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DanCooper

April 25th 2014 9:40 am

How would you change Samsung’s ATIV Tab?

I don’t normally discuss products that I’ve reviewed on How Would You Change, but I’m making an exception for Samsung’s ATIV Tab. The Korean company pondered the merits of launching the device right up to its debut, and swiftly axed any US expansion before it could get off the ground. As one of the first Windows RT devices, it came with a hobbled operating system, but the hardware was staggeringly good. Unfortunately, it’s rare that anyone actually splashed out on this unit, but I’m still asking anyone who owned one of these units to chip in. What did you like, what did you hate and what would you have changed?

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11 replies
Ravenously

I have the Pro version. I appreciate it more than the Surface. For starters, I leave my keyboard plugged in...and then I just snap the tablet back into the keyboard to charge. I like that I don't have to mess around with a charging dongle. I also appreciate how the pen is built right into the tablet. I really would love to see this tablet run with 8GBs of RAM. I use it professionally to operate Adobe CC Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign etc and I find I need the extra RAM. I was looking to upgrade to the Surface Pro 2 since it has the RAM I was interested in, but I figured I would loose the pen in a day and I'm not a fan of the magnetic charging dongle or the touch/type covers. I appreciate how the Samsung device feels like a laptop when carrying the keyboard/tablet.

What I would change:
-Cram in more RAM! Suit it up!
-Upgrade processor
-Balance the keyboard more to the tablet to lower tip-over rates when using keyboard/tablet
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ToeCutter

It's interesting how even those posting here have difficulty differentiating between the Windows RT and Windows 8 devices. It really does demonstrate the epic fail that is Windows RT. There are so many versions of the Ativ Tab that it's nearly impossible to distinguish the good from the bad. I have an Ativ Tab 3 (Clover Trail Atom CPU with 2GB RAM and Win8 32-bit) and while I absolutely love the form factor, it's performance is woefully inadequate for anything more than email and web, which begs to question what Windows RT was meant for?

But I digress. The Ativ Tab 3 represents an serious attempt at providing the full Win8 experience in a form factor no larger than an ARM-based tablet. The Ativ Tab 3 is still among the thinnest Win8 tablets and is actually a bit smaller than my Galaxy Note 10.1 2014. While the Ativ Tab 3 offers a very sleek form factor, it simply can't do much? Outlook and Firefox slug along at a snail's pace and opening too many apps at once will inevitably result in the tablet locking up and requiring a full reboot. Even Dropbox syncing is touch and go. But the S-Pen works flawlessly, albeit on a relatively low-res 720p screen, which provides a tangible differentiator to the Ativ Tab line.

Despite my critique of the Ativ Tab 3, I sincerely hope that Samsung learns from this product and releases a followup powered by Bay Trail along with some additional RAM. I've used some of the newly released Bay Trail tablets and they scream compared to the older Clover Trail Atom tablets. Samsung's S-Pen excels in taking handwritten notes and drawings, features I make use of daily (although now in the form of a much more powerful Surface Pro 2) and would seriously consider a thin, Bay Trail successor to the Ativ Tab so long as Samsung continues to support S-Pen. Dumping S-Pen would leave any Samsung Win8 tablet without an ounce of differentiation from the fast and cheap Bay Trail tablets offered by Lenovo, Dell, etc.
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LilaTovCocktail

I purchased a refurbished ATIV with keyboard about 8 months ago. I love it and I hate it. The connection between tablet and keyboard is glitchy. The OS is slow and OS updates are excruciatingly slow. Samsung's Update utility is a total pain, popping up even when there are no notifications. There's too much crapware, as there is with all Windows machines. But as you say, besides the glitchy tablet/keyboard dock, the hardware is really nice. The screen is responsive and smooth, and the keyboard is full sized. It turned out that there were a couple applications for which it was perfect: 1) grading papers with Annotate, an MS Word add-in that lets you type and write in the margins of Word docs, which speeds up the process of making corrections on student papers and 2) Freshpaint -- perhaps it's the software as much or more than the tablet, but together they make for a much more nuanced drawing and painting experience than anything I've tried on the iPad and Galaxy tablets. What does it need? More memory. A way to keep it from going to sleep during incredibly long update installs. More info about the stylus and ways to customize the stylus settings, like you can customize the way the stylus works in a Wacom digitizing pad. And finally, it needs to be able to handle javascript more deflty and quickly -- checking Facebook on the tablet is beyond frustrating,
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LilaTovCocktail

