With the official launch of Windows 8 fast approaching, Microsoft’s manufacturing partners are starting to debut new hardware designed specifically for the touch-optimized operating system. Samsung is the latest of the bunch, showing off two new tablet-laptop hybrid devices, the Series 5 and Series 7 Slate PCs.
The two ultra-portable devices share the same form factor: an 11.6-inch tablet with a detachable keyboard. When the keyboard is attached, the Series 5 and 7 look indistinguishable from clamshell notebooks.
The tablet connects to the keyboard via a mechanical hinge, which ensures the two pieces don’t accidentally separate while you’re using them. I had some time to test the mechanical hinge out, and although it’s not as elegant a solution as magnets — as seen with the Smart Cover and the iPad, or the Touch Cover and Surface — it is significantly more secure.
The Series 5 Slate features a 1366 x 786 resolution display, while the slightly more advanced Series 7 has a 1920 x 1080 display. The Series 7 also has more powerful internals, with an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. The Series 5 is targeted more toward the casual user, with an Intel two-watt processor, 2GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD.
Naturally, both devices sport 10-point touchscreens to take advantage of the new tile-based Windows 8 experience. The two hybrid PCs also come with Samsung’s signature S Pen, which is housed in a slot along the back of the tablet portion. The S Pen, which made its debut with the Galaxy Note phone, has 1,024 levels of sensitivity. It’s not hard to imagine the pen being useful for taking notes or detailed creative work.
Both the Series 5 and 7 weigh in at less than 2 pounds — specifically, the Series 7 weighs 1.89 pounds and the Series 5 is 1.65 pounds.
The Series 7 Slate will cost $1,200 when it debuts; the Series 5 will be available at a slightly more budget-friendly $750 with the keyboard, and $650 without. The devices will be available for purchase on Oct. 26, the same day as Windows 8′s public launch.
Asus and Acer showed off similar devices to Samsung’s slates at Computex earlier this summer. It’s clear that Windows 8 is driving manufacturers to create new types of hardware experiences. You can expect to see even more of these hybrid PCs coming from other manufacturers like HP, Toshiba, Dell and Lenovo in the very near future.