Hands on: Samsung’s Ativ Q plays cupid with Android and Windows 8

Samsung almost nails it with the Ativ Q, a super thin convertible tablet/laptop that successfully combines Android and Windows 8, but it’s slightly too heavy and big (13-inch screen) to use as a tablet.

Samsung Ativ Q

Samsung has announced the Ativ Q, a multi-function, dual OS tablet/laptop. A device that wants to be everything to everyone, like the Asus Transformer Book Trio, which launched earlier this month. However, there is an important difference between them.

The Ativ Q is a convertible tablet with four distinct modes: a tablet mode, an standing screen for watching video, an odd floating horizontal screen, and a laptop-like configuration which makes use of the built-in keyboard. What’s more, it runs both Windows 8 – the full version – and Android 4.2.2. However, unlike other systems, the Ativ Q doesn’t need to be restarted to switch between operating systems, as it is all done at the tap of a button.

Ativ Q Floating View

Where Asus’s Transformer Book has dual CPU’s – one to power each operating system – the Ativ Q uses one, a new Intel Haswell Core i5 chip. In the short time we had to test out Windows 8, it performed well, with silky smooth scrolling and speedily opened apps. While Microsoft’s OS was pleasurable to use, Android stuttered slightly, and it never felt as polished as Windows.

Ativ Q Dual OS Live TileThat said, the switch between operating systems is instantaneous, and is just as fast when you’re switching between open programs. There’s a Live Tile marked “Dual OS” that initiates the change to Android, and a press of the Windows softkey below the screen takes you back again. It really is seamless. Plus, Android apps can be pinned to the Windows home screens, so Gmail, Maps, or whatever else is only a button press away, no matter which OS you’re using. Tiny niggles aside, the Ativ Q really does offer the best of both worlds, all in one versatile machine.

The tablet has a 13.3-inch display and boasts an astonishing 3200 x 1800 pixel QHD+ resolution, giving it an impressive 275ppi pixel density. Needless to say, the right images look incredible, and Windows 8 really shines on this beautiful screen. Android didn’t look so good though, especially when playing games. Angry Birds was used to demo the Android OS, and its non-HD resolution was painfully obvious.

With the screen laid flat, the Ativ Q is a very big and heavy tablet. At 1.29kg (about 3lbs) it’s almost identical in weight to the 13-inch MacBook Air, but it is slightly slimmer at 13.9mm. There’s no denying it’s a heavy device though, and holding it in one hand – as one would with most tablets – is a real test of your wrists. It just isn’t comfortable for long. It’s sturdy though, and as Samsung has fashioned the chassis from metal, it should be as tough as it is hefty.

Ativ Q KeyboardA laptop-like gap below the screen lets you pull it out from the keyboard, and it hinges back to either sit at an angle for typing, or flat like a raised table. The mechanism feels solid, and it holds the screen perfectly still when it’s, “floating” allowing easy use of the included stylus. Samsung loves its styluses, but this one isn’t its best, as it’s much too small. A screen this large needs a lengthy prodding device, and not the weedy 3-inch stylus included. It works with both operating systems, but inconsistently so. The stylus couldn’t swipe through Windows 8’s Start screen, but it could when using Android. The stylus did project a neat, laser-like dot onto the screen though, making it easy to track its movement, or point something out to an observer.

The built-in keyboard is excellent, and the action of the keys is as good as any top-end laptop. Like a throwback to days gone by, there is a trackpad controller in the center of it, which causes a mouse pointer to appear on screen when stroked. However, it felt sluggish and imprecise in our quick test, and was annoying to use. Ultimately, it was easier to just reach for the touchscreen.

Ativ Q Side View

Right now, the main drawback we can see with the Ativ Q is its weight. Anyone used to an iPad, or worse, a Nexus 7, will really notice the extra weight it carries. Samsung has stayed quiet on the price too, and we fear it could become drawback number two (and release date). Otherwise, we loved the integration of Android, Windows 8’s smooth performance, the pleasant keyboard, and the Ativ Q’s overall versatility; making it one to watch in the near future.

Product Review

Galaxy Watch Active is the right size, no matter how big or small your wrist is

Launched among a massive array of other new products, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active could easily have been missed at Galaxy Unpacked 2019 -- which would be unfortunate. This is a sensibly designed, correctly sized smartwatch suitable for…
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs. OnePlus 6T: Can the Flagship Killer survive?

The Samsung Galaxy S10e is the new affordable flagship on the block, but at $750, it's $200 more than the OnePlus 6T. Does the Flagship Killer stand a chance against the new generation of flagship devices? Let's take a closer look.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs. Google Pixel 3: Can Samsung beat the stock Android king?

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is here, offering modern specs, a beautifully high-resolution display, and an edge-to-edge design with a small cutout in the display for the front-facing camera. But can the phone take out the Google Pixel 3?
Deals

Samsung drops a solid $100 discount on the Chromebook Pro

If you're in the market for a new laptop, but can't afford to drop $1,000 on one of the best models out there, Chromebooks are an excellent option. Right now, Samsung is offering $100 off the Samsung Chromebook Pro.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs. Galaxy S9: How much better is Samsung’s new flagship?

You'd naturally expect the Samsung Galaxy S10 to be better than last year's S9, but just how do the two phones differ? We break down the specs and compare Samsung's flagships in various categories to pick a winner.
Mobile

Protect and style your Samsung Galaxy S10 with the best cases and covers

If you've splashed the cash for a shiny new Samsung Galaxy S10, then you'll want to take steps to protect your investment. With a metal frame and glass curves, the S10 needs some cover. Check out the best Samsung Galaxy S10 cases.
Mobile

Samsung’s wide range of Galaxy products means there’s something for everyone

Samsung launched a host of new products on February 20, with prices ranging from just $35, all the way up to nearly $2,000. This was not by chance, and the company believes it has something for everyone in 2019.
Mobile

You can now pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, or S10e

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is one of the most-anticipated phones of the year, offering a new chipset, beautiful display, and more. Now that the phone has been announced you might be wondering where you can get it for yourself.
Mobile

Where to buy the Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, and S10e in the U.K.

The Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, and S10e have all been officially announced and can be pre-ordered right now, with deliveries expected on March 8. If you're in the U.K., this is where you need to go to buy one.
Mobile

Sony partnership with Light aims to take smartphone photography to new heights

Smartphone photography is in its ascendancy, and a new partnership between Light and Sony hopes to lift it to new heights through the development of multi-image sensor solutions for smartphones. We spoke to Light to find out more.
Deals

Protect your iPhone or iPad with the IPVanish VPN, on sale through February

One of our favorite virtual private networks for iPhones and iPads, IPVanish, is now offering a huge discount on its two-year subscription as part of its 7th-birthday promotion. Read on to find out more about how this VPN works and how you…
Mobile

Verizon is launching real standards-based 5G in 30 cities in 2019

Verizon is in the midst of a massive 5G rollout. In addition to fixed 5G service, it will also begin deploying mobile 5G in the coming months. Here's everything you need to know about Verizon's 5G network and when it will be in your town.
Deals

The 5 best Apple AirPods alternatives for Android, Windows, and iOS devices

Apple AirPods, nice as they are, aren't the only game in town. Other makers are offering their own truly wireless earbuds, and if you're looking to buy a pair of high-end in-ear headphones, we've got the best AirPod alternatives on the…
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs. iPhone XR: Cut-price flagship showdown

The Samsung Galaxy S10 range has been revealed, and it heralds a new age of powerful technology. The Galaxy S10e packs the new power and design into a cheaper price point. But is it better than the iPhone XR?