Samsung Series 7 Slate Review

I have had 2 solid weeks to put in some serious time with the Series 7 Slate (S7S), 40+ hours of sketching and rendering. Most of the time has been using SB Pro and Photoshop CS5. Overall my impressions of the machine are positive, but it definitely has it’s short comings.

Unfortunately there is some really bad moire effects going on when I photograph the screen which makes it looks pretty terrible, it’s not, it’s a gorgeous screen. I will try to update the thread with new images next week.

I’ll begin with the reasons why I personally picked the S7S over the alternate options, because there are other slate/tablet offerings that may fit your personal needs better:

  • I needed to work with a full version of Photoshop and other programs, not a watered down app version
  • I needed a machine that could run 3D sculpting programs like zBrush and Mud Box
  • I wanted the flexibility of being able to run some light CAD on the machine like Rhino if need be.
  • Needed to keep the total cost at around $1200 USD or less
  • Mobility was a plus, but not critical since 90% of the use will be at my apartment or in class, very little road use.
    With these constraints there were only 3 viable options, that I knew of: S7S, Asus ep121 (specs are slightly worse), Lenovo thinkpad X220 (nearly twice the price)

The Good:

Running the full version of Windows 7 means that I don’t have to worry about running or waiting for watered down versions of programs that I need. Of course this comes at the trade-off of being a Windows machine and all the baggage that comes with that (viruses, blue screens of death, etc). I’m a long time Windows user, so I am ok with troubleshooting the occasional snafu. If you are looking for a beautiful, seamless user interaction experience this is not the Slate you want.

Dual multi-touch and Wacom Penabled input is nice. I still haven’t figured out how to map virtual touch hotkeys to the screen, and have been using the slate in conjunction with my keyboard off to the side for hotkeys. However, the unit does pick up my palm on occasion instead of the pen. This can be frustrating especially if I don’t notice it immediately and only find out there is an errant mark minutes later.

Screen quality and viewing angles are gorgeous, color reproduction is really nice and I think this would be a great screen for showing off work digitally during an in person interview. At full brightness the screen is crazy bright, even at its lowest setting it is very usable.

Overall it is a very quick and snappy machine, boot time is really quick and I have been able to open and work with large files in both Photoshop and CS5 with relative ease.

Battery life is respectable, I will be mostly using the slate in places where I have access to an outlet, but on the couple of occasions that I have used it outside of my apartment I have seen around 4-5 hours of sketching, and still had some juice left, this is with brightness turned down and no wifi on. With more use I’ll get a better idea real world battery life.

Sketching feels pretty nice. I have been working on a 12 inch Cintiq at work for the past 2 month and I prefer the feel of sketching on the S7S, the felt tip that comes with the pen has nice friction with the screen. I think that I might look into pen replacements in the future, but for now the standard pen is fine. I’ve never been a fan of the chunky cintiq pens, this one feels closer to a ball point in the

The Bad:

The glossy screen can be a bit annoying at times and reflects any bright lights that are behind me, and it is a finger print magnet. I still haven’t found any good screen protectors but I will probably get one in the future to see if it can remedy these two issues.

This is NOT a road warrior machine, at all. The build quality, unfortunately is pretty crappy. Apparently to save on internal bullk samsung did not mechanically fix the bezel to the inner frame, but instead if seems to be adhered to something. It does not really solid at the corners, and in fact a lot of people have had issues with the bezel coming loose. This could definitely be a deal breaker for some, personally I can deal with the issue, my slate isn’t going to see much of the road anyways so as long as in stays intact on my home and school desk I will be ok. But if you want an option that you can take with you daily and may see some wear and tear, I think you would be disappointed.

The ambient light sensor default settings are extremely annoying, the screen is constantly dimming when my hand waves over one of the sensors. There has to be a setting to turn this off, haven’t found it yet but it is extremely annoying!

