Samsung has taken the opportunity to revamp its previous Samsung Series 7 Slate in two different 11.6-inch forms: a Series 5 Slate with a next-gen Atom processor for US$749, and a Series 7 Slate with a Core i5 processor for US$1199. As usual, we're left waiting for local pricing and release dates, which we hope to get post-Windows 8 launch.
Both have detachable keyboard docks and run Windows 8. The biggest new addition to these Slates might be their stylii: both come with the S Pen, the pressure-sensitive Samsung stylus introduced in Galaxy Note phones and tablets over the past year.
The S Pen slots into the side of the Slate, and offers 1024 levels of sensitivity. Depending on the software designed to work with the S Pen, it could be a killer differentiating feature compared to other Windows tablets. Samsung is also installing MediaHub software to help out with entertainment and app access to Samsung's content.
The new Samsung Series 5 Slate runs off an Intel Atom Z2760, a next-gen system on a chip (SoC) that seems similar to the processor in the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2. In fact, so is the docking mechanism: the Slate pops into its keyboard-and-touch-pad base and becomes a conventional ultraportable. Several other manufacturers seem to be working on very similar products. The Series 5 Slate has an 11.6-inch screen (at 1366x768), weighs 0.75kg and measures 294.64x182.88x9.65mm. It comes with 2GB of RAM, a 64GB SSD, gigabit Ethernet with an adapter and Bluetooth 4.0. The Series 5 Slate will also be sold in the US without the keyboard dock at US$649.
The Series 7 Slate weighs a little more, at 0.86kg, and it's thicker: 12.7mm. Its 11.6-inch screen has a higher 1920x1080-pixel resolution. The Series 7 Slate (XE700T1C-A01US) comes with an Intel Core i5 3317U processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD, as well as gigagbit Ethernet with an adapter and Bluetooth 4.0, matching the standards of many ultrabooks.
The Samsung's Slate/keyboard solution has a touchscreen as well as a full multi-touch track pad, both of which can be used to navigate Windows 8's interface. The Series 7 Slate has both front- and rear-facing cameras.
Closed up, the Series 7 Slate with its keyboard base is lightweight — around 1.4kg — but it feels thicker than an ultrabook; more like a netbook or 11-inch laptop. It feels easy to slide into a bag.
The Series 5 and 7 Slates look attractive, and have a bit of a different aesthetic than the generally sleeker, thinner Galaxy Tab Android tablets. The success of Samsung's Slates will go as far as Windows 8 tablet functionality will take them. If these slates can demonstrate excellent battery life and easy-to-use Windows apps, then they could be compelling hybrids. The US$749 Series 5 Slate feels like the more interestingly priced device; the Series 7 Slate, at US$1199, is pretty expensive for an 11-inch device, even with its specs.
We haven't heard what models Samsung intends to bring to Australia — here's hoping the veil lifts soon.