The Windows 8 tablet hybrid market already has many interesting designs that enable dual-use scenarios, but Samsung's 13.3in Samsung ATIV Q might just be the most innovative, and for a few reasons: it has a very high screen resolution, it can run both Windows 8 and Android Jelly Bean on its Intel Haswell CPU, and its hardware design sees all of the processing power located within the product's hinge, rather than in the base or screen.
The ATIV Q is a 1.29kg, magnesium-based, 14mm thick tablet-first device that can be converted into a laptop thanks to a hinge that lifts the screen up off the base and allows it to tilt. This Samsung-developed hinge is rectangular and it houses all of the ATIV Q's processing power — the CPU is not in the base like a traditional laptop, nor behind the screen like it is in a traditional tablet. When the hinge is lifted, the screen moves up and back to expose the keyboard. Conveniently, the hinge allows the screen to be oriented inward, just like a traditional laptop, or outward, which is great if you want to use the device purely as a display for watching videos or flicking through photos.
In terms of the way it looks and its capabilities, the ATIV Q is reminiscent of a couple of different devices, such as the Sony VAIO Duo 11 (in the way it looks with the screen up in a laptop form factor, but it's much neater than the Sony) and the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix (as far as the screen being able to face backwards, although Lenovo has a removable rip-and-flip screen). However, the screen in the ATIV Q can also float parallel to the keyboard, which can be convenient in limited scenarios such as when giving presentations while you're standing up, for example.
On the inside, the ATIV Q relies on a fourth generation Intel Core processor (codenamed Haswell), which should make it zippy for office work and general tasks, and also long-lasting when it comes to battery life. Because the processor is contained within the hinge and not in the base of the unit, Samsung claims that the ATIV Q provides a very cool typing experience, with no heat travelling up through the keyboard. It's not a deep keyboard though, and it lacks a touchpad, which could be missed by some users. Instead, the pointing device of choice for the ATIV Q is a TrackPoint and separate left- and right-click buttons below the spacebar.
The screen provides a massive working area on the Windows 8 Desktop thanks to a resolution of 3200x1800 (this is called a qHD+ resolution), it also has a viewing angle of 178 degrees and an abient light sensor. With so many pixels, there is excellent potential for multitasking on this hybrid device, especially if you are the type of person who likes to line up windows side by side. It's also tremendous for viewing and editing photos.
The negative aspect of the high resolution is that standard-resolution video, and streaming video in particular, sometimes won't look great on it, and text is very small and can be hard to read. Zooming and enlarging can help with that. The 275 pixels per inch (PPI) that the ATIV Q's screen offers is higher than the 221 PPI offered by the Toshiba KIRA's 2560x1440-pixel screen, and also the 227 PPI of the MacBook Pro with Retina Display.
Because it's a touch screen, it can be very difficult to accurately tap on icons with your finger when using it as a tablet; tasks as simple as maximising and minimising Windows will require some concentration and an accurate finger movement. Samsung ships the ATIV Q with an S-Pen that can give you more precise control, it can be used for handwriting in apps such as Evernote, and it has 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity in case you want to use it as a graphics tablet with Photoshop.
The ATIV Q is a native Windows 8 device, but it also runs a stock version of Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 on top. Android can be launched from within Windows 8 and run like an app, but not in Windowed mode; you simply hit the tile on the Windows 8 Start Screen to launch it (Samsung didn't have an official name for this Windows 8 tile yet, only an internal name). There is a Windows icon in Android for when you want to go back to Windows 8. Files can be shared between the two operating systems (for example, photos taken in Windows 8 can appear in the Android gallery), and Android apps can even be pinned to the Windows 8 Start Screen for quick access.
Samsung claims that the Android experience on the ATIV Q has been made to feel just like that of the Galaxy Tab. You can use the Google Play store just like you would on a regular Android device, and also synchronise all of your apps to it. Samsung demonstrated the device's performance by running Angry Birds, and it showed that the accelerometer could be used to control games such as Bike race.
Other software features of the ATIV Q were also discussed, including Side Sync. This software allows a Samsung Galaxy phone to be used with the computer as a second screen (you can move the mouse pointer onto it, for example to interact with an app), or for the phone to be mirrored on the computer so that you can use it as a virtual phone and see your Android phone apps on the PC. You can use the ATIV Q's keyboard to type directly into the phone, or you can copy and paste data (drag-and-drop it) between the devices. At the moment, Side Sync only works with a USB connection, but Samsung says it will work with wireless in the future.
We'll bring you a full review of the ATIV Q, including further specs, pricing and availability, as soon as it's available.
The author of this article travelled to the Samsung Premiere event in London as a guest of Samsung.