Samsung Ativ Tab review

This 10in Windows RT tablet aims to outshine Microsoft's in-house effort with a Qualcomm chipset and nine hours of battery life. But is it worth the high-price point?

Windows RT - A tale of two halves

If the design of the tablet gets a seven out of ten or thereabouts, how does the UI fare?

On paper, very well. You want to play? Great, Microsoft have their Start menu full of live tiles. These include movies, music and games, and all just a few taps away. If you want to get down to some work, even better - switch to desktop view. Windows RT is the only current gen tablet OS that has a full Microsoft Office Suite, and all in a familiar desktop UI.

The reality though isn't so rosy thanks to an incredible amount of disparity between these interfaces.

Windows RT - Live Tiles and Desktop

Windows RT - Live Tiles and Desktop

Although Windows RT has a desktop, it's not as useful as it seems

Interface 1 - The Start Menu

This is the fancy Live Tiled interface you'll likely associate with Windows 8 and see plastered on billboards and TV adverts. Reminiscent of Windows Phone, the scrolling interface is populated by tiles which show you glimpses of information related to their respective application. These can be resized and moved around to look just right for you.

Gestures are a fundamental part of this menu. A swipe in from the right and irrelevant of what window you're in, you'll pull up the following options: search, share, start, devices and settings. Swipe down from the top to access in app menus, swipe in from the left to initiate some multi-tasking action.

These are intuitive to use once you get the hang of them, but neither Microsoft nor Samsung go to great lengths to teach these gestures when you startup your Ativ Tab which is a huge oversight.

There is a mail client installed in the Start menu view. This adopts a simplified aesthetic that's stark and easy to use, but in the same breath fails to deliver more advanced options. Anyone even thinking of business use can unfortunately forget about it with advanced features such as out of office settings and rules missing.

To compound matters, the Office Suite available for RT tablets, doesn't support MS Outlook.

It's a similar situation with the calendar. It looks slick, great to dip in and out of, but as soon as you try and get more advanced functionality, you're left wanting.

So what is the Start menu good for if not productivity? Leisure. It's a procrastinator's best friend and a very competent multimedia device. Crack open Xbox music or video to download tunes, movies and TV shows. The on board travel app is a great read for the train and most of the apps available in the store worth their salt are leisure apps of some sort.

Of course only apps downloaded through the store will work for Windows RT devices. This means anyone thinking about the Ativ Tab for business use won't have access to the applications like Dropbox, Google Drive, Photoshop. In many ways, you'd be better off with an Android tablet. But hold on - what about the desktop UI?