Samsung ATIV

A few months ago I attended a launch event hosted by Samsung for, amongst other things, their ATIV tablet range. I was reasonably impressed at the Windows 8 device then, but thought that it might be cumbersome to use: it is a heavy device.

I have been using one as a school work device for a month now and I must admit that the device is becoming a firm favourite. While Windows 8 desktop is a pain to use with fingers and the built-in track pad is, in a word, awful, the responsiveness and precision of the stylus is great.

I am now using it almost exclusively, with TeamViewer, as my classroom presentation tool of choice. That it is wireless means that the tablet can be passed around the class and pupils can also interact and participate in the learning that is going on in the classroom.

I must admit that I haven’t moved much past the “electronic whiteboard” functionality, but certainly having the power of a truly multitasking operating system puts my iPad at a distinct disadvantage. In addition, even with a stylus, the iPad is a poor substitute for handwritten notes.

Issues that I do have with the tablet include physical stability. Twice I’ve put down the tablet with a bit of a bump, and twice it’s given me the Windows 8 sad-face-blue-screen. I reckon there might be something loose inside? The stylus, pressure sensitive and all, has calibration issues at the screen’s edge, and while it’s usable, it would certainly benefit from some sensors in the bezel, just to help with the overall accuracy.

Decent inking software would also be nice. I’m relying on Word’s inking tools simply because they can be saved easily and distributed easily. However, they are huge. And Word starts getting unresponsive and touchy after a reasonably full page of inking. Even PDF-ing the resulting ink drops the size to between 25 and 30% of the original, but when a single page is coming in at 4MB, one has to wonder if it is really worth it. The iPad has some great software for this. It is probably out there for Windows too.

With the Pro version, the camera is limited which means that it makes a reasonably poor document scanner – one thing that I really like about my iPad (even iPhone). Again, this might boil down to software at some level, but the photos are not great – grainy and blurred in “indoor” light.

At any rate, I think Samsung have ticked a lot of boxes with this device. Their next steps are hardware refinement and costing.