Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro

Skips on style, converts into almost an Ultrabook

Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro review
Samsung's Ativ Smart PC Pro could replace your work laptop

How much you like the Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro depends on how much you want a Windows 8 tablet, how much you want an Ultrabook and how much you want something that's a compromise between the two.

The Surface Pro is a better pure tablet, and it has far more clever features, but for some people it's a little too clever. The Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro is bigger and not nearly as clever, but it's a far better compromise between the two because the keyboard turns it into something much more familiar.

We liked

You get a fully functional Windows 8 tablet, with pen and touch, with reasonable but not outstanding battery life. You can write on the screen or hold the screen in both hands and use the thumb keyboard, you can sit back and swipe through web pages or play games and watch videos.

And when you need a notebook you can snap on the keyboard and type away as if you were balancing an Ultrabook on your knee. As promised, it's Windows 8 and the best of both worlds.

We disliked

The trackpad is hands down the most annoying thing about the Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro. It's jumpy, over-sensitive and downright intrusive. We found ourselves turning features off just to get it to select text reliably.

Battery life is disappointing for the size and weight of the complete system, especially compared to the Surface Pro. And Samsung has chosen yet another tiny power connector that isn't the same as any other Samsung device's, so you don't have much choice when it comes to buying a spare power supply or trying to get a tip for a third-party external battery.

Final verdict

As an Ultrabook, the Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro is a little thick and heavy, and it skimps on ports and battery life. As a tablet, it's a great Windows 8 tab with an excellent screen that's powerful, well balanced in your hands and very responsive to touch.

But what will really sell the Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro is that you can go from one to the other in seconds, without being disappointed in either.

You won't draw the same kind of attention as you do when you're carrying a Surface Pro, but if the kickstand isn't for you and you can stand the trackpad, Samsung has a compromise that doesn't make too many concessions.