The Transformers (Part 2) : Samsung Ativ Smart PC, Dell XPS 12

3/6/2013 9:27:01 AM

Samsung Ativ Smart PC

·         Price: $996

·         Specs: Windows 8, 11.6-inch touch display, Intel Atom Z2760, 2GB RAM, 64GB flash, Intel graphics, Wi-Fi, SD card, 8MP camera, 744g (1.45 kg with clamshell)

It is a Windows 8 convertible, but there is little doubt that the Dell XPS 12 is an Ultrabook in real life. But yes, this slim, sleek laptop can transforms into a tablet, though a bulky one for regular use.

As with other XPS devices, this one too is strongly built with a stylish aluminum and carbon finish. It is hard to miss the machined aluminum frame that runs around both sides of the device. Around the 12.5-inch FullHD WLED screen, it acts as a hinge for the display to rotate around. Do a 360-degree turn of the display and close the Ultrabook to find yourself staring at a tablet.

It would be a bit difficult to hold and use this tablet like you would an iPad or Android device, but you can definitely use it to work on a surface device or to collaborate on work over a coffee table. Still, the XPS 12 has a touchscreen that is really sprightly and responsive. Plus, being a FullHD screen it is much easier to flip through the Windows mosaic. And the Corning Gorilla Glass makes everything look real solid.

We guess most people would continue using the device as an Ultrabook, one with Windows 8 and touch. At that, there are few equals for this device. With a third generation Intel Core 15 processor inside, this device is up to most productivity tasks. It passed our regular processing tests with flying colors. We were a bit disappointed that our review unit had a 128GB SSD. There is another version with 256GB and a Core i7 processor.

Core i7 processor

Core i7 processor

The keyboard is impressive and has a good curved feel about it along with comfortable travel. The track-pad is good too, though you won't have to use it much with the touchscreen. Don't be surprised if you see touch devices like this drop the track in a year or so. The sound is really impressive thanks to the two strip-like speakers on the sides.

A major design change we noticed was the toggle power switch on the left edge, just above the volume controls. There are two USB 3.0 port on the left, plus a mini-display port. We think they should have put an HDMI there too.

Buy the XPS 12 if you need an Ultrabook that is versatile enough to be up to the demands of this era of convergence. We suspect it is among the first few of many powerful Ultrabooks that will bring you touch in innovative ways. Yes, it is a bit pricey, but then it is doesn't sacrifice power at the altar of design.

A tablet at heart

Dell XPS 12

·         Price: $1,670

·         Specs: Windows 8, 12.5-inch LED FullHD touch display, Intel Core i5-3317U, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, Intel HD graphics 4000, 12.48" (W) .79" (H) 8.43" (D), 1.54 kg

With Windows 8 hybrids you will always be wondering if this is a tablet that can become a laptop or a laptop which can become a tablet. With the Samsung Ativ Smart PC, there is no scope for any ambiguity. This is a tablet at heart, and a very good one at that.

The 11.6-inch tablet is the core of the device, with a majority of the ports the power button and the volume controls. But that does not mean you can get rid of the keyboard and use this only as a tablet. For, the power port is here and you need this to charge the device. The keyboard is good, though we felt that the track-pad was a bit stubborn. Yoked to its keyboard, the Smart PC looks and feels a lot like a netbook. And like a netbook it also have an Atom processor, which thankfully does not affect its processing powers as a tablet. If you start looking at the device like a laptop then things could get a bit tricky. For instance, we tried to test the device with the 12MB hi-resolution picture that we use for similar test on laptops. This one took almost a minute to open the file. Zooming in and out was also sluggish, so was rotation. But then there is a Pro version of the Smart PC which come with and Inter Core i5 inside. If you need more power, buy that.

But then we think you should look at this device primarily as a tablet. One that also comes with another input option. Touch, without doubt, is the primary input method here. Just the way it was intended to be. The touchscreen is very responsive comes with Samsung's popular S-pen. So you can use the S-Note and other

Samsung apps with the stylus. You can also use it with the handwriting recognition that is part of the Windows 8 keyboard. This is the best execution of handwriting recognition on any computing device and with the stylus things only gets better, more accurate. In fact, if you are comfortable with the 11.6 inch form factor of the tablet just tear away the keyboard and use the stylus to write like you would on paper and then convert it to text.

The only dampener for us with the device was the docking mechanism. It takes a while to actually understand if you have been successful, there are faint beeps for connect and disconnect. Also the flap that holds the tablet in place is a bit of an eye sore. Still, this is among the most affordable Windows 8 hybrids.

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