How about a Windows 8 tablet that also runs Android apps? That's the question someone at Samsung Electronics asked themselves, which led to the introduction on Thursday of the ATIV Q tablet.
Actually, Samsung unveiled two tablets Thursday, the ATIV Q and the ATIV Tab 3. The Q model is the one for users who truly can't make up their minds between Windows and Android, or between a tablet and a laptop. It features both Windows 8 and Android Jellybean 4.2.2, and allows users to share files or folders between the two operating systems. In other words, photos saved in the photos folder while in Windows are available in the photos folder when in Android.
The Android and Windows OSes run on the same Intel Core i5 Haswell processor, and switching between the two is simply a matter of touching an on-screen icon. Reportedly, the switch-over takes only a few seconds and no reboot is required.
'World's Highest Resolution'
The Q also has a hinge design for turning the device into any of several functional modes. When the display is flat over the keyboard, it's a tablet. By turning the display upright so that it reveals the keyboard, it becomes a laptop, and flipping the display into standing position turns the Q into a movie-watching device.
The tablet/laptop convertible format has seen more life since the launch of the new Windows, largely because Windows 8 is a touch-oriented operating system, but many users still prefer to use their productivity software with a keyboard.
The Q's 13.3-inch touch screen comes with what Samsung describes as "the world's highest resolution" display at 3200x1800, with a pixel density 2.8 times higher than full high-def screens -- 275 pixels per inch.
The Tab 3, the company said, is designed with the power of a PC, and is the thinnest Windows tablet on the market -- 8.2 mm, about the thickness of a smartphone. It provides up to 10 hours of battery life, an Intel Atom Z2760 processor, 2 GB of memory, 64 GB of internal storage, and Wi-Fi connectivity in a svelte package of only 19 ounces. Both the Q and the Tab 3 are packaged with an improved S Pen, not unlike the stylus in Samsung's Galaxy Note line of tablets.
SideSync, which merges the functionality of the Q or the Tab 3 with an Android-based Samsung smartphone, is available for both devices. Using SideSync, a user could, for instance, employ the PC keyboard to text back through the mobile phone, or could look at maps, photos or videos on either device's screen.
Pricing on the new tablets was not announced. They are the company's latest effort to increase its position against the dominator of the tablet category, Apple. Samsung, king among smartphone makers, has an 18 percent market share in tablets, according to industry research firm IDC. Although distant from Apple's 40 percent, Samsung's current position is triple its market share from the first quarter of last year, and gives the company the coveted second position.
Tablets are a hot category now, expected to grow in units sold by nearly 50 percent this year, and IDC, among others, has predicted sales of tablets will exceed sales of desktops or laptops by 2015. All of which is even more impressive when one realizes that the category essentially did not exist until the iPad was launched in 2010.