Right, I should say that I have the ATIV Tab 3, with the Atom processor and 2 GB RAM, running Win 8.1 32-bit. So its processing speed and RAM are not totally pathetic, just too anemic for things like Adobe CC, or even keeping open several javascript-heavy web pages at once.
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bemymonkey

I'd make it feel (much) less cheap. Mine feels extremely flimsy and anything but solid. The back creaks and you can feel the plastic bending when you hold it one-handed...

The digitizer could also use a little accuracy tuning... it's on par with good old tablet PCs (think convertible tablets a la Thinkpad X Series), but we should be seeing significantly improved accuracy these days.

More RAM is another obvious one.

Other than that though, I'm pretty satisfied. Don't use the keyboard dock (dodged a bullet there, I suppose) and mostly use it for handwritten stuff.

-edit- Oh crap, I misread the product name - I'm talking about the ATIV Smart PC. :S
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ToeCutter

There is a workaround (more of an "optimization, really) that will improve the S-Pen's accuracy by providing more touch points in the Windows pen calibration tool. I've tried it and it works great, especially towards the edge of the display which is difficult to calibrate on any tablet. I don't have the link handy, but I found the workaround on Google and it's not specific to Samsung tablets and can be used to improve the accuracy of any active digitizer that uses the Windows calibration utility.
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bemymonkey

Thanks, I'll give that a good Googling :)
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RannXeroxx

You really need a better spec sheet then you provided to compare device with. Once I looked it up and compared it to the Surface RT, I can see its pros and cons. The Surface has quad cores, although each core is a bit slower than the ATIV. Its far more thinner than the Surface but then lacks the kick stand and metal casing. I like its USB power but then its missing a full USB port like the Surface. Both have the same crappy res but the ATIV has much better camera and even comes with a flash (unusual for a tablet).

Would have added active digitizer, better res (even just a bit better would have helped), faster processor, more USB ports, ha, and a lower price.

Overall, its a nice device but it would have failed long with the Surface RT. Problem has to do with both Microsoft's horrible marketing at the time and that Windows 8 really sucked at that point. With W8.1, all of the education of what Surface RT is and is not (much better ads). But another failure for the ATIV is the fact that right now a Surface RT is actually a very nice device due to the almost monthly firmware and driver updates MS has poured onto this device. I just do not see Samsung having the same kind of commitment to support for what would have been a failed device.
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RannXeroxx

Did I miss the fact that this device has a active digitizer and stylus?
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TheRydad

Didn't own one, but I was hoping Samsung would be the one to build my ideal tablet as an evolution of this- Windows RT, LTE and an active digitizer (S Pen). My Dell Latitude 10 is pretty close, but I would love thinner and more battery life from a lower power processor.
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Schmez

I use the PRO version primarily for work. The main draw for this model for me was the pen/touchscreen. This seemed to have the best pen capabilities for me to take notes and freehand drawing using Onenote. I carry it everywhere with me especially for traveling.

Things I would change:
*Add more RAM - 8GB would probably be perfect for what I do - I would expect it to help the performance.
*Adjust the keyboard dock to include a battery for additional charge as well as balance, so many times my tablet falls over.
*Touchpad on the keyboard dock is very sensitive to the point I have to turn it off to actually type

Overall, very happy with mine and now just wish I could get more accessories. I did find that the pen for the Microsoft Surface works with it. I like that it is a full size stylus with an "eraser end."
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