It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a new Windows 7 slate, which is why I was so interested to check out the brand-new Samsung Series 7 Slate PC, which Samsung debuted today at the IFA conference in Germany. Samsung was cool enough to give me sneak-preview of the Series 7 about a month before today’s launch, so what you’re reading today are my thoughts on the almost-finished version. My unit came with a full-voltage second-generation Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a lightning-fast 64GB SSD. When it hits store shelves in early October you’ll be able to get one for $1299. There will also be a model with the same specs,minus the Bluetooth keyboard and dock (more on that later) for $1099, and a full-loaded version with a 128GB SSD for $1349.
Look and Feel
The Samsung Series 7, much like the ASUS EP121 that I looked at a few months back, is a pure-slate device. It’s super thin and light, measuring only 13mm thick and weighing in at just a hair over 2lbs. Like all Samsung products it’s solid without being bulky and well balanced without being heavy. It’s 11.6” across and sports a 16:9 aspect ratio with a 1366 x 768 HD resolution, which puts it on-par with most 11-13” widescreen laptops. It’s responsive and comfortable to use in widescreen mode, and that extra screen width comes in very handy when browsing the web in landscape mode.
In the box with my Series 7 came three accessories – a dock that has a headphone jack, HDMI out and USB, a Bluetooth keyboard (which Samsung thoughtfully made exactly the same width as the PC, so when you carry them together they just “fit”) and a WACOM intelligent pen for taking notes. The inclusion of these accessories makes the Series 7 extremely versatile and equally good as a portable slate and a desktop PC. I used the PC as a pure touch device when watching video and browsing the web (making use of the on-screen keyboard when I needed to type in URLs), as a tablet-with-pen when scribbling down notes in OneNote in meetings and brainstorming sessions, and as a docked PC-with-keyboard when at my desk. The latter two modes were my favorites – I found the pen very responsive and fluid and the “docked” setup as good as a traditional laptop when sitting at my desk. The Bluetooth keyboard connects almost instantly so there’s no annoying lag between when you fire up the PC and when you can get to work.
All together, the PC plus all of the accessories and power cord weigh less than 4lbs, making it an ideal travel companion. For comparison that’s a few ounces less as my Lenovo ThinkPad X220, and about the same weight as my Toshiba Portege R830.
Well-executed industrial design is one thing, but it’s of little use without the performance to back it up. Fortunately Samsung didn’t skimp in this area – the Series 7 is FAST. Like, crazy fast. In my fundamentals test it outpaced almost every laptop in my inventory, particularly in the sleep and wake tests. In those areas it’s so fast that for me, it effectively served as my “instant on, instant off” solution:
The other area where I found the Series 7 to excel was battery life. Whereas many Windows 7 slates (and laptops, for that matter) conk out after a few hours of use, I got well over 5 hours of real-world use time off of a single charge. That’s really impressive stuff for a PC that’s this thin and light.
One other feature worth noting is Samsung’s proprietary touch login system. This tool overlays a numeric touch login panel over the normal password scree so you can log back in to your PC very quickly. It’s less secure than typing your password in every time (I should note that you always have to log in with your password on boot), but much, much faster. It’s up to you if you’re willing to make that tradeoff.
The Samsung Series 7 is a really nice slate PC. Maybe the best one yet. It’s an excellent choice for anyone who needs a touch-centric device today and a really positive herald of what’s to come.
Here on the Windows Experience Blog we spend most of our time talking about consumer PCs. But there’s a whole world of commercial grade hardware out there that are used by business professionals worldwide. Lee Sabow, a colleague of mine who works on the commercial side of the Windows business, and I shot a video of some of our favorite commercial PCs. As you’ll see, they aren’t just big, black, boring “pizza boxes”; there’s as much choice, color and customization in this segment as there is in the consumer world. Check it out:
To recap, here’s Lee’s summary of what makes a PC “commercial grade”, and why you want one if you’re buying for the business world:
What makes a PC great for business beyond that trite answer that it’s used for business? Well, that trite answer is a true one. Ben and I showed a whole variety of PCs that you don’t expect to see within the workplace. Businesses are expanding the selection of PCs available to their workers as they recognize that employees have different work styles and that everyone has a personal choice for what powers their day. What I love about the Windows environment is that each PC offers something different to the end user, but still enable the same great value for the business: employees being productive from anywhere with a PC that fits their work style; and IT being able to secure, manage, and deploy all the various PCs with a common Windows 7 image.
