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SAMSUNG ATIV 500T DETAILS
The ATIV 500T's LED-lit LCD screen is on the large side at 11.6" but its
1366 x 768 pixel resolution is not exceptional in view of the ultra-high resolution
of the Nexus 10 (2560 x 1600) and iPad Retina (2048 x 1536). Still, the screen
looks detailed, vivid and sharp, and its PLS technology (a Samsung variation
of IPS) gives it good viewing angles. The weight is a moderate 1.65 lbs (25oz
or 761g), not light for single handed viewing at length, but OK for shorter
periods. The keyboard doubles the weight, despite not being equipped with an
extra battery (as far as I can tell); I suspect this is to help improve balance
when the tablet is docked in notebook mode, where it still feels a bit top heavy.
The entire machine is made mostly of plastic, though the back of the tablet
has a brushed aluminum look beneath a clear shiny veneer. Some might diss the
all-plastic construction, but the tablet actually feels fine to handle. The
keyboard is much less attractive, in both feel as well as look.
The screen is bright and sharp, its touch functionality quick and responsive.
The tablet's 16:9 proportions and size are at the limit for comfortable
hand holding, at least for me. Speakers are positioned in long slots on
either side of the screen, firing forward.
The back of the tablet is a glossy plastic with a pseudo brushed aluminum
look beneath. That is a back facing camera, along with a tiny LED flash.
There's one in the front, too. The edges and corners are rounded, and
its thickness is contoured, making it quite comfortable to hold. Its maximum
thickness is just 0.38" or barely 1 cm.
On the top edge: Headset/mic jack, power button & LED, screen rotate
off switch, two mics in pin holes, a USB 2.0 port, and microSD card slot.
I found the slot covers an annoyance.
Removing these docking port covers so that the tablet can clip to the
keyboard is a total pain; I ended up having to use a sharp utility knife.
Once docked to the keyboard, it looks much like a typical netbook. The
docking is positive and simple, and separating the two parts requires
just one button press. The keyboard looks plasticky.
This is the maximum tilt angle, probably because any further, and the
weight of the tablet would make it topple over on its back. The back end
of the keyboard gets raised by the hinge structure. A DC power port is
on the bottom edge of the tablet; it is duplicated on the side of the
keyboard, which gives rise to the question of whether the keyboard has
a secondary battery. The 1.65 lb weight suggests this might be the case,
but no one at Samsung was available to answer the question.
This tag on the keyboard suggests it has a battery, but it's a duplicate
of the power information on the tablet itself. When the AC adapter is
plugged into the keyboard, an LED light on the keyboard lights up. This
light goes off when the tablet is removed even if the power is left plugged
in the keyboard, so I've deduced that there is no battery in the keyboard.
On the left edge of the tablet is the MicroHDMI port and audio volume
control; the left side of the keyboard has another USB 2.0 port.
Yet another USB 2.0 port on the right edge of the keyboard.
Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T
||Windows 8 (32-bit)
||Intel® Atom Z2760
|Clock Speed (Max.)
||2 x 512KB
|Screen Size / Type
||11.6" / LED HD (PLS)
||1366 x 768
||400 nits - SuperBright Plus
||2GB DDR2L at 800 MHz
||64GB e.MMC iNAND SSD
|Memory Card Reader
||MicroSD, up to 64GB
||2.1 MP - front
8.0 MP - back
||Micro HDMI, 1 USB 2.0
|Ports on keyboard
||2 USB 2.0
|Dimensions & weight
||11.6" x 7.2" x 0.38"
1.65 lbs (tablet only)
Overall, the I/O complement is generous; three USB 2.0 ports in total is pretty
good. A small, high speed, 16, 32 or 64 GB USB flash drive could be used as
secondary semi-permanent storage if you feel cramped by the 64GB SSD in the
500T. They're usually not super fast, but should work OK for either moving data
around or saving it temporarily when you run out of space on the SSD. The MicroSD
slot can also be used this way. Gigabit ethernet LAN is mentioned in some spec
listings, but no such port is on either the tablet or the keyboard.
Rant Warning: No SD Card Slot
I bemoan the absence of an SD card slot. SD is the common standard for cameras.
Yes, you can get a USB add-on SD card reader, but that's another gadget to carry,
lose, break or fiddle with. There are adapters to turn MicroSD into into SD
cards, but they're fiddly, never as robust, and MicroSD cards are pricier. SD
cards with wifi built in (to transfer your images wirelessly to your computing
device) have appeared, but they're expensive and probably fiddly. The argument
that SD cards can't be fitted into a tablet doesn't hold water either, because
every Ultrabook has one, and some of them are barely half an inch thck, as thin
as many tablets.
The upshot, it seems to me, is that Apple didn't put them on the iPad because
they wanted users to buy expensive built-in SSD storage, and not have the option
of using an SD card for additional storage since then, virtually all
tablet makers have followed Apple's lead and excluded SD card slots, and mostly
MicroSD slots as well. In the meanwhile, any photo enthusiasts considering tablets
for their on-road gear have to factor in this SD card issue. It seems a silly
state of affairs. A Windows 8 tablet should break this cartel-ish complicity.
One confusion that came up with the Samsung ATIV 500T in my on-line research
is that there is a version with an electronic pen device which docks neatly
into the tablet. My sample does not have one. Neither does, apparently, any
model being sold in Canada going back to when it first appeared three months
to some online discussions among early adopters. For a while, the Canadian
Samsung site showed the pen-equipped model as being standard, just like the
US site. This must have been an error that Samsung Canada is trying to correct,
because oddly, there is no general product page for the 500T as I write this
article, only a support page with the PDF manual.
What's the big deal with a pen type stylus? For a tablet responsive to multi-gesture
touch, perhaps not much. But to operate in desktop mode on a smallish screen
without a keypad? It's a much bigger deal, because of the higher precision that
is needed. Then there's the range of inputs you can use script-recognition for,
assuming you still remember how to write with a pen. Windows 8 provides a handwriting
option with its onscreen keyboard. OneNote, packaged with Microsoft Office,
is an obvious choice for capturing natural script. If you are artistic, you
can also draw directly into appropriate programs. Samsung introduced the S Pen
with its Galaxy Note Android phone, then expanded it to many of its tablets,
starting with the Galaxy Note 10.1. Apparently Samsung believes the stylus is
important enough to
acquire a 5% stake in Wacom, whose technology they're using.
Samsung supplies virtually no technical details about the S Pen for the 500T.
Samsung Canada reps could not get me one to try, then later, I was told that
the version which come without an S Pen does not work with one, as the screen
lacks the additional layers required. Obviously, clarity on this issue is lacking.
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