Navigating through Windows 7 ‘pure’ is certainly the easiest of any tablet we’ve tried, thanks to the large, beautifully responsive capacitive screen and the 700T’s powerful innards, which we’ll cover in a while. For situations where a digit is too clumsy, the stylus comes in handy, and for typing Samsung has provided a Swype-enabled virtual keyboard that’s a huge improvement over Microsoft’s default effort.
Though we’re sorry to say it’s still far from up to the tablet competition, with it sometimes failing to appear when needed, appearing when not wanted, or covering the part of a form you’re trying to complete. The keyboard also can’t be moved from its central position and maintains large borders to either side, making it impossible to type using your thumbs in landscape mode and difficult to do so in portrait.
Of course, the included stylus isn’t just for pressing small virtual buttons. Thanks to the 700T’s inbuilt Wacom digitizer, the stylus is a sleek, matt black affair that’s light and doesn’t require batteries. Instead it works through electromagnetic resonance. And this is but one advantage over the rival stylus technologies found in Android tablets like the HTC Flyer and Lenovo ThinkPad Android tablet (review coming soon), which both use N-Trig’s pen system. Other advantages include deactivation of finger input when the stylus’ tip is near the screen, a pressure-sensitive eraser on the back of the pen, and interchangeable nibs which also support more sensitivity levels. A metal nib remover and five spare nibs are provided with the stylus.
Thanks to this pressure sensitivity and the interchangeable nibs, the 700T provides the next best drawing experience after a full-fat Wacom graphics tablet like the Intuos 4. It’s arguably a superior artist’s tool to the Asus EP121 too, not only thanks to the Slate’s reduced weight but also to the softer glass layer over its screen, which comes a little closer to the experience of drawing on paper than Asus’ Wacom-enabled rival. In addition, the Samsung’s faster CPU and better graphics help it to run demanding programs like Photoshop and Painter far more smoothly. Essentially then, if you want a miniature, portable Cintiq, this is as close as you’re going to get.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that the Slate’s 11.6in, 1,366 x 768 screen is one of the nicer ones we’ve come across. It sports the same PLS panel technology found in Samsung’s new S27A850D monitor range, and since this is a rival panel type to IPS, you can expect many of the same benefits. These include reasonably accurate colour reproduction, vivid colours and nearly flawless viewing angles.
Despite some minor backlight bleed from the right and bottom edges, backlighting is even. Contrast is good though not the best we’ve seen, with our darkest greyshade being indistinguishable from true black. However, it still holds up well for gloomy material, and has impressively white, erm, whites, thanks in part to its incredibly bright 400nits. This also helps to make the screen readable in sunlight or brightly lit environments. Keep in mind that at full brightness the battery will drain very quickly, and for average use we found a brightness of around 30 percent to be adequate.
Overall it holds up really well, and it’s a pleasure to use the Slate 700T for viewing photos or watching movies (the latter of which won’t show large black bars as one of the few benefits of the Slate’s 16:9 aspect ratio). Audio is decent for a tablet but that’s not saying too much, and as with most small mobile devices, you’re better off using some headphones.