Samsung Ativ Tab review

Reviews Basil Kronfli 13:43, 13 Dec 2012

We review the Samsung Ativ Tab, a thin, light dual-core slate offering ample storage and connections, but can it better Microsoft's surface?

Thin, Light, Capable camera, Smooth performance
Expensive, Plasticky, Under developed OS, Lack of value added Samsung additions
If it wasn’t so expensive, we would have found it easier to recommend a Samsung Ativ Tab. As it stands though, £549 could get you a Google Nexus 10 and a Google Nexus 7 with around £50 left over. Not bad for two altogether better tablets.

If reviewing the Samsung Ativ tab will be good for anything it’s this:  letting us know whether all Windows RT tablets are handicapped by their operating system in the way the Microsoft Surface RT was. 

Indeed, here Samsung offers a very different proposition. There’s no kickstand, no all metal body and no clip on smart-cover. The Ativ tab is as traditional a plastic tab as you can get. 

It may swap out Samsung’s tab OS of choice, Android, for Windows, but inside is an all too familiar dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 5-megapixel camera as well as an HD display.

Priced at £549 though, £149 more expensive than the Microsoft Surface RT, can the Samsung Ativ Tab’s performance and utility justify the high asking price?

Samsung Ativ Tab review - Design

Not in terms of design it can’t. While it’s more manageable, the Ativ Tab doesn’t feel anywhere near as premium as the Microsoft Surface RT.

Slightly more polished than Sammy’s Android tablets, we did have curbed expectations given the plastic fantastic heritage of Samsung slates. At over half a grand for the 32GB version though, our expectations weren’t as curbed as they should have been. 

The 10.1-inch display adorns the fascia with stereo speakers on either side. A physical Windows button sits below the screen and we found this easy to press and reassuringly clicky. Above the screen are sensors and the front facing camera capable of HD video streaming.

It’s manageable at 570g, and at 8.9 mm deep, we’re not entirely sure Samsung could have made it any thinner.

The tablet is hyperglazed. This is Samsung’s term to describe plastic on its Samsung Galaxy S3 and Note 2, and now Ativ Tab. Hyperglazing endows the plastic with lacquered metal look. It doesn’t look bad, but then you come to hold the hyperglazed object only to be let down. There’s no rich metal sensation, just shiny, glossy plastic. While it worked on the Samsung Galaxy S3’s relatively small surface area, on a full blown tablet, it’s a tad overkill.

There are no ports on either side of the Ativ Tab though at the base is a docking connector and proprietary charging port. At the top is where most of the action happens with a power button, volume rocker and two flaps. Under the first is a USB port and micro HDMI port and under the other sits a microSD card slot.

Despite lacking the innovation of the Surface RT, the Samsung Ativ Tab manages to clinch a different kind of appeal. Skinny, light, less ornamental and more pleasing to handle. 

Samsung Ativ Tab review - Screen

The 10.1-inch panel comes in at a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, giving a PPI of 155. This means markedly mediocre sharpness.

Oddly, despite having more pixels per inch than the Microsoft Surface, these pixels are more discernible, possibly thanks to Microsoft’s implementation of ClearType on its tab.

The Samsung Ativ Tab is very bright indeed, and outdoor viewing won’t be a problem except for very sunny situations. Viewing angles are also great, leaving our overall impression of the screen on point except for pixel power.

We do have a minor grievance with the auto brightness sensors - they’re very aggressive. We therefore found it better to keep our Ativ Tab set to manual brightness.


Typical Price £549 SIM free (available from Expansys)
UK Launch December 2012
Phone Style Tablet
Thickness 8.9mm
Length 265.8mm
Width 168.1mm
Weight 570g
Built-in Memory 32/64GB
Additional Memory MicroSD card up to 64GB
Connectivity Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Screen Size 10.1-inch
Designer Lens 5-megapixel
Designer Lens No
Video Resolution 1080p playback, 720p record
Music Player Yes
Music Formats MP3, WMA,AAC,HE-AAC, PCM
Internet Yes
Browser HTML
Games Yes
Talktime 8 hours

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