In addition to its new Series 7 laptops, Samsung is showing off a new Windows tablet, called the Series 7 Slate. We got a chance to play around with a demo unit earlier this week, and at a minimum, it at least includes some of the smarter ideas we've seen for Windows tablets (which may be faint praise, as the Win 7 tablet universe is filled with clunkers).
The 11.6-inch system we saw ran an Intel Core i5 CPU, but Samsung says Core i3 and even Pentium versions will be available. That Core i5 CPU is why we thought Asus' Eee Slate tablet from earlier in 2011 was about as good as Windows tablets can get right now, and a major contrast with some of the frankly unworkable Atom-powered tablets that have come before. It's worth noting that the Series 7 Slate can be configured to have nearly the same specs as Samsung's ultrathin Series 9 laptops.
The system works with a Bluetooth keyboard and docking stand (with USB and HDMI ports). Pair up a mouse or touch pad and you've got something pretty close to an everyday computer experience, if you can work with the small screen (or output from the docking station via HDMI to a bigger display).
In our brief hands-on time with it, the thing that most stood out about the Series 7 Slate was its custom icon-based overlay, which can be brought up with a tap of a button, or hidden if you want to use the traditional Windows desktop. Samsung's UI reminded us of both an Android layout and Apple's alternative icon-based navigation system introduced in OS X Lion. Even better, we were able to flick through its pages of apps about as quickly and easily as on an iPad. On Windows tablets, we've found stutter-free experiences like this few and far between.
The Series 7 Slate should be out sometime later in 2011, and configurations will run from about $1,099 to $1,349--roughly on par with the similar Asus Eee Slate.