Samsung Series 7 Slate (S7S) XE700T Reviewed

Its worth noting that Xcite is currently running a promotion for this fabulous windows 7 slate.

For KD 359.000, you get the Series 7 Slate, with its dock, and Keyboard. Surprisingly this is less expensive than say acquiring it from Amazon.

In this review I will only highlight some of the specs (click the link for the full specs):

  • Intel® Core™ i5-2467M Processor (1.6GHz)
  • PLS Display 11.6″ HD LED backlit Intel HD3000 GPU
    Max Rez: 1366 x 768, (Aspect Ratio 16:9, windows 8 compatible)
  • 64GB SSD Storage (read 250 MB/write 200 MB/s)
  • System boots in 19 seconds
  • Wacom active digitizer and digital pen
  • Wifi 802.11 b/g/n radio BT v3.0 + HS
  • Cameras Front: HD 2.0 MP Back: HD 2.0 MP
  • Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
  • Weighs 934.4g

Now there are a ton of reviews of this tablet on the internet, pretty much all of them say the same thing. All things considered this is currently the best Windows 8 compatible Slate on the market today. And this is something that I can certainly agree on.

But lets cover the most important topic when it concerns this Slate…

Why would I want to buy this Slate?

Slate PC’s are built for a niche market, for very specific needs and industries such as:

  • Engineers (Civil, Mechanical, Architectural)
  • Artists
  • Medical Field (Doctors, Nurses, Dentists, etc)
  • Warehousing
  • Musicians
  • IT Professionals
  • Anyone that wishes to replace paper and pencil with a digital note taking device
  • Windows 8 Tablet Application Developer
  • University Students

All the fields listed above work with drawings or pen and paper heavily. So this tablet would be ideal for them. You could run AutoCad on the go, and still be able to add your annotations to maps, pdfs, or whatever you happen to be working on.

The Pen: Handwriting Recognition & Inkin

Before we talk about the good stuff, its important to note you cannot slide the pen into the tablet for storage. This means you will have to carry the pen separately and this may mean you might end up loosing a few pens until you figure out a system to prevent this.

This is pretty much the main reason why you would want to buy this tablet. It has a Wacom Digitizer enabled display and pen.  Wacom are the leaders in this field, although recently N-Trig has been trying to compete with them (such as the technology used in the HTC Flyer tablet). Its worth noting N-Trig are closing the gap with incredible speed, but its still safe to say, when it comes to digital handwriting and inking Wacom is still the best.

The handwriting recognition on the S7S is a mind-blowing experience, especially for those that have never seen it in action. And this is without any calibration what so ever. It was able to convert my handwritten notes without any errors at all. Its worth noting that I have horrible penmanship, and I wrote notes in both cursive and print. Handwriting recognition is supported for most languages (i.e. English, German, French, Japanese). Unfortunately handwriting recognition does not support Arabic. However you can still take notes in Arabic, except it will just be freehand notes, and not converted to print.

When it comes to taking notes and inking there is virtually no lag between what your pen is doing on the screen and whats actually being drawn on your display. A very satisfying experience.

Entertainment & Games

The S7S has no trouble with playing HD Videos or Music. Flash based games of course are also playable. In terms of heavy gaming however, you might want to reconsider what your gaming needs are.

The S7S is capable of running Star Craft II at medium settings, and should not have any issues with League of Legends, or World of Warcraft. But this is not a portable Crysis on the go solution.
And in all honesty that is pretty much all I need on the go, a quick LOL match during lunch at the office is always entertaining.

In essence any games with heavy GPU requirements will not be suitable for this tablet.

As a reading and media consumption device this tablet will do well, so long as you manage the power consumption carefully.

Battery Life

The S7S’s battery is rated for 7 hours. But real world usage would suggest it will be in the average of 4 hours give or take.

Enabling wifi and looping a movie endlessly will result in a max runtime of 3:33. Keep in mind  this is practically in line with most laptops and netbooks. My own 13″ Macbook Pro doesn’t fare any better.

Conclusion

The S7S is the fastest Windows 8 compatible tablet on the market today, its got an industry leading Wacom digitizer enabled screen and pen. This makes it an excellent inking, note taking device. And the dock can convert it to a workstation in a heartbeat. So if you fit the criteria of a note taking person or you need to draw on a tablet then this is the perfect choice for you.

If you plan on developing Tablet applications for windows 8 tablets, the S7S is the official build/dev device for windows 8 apps.

Alternatively if you’ve got cash to burn, and you would like to explore the world of Windows based Tablets/Slates, then this would be an excellent choice too. Experiencing it for yourself, and learning all the ins and outs will always be worth any amount of money.

But if the pen is not essential to your needs, and your mainly looking for a reading/media consumption device then I would highly recommend that you look for a Android or IOS based tablet instead. They offer up to 10 hours runtime (in terms of real world usage), and probably will cater better towards your needs.

LIFEBOOK4LIfe

Finding the perfect Slate for note taking at work and school Part One

Disclaimer

I have not purchased any of these devices yet, therefore all of my evaluations are based of speculations and forum posts from users. However I will probably acquire a demo unit of each soon and write another review about the devices mentioned in this article.

