bummer. At 13.3", that's only 165 PPI. One of the biggest attractions for me was having a high-res 13.3" Android device. The Ativ Q is becoming less and less attractive to me.

42. Daniel.P

Posts: 127; Member since: Jul 14, 2011

No worries, it can go up to 3200x1800 when the desktop is in that mode, as you can see from the properties tab of the last screenshots of the Android interface. It's just that by default the display res is Full HD, so in Android mode it's the default one, too.

43. wynand32

Posts: 7; Member since: Jul 17, 2013

That's excellent news, thanks! I wonder: could you do a couple closeup pics of the screen in both resolutions? I think it would be fascinating to see. Maybe also run Antututu at 3200X1800. Thanks again for the update!

44. wynand32

Posts: 7; Member since: Jul 17, 2013

Also, I'm not seeing the screenshot that shows 3200X1800. Could you specify which one? Thanks!

31. esperanza

Posts: 49; Member since: Mar 23, 2013

wow So fast. thanks a lot for this review. I've been looking for this. looks much better than Sony vaio duo 13 imo. The S-pen with docking slot allowing for 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity is awesome. Samsung bring it on with 8G ram and keyboard backlit.

30. twospirits

Posts: 6; Member since: Sep 19, 2012

I agree 4GB is not enough for this beast of a machine. As for the price, I do believe one US site has it listed as $1399.

26. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

So what's the deal with the no-show of Android features? Samsung didn't allow it, Google maybe cause it's on 4.3? Or is it simply just not ready?

24. livyatan

Posts: 867; Member since: Jun 19, 2013

..and the name is horrendous. Samsung should've called the Samsung Ultimate series or something like that.

23. livyatan

Posts: 867; Member since: Jun 19, 2013

Samsung simply wiped the floor with every other mainstream manufacturer here. A league of its own product that will unfortunately fail because of the price that only Apple or Alienware or Razer badge can get away with.

21. anirudhshirsat97

Posts: 408; Member since: May 24, 2011

Even with that price. This has to be, without doubt, the best tablet Computer ever...!!

19. SmartPhoneStream

Posts: 162; Member since: Jun 21, 2012

They have to give you an option for an i7. This thing is screaming high end but the processor is screaming mid end. And bump up the ram to 6-8 GB

14. nicholassss

Posts: 368; Member since: May 10, 2012

I'm impressed hardware-wise. so far. Something like this as a chromebook/android dohicky would be ballin.

6. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

I want it so bad, but OH MY GOD it has a ridiculous price tag.

7. tiara6918

Posts: 2263; Member since: Apr 26, 2012

Then go get an ativ tab(a bit cheaper). My dad has one and I really enjoyed using it except for the market place

15. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

The price really makes it a niche device. It offers so much, and the price reflects it. S Pen support, the highest resolution display on any tablet or laptop, 4th gen Intel processor, dual boot of Android and Windows 8, all in a very sleek form factor.

18. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

But it's not the most well-rounded spec sheet. Okay, if not a gaming GPU, then it still could've included the HD5000 integrated chip for better performance/power factor. I'm a bit skeptical of this handling such a great resolution AND a secondary screen. But I fully expect Sammy to upgrade it to HD5000 and to 8GB RAM before the year's out.

5. AdamLeonard

Posts: 61; Member since: Aug 24, 2011

On the 2nd page you talk about adding more memory. Did you really mean memory (i.e. RAM) or did you mean storage? I've not seen anything that suggests that you could go to 6 or 8GB of RAM on this thing and I really need the extra storage for a giant DB I work in all day.

12. nlbates66

Posts: 328; Member since: Aug 15, 2012

they'd mean storage, as in sdcards via the slot.

13. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

That's one point I don't like about this beast, 4gigs in a device that could have a shock price of $2000. Also, plugging in an external hi-res 2nd screen could be an issue with the limited GPU. I guess this would make perfect sense around $1000, but it will come at a much, much higher price very unfortunately.

4. nlbates66

Posts: 328; Member since: Aug 15, 2012

not a bad ultrabook at all, kudos to Samsung, I can't say I'd use it as a tablet though, 10-11" is the limit for that I think(for me anyway), also, first thing to do after getting something like this - remove that android switcheroo rubbish!

20. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Get a clue... You have the WONDERS of a Windows PC with the magic of Android 4.2.2 out of the box. You can have your FUN with Android & actually get some work done with Windows. What a win, win. This will sell very well because of that very awesome & unique feature. Why remove one of it's STAND OUT features. It's like getting a BMW with a TOYOTA Engine instead of the BMW engine. lol
  • Display 13.3 inches
    1800 x 3200 pixels
  • Hardware Intel Core i5, 4GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, microSDXC
  • OS Windows 8

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