While a lot of the hype at yesterday's Samsung Unpacked event was around the new Galaxy Note 2, PC users will be taking a keen look at the company's Windows RT and Windows 8 tablet PCs with a range of underlying technologies.
A Three-Pronged Unified Approach?
So, this is what Microsoft's unified Windows 8 dream has come down to, a major partner offering three tablets, running three different processors and two different operating systems. These are potentially very crazy times for buyers.
Samsung showed off three Windows tablets under the all-things-Windows 8 brand of ATIV, they are called the Tab, Smart PC and Smart PC Pro. They run on ARM with Windows RT, Intel Atom with Windows 8 and Intel Core i5 with Windows 8 Pro respectively.
The three devices look substantially similar, with a stylish, executive, aesthetic, but will sit at three very different price points with various screen sizes, resolutions, storage and memory options. The Tab comes with a dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, 10.1" screen, 2GB of RAM and up to 64GB of storage expandable via a microSD slot.
Playing Happy Families
A dedicated tablet, compared to its PC-in-disguise larger brothers, it is the acid test of Microsoft's new strategy. Will users really buy a Windows-with-MS-Office tablet that isn't quite a full PC when there are so many other options? With an army of rival modestly-priced tablets out and on the way, selling these for around €699 ($875) is a big ask.
The Smart PC and Smart PC Pro are competing in the more traditional PC space (see more spec details on the official site), albeit in a very tablet style, with the detachable keyboard likely to be a standard feature on most devices come next year. Even these will be under huge pressure as the first full wave of Ultrabooks offers full-spec, lightweight computing, and prices start to come down.
Perhaps it is a masterstroke for Microsoft and partners, but it looks like a recipe for consumer confusion. If you go into a store and ask for a PC today, you can get a rough idea of price/performance, but with dozens of competing models like Samsung's ATIV family on the shelf, things could hardly be less clear.