There are features that help make some of the PCs even better for business, like backlit keyboards for working in dimly lit areas, fingerprint readers for security, VGA ports for projecting, webcams for video conferencing, etc. Those are “on the surface”, but there are some hidden features that help end users like stronger construction materials for durability, hard drive roll cages and shock absorption to handle lots of movement, strengthened hinges for repeated opening and closing, TPM chips for security, and spill-proof keyboards for when that morning coffee takes a tumble.
Finally, IT departments that purchases 100s of machines at a time enjoy elements of serviceability and standardization from traditional business laptops – like common chargers and docking stations, easily accessible and replaceable parts (and I know power users like Ben enjoy making their own upgrades, too), and same-day on-site manufacturer support.
It’s a great time to be in the market for a business PC. I only wish we had time to show off every great commercial computer that comes across our desks!
Life is filled with important choices. Chocolate or vanilla? Ketchup or mustard? Heads or tails? Choice is awesome – it’s what makes life interesting & personal.
You know what’s even more awesome than choice? Not having to choose. That’s exactly the concept behind the new Acer Iconia Tab W500. Rather than having to choose between a slate PC or a traditional laptop, the W500 gives you the convenience of both via a powerful slate PC that “docks” into a portable, attachable keyboard. It’s an interesting, unique take on multi-touch computing.
The 10.1” Iconia Tab W500 goes on sale starting today for $549, and is loaded with a new AMD C-50 APU, 32GB of flash storage, and 2GB of RAM.
Look and Feel
Convertible PCs are nothing new – “swivel” style tablet PCs have been around for years, and more recently, we’ve seen newer, more consumer friendly convertible PCs like the Dell Inspiron duo. But the W500 is a completely new take on the concept. The core unit is a pure slate PC – it’s a 10.1”, 2.15lb multi-touch unit running Windows 7. It’s crafted from capacitive glass and aluminum and feels solid to hold. It’s nicely ergonomic, too – Acer did a very good job of using a weight, balance and thickness that is maneuverable enough to easily flip and move without feeling cheap or flimsy.
There’s a camera on the front and back of the unit for each photo-snapping and video chatting, and the unit has built in Dolby speakers which are surprisingly loud and clear despite their diminutive size. And of course, there’s a full complement of ports – SD, USB, HDMI, and a headphone jack. Everything you need in a full PC.
The truly unique aspect of the W500 is the keyboard dock. First off, it magnetically attaches to the unit, so you’re never forced to juggle multiple pieces of equipment. It’s easy to pop off, but when securely seated the magnets are actually very strong – I submitted the W500 to a highly technical “shake test” (which involved my 2 year old rattling the thing around while standing on her bed) to see how much force it took to shake the pieces loose and found that while you can jostle them loose if you give it a good shake, it’s unlikely that it would just separate under normal circumstances. But just in case you’re paranoid, there is a physical lock that you can apply.
Docking the unit is very easy. Just pop open the connector USB port, slid the unit into place, and you’re done. In this mode, the W500 functions just like a normal laptop – you can move the mouse with the integrated trackpoint, type comfortably, and take advantage of a few extra ports, like Ethernet and two additional USBs. The keyboard dock is pretty ergonomic and it was easy to type on, although the clickable mouse buttons are a bit awkwardly placed.
A word of caution when using the dock, though – don’t try to close the W500 like a laptop! We’ve all been trained for 25 years to close a laptop a certain way, and when docked, the W500 feels just like a laptop, and as such, you’d naturally expect it to close like one. But you can’t; you must remove the slate unit from the dock first. This isn’t a big deal – you can pop off the W500 from its dock with one hand – but will take some getting used to.
The dock itself weighs about 1.5lbs, so altogether the unit + dock is less than 4lbs. Plenty light to carry with you all day.
The Acer Iconia Tab W500 is powered by AMD’s new C-50 APU. It’s not a particularly fast processor (WEI score of 2.8), but perfectly adequate to handle everyday computing tasks like browsing the web, checking mail. Data recall, even large items like my Outlook profile, was super-fast due to the use of on-the-board flash storage.
