Samsung unveils Windows 8 mobile devices, updates Note

The South Korean electronics giant also took the wraps off a new Galaxy Camera

Samsung Electronics has taken the wraps off new Android and Windows devices at IFA in Berlin, showing off a bigger, faster Note table, a new Galaxy Camera, and smartphones and tablets running Windows 8.

Samsung is getting behind Microsoft's next-gen Windows with the ATIV-family, which includes the ATIV S smartphone and the ARM-based ATIV Tab, plus the Intel-based ATIV Smart PC and Smart PC Pro

The ATIV S smartphone runs Windows Phone 8, which has a revised start screen, and also allows smartphones based on the OS to be equipped with HD screens, multi-core processors, NFC and microSD card slots.

Samsung has taken advantage of those improvements and the ATIV S has a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display. The phone is 8.7 millimeters thick with NFC integrated, 1.5GHz dual-core processor and HSPA 42 connectivity.

More Windows Phone 8-based devices are expected to be announced next week, as Microsoft joins Nokia for an event in New York where the Finnish phone maker is expected to announce its first phones based on the new OS.

Tablets are equally important, and Windows 8 and RT have been developed with tablets in mind.

The ATIV Tab uses Windows RT, which of course means that it is powered by an ARM processor. The device has a 10.1-inch screen, weighs 570 grams and is 8.9 millimeters thick. That compares to the new iPad, which weighs from 652 grams and is 9.4 millimeters thick.

Users can attach a keyboard and other peripherals using the included USB and HDMI ports. Just like the ATIV S, the Tab has NFC integrated.

For users who prefer Intel-based processors and Windows 8, the ATIV Smart PC and Smart PC Pro both have keyboards that can be attached magnetically to the screen. They have also inherited the S Pen from the Galaxy Note-family, which allows users to write directly on the screen.

The ATIV Smart PC Pro is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor and has a 11.6-inch screen. The ATIV Smart PC is the simpler of the two, and has a new Atom processor.

Meanwhile, on the Android side, the Galaxy Note II has a bigger screen and a faster processor than its predecessor tablet, while the Galaxy Camera has 16-megapixel resolution and an optical zoom.

For Samsung, the IFA trade show seems to have become the place where the company launches new concepts. At last year's show it premiered the first Note, and this year it has launched the Galaxy Camera.

The camera is the first in the world to combine Android 4.1 with 3G and a quad-core processor, according to Samsung. It also has a 4.8-inch HD display and an f2.8/23 millimeter lens with a 21x optical zoom. It is voice-controlled and users can store images on Dropbox; 50GB is included.

Samsung is hoping the camera will help create a new product category, as it managed with the Note.

When Samsung launched the original Note, few people thought the product would be a success, thanks to its 5.3-inch screen size which put it between smartphones and tablets. But with sales of over 10 million, Samsung has proven that its instincts were right and now wants to build on that momentum with the Galaxy Note II, which is based on Android 4.1. Samsung will try to convince consumers to upgrade to the new model or buy one for first time when it starts shipping in October.

The Galaxy Note II is powered by a quad-core 1.6GHz processor. It has a 5.5-inch widescreen display with a resolution of 1280-by-720 pixels, which is housed in a shell that is 9.4 millimeters thick and weighs 180 grams.

That compares to the original version's 5.3-inch display with a 1280-by-800 pixel resolution in a package that is 9.7 millimeters thick and weighs 178 grams.

Samsung has also increased the size of the battery from 2,500 mAh to 3,100 mAh. How that will affect battery life when there is a slightly bigger screen and a faster processor remains to be seen.

On the software side, users can hover over an icon with the digital pen and get a preview of what hides beneath it. Also, if the pen is left behind, the Note II will vibrate to warn the user that the pen has been left behind.

The new version also includes pop-up video and pop-up play, features that allow users to watch videos or surf the web in a window that hovers over the rest of the user interface.

On Tuesday, Samsung also launched the Series 7 and Series 5 All-In-One (AIO) PCs, which will also have Windows 8 along with touch-sensitive displays. Users will also be able to control the computers with hand gestures.

The Series 7 comes in two versions, with either a 27-inch or a 23.6-inch display. The 27-inch version has an Intel Core i7-3770T processor and 8GB of RAM, while smaller version has to make do with a Core i5-3470T processor and 6 GB of RAM.

The Series 5 has a 21.5-inch display, a Core i3-3220T processor and 4 GB of RAM.

The list prices are between $1,099 and $1,699 for the Series 7 and $749 for the Series 5, and all three will become available on Oct. 26.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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Mikael Ricknäs

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