Finally we get to the actual internals of the 700T, which are comparable to those of many ultraportable laptops like the MacBook Air. The CPU is a dual-core Intel Core i5 2467M, which runs at 1.6GHz by default but can turbo clock up to 2.3GHz, supporting up to four virtual cores. It’s more than up to handling average PC workloads, and should be good for some heavy lifting too.
It’s backed by 4GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD. In the US you can choose between a 64GB or 128GB SSD, but on this side of the Atlantic we’re stuck with the smaller capacity, and this does feel a little limiting as it doesn’t leave much space for programs. We do hope Samsung will add the larger drive as an option for those willing to pay more for it (along with 3G).
Graphics are, of course, of the Intel integrated variety, though that’s no longer as damning as it was a generation ago. Casual games are certainly a possibility, with the Slate managing a smooth 30fps in our TrackMania Nations Forever test at Medium detail and 720p.
In short, everything we threw at the 700T ran smooth as silk, and Samsung’s claim of a 17 second cold boot is pretty much spot-on (20 seconds for full functionality). With its almost instant sleep and wake options, the Slate rarely feels less than nippy.
Of course, with the previous Windows 7 tablet champion (the now somewhat long in the tooth Asus EP121), performance limitations – especially on the graphics front – were joined by poor battery life. And this is another failing Samsung’s Slate addresses. As the screen is searingly bright we ran our test on a somewhat lower screen brightness than the usual 40 percent, and at 30 percent brightness the Slate managed six hours and ten minutes – impressive for a device with a four-cell battery. So with frugal use, the 700T should just last you through a working day.
Finally, how does our £999 tablet hold up in the value department? Yes, it costs significantly more than a similarly specified ultraportable, but don’t forget the high-quality (and thus expensive) screen, which is vastly superior to anything you’ll find on even premium laptops (with the exception of a select few like the Lenovo X220 and 220T, both of which offer IPS options). There’s also the Wacom digitizer to take into account, which isn’t cheap.
Everything considered, the Slate is actually decent value, especially as it has very few rivals. In fact, the only one we know of is the similarly priced Asus EP121. The Asus might have a better aspect ratio screen, offer better connectivity (two USB 2.0 ports compared to one, SDXC versus MicroSD) and superior build quality, include a passable carrying case and offer a slot to store its stylus, but it’s also running an older CPU/GPU, is much heavier, isn’t as nice for drawing on and doesn’t come with the Samsung’s media dock. Taking this into account, the £40ish saving really isn’t worth it, and we would choose the 700T every time despite its limitations and flaws.
Samsung’s Slate is pretty much the best Windows 7 tablet available, if mainly because it’s the only one based on the latest Intel architecture to hit the market. What would really have made this not just the best tablet but one of the best mobile devices around would have been if Samsung had merged the media dock and keyboard into a single, laptop-like base, especially if it had thrown in an additional battery. With the Asus Eee Pad Transformer being such a runaway success, we simply can’t understand why this idea isn’t being emulated more.
With its sleek lines and alluring finish, the Samsung Series 7 Slate 700T is the most attractive Windows 7 tablet going. It’s also the most powerful, and the one with the best accessories thanks to its included Wacom stylus, media dock and wireless keyboard. Unfortunately, it suffers from some build-quality issues; its otherwise gorgeous PLS screen doesn’t have the ideal aspect ratio for a tablet, and despite Samsung’s enhancements, Windows still isn’t a finger-friendly OS. However, if you need the productivity only Microsoft’s system can provide, or if you’re a designer/artist looking for a mobile digital solution, it’s the best option currently available.
Score in detail
Battery Life 8