Here’s how it performed in my usual battery of fundamentals tests:
Where the W500 really shines is with multimedia content. AMD’s new APUs are extremely powerful in the graphics department – I had no trouble playing 1080p HD content, and could even play Crysis – yes, the real version running DirectX 11 – in full screen mode. That’s seriously impressive stuff from such a little computer.
Battery life was solid, running for about 4.5 hours before auto-hibernating.
The Acer Iconia Tab W500 is a very interesting and very useful take on the convertible PC. It really combines the best of both worlds – a pure touch environment for casual gaming, web browsing, and watching TV and movies, and a type environment for writing mail, working with documents and other text-heavy scenarios. If you’re looking for a great touch experience, but also want the convenience to work in a more traditional way, check out the W500. It’s an excellent choice for people who don’t want to choose.
Yesterday I walked through the booth with my buddy Larry Larsen from Microsoft’s Channel 9 so I could show him some of my favorite’s from the show. If you caught my roundup video with Jessica Corbin you’ll find several of these PCs familiar, but Larry and I get more technical here, so it’s a good way to get a deeper look at the new tech on the show floor. Check it out!
I’ll be at CES 2011 for the entire show, meeting with our hardware partners to get a behind-the-scenes look at their newest, most innovative gear. Keep up with me by following me on Twitter @BenThePCGuy, and let me know if you have any questions by sending me a tweet with the hashtag #askben
Lots of news on the touch front from the HP gang!
First is the new HP TouchSmart 310 all-in-one PC. The new version is slimmer than ever before but still boasts the same beautiful 20” multi-touch screen. It’s available with AMD processors and Radeon graphics, and you can get one starting at $699.99 on 9/22 from hpdirect.com.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one but are working on a more modest budget, the new HP Omni100 should be on your list. It’s not a touch machine, but it’s very capable nevertheless, with a 20” HD display, AMD VISION technology and up to 1TB of storage. They go on sale on 9/22 at hpdirect.com, starting at $499.99.
To couple the new hardware, HP is revving their TouchSmart software to offer a number of new capabilities. They’re saying that with it, the desktop transforms into a “Magic Canvas” where users can easily drag apps, and content – even web content – directly onto the desktop. There’s also a new multi-layer wallpaper that gives the machine a lot of depth. I haven’t had a chance to work with these new features directly, but I have seen a demo and it looks really nice.
In addition to the UI changes, HP announced the new HP TouchSmart Apps Center, which is a new, easy way for TouchSmart users to access free and subscription based touch apps from a wide variety of partners. Big names like Marvel Comics and the Cartoon Network are already on board, and HP tells me that more partners are coming in every day.
I’m loving what HP is up to with touch. They’ve been a leader in the game for a long time and its great to see that they’re always looking for ways to make the experience better. Can’t wait to try out these new PCs!
Today, HP has unveiled several new Windows 7 PCs targeted specifically at business customers ranging from small and medium businesses to the enterprise.
First up is their brand new multitouch enabled Tablet PC – the HP EliteBook 2740p Tablet PC.
The 2740p Tablet comes with a 12.1 LED display (at 1280x800 screen resolution) and weighs in at 3.8 pounds. It will ship with Intel Core i5 or i7 processors and support up to 8GB of total memory (DDR3). It will support standard hard drives as well as either an 80GB or 160GB SSD. Its keyboard is designed to be spill resistant with drains. The 2740p also ships with integrated HP Mobile Broadband supporting EV-DO and HSPA (a mobile carrier service will be needed of course) and also includes GPS. TPM 1.2 is also included – perfect for BitLocker user in keeping data safe and secure which is super important to businesses. HP went all out with this Tablet PC by supporting the MIL-STD 810G military standard for vibration, dust, humidity, altitude, and high temperatures. The HP EliteBook 2740p will start at $1,599 (USD) and is expected to be available next month in the U.S. For more on the specs for the 2740p, click here to read the Data Sheet (PDF) from HP.
Next up is the HP EliteBook 2540p.
