The Surface Pro isn't the only Windows 8 Intel Core i5 tablet on the block. Samsung's ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T actually hit the market first, though it's not exactly peppering every retailer's shelf and is more readily found online. The ATIV 700T has the same basic specs as the Surface Pro, and that means it's a capable Ultrabook in terms of performance, though in form it's an 11.6" tablet. But, snap on the included transformer style keyboard and it could indeed pass for an Ultrabook.
The Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T runs on a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U with Intel HD 4000 graphics, 4 gigs of DDR3 RAM and a Samsung-made 128 gig SSD. It has dual band Intel WiFi with WiDi wireless display, Bluetooth 4.0, a front 2MP camera and rear 5MP camera. It has a single USB 3.0 port, micro HDMI, a microSD card slot and a 3.5mm audio jack. The Samsung has a full HD 1920 x 1080 display with wide viewing angles, 400 nits brightness and 10 point multi-touch. The tablet weighs just under 2 pounds, which is a tenth of an ounce heavier than our late 2011 Samsung Series 7 Slate and a tenth of an ounce lighter than Surface Pro. It's 0.5 inches thick and it has a black plastic casing, as does the companion keyboard. Stunning and quality looks? Not so much. But it's sturdy and functional and happily not super-slippery like the Samsung ATIV 500T 11.6" Windows 8 Intel Atom tablet.
The ATIV 700T has a Wacom digitizer with included digital pen (Samsung calls it an S Pen, just as they do with their Android products) that fits into a silo. Since Samsung wanted to give us a place to garage the pen, it had to be a small pen compared to the full size mechanical pencil design of the Samsung Series 7 Slate and MS Surface Pro pens. Have no fear, if the small S Pen gives you a hand cramp, you can use other Wacom tablet PC compatible pens like the S7S pen (which Samsung still sells) and the Surface Pro pen. The good news here is that Samsung ships the tablet with Wacom WinTab drivers so those of you who require pressure sensitivity in Adobe Photoshop, Paint Tool SAI and Corel Painter get it out of the box with no hunting or waiting for drivers. And of course, you get pressure sensitivity in programs that use the newer Windows ink API like Sketchbook Pro and ArtRage.
The keyboard dock? Well, it's problematic. Early adopters on forums have complained about constant keyboard disconnects, and our retail purchased unit has that problem too. The tablet doesn't fall out of the 1.6 lb. keyboard dock but it electrically disconnects and reconnects at the slightest movement, so you'll hear the tablet bing-bong every time it thinks the keyboard was removed and reinserted. Maybe you'll get lucky and will get a unit that doesn't have this problem. The problem seems to be in the dock rather than the tablet, and Samsung will replace it if you get a bad one. Beyond that, we have to wonder why Samsung didn't put a secondary battery in the keyboard dock as do many other manufacturers, and why it has just two USB 2.0 ports rather than 3.0 ports. We'd also love to see a full size SD card slot but no luck, it's those USB ports and a pass-through charging port only. The good news is that the island style keyboard is comfortable for typing, though we like the HP Envy X2's keyboard and trackpad a bit better.
Here's our Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T video review. Our full written review will follow.