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Samsung ATIV Tab Preview

Samsung ATIV Tab

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Interface and functionality:

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 desktop or a netbook PC, or the new Start screen, populated with live tiles 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!

Modern UI on the Samsung ATIV Tab - Samsung ATIV Tab Preview
Modern UI on the Samsung ATIV Tab - Samsung ATIV Tab Preview
Modern UI on the Samsung ATIV Tab - Samsung ATIV Tab Preview
Modern UI on the Samsung ATIV Tab - Samsung ATIV Tab Preview

Switching to the 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 claims that it has been touchscreen optimized.  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.

The desktop interface - Samsung ATIV Tab Preview
The desktop interface - Samsung ATIV Tab Preview

Office - Samsung ATIV Tab Preview
Office - Samsung ATIV Tab Preview
On-screen keyboard - Office - Samsung ATIV Tab Preview
  

On-screen keyboard


So let's leave the desktop interface aside and go back to the new stuff. Now would be a good time to mention the several things that new users will have to get familiar with. For starters, switching between applications is done with a short right-ward swipe starting from the left edge of the display. Continuing the gesture with a swipe in the opposite direction will bring forth a bar with all apps that are currently open. May sound complicated, but in reality, shuffling between apps has been made really convenient. An upward swipe from the bottom brings forth a button, which takes you to the list of all installed applications when tapped. Pressing the Windows button takes you instantly back to the Start screen. Press it again and the last active window will be brought on display.


Software:

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. One of the apps we are quite happy with is the weather application, which provides a rich array of information, including an hourly forecast and radar maps of the surrounding area. 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. To no surprise, Bing Maps (powered by Nokia) comes included, and provides not only several layers of mapping data, but can also recommend driving directions from point A to B.

Weather application - Samsung ATIV Tab Preview
Bing Maps - Samsung ATIV Tab Preview

Weather application

Bing Maps



Web browser and connectivity:

Internet Explorer 10 is what comes installed on the Samsung ATIV Tab. In other words, you get a proper web browser that acts a lot like the multitude of mobile browsers available on Android and iOS. In other words, navigation is done using touch-based gestures, such as pinch-to-zoom and the likes. Due to the unfinished nature of the tablet's software, it is too early to draw a conclusion about IE10's performance, although we can confirm that it runs pretty smoothly on our prototype unit.

Browser - Samsung ATIV Tab Preview

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 the Glonass for improved precision.


Expectations:

Samsung ATIV Tab Preview
It is hard to predict how the Samsung ATIV Tab will fare on the tablet market, but we see it as an offering with plenty of potential. On one hand we have the Microsoft Windows RT platform, and Windows is a name that general consumers have been trusting for years. Therefore, potential buyers might be less hesitant to get an ATIV Tab since it will offer an environment they would be familiar with. In addition, the streamlined,  buttery-smooth Modern UI is a breath of fresh air in a world choke full of iPads and Android slates.  

However, we fear that the initial batch of Windows RT tablets will face a problem Android slates had to deal with for quite a long time – software availability. That is because ARM-based Windows tablets cannot handle code meant to run on Windows 8 or its earlier versions, so developers will have to port their applications to yet another platform. Microsoft promised that the process will require a minimal amount of effort on the developer's side, but how many of them will even bother making their apps run on Windows RT?

Nevertheless, we have high hopes for the Samsung ATIV Tab. Sure, it likely won't turn into a best-seller overnight, but it might be what will pave the way for a whole range of Windows RT tablets to follow over time. And that is when the things on the tablet market might get a whole lot more interesting.

Samsung ATIV Tab Video Preview:



Our Samsung ATIV Tab Review is now published - click here to read it.

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PhoneArena rating:
Not rated
Display10.1 inches, 1366 x 768 pixels (155 ppi) LCD
Camera5 megapixels
Hardware
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus, Dual-core, 1500 MHz, Krait processor
2 GB RAM
Size10.46 x 6.62 x 0.35 inches
(265.8 x 168.1 x 8.9 mm)
20.11 oz  (570 g)

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