Home > Notebook Reviews & Tablet Reviews > Samsung ATIV 500T Smart PC
Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T
What's hot: Good battery life, bright and colorful touchscreen, has a digital Wacom pen, relatively light, can run X86 Windows 7 apps.
What's not: A bit slow, especially given the price bracket. Keyboard dock connection flaky.
Reviewed December 27, 2012 by Lisa Gade, Editor
in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)
The Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T proves two things: you can never have enough words in your product name and that there is a place for tweener Windows 8 tablets. At the lower end of price and functionality we have Windows 8 RT tablets like MS Surface RT and the Asus VivoTab RT with an entry price of $500-$600, and at the upper end we have Intel Core i5 tablets like the Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T, Acer Iconia Tab W700 and the MS Surface Pro, priced around $1,000 and up. And then there are Windows 8 convertible tablets like the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13, Lenovo ThinkPad Twist, Toshiba Satellite U925t and Sony Vaio Duo 11 selling for more than $1,000 on average, though some are less expensive.
The Samsung $649 ATIV 500T ($769 with keyboard dock), like other Intel Atom based tablets, can run all Windows apps: that means x86/Windows 7 apps just like any other full Windows computer. You're not limited to Live Tiles apps from the MS app store as you are with Windows RT tablets. That makes the ATIV 500T a much more versatile product than can run MS Office, Adobe Photoshop, Windows Media Player and much more, and it accepts drivers for USB peripherals just like existing Windows laptops and desktops. The caveat? Though Intel Atom CPUs have improved since the old netbook days, they're still not nearly as fast as Intel Core i machines.
Specs at a Glance
The Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T has dual band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, an 8MP rear camera with LED flash and a front 2MP camera. The tablet has 1 USB 2.0 port, a 3.5mm audio jack and a microSD card slot that's compatible with SDXC cards. It looks much like an elongated Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Android tablet, complete with very shiny gray plastics and front stereo speakers that flank the display. The tablet runs Windows 8 and there's an optional $129 keyboard dock with two USB 2.0 ports (unlike Asus and Lenovo Android keyboard docks it lacks an internal secondary battery).
Design and Ergonomics
Unlike the less expensive MS Surface RT tablet, the ATIV 500T is a glossy, plasticky tablet that doesn't scream classy gear. It's not a bad looking tablet, but it bears a striking resemblance to the company's more budget oriented Galaxy Tab 2 tablet than the $650 product it is. For those who don't care much about that, the super-slippery back is still a detractor in our book: it's just hard to keep a good grip on the tablet, much like Samsung's Galaxy S III smartphones.
On the other hand, we appreciate the two 0.8 watt stereo speakers that flank the display so you can hear them loud and clear. Audio is indeed ample by tablet standards and the ATIV 500T has a combo mic-headphone jack for wired audio output, and like all Windows machines with Bluetooth, it supports Bluetooth headsets, headphones and speakers.
The tablet has just a few ports: 3.5mm audio, one USB 2.0 port, a charging port, keyboard dock port, SDXC microSD card slot and a micro HDMI port. There's a front 2MP video chat camera centered above the display and a rear 8MP camera. The optional keyboard dock adds two USB 2.0 ports. The island style keyboard is reasonably good for typing, though the size is equivalent to an 11.6" netbook's, so guys with big hands may find it cramped. The keyboard dock has a trackpad as well, and it worked fine for single-touch gestures but multi-touch gestures were lacking (these may appear in a future driver update). The keyboard and tablet sometimes lost their connection, even when we didn't move them, so we're not sure if this is a driver or hardware issue.
Display and S-Pen
Though not remarkably high resolution, the tablet has a 400 nit, 1366 x 768 PLS display that's sharp and colorful with good viewing angles. The tablet has both capacitive multi-touch and a Wacom active digitizer with S-Pen for drawing, painting and taking notes. The S-Pen shines more here than on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 because Windows has a wider selection of art and note-taking apps than Android. The included S-Pen (note the AT&T version of this tablet lacks the pen and active digitizer) has 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity and a much more precise and smooth inking and drawing experience than a capacitive stylus. That's a wonderful addition for note takers, though digital artists may find the tablet not fast enough for smooth operation in advanced art apps like Photoshop and Painter.
Like its Android counterpart, Samsung's S-Note app is here for digital inking (both drawing and writing), handwriting recognition and formula recognition, though we've found the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Android tablet's version of S-Note more spritely and responsive. The dual core Atom is more than capable of running S-Note well, so we hope that future software updates will improve speed.