From IFA: Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro impressions

The ATIV Smart PC Pro (confusingly called Series 7 Slate in the US) is Samsung’s top-of-the-line Windows 8 tablet and turns into a fully-fledged ultrabook when attached to its keyboard dock. The form factor is decidedly more conservative than Sony’s rather unique “Surf Slider”, but it all comes down to the execution, right?

Sadly, the first thing that you’ll notice when picking up the ATIV Smart PC is the cheap plastic feeling. Make no mistake – the back is anything but the brushed aluminum which it is painted to look like. Making matters worse, the plastic additionally has some sort of glossy coating which only adds to the cheap feeling, exemplified by the fact that the keyboard dock, also made of plastic, has a light texture to it and feels much better in the hand.

The docking mechanism itself works well enough and seems pretty sturdy – you just press the button to insert or detach the tablet, though we’d prefer a slider switch as on the ASUS Transformer devices, as the button can be a bit hard to reach. We also noticed that the keyboard gets bumped up from the ground when opening the display part, due to the hinge that connects the two, though that might actually be a desirable effect to get the keyboard positioned at a more comfortable angle.

Since the Smart PC Pro represents a proper ultrabook, it has all the usual specs including a low-voltage Intel Core i3 or i5 processor, 4GB RAM and an SSD with up to 256GB. On the other hand, it’s 11.89mm thick, and needs fans and cooling vents to handle the heat – if you don’t want those, you should consider the Smart PC (without Pro) or the ATIV Tab, which we’ll detail later. The 11.6” display looks very good due to its resolution of 1920×1080.

On the top, there’s a headphone jack, power and rotation-lock buttons, a single USB 3.0 port, and slots for SD and micro-SIM cards. On the left side are the volume buttons and an HDMI port. The keyboard dock provides two additional USB 2.0 ports on each side.

While the specs are decent, the look and feel of the ATIV Smart PC Pro is seriously lacking, especially considering that Samsung also makes the excellent, full-aluminum Series 9 laptops. The ATIV tablet range, on the other hand, seems to share its design more with Samsung’s mobile products which are all characterized by their excessive use of plastic. If you’re in the market for a Windows 8 tablet/ultrabook hybrid come October 26 and care about build quality, you might want to consider other options such as the ASUS Transformer Book, which has similar specs but a much nicer aluminum shell.

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