The 2540p also comes with a 12.1 LED display (at 1280x800 screen resolution), Intel’s Core i5 and i7 processors, supports up to 8GB of memory (DDR3), and also supports the MIL-STD 810G military standard. It also comes with integrated HP Mobile Broadband (including GPS) just like the 2740p Tablet PC. The 2540p includes a fingerprint reader – perfect for the Windows Biometric Framework in Windows 7 – and TPM 1.2 for keeping data secure with BitLocker. In an effort to help protect natural resources – the 2540p has post-consumer recycled plastic resin in at least 12% of total plastic content on the PC. The HP EliteBook 2540p will start at $1,099 (USD) and is expected to also be available next month in the U.S. For more on the specs for the 2540p, click here to read the Data Sheet (PDF) from HP.
HP is also introducing brand new designs for their HP ProBook s-series PCs. The new design features a brushed-aluminum metal case and a matte surface which will be available in either available in “caviar” or “Bordeaux”.
The HP ProBook s-series will offer HD LED-backlit displays in the following screen sizes:
HP will ship their ProBook s-series PCs with Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors and include a choice of Intel HD Graphics or discrete graphics option featuring AMD’s ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4350. The HP ProBook s-series will start at $719 (USD) and also should be available in the U.S. next month.
For business customers always on the go – these new Windows 7 PCs are worth looking at.
Lenovo has announced several new ThinkPad-branded Windows 7 PCs today.
The ThinkPad X201 features an extremely thin and light design, but doesn’t sacrifice in performance. The X201 comes with a normal volt Intel Core Processor (some models to ship with Intel Core™ i7-620M at 2.66GHz with Turbo Boost) instead of a low volt processor but is able to offer long battery life at around 11 hours with a 9-cell battery. The ThinkPad X201s is what Lenovo is calling a “featherweight fighter” weighing in less than 2.5 pounds. The ThinkPad X201 will cost $1,199, and the ThinkPad X201s will cost $1,599.
The ThinkPad X201Tablet is designed for business computing, features a 12.1 inch capacitive multitouch screen and comes with Lenovo’s SimpleTap application. You can see a demo of SimpleTap here. The X201 Tablet can be used with a pen or just your finger. This tablet comes with the latest Intel Core Processors, security tools such as a fingerprint reader (Windows Biometric Framework awesomeness!) and WiMAX, 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth and Gigabit Ethernet connectivity. Fun fact: did you know the first ThinkPad was a tablet? I did not know that. Lenovo has a long history with tablets. The ThinkPad X201 Tablet will cost $1,549.
They are also introducing 2 new ThinkPad W Series models: the ThinkPad W701 and ThinkPad W701ds. These 2 new W Series ThinkPads come with Intel Core i7 Processors and NVIDIA Quadro FX 2800 and 3800 Series GPUs. These 17 inch PCs are perfect for design professionals and digital content creators as they feature optional built-in color calibrator to make sure the most accurate colors are displayed. These PCs can also be configured with an optional built-in WACOM digitizer and pen as well. The ThinkPad W701 costs $2,199 and the W701ds costs $3,799.
For more information on these new PCs, click here to read Lenovo’s press release.
These PCs will be available beginning in March.
Wow – it’s hard to believe a year ago at CES we were launching the beta for Windows 7. And it’s been over 2 months since the launch of Windows 7 – the result of all the great feedback and testing we received by you from both the beta and RC releases. Now that Windows 7 has been out for a few months, people have been asking us how things are going. We thought this year’s CES would be the perfect place to share updates about Windows 7 momentum.
First off - Windows 7 is being well received all around. We saw strong demand for Windows 7 through the holidays – Year-over-Year PC unit sales increased over 50% for each of the 4 weeks of December according to NPD’s Weekly Tracking Service. This is on the heels of a strong start to the holiday season, where NPD reported that PC sales increased 63% Year-over-Year on Black Friday 2009. Netbooks were one of the hot items where Windows 7 has been strong. According IDC’s recent survey and its resulting paper “Mininotebooks: the New PC Phenomena” (which was sponsored by Microsoft), more than 99% of the netbooks sold today in the US (95% worldwide) now run Windows. And just 2 months after launch, more than half of those netbooks are running Windows 7. Of course it’s only natural to also want to know how Windows 7 did in comparison to its predecessor. In early November, I had blogged that Windows 7 out-sold Windows Vista by 234%.
It’s great to see so many people excited for Windows 7! Tech website Technologizer ran a survey and with results showing a 94% satisfaction rate among early adopters.
