Samsung Series 7 Slate PC

Samsung's Windows slate doesn't live up to the performance promise.


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Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


Yes, there's no score on this review. If you're curious to find out why, hit the performance section. For everyone else, read on.

While we all wait to see what Windows 8 will bring to the slate world, manufacturers are still putting out Windows 7 touch devices. The latest to crop up is from Samsung, with some interesting points of note — the first being eight points of simultaneous touch, meaning that it should be an acceptable upgrade target for Windows 8.

There are three SKUs available; two have a 64GB SSD and either Windows Home Premium (with dock) or Professional (no dock), both AU$1699. Another AU$200 will pick you up a 128GB SSD instead, but it once again forgoes the dock option.

An 11.6-inch, 1366x768 screen is the centrepiece of the product, with a single USB 2.0 port, microSD slot, micro HDMI and an audio in/out jack being the only expansion options on the device itself. Slot it in to the supplied dock, and you'll gain yourself an extra full-sized HDMI port, gigabit Ethernet and another USB 2.0 port. A Bluetooth keyboard is included to complete the package.

Hardware is, on the face of it, rather impressive. Samsung has essentially packed an ultrabook into a slate, including a Core i5 2467M and 4GB of RAM.

Unlike most laptops or slates, the base level Series 7 Slate doesn't come with a backup partition, with Samsung opting to let the user have as much of its 64GB SSD as possible. Instead, a software utility called "Recovery Solution" backs up the system to an external hard drive. Yes, this isn't pure factory reset, but it creates an image of whenever you choose to make the snapshot. As such, if you buy the Slate, this should absolutely be the first thing you do.

As is common among touch devices, DPI is set to 125 per cent in Windows to provide a larger touch area for fingers. Regardless, Samsung has built its own interface ("Touch Launcher") to try to bridge the Windows touch divide. As has always been the case with software layers, things aren't great. Loading apps is slow — something that is perhaps acceptable on the desktop, but not tolerated in a tablet environment, especially in an age where responsiveness is key. Even swiping between apps in the app launcher can be laggy, and often doesn't work if you swipe too quickly.

It ultimately comes across as a not-quite-there attempt to merge two different designs and usage languages, as you'll end up flipping between interfaces to get things done. Need to do something more complicated? Go back to Windows. Need to do something that requires a higher security clearance? You'll get dropped to a UAC prompt. These inconsistencies grate as much as the low responsiveness.

There's one software addition that does make Windows life in a world of touch easier, and that's a drag-able toolbar called "Touch Supporter". It features common functions, such as cut, copy, paste and undo, and useful additions like the magnifying tool and a numpad. There's even the option to add additional shortcuts, such as rename, refresh and quit program.

We were keen to see how Samsung managed BIOS entry, and you can enter it by holding down the button at the bottom while booting. The volume buttons navigate up and down, and the lock button selects, but there's no way to select sub menus. If you want to BIOS edit, you'll need to plug in a keyboard.

We're unsure whether this is a hardware or a software thing, but there was quite a bit of lag when using the stylus, let alone touch. A click and drag across the desktop showed the highlight box to lag some time behind the touch interface. This isn't a unique property to the Samsung; it has reared its head on Asus' Eee Slate EP121, as well.

Despite coming with a stylus, Samsung provides no place on the Slate to store it, which is an odd omission.

Application performance

While hardware on the face of things looks impressive, Samsung has a heat problem. This causes the CPU multiplier to drop to 8x when things get toasty, effectively halving the speed. Just check out the results below, when compared to equivalent ultrabooks. We eliminated our sample unit as an issue by asking Samsung to send another; however, it was affected by the same issue.

Choose a benchmark: Handbrake | iTunes | Photoshop | Multimedia


To get close to normal speed, we had to resort to drastic measures.

We got close to the performance we'd expect by benchmarking in a freezer, indicating an overheating issue.
(Credit: CBSi)

The thing is, it's not just under the heavy load of Handbrake (where we recorded approximately 70 degrees Celsius temperatures on the CPU) that performance crumbles. Even the comparatively easier tasks of iTunes encoding and Photoshop actions suffered. It's not something that we regularly witness, with HP's Folio 13 the only product in recent memory to have suffered from the problem — and only via Handbrake, and nowhere near as severely. Admittedly, Samsung is packing the hardware into a tighter space than an ultrabook, but the performance promise just isn't executed.

Samsung's official response is below:

Samsung Series 7 Slate PC manages the speed of the CPU based on the operating temperature for the CPU at 70 degrees. The Samsung Slate PC CTDP (controllable thermal design power) is set at 70 degrees Celsius. This is to ensure the device is never too hot to continuously hold. Each specific model has a different design of the CTDP, depending on its intended usage. Samsung takes product quality very seriously, and is commitment to manufacturing the highest-quality products that enrich the lives of customers.

