Samsung Intros Smartphone, Slate-Style Tablets, Galaxy Note II

Samsung, weeks ahead of what could be a new iPhone, iPad and iTV, introduced a Windows 8 smartphone, two tablet-like Slates and a 5.5-inch Note II. These follow news of two video-friendly AiO PCs.

Samsung has been busy at the IFA 2012 trade show in Berlin this week. Among other announcements, it entered the Windows 8 tablet market with an unexpected twist, showing off Series 5 and Series 7 Slates that are equipped with the company's S Pen stylus and as at-home connected to a sure-fitting keyboard as without it.

The onslaught of devices-in addition to the Slates there's a new smartphone, another Note and yesterday two all-in-one PCs for the living room or kitchen-come a few weeks before Apple is expected to introduce a new iPhone and, perhaps weeks later, a smaller iPad and maybe even a TV.

The Slates feature 11.6-inch displays with resolutions of 1366 by 768 and 1920 by 1080, respectively, and keyboard docks that attach via a "mechanical hinge," that connects so securely "users can pick up the device with one hand without fear of the pieces separating," Samsung officials said in an Aug. 29 statement.

While Lenovo introduced a Windows 8 tablet that can click into a sold-separately keyboard, and Microsoft's Surface features a working keyboard in its cover, the Samsung Slates, when fitted to the keyboard, look very close to being a real laptop. Closed, they look like two equally sized tablets in the grip of an intense hinge.

"We created our Slate PCs with a focus on beautiful design, powerful performance and ease of use, attributes that our customers have come to expect in their Samsung computing experience," Todd Bouman, Samsung's vice president of marketing, said in a statement.

The S Pen is embedded in a slot in the Slates and, like Samsung's newer Notes features handwriting-to-text conversion and 1,024 levels of sensitivity-the harder a user pushes down when writing, the darker and deeper the mark.

The Series 5 Slate weighs 1.65 pounds and features an Intel Atom processor, 2GB of system memory and a 6GB solid-state drive (SSD). Like the Series 7, it features Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi connectivity and a display with 10-point multi-touch sensitivity. With the keyboard dock, it's priced at $749, without it, $649.

The Series 7 runs an Intel Core i5 processor, has 4GB of system memory and a 128GB SSD. It weighs 1.89 pounds and is priced at $1,199.

If the keyboard is something you can't do without, Samsung also introduced the Series 5 Ultra, a version of a popular earlier laptop but with a touch display. The laptop features Intel Core i3 or i5 processor, 4G of RAM and a 500GB hard drive with 24GB of ExpressCache-which is said to help the machine boot up faster.

The laptop weighs 3.83 pounds, measures 12.4 by 8.6 by 0.66 inches at its thinnest point and 0.78 at its thickest. Pricing will range from $799 through $849.

Also among its news was the introduction of a slightly larger Note device, the Galaxy Note II, which features a 5.5-inch display and still falls under the smartphone category, as far as Samsung is concerned. Play Infinite leaked the details yesterday.

A greater surprise is an ATIV S smartphone. (ATIV, you may be interested or depressed to learn, is Vita-or "life," in Latin-spelled backward.) Microsoft, on its Windows Phone Blog, hailed the first of many Windows 8 phones to come, calling the smartphone "equal parts powerhouse and head turner."

The ATIV s is 8.7mm thin, features a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED (active-matrix organic LED) display covered in Gorilla Glass, runs a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, has a 1GB of RAM on board, an 8MP camera on the back and a 1.9MP camera up-front. It'll come with the option of 16GB or 32GB, and both will have microSD slots and 2,300mAh batteries.

No word yet on which carriers will offer it or what it will be priced at. Until you can get your hands on one, Microsoft's Ben Rudolph blogs that it feels great in the hand. Plus, despite being one of the bigger phones on the market, "it doesn't feel that big."