Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Samsung introduces its Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 devices

It's been a while since I have been on any device running Windows. I used to be a Windows user for years and years. Till I got my first Macbook in 2008. And in the last year or so, my phones have been running on the Android operating system.

My techie son who's taking Computer Science has had good words to say about Windows 8 which he has had the chance to play around with as part of his course work. So when I attended Samsung's event  for their Windows 8 lineup, my curiosity was pretty hyped up.

My surprise for the night was this. Samsung did not just introduce a Windows 8 laptop but a whole slew of devices running on Windows 8.

The Windows 8 lineup is under the brand name ATIV (or the reverse of VITA which means "Life" in Latin). Samsung is all about lifestyle convenience in many different ways, after all.

There were 3 different devices introduced that all run Windows 8: the Samsung All-in-One PC Series 7, the ATIV Smart PC Pro and the ATIV S (smartphone).

Samsung ATIV Smart PC / Smart PC Pro

Here are some quick shots I took of the PC at the event:

The Windows 8 user interface with the ATIV Smart PC still connected to keyboard

Un-dock the ATIV Smart PC and transform it from clamshell notebook to tablet

The S Pen is shown on lower right of tablet

The S Pen brings the functionality of real writing and drawing from its
brothers in the Galaxy Notes and Galaxy Tab 10.1 to the ATIV Smart PC

Both the ATIV Smart PC and Smart PC Pro come in the same 11.6" display size. They both sport a 128GB hard disk drive although the difference is that the Pro's is solid-state (SSD) while the Smart PC's is eMMC. The Smart PC processor is an Intel Atom Z2760 while the Pro's is an Intel Core i5. The rear camera of the Smart PC is at 8 megapixels while it is at 5 megapixel for the Pro (this makes me wonder why though). Both models have 2MP cameras in front. Battery life-wise, the Smart PC seems to get more bang for the buck as it is rated at 13.5 hours vs 8 hours on the Pro. But that's because the Pro is more powerful, being fitted with the i% core processor and DDR 4GB system memory. And...both variants use a 10-finger multi-touch screen whereas other tablets use the traditional two-finger touch feature.

The ATIV Smart PC gives you the functionality of a laptop and a tablet at the same time and this is what fascinates me. Right now, I have a Macbook but it is too bulky to lug around most times so I end up taking along just my ipad or smartphones. With the Samsung ATIV Smart PC you can get the best of both worlds, depending on your need at any point in time.

Samsung ATIV S (smartphone)

This 4.8 inch HD Super AMOLED display smartphone covers the whole frequency range of mobile phones up to HSPA+ 42mbps. It's got a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, an 8 megapixel rear camera and a 1.9 megapixel front camera. The phone has a built-in 16 or 32GB user memory and 1GB RAM with support for additional capacity via a microSD. Pre-installed Xbox Live games come with the phone and is also preloaded with MS Office for those who work with the application on a desktop or laptop. How light is this phone? 135 grams.

The phone's physical buttons (4 in all) are the power/lock key on the upper right side, a dedicated camera button on the lower right side, a volume rocker button on the upper left side and the home key right below the screen. Holding the Samsung ATIV S feels like holding my Samsung Galaxy SIII although it seems like the ATIV S is just slightly taller than my SIII. I like the idea of a separate camera button because when I was still getting used to the SIII, I'd mistakenly hit the Home key rather than the camera's shoot icon on the screen and the camera app would close on me.

What I see as the biggest challenge to Microsoft is to attract more app developers for Windows 8 operating system as the number of apps made for Android devices far outpace those for Windows. I was also unable to check if the ATIV S can be used as a wifi hotspot but that, for me, was a big plus in favor of my Samsung Galaxy SIII and Samsung Galaxy Note.

Samsung All-in-One PC Series 7

The 23.6-inch display PC was launched although I read in an article that there is also a 27-inch version of the Series 7 line (not sure if that will be available in the Philippines too). This PC comes with a capacitive 10-point multi touch screen, is loaded with a Core i5 3570T processor with system memory up to 8GB DDR3 1600MHz and has a 1GB AMD Radeon graphics processor. A wireless keyboard makes it easy to position everything the most comfortable way for the user. There are provisions for wired LAN, wifi and bluetooth. In the rear you'll find 3 USB slots, an HDMI in/out, LAN port, DC-in and TV ports. On the side are 2 more USB slots, audio in/out, and a 3-in-1 multicard slot.

For gaming lovers, this is a great computing choice because it can handle both gaming needs as well as professional office work requirements. The hard drive can go up to 1TB and it's got an optical disk drive as well. Weight-wise, this PC is on the heavy side, around 8.5kg but it's meant to stay on your table and not lugged around as a laptop so that should be okay.