Samsung Ativ Tab review

Trying to make Windows RT into a top tablet platform.

Samsung Ativ Tab review
The definitive Samsung Ativ Tab review

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We'd wager that media is an important aspect of the tablet experience for almost all users, so this is a key area. Thankfully the Samsung Ativ Tab does a reasonable job of this - and it's largely got Windows RT to thank.

At first glance it looks like it might be a bit of a letdown for media - the screen isn't great and there aren't many bundled media apps, but what's there isn't bad at all.

Samsung Ativ Tab review

The music app enables you to sort your collection into various categories such as by artist or album. You can also create playlists, shuffle and repeat tracks and view a visualiser while the music is playing. There's also a Smart DJ, which will find music similar to an artist of your choice and create a playlist of it.

You can also buy music or take out a streaming subscription to Xbox music and use that directly from the player. On top of that, the speakers are quite loud. All it's really lacking is lock screen/home screen controls and the ability to tweak equaliser settings.

Samsung Ativ Tab review

Fortunately if it is missing any features that you particularly want - or stubbornly refusing to play your favourite song - there are other players available to download from the store that may do the job.

Next up there's the Samsung Ativ Tab's Video app, which is laid out similarly, though is rather more limited.

Samsung Ativ Tab review

At one side you have a library of any videos stored on the device, which you can tap on to play. The rest of the app is taken up by the video store, enabling you to buy and rent films and TV shows.

Unfortunately neither the prices nor the selection are particularly great. Thankfully you can download Netflix, 4od and others to bulk out the video capabilities.

Samsung Ativ Tab review

On the books front there's not much included out of the box, just a very basic Reader app that enables you to view PDF and XPS files. But there are apps available to download for popular e-readers such as Kindle and Kobo, so you won't be left high and dry.

So far so good, but where the Samsung Ativ Tab really comes into its own is with the amount of storage and the ease of importing media.

Out of the box you get either 32GB or 64GB of storage, which is more than many tablets. On top of that it can be bulked up with a microSD card of up to 64GB.

Better yet, thanks to the full-sized USB port you can easily plug a USB flash drive in to get access to even more files that way. Once plugged in, you can either access the files straight from the stick or move them across to the tablet. This ease and versatility really gives it the potential to be a media powerhouse.

Couple that with a subscription to Netflix and Xbox music and you've got your streaming options covered too. Even better, thanks to its HDMI port you can hook it up to a TV or monitor and view things on a big screen.

A few things are holding the Samsung Ativ Tab back from total media supremacy, though. The screen is a bit low resolution, Microsoft's video store is slightly lacking and the selection of downloadable media apps and players is currently a bit small, so these are all factors worth bearing in mind.

To solve the latter two you'd have to move away from Windows RT and look at an iPad or Android tablet instead. But for storage space and versatility, it's still a force to be reckoned with.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.