In general operation, the performance of the Slate is quite snappy, as one might expect. However, it certainly doesn't fulfil the promise of high-level performance all the time.

Battery life

Battery life (time)

  • Heavy battery test
  • Light battery test

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


The Slate does quite well indeed on battery, especially considering that Samsung has had less room to play with than the ultrabook makers.

Conclusion

We're quite torn on the Slate. On the one hand, as a casual product it will fulfil the user's need, and is quite nice to use. On the other hand, if someone wanted a casual tablet, they'd go iPad or Android, as the huge performance issues can't be ignored. For that reason alone, we'd recommend that if you're looking for a Windows slate, wait for Windows 8 and the new crop that will arrive.

To that end, we haven't scored it. It's not necessarily a bad product, but it is a broken one. To that degree, we recommend that you avoid it.



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WayneT1 posted a comment   

I have a 64gb and 128gb and love them.
Your reviews are not correct,
Sure the 64GB has no recovery partition due to the size of the SSD,
However my 128GB has definately got a recover partition.
Add a 64Gb Mcro SD and now your've creamed the opposition.
Heat is not an issue, even under enormous pressure. Not sure what you are on about here.
The slate far out does the iPad and Android. Full downloads not just apps. Full access to networks not just casual.
The Slate does every thing and more than any other tablet.
iPad - great for games and silly little apps. Wifes machine.
Android - Half a full windows machine. Just another wanna be.
Windows based Slate - does everything and more.

Buy a Slate and you will satisfied.

 

WarrenO posted a comment   

your test are irrelevant in that why would I decode video and stuff on it instead of my desktop. ive had not one issue with mine Ive destop, laptop and slate. how much is apple paying you? How long does it take to transcode on a ipad???

 

jateureka posted a comment   
Australia

Can the digitiser pen take an ink refil, or purchase a seperate digital pen with ink, so that you can fill out a paper form and capture what you wrote on the tablet?

DennisE Facebook
8
Rating
 

"Great device to replace laptop in business."

DennisE posted a review   

I purchased a Slate in March 2012 and have used it daily for business. It has met all my expectations - replacing the need to carry a diary, laptop, paper notebooks. With weight just under 1kg I freed up carrying 3.5kg. Yes the slate does get warm to hot during heavy use however, performance issues are not noticeable. I work on very large spreadsheets (50mb plus with calc times greater than 30sec) and the slate hasn't faulted. The screen is ideal for handwriting using the stylus (perfect combination when also using Microsoft's OneNote). It has even replaces meeting notes, through the use of handwriting driectly onto PDF documents etc. If a lot of typing is needed, just use the the lightweight bluetooth keyboard.The Toucher Launcher is not refined and do not use it, rather use my finger or stylus to use Windows as per a normal desk top. I find this method more free than a mouse. Lastly, if you are just looking for an internet device, the slate is overkill, but as a computer within a very neat package - definately. I am not disappointed with the device and recommend to others to use if they need more than ipad or android.

 

LeeS posted a comment   

I find your conclusions to be wrong in every respect. I have one of these slates and have sold several to my clients. They all agree that It is a fantastic product being both fast and reliable. To even compare it with an iPad is rediculous. I have one of those too and the iPad is a toy compared to the slate and Android is far to limiting in what it can do. The Asus tablet running Android couldn't even run skype with video properly. Not one of these slates have overheated and I quite often hear comments that it performs faster than their desktop pc. One client was so impressed with it, that they now bundle it with their colonography camera packages to be used in the medical industry.

 

Craig Simms posted a reply   
Australia

Glad to hear it worked out for you. We received two separate units with the same fault, and can only draw conclusions from the units in front of us.

 

AlexV1 posted a comment   
Australia

Windows 7 is not suited to Tablet form factor... Nor are Intel Core Family CPU's......




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User Reviews / Comments  Samsung Series 7 Slate PC

  • WayneT1

    WayneT1

    "I have a 64gb and 128gb and love them.
    Your reviews are not correct,
    Sure the 64GB has no recovery partition due to the size of the SSD,
    However my 128GB has definately got a reco..."

  • WarrenO

    WarrenO

    "your test are irrelevant in that why would I decode video and stuff on it instead of my desktop. ive had not one issue with mine Ive destop, laptop and slate. how much is apple paying you? How ..."

  • jateureka

    jateureka

    "Can the digitiser pen take an ink refil, or purchase a seperate digital pen with ink, so that you can fill out a paper form and capture what you wrote on the tablet?"

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