The S7S is not the perfect slate, it might be quite a while before we see the perfect ID slate on the market, but I have found it to fir the bill for what I need right now. I feel confident that I can I will easily be able to recoup the costs of the machine in productivity over it’s lifespan. As of right now I do not have any regrets with my purchase, but I will be sure to keep the thread updated on any big changes in the future.

Will update with some sketches later on, all the work I’ve done on it so far is confidential freelance work.

Thanks for the review Choto! I do really need to reconsider purchasing it since it would be my travelmachine and see loads and loads of miles. It’s a shame since most images ive seen of it makes it look pretty sturdy/solid quality. Other than that, theyve seemed to nailed the most other parts.

What accessories did you get in the package? And is there any clever compartment for the stylus?

Since you mainly use this as a stay at home/office machine.

Would you have considered a Cintiq/Desktop instead? I only ask because, that’s my current dilemma. A more portable machine I can take to class/work/trips easily. Or set up a more permanent home studio set up.

No unfortunately there is no stylus holder. I definitely would have sacrificied some the thiness for rigidity and n internal compartment.

Eman, if I didn’t have 2 more coops and was closer to graduation I would probably put the money towards a cintiq. I will probably be using this as my daily machine instead of my laptop so we will see how it holds up.

I think I’m ready to pull the trigger.
After years of frustration waiting for the Cintiq price to drop, hoping that the iPad was going to be a real designer’s tool instead of a jumbo iPod, and watching the burgeoning tablet market develop into media toys, I am finally convinced that this slate could be the one.
There are a few problems though.
First, I have never actually had the opportunity to try a good touch screen with a stylus like this. In my mind it is the perfect thing for me, and I understand that the pen tip and screen texture (or lack of) could be a good or bad fit for me. There are screen protectors that can add a little tooth to the feel, correct?
Second, I have a funny drawing style. I am right handed but hold my tools overhanded like a lefty. To work comfortably I like to rest my palm on the page. I’m worried that this will interfere with the touch screen. Should I wear a glove?
Third, I live in the center of flyover country. There is not one retail store that carries this in my area. I can’t even have a look at this much less a demo. I would need to buy online. Who has a lenient return policy in case I don’t like it?

I don’t think the glove would work, I used a piece of fabric between my palm and the screen and it still picked it up, so I’m guessing the cintiq pinkie gloves would not work, however you can turn off the touch capability which I do when I sketch and make it more like a cintiq. You can also map your “Windows” button to turn of the touch rather than going through the control panel every time. I’m going to try this out this weekend.

Still enjoying it, still cranking out a lot of freelance work and liking the performance with large files. But still disappointed with the crappy build quality!

For virtual hotkeys you may want to check out Modlock. People have also used Autohotkey to make virtual hotkeys, and i just came across this: TechnologyGuide - TechTarget which apparently allows you to have virtual touch hotkeys even when touch is off. Related is this tool which adds a ton of other hotkeys TechnologyGuide - TechTarget (haven’t tried yet either). I found the last two in a forum for the Asus Ep121 (I have one), so they may take some massaging to make work. You may want to check out the rest of that site as well, I’m not sure how much they have for Samsung.

In regards to turning touch on and off, a glove may work, i found that with a stretchy glove my palm won’t register unless I press hard, and by then the pen should be in range anyway. Mostly, though, I use a program called TouchControl made by Dan Tower mentioned here: TechnologyGuide - TechTarget. I just keep it in the taskbar and double click when I want touch off.