Our Partners are also excited for Windows 7, demonstrating fantastic ecosystem support. As of today, there are than 800,000 unique apps and 238,000 unique devices that work great with Windows 7. That’s more than a million reasons to choose Windows 7.
When it comes to PCs and devices, it’s all about choice and flexibility. There are fantastic looking, stylish, and sleek PCs for people to choose from - including 1,400 Windows 7 logo’d PCs. These PCs span a range of prices, starting at around $300 to $3,000. And more PCs are being showcased this week at CES! PCs, devices, and apps continue to get better and better thanks to our partners building great products for Windows.
During Steve Ballmer’s CES keynote tonight, several great examples of cool PCs, devices, and apps were showcased that were designed to work great with Windows 7. There are more great PCs on display at the Microsoft booth. I thought I would do a little re-cap of what was showcased onstage or will be at our booth and add a little more context.
All-in-One PCs: check out these very cool All-in-One PCs:
A digital comic book reader called Graphic.ly was demoed – a perfect app for an All-in-One PC. With Windows Touch, you can use your finger to swipe through the digital “pages” of comic books!
Because many people use All-in-One PCs as “Kitchen PCs” – you should also check out Kitchen Assistant by Betty Crocker. This app lets you use Windows Touch to browse a variety of Betty Crocker recipes.
You can download Kitchen Assistant here if you already have an All-in-One PC!
Gaming PCs: there are a number of PCs perfect for mid-to-high range gamers.
Ultra-Thin PCs: Ultra-Thin PCs are designed to reflect people’s desire for small, lightweight but powerful PCs - especially for people on-the-go.
These are some extremely thin, light PCs!
Netbook PCs: Everyone knows what netbooks are these days. They are just small notebook PCs. But they’ve changed over the past few years and have gotten more powerful and packed with more features.
As I’ve said before, netbooks are the perfect companion PCs!
TV: Anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while knows that Windows Media Center controls my living room for my TV and Home Entertainment needs. They keynote showed off several PCs perfect for Windows Media Center, TV, and your living room.
A slim and compact PC for full-on HD entertainment can either stand alone or snap to the back of your monitor.
My current HDTV is currently on the fritz. The iiView Media Center TV is looking mighty tempting! But at the same time, the inner-geek in me wants to put the new Ceton TV Tuner powered by CableCARD that allows you to record up to 4 HDTV shows at once!
More people today than ever before connect their PCs to the TV in order to view videos. Or they use their PC as their TV. This trend is expected to increase 20x in the next 5 years (according to Broadband-Enabled TV: Evolution of OTT Platforms - The Diffusion Group Q4 2009)! With Windows 7 today using Windows Media Center, it’s very easy to turn your PC today into your personal DVR.
Slate PCs: PCs come in all shapes and sizes (different form factors). Slate PCs are PCs which are simply displays – usually with no physical keyboard. The Archos 9 and Villiv S5 are a couple of examples. During tonight’s keynote, Steve Ballmer had the distinct honor of previewing a Slate PC from HP coming out later this year. Here is a teaser video of that PC:
You can grab a downloadable guide to many of the above PCs talked about here and showcased in Steve Ballmer’s keynote here on the brand new Microsoft News Center as an XPS document.
Quite a few of the PCs highlighted above feature multitouch capabilities. The Microsoft News Center also has an excellent article on Touch worth reading – check it out!
I encourage folks who are at CES to be sure and stop by our booth check out some cool PCs, great devices, and cool apps that all work great with Windows 7!
Today is Day 2 of PDC09, and attendees were given a nice “treat.” During this morning’s keynote, Windows and Windows Live Division President Steven Sinofsky took the stage and announced that all attendees* of this year’s PDC will be given an Acer Aspire 1420P Convertible Tablet PC. This is being done to show our gratitude for the support we received by PDC attendees in the development process of Windows 7. This PC enables developers to leverage many of the unique Windows 7 capabilities including multitouch – which I will talk about further down in this post.
This laptop promotion is the result of a collaborative effort with Acer, whom we worked closely with to have these laptops ready for PDC. This PC is not yet available in the US (Acer has not yet announced pricing and availability for this PC) so that makes this “PDC Edition” of the laptop exclusive to PDC attendees.
