Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro 700T review: Ultrabook power, not polish

Samsung's Windows 8 convertible is long on horsepower, but short on build quality

The Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro 700T is an attempt to deliver a convertible Ultrabook with the power of a desktop. Although I don't see this system replacing a behemoth like my own eight-core, five-drive desktop, it will provide more than enough horsepower for most business-class users. That said, it could benefit from some features found in other Ultrabooks, such as a battery in the keyboard dock.

Samsung has placed most of the important buttons and slots along the top edge of the 700T: audio plug, power button, USB 3.0 port, microSD slot, and maybe most crucial, the processor heat vent. Venting the heat up top is a smart touch; there's no fear of baked laps with this machine, not even if you're using it in tablet mode with the unit flat on your thighs. For secure business applications, the 700T includes a TPM chip, but no fingerprint reader or smart card slot.

[ Check out these other Windows 8 Ultrabook reviews on InfoWorld: HP Envy X2 " Acer Iconia " HP EliteBook Folio 9470M " Dell Latitude 6430u " Acer Aspire S7 " Lenovo X1 Carbon " Dell XPS 12 | Ultrabooks duke it out in InfoWorld's slideshow | Stay ahead of advances in mobile technology with InfoWorld's Mobile Edge blog and Mobilize newsletter. ]

I wasn't all that impressed with the build quality of the keyboard dock. It has a plasticky, slightly cobbled-together feel, a major contrast to, say, the rigidly engineered metal dock of the HP Envy X2. The power connector fits both the main unit and the keyboard dock, but it's housed in a really tiny, fragile-looking plug that I was in constant fear of ripping loose or breaking. The keyboard has no backlighting, but typing on it is comfortable. However, you have to be sure to strike the space bar dead center or it won't register.

Unlike the HP Envy X2 or the Acer Iconia, there's no second battery in the dock, so you're limited to the battery life available in the unit itself. This seems like a major omission, given the high-powered, battery-hungry Intel Core i5-3317U processor in this system. (Those other systems have low-power Atom processors.) But the battery life for this unit is quite good, all things considered. My Netflix rundown test yielded a solid 5 hours and 20 minutes. The fan runs a bit loud when the CPU is put under load, though.

Samsung has been populating both its Windows-powered notebooks and Android-powered phones with its S-branded line of software applications. Among the most prominent of these is the S Note note-taking app, which I first encountered in the Samsung Galaxy Note. Like the Note, the 700T includes a stylus (stored in a handy corner-mounted pocket) for taking handwritten notes. These apps can be really useful, especially if you've already made them a part of your workflow with another Samsung device.

Samsung also includes its own software update utility, which installed both device driver and system BIOS updates for the 700T while I was testing it. All of those operations required a reboot, but the updater handled them without any problems. Also included is Intel AppUp, an app store that offers both free and paid software for easy installation. Finally, a newly released version of the 700T also features wireless LTE data courtesy of AT&T.

The Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro 700T combines plenty of processing power with better-than-expected battery life. It has some nice touches, but misses the mark in some ways. Ultimately, one would expect more solidity and polish in a system of this class.

This article, "Review: Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro 700T brings Ultrabook power, not polish," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in computer hardware and mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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This story, "Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro 700T review: Ultrabook power, not polish" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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