When we previewed the Samsung Series 7 Slate back in August, it seemed like the best Windows 7 tablet on the market by a very long shot. Considering what is included inside, it is incredibly slim at a mere 12.5mm thick and weighs a relatively light 860g - all while packing a powerful Intel Sandy Bridge Core i5 processor backed by 4GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD between its beautiful 11.6in PLS screen and brushed metal back.
Icing on the cake are a pressure sensitive Wacom stylus for writing and drawing; an ergonomic, metal wireless Bluetooth keyboard; and media dock offering full-size HDMI, USB 2.0 and Gigabit Ethernet (it’s worth noting that these are included by default only on European models, whereas in the US the keyboard and dock are bought separately).
So here we have a full PC experience in a tablet (hence why it can’t fairly be compared to your typical Android or iOS tablet), and one that’s significantly lighter, slimmer, better-looking and more powerful than the Asus EP121, which is currently its only real rival. So does it live up to our expectations? Well, in many ways yes, but it’s not without its share of disappointments. Read on to find out if it’s the tablet for you.
First let’s talk looks. Here it truly is the best of an admittedly small (Windows) bunch, but what stands out most is its sleekness – a remarkable achievement given that, unlike many Windows tablets that have Atom processors at their heart, the 700T sports a full-fat mobile Core i5 CPU.
The combination of its seamless glass front, bezel’s glossy black plastic and the gunmetal brushed magnesium rear looks very enticing, despite being a veritable fingerprint magnet (a failing many tablets share to various extents). Connectivity, cooling vents and the twin HD webcams are also nicely integrated. The accessories are all styled to match, and even the included pen manages to look classier than most manufacturers’ takes on Wacom mobile styli.
However, unlike Samsung’s superbly-crafted Series 9, the 700T has a few build quality issues. The metal back has been kept very thin to keep thickness and weight down, and it tells, with noticeable creak when pressing on the tablet’s edges.
Worst of all, on our sample model the back separated from the glass front enough to be able to just see the components through the gap – and this was minutes after taking it out of the box! While pushing the two back together resolved the issue, this is not something you want to see on a £1,000 tablet, and it’s no isolated incident as there have been owners on the web with similar problems. We’re surprised this design flaw got through Samsung’s quality control and if it’s the price for the Slate’s thinness, we would have preferred a little more fat.
Unfortunately, there are also a few practical failings with Samsung’s Windows tablet. First, the metal back is quite slippery compared to, for example, the textured plastic of the Asus EP121. Then there’s the lack of a pen compartment or any kind of carrying case for the stylus. We understand that Samsung didn’t want to sacrifice thinness to build a compartment in, but at least it could have included a carrying case or even a little cloth loop, as can be found on the Wacom Bamboo graphics tablet.
While we’re on the topic of cases, we really miss a carrying case. Surely one that doubles as a stand (preferably with room for storing the pen and maybe the other bits too) would have been a good inclusion by default, rather than making it a separately sold accessory?
Our last gripe concerns the screen’s 16:9 aspect ratio. Though the standard on laptops, all other tablets we’ve seen provide 16:10 displays, which is already stretching the limits of the ideal ‘thin to wide ratio’ for a device you need to control with your hands. As a result, the 700T feels just a bit awkward in portrait mode, though you do get used to it after a while.