Case Scenario

My workload is very diverse considering all 3 of my occupations hobbies and responsibilities:

  • Full-Time Degree University Student
  • Full-Time IT Infrastructure Manager in the Banking Sector
  • Part-Time Retail Specialist for a local retail shop (Product Buyer/Brand Manager, Product Specialist)

No amount of words could accurately share my pain and frustration with keeping my notes well organized and retrievable.

Here are some caveats:

  • Often I don’t have the right notebook on me (Ever tried carrying all your note books around? Their heavy)
  • Some notes will inevitably be written on a A4 printer paper, which have a bad habit of mysteriously disappearing
  • I’ve reached a stage where I need a portable filing system, but I have a hard time actually walking around with such monstrous inventions of the middle ages
  • Organizing my paper notes in a retrievable format (PDF, Evernote, Etc) takes a massive amount a time, which I currently don’t have

So In essence its time we looked at some Tablet PC’s or Slates that can do this for me. Whenever your looking to buy something you have to set some criteria, maximizing your chances at making the right purchase. So lets get started with the selection criteria.

Selection Criteria

  1. Excellent digital pen (N-Trig or Wacom based)
  2. Long Battery Life > 6 hours
  3. As light as possible and therefore thin as well
  4. Ergonomic
  5. 10.1″ Display Matte IPS prefered
  6. Slate Only (not a convertible tablet PC as they tend to be too heavy)
  7. As silent as possible (fan noise, etc…)
  8. Windows / Android Based
  9. Sub 1,200 USD (Accessories Excluded) I’m not prepared to pay more than that
  10. 3G or faster connectivity would be cool but not a deal breaker

Best Options Available to date (imho)

Option #1 Fujitsu Stylistic Q550 (preferred)

STYLISTIC Q550 with Intel® Atom™ Z690 (1.7GHz)
SSD SATA, 62 GB, 2.5-inch, full disk encryption
UMTS/GPS Sierra Wireless Gobi 3000 with GPS functionality GPS module
Lithium polymer battery 4-cell, 5240 mAh, 38 Wh

And its accessories

STYLISTIC Q550 Cradle Order Code: S26391-F917-L100
Folio Case TPU Cradle Order Code: S26391-F119-L300
Protective Sleeve for STYLISTIC Q550 Order Code: S26391-F119-L304
Fujitsu Pen Tether Kit Extra Pen: S26391-F796-L810

Pros

  • Pretty much nails my requirements (see above)
  • One review mentions that the matte display actually offers some resistance to the pen so that it actually feels like your writing on paper and not gliding a pointy object on a glass surface
  • Gorilla Glass
  •  Fingerprint Scanner, full disk encryption, and Anti-Theft Protection (Remote Wipe)
  • Its quiet, no fan noise, something that’s important in a high profile meeting at the office or in a silent class room
Ever tried logging into a tablet without a fingerprint reader? Painful ….

Cons

  • I have concerns about the Atom Z690 processor (Oak-Trail) I’ve seen a lot of posts (forums, Amazon Reviews) that touch on this subject. Some YouTube videos highlight this issue as well. However I believe those tablets have  not been tweaked for optimal performance. However the Q550 community states that Windows 8 CP (Consumer Preview) alleviates this considerably. Though to date there are not official upgrade paths available
  • it doesn’t have a built in recess or compartment for its Digital Pen (n-trig based) however this can be remedied with a Folio Case TPU Cradle
  • The Q550 is clearly marketed towards corporate users, which is not a bad thing in itself, however the price tag reflects this quite accurately retailing at Euro 840 (KD 310)

Summary

Assuming that the Z690 chip is sufficient for primarily my note taking needs, and that the pen works as well as people on the forums claim it does, I believe this slate fits the bill. With windows 8 around the corner I wont have to worry much about using a windows tablet as opposed to android. (I’m a big fan of the Android OS) I guess well just have to see once I get a test unit.

LIFEBOOK4Life Task 5 Middle East

Fujitsu has tasked its Insiders (which Im not part of… yet *grins*) to share what they would install in the modular bay of their Fujitsu Lifebook.

So the insiders were tasked with imagining themselves on a business trip in the Middle East, traveling through Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia.

The choices were:

  • 2nd battery for extra power
  • 2nd hard disk for more storage space
  • Blue-Ray drive for entertainment

Hypothetically speaking if I was in this situation I would certainly choose for a 2nd battery to be installed, and hopefully the bay comes with a cover just in case I choose to remove the battery temporarily. I think most professionals would probably go the same route.

Here are the reasons why I did not select nor consider the other options.

  • Blue-Ray Drive: Seriously??? I don’t own any Blue-Rays, nor would I ever consider buying one. I consume all media in the form of .mkv/.mp3 formats. I absolutely detest physical media of any type. The only media device that is semi-useful these days is a USB storage device.
  • 2nd Hard disk: I cant imagine I would need that much storage, unless I’m a professional photographer or a movie producer or someone that works with large format high rez media files.

That should sum it up quite nicely.