Samsung has just launched (not into the crowd, sadly) a whole bevy of brank-spanking-new Windows devices here in London. We've got convertibles, tablets, laptops, all-in-ones -- it's a proper Samsung-Microsoft lovefest here in Earls Court. Some of them look pretty decent, though this being Samsung, it looks like there are some right howlers in the bunch too.
The Ativ Q is a Lenovo Yoga competitor. Sporting a 13-inch screen and Haswell Core i5 processor, it twists and flips and contorts to varying usage scenarios.
More worryingly, Samsung have seen fit to stick a stonking 3200x1800p screen in there. "Great! More pixels!" I hear you shout; but hold your hi-res horses. Windows is crucially lacking a hi-DPI mode, which means that stuff on a hi-res screen is nigh on impossible to see or touch, since it becomes so tiny. You might remember that as being the main complaint on the Surface Pro -- and that only had a PPI of 208, whereas the Ativ Q sports a horrific 275 pixels per inch.
Also, because Samsung just luuuuurves extra software features, the Ativ Q is said to run Android apps. If that works properly, that could be a real killer -- the power of Windows, with all the touch-friendly apps of Android. From what we've seen on stage, you'll be able to hot-swap between the two, which is pretty sweet. If it runs as quickly in real life as you can in the demo, this could be the best thing since capacitive touch or sliced bread.
Other specs include a MacBook Air-rivalling 1.29kg and 13.9mm thickness, and an impressive-if-true 9 hours of battery life. The other guts are pretty vanilla ultrabook -- 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and integrated Intel HD 4400 graphics. That's a lower-spec graphics processor than included in the new MacBook Airs, and a long way short of the much-vaunted Iris graphics that'll be shipping with some new Haswell systems.
In terms of connectivity, there are two USB ports -- one 3.0 and one 2.0, an HDMI-out, and microSD card slot. It's a strong attempt at breaking into the high-end Windows laptop market; we'll have to see what the screen resolution and price are like before making any judgements, however.
Onto the second trick pony of the evening: a Windows tablet that's quite astonishingly thin. At 10 inches, it's the same size as the iPad 4 or Sony Xperia Tablet Z, and in the same kind of weight range -- at 8.2mm thin and 550g, it's thinner and lighter than an iPad, though not quite on the same level as the Xperia Z. Otherwise, it's pretty standard lightweight Windows tablet guts -- Atom processor, 1366x768 screen, 2GB of RAM and 64GB of memory. Sadly, there's no Windows-friendly ports here -- a micro USB, micro HDMI and micro SD are all we get in terms of plugging stuff in.
The great R&D machine in the sky has also spat out two updates to the Ativ Book range, better known in the UK as the Samsung Series 9. The ATIV Book Plus gets an aluminium unibody chassis, Haswell processor and that ludicrous 3200x1800 13.3" screen found on the Ativ Q. Guts are otherwise standard: 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, and with the same 2 USB ports as on the ATIV Q, though this time with micro HDMI, micro VGA and an SD card slot. Weight is a little heavier, at 1.39kg.
The ATIV Book Lite, however, is a cheaper version of the normal Samsung Series 9. The screen falls to a palatable 1366x768 resolution, an undisclosed "Quad Core Processor 1.4Ghz", and amusingly for a 'Lite' version, is a little heavier than its stablemate, at 1.58kg for the full-touch version.
Finally, there's an all-in-one called the ATIV ONe 5 Style, with a 1080p 21.5" screen, AMD processor, and the normal array of ports.
One other feature Samsung is keen to push is the SideSync software, which theoretically lets you switch from working on a PC to a Samsung smartphone. Claimed benefits are the ability to use your PC keyboard to enter texts on your smartphone, share maps and photos between screens, and "charge and back up mobile devices", which isn't exactly a new feature.
Overall, it looks like Samsung is taking the lessons learned from its smartphone range into the PC market. Software features and a shotgun-spread of devices are the order of the day here, just as they have been in Samsung's mobile lineup. With five new Windows devices joining the not-insubstantial lineup, Samsung's definitely got something for everyone; whether that's worth diluting the brand name it's built up with its rather great Series 9 Ultrabook, however, remains to be seen.
Prices and launch are still TBA -- all we've got is that they'll land sometime this year, which is helpful, I suppose.
If you're more of the accountant-type, we've got a spreadsheet with the full specs range, right here. Otherwise, stay tuned for hands-on impressions in a sec.
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