My new slate arrived a couple of days ago (minus the included dock and keyboard, grrrr).
Though my wife and daughter have iPhones, this is my first real experience with touch, so I didn’t have any hard expectations about it.
First impressions are that the build quality issues I’ve been reading in reviews seem like a pretty ludicrous complaint. Maybe I’m handling it like a newborn, but it does not seem at all cheap or fragile to me.
The other worry that I had, about touch interference from my palm, is quite possibly a non-issue for me. I am right-handed but draw overhanded like a lefty, and the smallish size of the screen works to my advantage. I can reach most of the screen comfortably with my hand on the table next to it. This has caused me to graze the minimize and close program buttons a few times already, but once my “replacement” keyboard arrives it will be easy enough to hide them with a keystroke.
My only complaint is that the glass is so damn slick that its impossible to draw as if on paper. I had ordered a matte decal for the screen, but later realized it had a fake carbon fiber printed border and cancelled the order. What I’m looking for is something with a little tooth, to better simulate the feel of paper.
Any suggestions?

This isn’t a screen protector, but I found it to work marvelously with my lenovo thinkpad tablet, to give it just enough tooth to have some control over my drawings. There is a clear itoya ziplock product, to put your documents in, try going to an art supplies store or an office supplies store to test it out yourself.

It looks like this:

Glad you’re liking it Robin! Seems like the build quality thing is hit or miss, mine is somewhere in the middle, I’ve seen pictures of the others where the bezel is clearly sitting a mm or 2 above the shell! Hopefully yours stays in good condition with use.

Did you switching out the pen nib to the black felt ones? This adds more friction, I even rough it up on some 600 grit to get it even more “toothy”

My pen came with a white nylon (?) tip plus several extras of the same.
No black felt tips. :frowning:
I’ll have to look into that.
Choto, thank you so much for taking the time.
You really helped me.

the engadget review mentions horrible battery life

what has your experience been?
3:30hrs is kind of a deal breaker for me.

To be honest I’m not too far from a wall plug most of the day so I haven’t had too much real world battery testing, but the times I’ve used it I’d say 3-5 depending on use.

Definitely buy some black felt tips, mine came with a little baggie of 6 nibs and a metal nib tweezer. They are the same size nibs as the intous 3 and 4 and cintiq pens so you can buy those as well. The white nib is way too slick!

So is this guy pressure sensitive with the pen?

Yes, it has the Wacom Penabled technology, as well as multitouch finger input

I might get one from work, do any of you have a dock for it? Also on the Samsung site it looks like there are four or five “different” models. One with a 64gb ssd, and four with 128gb hd and no other differences other then price.

I got the 128gb version with the dock and bluetooth keyboard, then added my own cordless usb mouse.
The keyboard sleeps after about ten seconds and needs a keystroke to wake it. Unfortunately, that wake-up stroke does not register, so you have to be constantly vigilant as to whether or not you dropped a character.
Honestly, I am not liking this thing very much yet. I paid for freedom and versatility but so far all I have in return is frustration.

You can fix the problem of the tablet registering your palm by turning off finger input and just using the stylus. Go to control panel>hardware and sound>pen and touch>change touch input settings and uncheck the appropriate box.

The keyboard that comes with it is utter garbage. The keys are literally coming off of it during normal use. Now it won’t even turn on.

As far as the automatic brightness being annoying, that can be turned off with the Easy Settings program that comes with it.

All in all I really like mine. It’s even better if you spend some time customizing the interface. I changed the volume keys so they one now a spacebar and a delete key, making Sketchbook Pro super easy to navigate without a keyboard.

You can fix the problem of the tablet registering your palm by turning off finger input and just using the stylus. Go to control panel>hardware and sound>pen and touch>change touch input settings and uncheck the appropriate box.

Andy, I can’t thank you enough! :astonished:

Thanks Choto for the review.

You mentioned in the early stage of the review that you wanted to use the slate for the full version of Photoshop. How does PS CS5 run on this device? I have been looking for a digital sketchbook for years and have invested in many devices and none of them cut it, either poor sceens or no pressure sensitivity. I thought the Ipad might be good for a digital sketchpad but it’s quite basic for what I need to do.

A tablet with a great screen, pressure sensitivity and proper Photoshop is what I need - Does the Samsung Series 7 slate have what it takes to produce reasonably high resolution images, 100x50cm @200ppi.

If so I will get one . Thanks in advance.