I have a new Samsung Series 7 Slate in my hands now. There's not much more to say about the device physically, it's been described and detailed all over the internet. It's a great tablet, and yes it is a little big and a little heavy and the fan makes a little noise, but it's also a lot powerful. This is all old news though. Instead of rehashing what you already know, I'm going to describe some details of my first experiences with the tablet. I'm going to keep Windows 7 on it for a week or two before trying out Windows 8 so I can give a fair comparison of the experiences
The first thing I noticed is it's awkward to type in a password at the Windows login screen, especially when you're on a crowded train and don't want everyone seeing your password. As I do with every new computer I added mine to my domain so my files and settings would sync via folder redirection and offline files. Due to Windows 7 default settings, my login screen now required a ctrl-alt-del to login. This was even more annoying as I didn't have a keyboard. I was able to get through this by opening the on screen keyboard in the accessibility settings. Hit the button in the bottom left to open it.
Samsung includes an alternate login method. It wasn't enabled by default and I had to look for it, but it works well. Go to All Programs->Samsung->Login Utility Name. You'll be prompted to login again then asked to choose a background to display at login and a pin. After choosing these you can login with just a swipe and typing your pin on a large pin pad where it's hard to make a mistake. This works well and is much less annoying when logging in. It would be nice if you were prompted to set this up on your first login, but at least it's there. The problem I've had is that this only seems to work after you're already logged in (for unlocking the screen). Since I mostly put the tablet to sleep rather than rebooting, most of the time I can use the pin to log back in. Each time you reboot you need to use your actual password though.
If you're on a domain you'll probably want to disable the need to press ctrl-alt-del to log in. To disable the required ctrl-alt-del button press you can go to Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Local Security Policy. Make sure to right click and open Local Security Policy as an administrator. Go to Local Policies -> Security Options and set Interactive logon: Do not require CTRL+ALT+DEL to Enabled.
So I'm using Internet Explorer again apparently. I don't have ideological problems with this, and I actually use Internet Explorer frequently because it works with certain advanced features of SharePoint. The reason I'm using it exclusively on the tablet right now is IE9 apparently supports gestures so I can navigate like I'm on a tablet. I thought Chrome would be good on the system due to the minimalistic interface, but Chrome just wants to select text when I swipe. I guess the problem is that developers develop for Windows as a desktop, but for Android and iOS as a tablet. I think this is why Windows 8 will be a big difference for tablet since it's designed to work as both. You can browse around using a finger or the stylus as a traditional mouse, and it works. This just doesn't seem right when using a tablet though. So for now, I'm using IE9 on the Series 7 Slate.
The tablet seems refreshingly free of bloatware. I don't have anything to remove. The only non-standard software on here are the Samsung apps which improve the tablet experience.
Samsung Tablet Applications
Samsung has included some useful application for improving the tablet experience on the Series 7 Slate. These are all designed around improving how Windows 7 acts as a tablet OS.
Touch Logon I've already mentioned. It allows you to unlock the screen using a pin instead of the normal unlock method. This is really a necessary application.
Touch Supporter gives you shortcut "buttons" to many common key presses. Examples are cut, paste, and undo. You can leave this application running so you can more quickly use these functions, or just so you can use them without the on screen keyboard. This is a great tool when dealing with certain applications.
Touch Launcher gives you a more tablet like interface for launching your apps. You get widgets and large icons for your programs. It looks more like what you would get from an Android tablet or an iPad. It's a nice feature if you prefer a tablet specific interface.
Easy Settings brings a lot of the system management options into one interface. You can control power management, and there are settings to make using touch easier in Windows 7. In the touch tuning section you can set options that will make certain windows components larger (such as scroll bars). These settings can make it a lot easier to manage windows without the stylus.
Easy Software Manager shows you all the driver, system, and Windows updates for your system in one place. I haven't tried downloading any software through the interface yet, but it looks like a good way to make sure all your tablet specific software is up to date.
Stuff That Doesn't Seem to Work Right
The following applications always launch on boot and request administrator approval to make changes. I'm not sure what each of these does. The only reason these don't work correctly because the account I log into doesn't have admin access so they're actually being launched as a different user. I've started just saying no when each one asks for permissions on login. None of these seem critical, one of them is the Samsung Recovery Solution though which is a utility for backing up the hard drive to an external device. I'm surprised these haven't been setup to work in the configuration I use since it's closer to a corporate environment.
Smart Setting Program
Easy Speed Up Manager
SWMAgent is the Easy Software Manager. It gives you a tray item to launch the Easy Software Manager. Launching is from the start bar worked for me, so I'm fine not having the try icon.
On Screen Keyboard
The on screen keyboard in Windows 7 needs some work. I understand why this was such an important bullet point during the Windows 8 demonstration. The keyboard defaults to being pretty small. You can stretch it, or tell it to dock, but it doesn't always come back in the same size. It's functional, but clumsy. If you have it at a position and size you like, it functions as well as any other tablet's keyboard. I just find myself spending too much time messing with the keyboard.
The hardware is wonderful. Just keep in mind that while it's a very powerful tablet, it's also a little bit large and heavy. Oddly, while Windows 7 is going to support the widest range of applications and supports all the desktop applications you're used to running on Windows, many of these applications won't be designed to work well on a tablet. The end result is a tablet that is very powerful both in hardware and software, but a bit clumsy to use. Fortunately, most of my complaints have been addressed in Windows 8. I'll be testing that out next week on the Series 7 Slate and will provide a similar review.
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