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Samsung Series 5 Hybrid PC unveiled at Computex: Hands-on preview

Samsung Series 5 Hybrid PC

We get early peek at flagship Windows 8 device

Samsung is to announce a Windows 8 tablet-laptop hybrid at Computex this year; but we got to see a prototype of the new device while visiting Samsung’s headquarters, in Seoul, last week. The company’s initial flagship device for Windows 8 will be the Samsung Series 5 Hybrid PC, a slate-style tablet with a keyboard dock that turns it into a fully-fledged laptop.

The 11in widescreen slate uses a magnetic docking system to connect to the keyboard element. On the prototype we saw this was very easy to use, but not as powerful as we’d like. Like all such tablet hybrids (such as the Asus Transformer Pad), the docked device felt rather unbalanced and top heavy. Samsung confirmed that there was no additional battery in the keyboard unit, which can help to balance out such weight issues.

The Series 5 Hybrid PC is a fully-fledged Windows 8 PC capable of executing x86 code, rather than the more limited ARM version of the new operating system (which is limited to running Microsoft-approved apps). There were actually two variants on show, one using an Atom-class Clover trail chipset, while the other was set-up to take the latest Core i3/5/7 low-voltage processors.

The main cosmetic difference between the models were three extra cooling vents on the rear. Weight varies too – from 750g to 870g – with the Atom model measuring just 9mm in depth and the Core i model being a little thicker (not that we had a ruler to hand). The Atom model should have a ten hour battery life, but no figures were available for the more powerful of the two.

Samsung Series 5 Hybrid PC
This is the only image we have of the new device

Both models have a single Windows Start button is present under the centre of the screen (in landscape orientation). With HDMI output, stereo speakers on either edge of the screen, full-sized USB3 ports, SD card reader slot and front-and-back webcams the tablets feel well equipped.

The tablets also come with S-Pen and S-Memo, which will let users make notes onscreen with a stylus. Samsung stated it was bringing expertise from mobile devices (such as the Samsung Galaxy Note) into its new Windows 8 line up. It will also have its own section in the Microsoft app store, so that owners of Samsung Windows 8 devices will be able to access new and updated apps for their devices.

We were prevented from taking any pictures of the new device at the meeting, and Samsung’s Head of its IT business, EVP SeongWoo Nam, led the meeting – which just goes to show how seriously the company is taking this new line of Windows 8-specific devices. It had tested a number of names in five countries before settling on ‘Hybrid PC’ for this new class of Windows-based devices.

Compared to the incredibly-sleek Samsung Series 9 laptop, the new Series 5 Hybrid PC can’t help but feel a little chunky – mounting all that hardware behind the display is simply never going to look as elegant as having it under the keyboard. Still, Samsung were confident that its devices would out-do the competition’s, and based on the advances its laptops have made over the last couple of years, we’re pretty sure that subsequent models will appear far more refined.

Please note that this article was written based on preview information, and that final specifications may change before launch.

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