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Samsung Series 7 Slate

Editor's rating: 4 (scale of 1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star
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Editor's Choice award

What's hot: Relatively light, excellent touch experience by Windows standards, active digitizer with pen, fast, decent battery life.

What's not: Not cheap, but you do get what you pay for.


Reviewed December 8 2011 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Updated 2/5/2012 to reflect second review unit's improvements.

Windows tablets get a bad rap among consumer product reviewers because they're more expensive than mobile OS tablets, they weigh more and tend to have shorter battery life. Vertical market users, artists and engineers see the beauty of Windows tablets, and the ways they can make digital art come to life or simplify work in the field. With the Samsung Series 7 Slate, those who appreciate Windows tablets no longer have to suffer poor battery life or heft. The Series 7 Tablet weighs just 2 pounds, which is remarkable considering that many Android 10" tablets weigh 1.65 pounds and the Asus Eee Pad Slider Android tablet with slide-out keyboard weighs 2.1 pounds. The venerable Asus Eee Slate EP121, one of the best Windows 7 tablets on the market, weighs 2.5 pounds and runs for just 2.5 to 3 hours on a charge.

Since this is a full Windows machine, anything you do with Windows 7, you can do with the Slate. Need a keyboard to do some serious typing? Plug in a USB keyboard or pair a Bluetooth wireless keyboard. Want to dock it to a large monitor? Use HDMI to do that. Need more storage? Plug in a USB external hard drive. That makes it more powerful and versatile than mobile OS tablets, but the drawback is you'll have to deal with Windows Updates and virus threats.

Samsung Series 7 Slate

Is the Samsung Series 7 Slate wildly better than the Asus Eee Slate? Not widly, but it brings some important advancements like a second generation ULV Intel Core i5 CPU with Intel HD 3000 graphics, much better battery life and a better 10-point capacitive touch experience. The Eee Slate's multi-touch works OK with touch, but it takes some tweaking of Windows settings to make things better (enlarging fonts, for example, to make for larger touch targets). Out of the box, we're really impressed with the Samsung, despite its smaller 11.6" display. It's easier to touch even small Windows Start menu items, and Samsung's Android-like launcher is perfect thanks to its big icons. The iPad and Android tablets are still easier to use with touch, but this is as good as it gets for Windows 7, and it's not bad at all.

Samsung Series 7 Slate

Horsepower and Performance

The tablet has plenty of horsepower thanks to the second generation 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-2467M ULV CPU. It handles Adobe Photoshop and other CS5 apps handily, and it's more than up to the task of working with Corel Painter, Art Rage, MS Office apps, web browsing with full Flash (remember this is Windows 7, no need to worry about mobile Flash) and email. You'll notice a speed improvement coming from the Asus Eee Slate with its first gen Core i5 ULV CPU, and modest 3D gaming is possible on the Series 7 Slate. There's no dedicated graphics option for the Samsung Slate, but machines this thin and light rarely support such options (cost, battery life and heat become an issue).

Samsung Series 7 Slate

The tablet comes with 4 gigs of DDR3 RAM that's soldered on the motherboard and is not upgradable. It's available with either a 64 or 128 gig mSATA SSD and there's no optical drive included. USB CD, DVD and Blu-ray drives work fine.


Deals and Shopping:


Samsung Series 7 Slate Video Review


Samsung Series 7 Slate Running Android Apps

We use the alpha release of BluStacks to run Android apps on the Samsung-- getting the best of both worlds! You can read our article BluStacks here.


Windows 8 Consumer Preview Running on the Samsung Series 7 Slate

Microsoft gave Windows developers a Samung Series 7 Slate at a developer event, and it's been the reference tablet for that new OS. Here's our walkthrough of Windows 8 Consumer Preview running on our Samsung Series 7 Slate. It runs quite well and when Windows 8 ships, it should be an excellent platform for the new OS.

Design and Ergonomics

Samsung's trademark skinniness is here; the tablet is only 0.5" thick. The back panel is aluminum and the quality and look are more appealing than the Asus Eee Slate's white textured plastic back. There are plenty of vent holes on the back and a very basic selection of ports. The tablet has just 1 USB 2.0 port, micro HDMI, a microSD card slot, and a combo mic/headphone 3.5mm jack. Controls are minimal with only volume controls, a power button and an orientation lock button.

The Samsung Series 7 Slate runs relatively quiet and cool. In the first day we heard the fan more often because Windows was indexing files and installing updates, but after that, the fan was either inaudible or fairly quiet when it did kick in. If you play Left 4 Dead 2 or stream an hour long Flash video, you'll hear it kick up, but it's fairly quiet when doing web, MS Office and Photoshop work.

Some Slate bundles include a surprisingly small dock with a pop-up stand that supports the tablet at a useful but unadjustable angle. It's a sturdy piece that's made of metal and it has Ethernet, 3.5mm stereo, one USB port and a full size HDMI port at the rear. If purchased separately, the dock sells for $99. Some bundles include a sharp looking Samsung Bluetooth keyboard that sells separately for $79.99, though any Bluetooth or USB keyboard will work with this Windows 7 machine. The Samsung keyboard uses two AAA batteries, and is light but sturdy. It's attractive and the chicklet keys have good tactile feedback though travel is low like a laptop's. The "03" version (the model number has -03 at the end) comes with the dock and keyboard and lists for $1,299 to $1,349. If you buy just the tablet it sells for around $1,000.