The Aspire 1420P PDC Edition comes with the following specs:
For a more complete and detailed list of specs, click here.
The Aspire 1420P comes with 3 USB ports, 1 HDMI port for connecting to HDTVs and monitors, a VGA port, Ethernet port, and a headphone and microphone jack. The laptop features a unique design with a metallic textured design just above the keyboard and a metal hinge for converting the laptop into Tablet mode. Its design is essentially a small laptop with Tablet PC features. It’s slim, light, and has a small footprint – making it easy to carry around. This laptop features a CTRL+ALT+DEL button and a Flip 3D button. Also, the Aspire 1420P uses the Windows 7 Sensor and Location Platform to adjust the screen depending on which way you hold the PC (in Tablet mode). For example: if you’re holding it a landscape position, the screen will display in landscape for you. Vice versa if you hold it in a portrait position.
We worked with Acer to image the laptops with some great software – including the beta release of Office 2010.
Because the Aspire 1420P supports Windows Touch, we’ve included the Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 as well as Corel Paint it! touch.
Corel Paint it! touch allows you to use your fingers to draw and paint. You can also turn your photos into paintings too.
One application I’ve written about recently is Amazon’s Kindle for PC. Amazon has released Kindle for PC and it works great on this laptop. You can download the beta of Kindle for PC today here. You can use multitouch gestures to move from page to page on the Kindle book you are reading. You can also zoom in and out with ease. For more on the Kindle for PC app, check out my demo video here on this post. In Tablet mode, reading books with Kindle for PC is very nice.
The Aspire 1420P also sports Mobile Broadband. With Windows 7, using Mobile Broadband is easier than ever before. Windows 7 will automatically detect if a Mobile Broadband connection is available (after inserting your SIM card).
You can choose to connect to the Mobile Broadband connection where you will be required enter subscription details from your mobile carrier. No need to mess with 3rd party Mobile Broadband connection utilities.
Not only can you use multitouch with the Aspire 1420P, you can also use it as a Tablet. The Aspire 1420P is perfect for writing down notes using Microsoft OneNote 2010 (my favorite Office app).
Overall, this PC will be great for all the developers attending PDC to experience many of Windows 7’s new features and to be able to develop with those features in mind.
* This promotion is for full-conference attendees who are onsite at PDC. It is not available to Microsoft attendees, members of the media, government employees, staff, speakers, crew, volunteers, day pass attendees, guests, or Workshop-only attendees.
Windows 7 will change the ways you interact with your PC. How you ask? Windows Touch.
Touch refers to the way Windows lets you interact directly with a computer using a finger. Compared to using a mouse, keyboard, or pen, touch can be much more engaging, natural, and convenient.
The Windows Touch technology in Windows 7 is an evolution of the technology that is rooted in Windows Vista. In Windows Vista, single-touch input improved the interaction when using the pen stylus and the mouse of earlier Tablet PC platforms. With Windows 7, users can directly manipulate their computer environment through multitouch for the first time. Users can use a variety of gestures directly on their computer screen to move data, including:
A Windows 7 PC powered by NVIDIA GPUs will deliver faster, more engaging Windows Touch experiences. NVIDIA GPUs are well known for accelerating 3D interfaces. The Windows 7 Aero desktop, now designed using the DirectX 10 API and designed for Windows Touch, is no exception. From the new taskbar previews to Aero Peek, Flip, Snap, and Shake, NVIDIA GPU provides a snappy 3D experience. Windows 7 also uses the GPU to reduce memory consumption by half by eliminating the need to keep a second copy of each window in system memory. This frees up system memory for other applications and keeps your PC responsive.
Multi-touch capability was designed into the core of Windows 7 and is a perfect fit for the new highly visual GPU-accelerated applications like Cooliris and Super Loiloscope. Cooliris lets you browse the web in 3D and now with the addition of Windows Touch, the experience becomes even more immersive. With Super Loiloscope you can have fun creating videos and applying effects with the touch of your finger.
Touch input does not replace the keyboard and mouse, it enhances them. Touch is a natural and intuitive way to interact with you PC when you are doing common computing tasks such as:
As you can see, your Windows 7 Touch experience will be faster, smoother, and more immersive with an NVIDIA GPU in your PC.