We’ve just peeled our eyeballs off the live-stream of the Samsung Premiere event in London, where our own Anton D. Nagy is still busily shooting hands-on video of some of the products announced by the company today. Samsung gave us a mix of Android and Windows news at the unveiling, giving us a deeper look into the Galaxy S 4 Active and Galaxy S 4 Zoom on the Google side, and the ATIV Tab 3 and a host of notebooks and home computers on the Microsoft front.
What really captured our imagination, though, in between droll one-liners from the MC and wide crane shots of the oversized stage, was a product that bridges the gulf between these two ecosystems. A tablet that packes surprise after surprise into its slender frame. A device that looks more likely to have originated from the depths of a fanboy’s imagination than a legitimate manufacturer. That device is the Samsung ATIV Q, and it’s a tablet nerd’s dream.
When I first started writing for Pocketnow, the tablet explosion was still in its infancy, and manufacturers were still experimenting boldly with size. We penned a few pieces back then wondering where the jumbo-tablets were, with screen sizes north of 11 inches – but though we seemed confident these products were just around the corner, few of them ever materialized, and those that did landed with a thud instead of a bang.
The ATIV Q looks to be the first oversized tablet likely to make a lasting impact. Its screen is 13.3″ on the diagonal, its resolution designated “qHD+,” or 3200×1800, for a pixel density of 275ppi. That doesn’t quite reach the 300ppi density of Samsung’s Nexus 10 tablet, but it beats out Apple’s current-generation, 264ppi iPad, and it leaves the Microsoft Surface Pro‘s 208ppi in the dust. The ATIV Q’s display also features exceedingly bright performance; Samsung didn’t give a figure in nits, but it did make a point of citing the unit’s 178-degree viewing angle.
But the Haswell-powered ATIV Q is more than just a jumbo-tablet. Given its brand name, it’s no surprise that it runs Microsoft’s Windows 8 platform; but it is a surprise to learn what else it packs under the hood: a full version of Android 4.2. And that Android build runs alongside Windows; there’s no reboot required to transition between operating systems. A simple flick and a tap delivers a user to and from Windows and Android, and users can even pin Android apps directly to the Windows 8 Start screen.
What’s more: though the ATIV Q lacks Samsung’s now iconic Note branding, it does feature an S Pen stylus with docking silo, alongside a display digitizer allowing for 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity. And while it’s a bit on the pudgy side at 13.9mm thick and 1.29kg in mass, there’s a good reason for that: the ATIV Q is not a pure tablet, but a convertible, with a full physical keyboard hiding beneath the display.
That keyboard is mated to an articulated hinge that allows for the display to be levitated horizontally above the keys or flipped facing away from the base for presentations (both orientations look awkward but will probably come in handy), or used in the more conventional ultrabook-style arrangement for typing, swiping, or drawing with the S Pen. We’ll have some more thoughts on the design from our hands-on demo time, but Samsung made a point of calling out the device’s magnesium construction at the announcement – a casing material we’ve lauded before. The company is also citing up to 9 hours of battery life for its new Frankenstein jumbo-tablet/convertible hybrid, which makes us wonder how it’ll differentiate itself from the ultrabooks that were announced alongside it.
Make no mistake: we have a lot of concerns about this device. First and foremost is cost – though Samsung hasn’t yet put a price tag on the ATIV Q, you can bet it won’t be cheap. And that novel form factor, though slimmer and lighter than we’ve seen before, is still an awkward one that no OEM has ever had runaway success with. We won’t even talk about the teething troubles Windows 8 has had.
But putting all that aside, this is indeed tremendously exciting in terms of its raw potential. If this piece seems a bit heavy on the gushing, bear in mind what we said before about the ATIV Q seeming almost like a fiction worked up by an overzealous fanboy’s imagination. Think about it: this is an Android/Windows 8 convertible with full keyboard and S Pen, with a magnesium frame and a reconfigurable screen, packing a 13″ display and a battery that lasts 9 hours. If that doesn’t sizzle your bacon even just a little, you should probably get your pulse checked. Because the ATIV Q is the epitome of a tablet geek’s dream device.
Here’s hoping that at least some of those geeks will be able to afford it.