The first batch of Series 7 Slates were plagued with a quality issue where the UV adhesive used to glue the glass to the casing wasn't fully cured. If you're an early adopter and have a display that's lifting and/or showing light in the corners when viewing dark backgrounds, send it back for a replacement. Our first unit, purchased retail, came with 1 corner of the display lifted, and light distortion at two corners. Our second, purchased two months later has no problems.

Display and Digitizer

The Wacom dual digitizer supports multi-touch and pen input via the included EMR pen. This is a precise active digitizer, and not a capacitive stylus experience. It's perfect for handwriting using One Note or forms, and it supports 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity for Windows integrated applications like Journal, as well as Microsoft Office and apps like Art Rage that use the WinTab driver. Photoshop uses different pen drivers, and Samsung offers two Wacom drivers to get pressure sensitivity in Adobe and WinTab apps. You can download these from Samsung's website, but they don't show up in Samsung's software update manager for some reason. It's often hard to get pressure sensitivity working in both Adobe and WinTab apps, so we're thoroughly pleased with the Series 7 Slate, even if the drivers aren't pre-loaded. Our only complaints? There's no silo or tether cord for the pen (the tablet is too thin and compact for a silo), and the very wide screen could be awkward for digital painting and art (it's better for movie watching).

With our first unit, the display had very vibrant colors but viewing angles weren't as wide as the Asus Eee Slate. Our second unit with a fully adhered display had noticably better brightness and viewing angles. So if you buy one now, you should get a very impressive display in terms of sharpness, brightness, color saturation and accuracy: it's simply gorgeous. The Samsung's colors are accurate, but the color saturation makes photos and digital art look better than on other monitors; keep that in mind when doing digital art or photograph processing for commercial purposes.

Samsung claims a very respectable 400 nits for brightness. The display is very glossy (sure to drive artists crazy, but it's hard to find a matte display slate design tablet). Despite the high brightness, the tablet is a bit hard to see outdoors due to glare.

The tablet has Intel Advanced-N dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics and thus supports WiDi (wireless display). Rather than using a micro HDMI cable to stream audio and video to an HD TV or AV receiver with HDMI port, you can use a WiDi receiver ($100) like the NetGear Push2TV HD plugged into your home AV gear and stream up to 1080p video with 5.1 sound. If you're an artist you can demo drawing technique using a big screen, or give presentations wirelessly too. Very cool! WiDi software is pre-loaded but ours complained about missing DLL files, so we manually updated our Intel graphics driver and WiDi software from Samsung's support site and got it working perfectly.

Battery Life

Refreshing: a Windows slate running on a "real" CPU (not an Intel ATOM) that has good battery life. The tablets runs 4.5-5.5 hours on a charge with WiFi and Bluetooth on, brightness set to 50% and a few heavy apps like Photoshop running. If you just use MS Office, turn down brightness and use WiFi only when needed, you just might reach Samsung's claimed 7 hour runtimes, but that's pushing it. The 5520 mAh Lithium Ion battery is sealed inside, unlike most laptops. That means you can't swap in a spare when on the go.


The Samsung Series 7 Slate is definitely the best slate form factor Windows 7 tablets to hit the market, and it's earned our Editor's Choice award. It packs plenty of power thanks to the Intel Core i5 CPU and Intel HD 3000 graphics that trounce Atom-based tablets from HP, Acer and Fujitsu. The display is superb though glossy and colors are almost better than life. The touch experience is the best we've experienced from a Windows 7 tablet, and we weren't stymied when accessing menus and smaller control elements like the "x" close box at the upper corner of windows. Samsung's launcher makes the tablet friendly for those who are used to iOS and Android tablets. The Series 7 Slate is Windows 8 ready (we've updated ours and Samsung offers updated Windows 8 drivers and apps for download) since Microsoft supplied this tablet to Windows 8 developers in mid-2011. If you need a Windows tablet, we can easily recommend the Samsung Series 7 Slate. That said, the new crop of Windows 8 tablets in some cases offer even better battery life and faster performance thanks to third generation Intel Ivy Brige vs. Sandy Bridge in the S7S.

List Price: $1,099 to $1,499 (64 vs. 128 gig SSD, Windows 7 Home 7 vs. Pro, bundles with the dock and Bluetooth keyboard vary with price)

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Samsung Series 7 Slate


Samsung Series 7 Slate

Samsung Series 7 Slate

Samsung Series 7 Slate

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Display: 11.6", 1366 x 768 LED backlit display, 16:9 aspect ratio. Intel HD Graphics 3000 integrated graphics. Micro HDMI port. Wacom dual digitizer with capacitive 10 point multi-touch and EMR pen. Intel WiDi capable (wireless display technology).

Battery: 5520 mAh, 40Wh Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is sealed inside casing.

Performance: 1.6GHz Intel 2nd generation Core i5-2467M ULV processor. 4 gigs of DDR3 RAM, 64 or 128 gig Samsung mSATA SSD drive. No optical drive.

Size: 11.66 x 7.24 x .51 inches. Weight: 1.98 pounds.

Camera: 2MP front camera and 3MP rear camera.

Audio: Built in stereo speakers, (1.5W x 2) mic and 3.5mm stereo headphone/mic jack.

Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b/g/n dual band (Intel Advanced-N with WiDi) and Bluetooth 3.0 + HS.

Software: Windows 7 Home or Windows 7 Professional 64 bit with SP1.

Expansion and Ports: 1 microSD (Secure Digital) slot. 1 USB 2.0 port, combo stereo headphone/mic jack, 1 micro HDMI port.

In the Box: Tablet, world charger, recovery DVD, cleaning cloth, digitizer pen with 2 AAA batteries, Docking cradle and Bluetooth keyboard included in some bundles.



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