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.



1. sri_tech

Posts: 188; Member since: May 21, 2013

"Phone"arena is the first site to review this PC. Haha.

8. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

That's barely more than a preview. No professional testing done - not even Android benchmarks, let's face it, everybody on PhoneArena clicked on the article for that - no proper battery rundown, no proper screen saturation and brightness measuring, temperatures, charging time, touch, pen response, laptop type tests. This can't even be a retail product since Windows 8.1 is not out for many weeks. It's not a review, it's a preview. I mean surely, we all wanted to know a little more of device.

9. sri_tech

Posts: 188; Member since: May 21, 2013

Only site to know all the things mentioned will be Not even verge, engadget and other sites will do those things. Even if they will be baised against Windows.

10. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

The other Bulgarian "Arena" does satisfactory testing for mobile devices, so do many other sites. I'm not complaining or anything, just saying this would be called preview elsewhere, and our curiosity regarding performance and battery life remains unfed.

11. vincelongman

Posts: 5720; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

NotebookCheck and Anandtech are my favorite sites for reviews. They are the most detailed and technical by far.

28. LizGreenwood

Posts: 2; Member since: Jul 16, 2013

What's really troubling is each site I've seen this lists this with only 4GB of RAM. What was Samsung thinking offering this with so little RAM. My cheap netbook that ccost 1/3 the price of this had that much RAM. I am s student and multitask a lot and I would never pay over $1,200 for a laptop with only 4Gb of RAM. Samsung needs to offer an option to buy the Q with 8GB of RAM.

34. d_myke

Posts: 15; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

But its not a laptop. It's basically a super tablet that can easily function as a laptop. 8gb of RAM on a tablet is nonsense imo, and would just make it run hotter. Get the Ativ 9.

41. AdamLeonard

Posts: 61; Member since: Aug 24, 2011

Actually, Tom's Hardware guide found that more memory greatly reduces writing to the hard drive which can both increase performance AND (more importantly) increase the life of an SSD. Their finding is you can never have too much RAM if you have an SSD.

16. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Ok I read the whole article & this Ultra Book/Tablet is something that I REALLY want. Any word on the price? I really don't care because I am getting this beast but it would be nice to know.....

17. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Maybe $1500.00 or so?!? TOTALLY WORTH IT. SO BAD A$$. You have the BEST of an Ultra Book, & the BEST from Android @ 4.2.2 to 4.3 STOCK so quick updates. NO Samsung Touch Wiz & add a S-Pen also. 256GB of SSD with the BEST screen available... WOW what a WIN!!! All that for about $1500.00 is alright with me. It won't replace my Desk Top PC BUT as a travel companion you can't have anything better than this!!! What an EPIC machine!!!! I WANT THIS YESTERDAY!!!!! lol

25. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

What a horrible video review. Why not show the Samsung ATIV Q running Android? I wanted to see how it switches from Windows 8.1 to Android 4.2.2. How can post this video? VERY, VERY incomplete.

29. taz89

Posts: 2014; Member since: May 03, 2011

Exactly lol I'm watching the review thinking when are they going to show the android side and how the 2 co exist but other than just mentioning android they showed nothing of it..this isnt a review , its bairly a preview lol. Seriously how did they think this is a review when they pretty much left one os out..its like they forget this has both android and wp

27. LizGreenwood

Posts: 2; Member since: Jul 16, 2013

I want to buy this but not if it ships with only 4GB of RAM. I can't believe they are about to start selling a ~$1500 convertible with only 4GB of RAM with no option to get this with at least 8GB of RAM. I was thinking about buying a Thinkpad Helix or Duo 13, both which can be ordered with 8GB of RAM, when this came out but I will not buy this if it only ships with 4GB of RAM. Most business users and students who multitask heavily will need more RAM and it is absurd they are selling this with only 4GB of RAM. Who is Samsung selling this for with only 4GB of RAM? People who have to much money and no sense about what they are buying. With 8Gb of RAM the Ativ Q would be the perfect laptop/tablet for me but otherwise I'm going to get a well configured Helic or Duo 13.

2. MrKoles

Posts: 368; Member since: Jan 20, 2013


3. sri_tech

Posts: 188; Member since: May 21, 2013

Resolution scaling is coming with Windows 8.1 You should have mentioned it instead of just putting it in Cons.

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

22. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

Exactly. You have the Play Store AND all the productive programs on Windows at your fingertips, all on that beautiful display, it's genius!

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.

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.

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.

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

21. anirudhshirsat97

Posts: 408; Member since: May 24, 2011

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

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.

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.
  • Display 13.3" 3200 x 1800 pixels
  • Processor Intel Core i5, Dual-core, 2600 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB

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