Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T first impressions

Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

After my time with the Acer Iconia W510, I was really excited to get my hands on the Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T. I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes with it at the Windows Phone 8 launch in late-October, but it was difficult to get a good impression of a device in that type of setting. I spent a few hours setting up my accounts, installing apps and desktop applications, and personalizing the settings yesterday, and I was immediately impressed. Not to disparage the Iconia W510, but the difference between the two tablets was night and day.

Right off the bat, I was impressed with the hardware design. The entire tablet is enclosed in smooth plastic which looks like brushed metal with a blueish tint. It just feels great in your hands. The larger-than-usual 11.6-inch screen is also a nice plus. I was worried that it might be too big for a tablet, but that’s not the case. The screen resolution is still set at 1366 x 768 pixels, but the extra inch or two makes it seem as if you have more screen real estate. I also really like how you don’t need a special dongle to access the USB port.

Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T with Pen - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

My favorite feature, however, has to be the digital S-Pen. The ATIV Smart PC 500T isn’t the only Windows 8 tablet to support a digital stylus – the recently-released Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro also includes one – but the S-Pen works very well. When you combine it with Windows 8’s top-notch handwriting recognition, you get a stylus that is highly accurate and feels very natural. It’s not something you’d want to use in every circumstance, but I found myself quickly swapping between touch and pen. Once the keyboard dock arrives, I expect to add two more input methods to the mix.

Finally, after the horror of discovering crapware all over Acer’s device, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Samsung has significantly improved the experience on its tablet. While there are a few pre-installed apps and applications, only the Help Center and Office 2010 trial are pinned to the taskbar, and you won’t find any shortcuts on the desktop. So far, I’ve only needed to uninstall a handful of applications. The standard WinKey+VolDown keyboard shortcut also works for taking screenshots, unlike the Iconia W510.

Overall, my time with the Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T is off to a great start. I’ve already begun installing desktop applications like Office 2013, Photoshop, and SkyDrive for Windows desktop, and I’ll be writing about how these and other applications perform over the coming weeks. Look for my full review of the tablet in the near future.

The Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T tablet was provided to me, by Intel, as part of the company’s #IntelTablets #TabletCrew program.

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William Devereux

William Devereux is the former Microsoft editor at Pocketables, as well as a Microsoft MVP and SkyDrive/ Insider. As his title implies, he wrote about all things from Redmond, including Windows 8 and Windows Phone. He is currently carrying a Windows Phone 8X by HTC and a Microsoft Surface with Windows RT tablet.

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14 thoughts on “Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T first impressions

  • Avatar of patrick

    I wonder how performance is. Have a surface rt and thinking about selling and getting this or the Lenovo ThinkPad 2 which also has a pen.

    • Avatar of William Devereux

      Performance has been pretty good… for an Atom processor, of course. I’ve experienced a few hiccups here and there (especially trying to use Photoshop while streaming a Netflix video), but it works well for the most part. Just don’t expect high-end performance.

  • Avatar of Samy Farrow

    Is this running Windows 8 rt? How big is the memory?

    • Avatar of William Devereux

      The ATIV runs full Windows 8, rather than Windows RT, and it includes 2GB of RAM.

      • Avatar of Samy Farrow

        How comparable to a surface pro do you think it is?

        • Avatar of William Devereux

          While there are many similarities, the two tablets are actually quite different. The Surface Pro has much beefier specs than the ATIV, so it’s more like a true Ultrabook in that respect. The ATIV only has an Atom processor, for example, but it works just fine in most situations.

          But since the Surface Pro is more powerful, it also has a shorter battery life. So when comparing the two devices, you have to ask yourself whether you want top-notch performance or really good battery life.

  • I’ve heard mixed reviews on how well this runs some desktop applications – combination of the processor and memory. I’m sure you’ll test it hard, but that’s one of the biggest hesitations I’ve had about buying this…

    • Avatar of William Devereux

      I’ve been pleased with desktop applications so far, but you have to go into it with the mindset that this device has an Atom processor. It’s not an Ultrabook replacement, so it can’t offer the same processing speeds. That being said, it has been fine for everyday use so far. We’ll see if that continues.

      • Avatar of Patrick

        How does iTunes run on this? What about chrome and 1080p flash video? How’s the screen size compared to Microsoft surface rt? I like the size of my surface with 10.6 inch and that ratio they use. I know on the asus vivo tab rt the screen size looks smaller and more square.

        • Avatar of William Devereux

          I haven’t installed iTunes on it (I actually prefer to buy my media through Xbox Video or Amazon), but full-screen HD video seems to work well. I haven’t spent too much time testing this aspect, however.

          As for the screen, at 11.6-inches it’s a little bigger than the Surface’s 10.6-inch display. But they both run at a resolution of 1366 x 768. The aspect ratio is also comparable, so you don’t see any black bars while watching a video.

  • One big question I have is how the whites look on the screen. My biggest problem with Samsung products is the blue-instead-of-white background, and that would definitely turn me off of this product.

    • Avatar of William Devereux

      I haven’t really noticed much of a blue tint in everyday use so far. Although if I start noticing it, I’ll definitely let you know (either here in the comments or in my review).

  • Avatar of Alex

    You mention that you had to remove some applications. Which ones did you removed and did it increased the performance?

    • Avatar of William Devereux

      The biggest applications I removed were from Norton, since I prefer Microsoft’s security suite. I also removed PvZ (a desktop game), the Office 2010 trial (so I could replace it with Office 2013), and a few others.

      Here’s the full list of preinstalled apps, applications, and pinned sites:

      • Microsoft Office 2010 trial
      • Adobe Reader X
      • CyberLink PowerDVD 10
      • Easy File Share (Samsung)
      • E-POP (Samsung)
      • Help Desk (Samsung)
      • Intel AppUp center
      • Mini S Note
      • Norton Internet Security
      • Norton Online Backup
      • Plants vs. Zombies
      • Settings (Samsung)
      • Support Center (Samsung)
      • Windows Essentials 2012
      • Xerox PhotoCafe
      • S Note
      • S Camera
      • Evernote Touch
      • Kindle
      • Skype
      • S Gallery
      • Photo Editor
      • Samsung QR Code
      • Security
      • Samsung Signature Store
      • StumbleUpon
      • Merriam-Webster
      • Netflix
      • Music Maker Jam
      • Jamie Oliver’s Recipes
      • Shark Dash
      • Pinball FX2

      I’ve left all of the Samsung apps/applications on the device for now (I want to spend some time with them), as well as a few other miscellaneous ones.


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