Hands-on with Samsung’s latest Surface-rival
The Galaxy Book tablets are the second wave of hybrids from Samsung, since it re-entered the Windows market with its stellar Galaxy Tab Pro S last year. Rather than rework the wheel, the Galaxy Book-line seeks to rectify design and hardware flaws that kept the Tab Pro S from achieving true hybrid greatness. The end result, is a compelling looking alternative to the Microsoft Surface that could be the ideal choice for everyone from general office workers and students to creative types looking for a lightweight doodle of photo touch up station.
Samsung’s set to offer the Galaxy Book in 12 and 10-inch configurations, both of which have slightly different internals. On the outside, however , they look close to identical.
Like the Pro S, both sizes have smooth finish, metallic feeling backs and come with an attachable keyboard dock and updated S Pen stylus. Taking a closer look, I did notice a few important design updates however. For starters Samsung’s increased the number of USB type C ports from one to two on the 12-inch model.
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The update doesn’t put the device on a par with competing convertibles, such as the Surface Pro 4, or Asus Transformer 3 Pro, when it comes to connectivity, but it’s a welcome change nonetheless. The Tab Pro S had a single USB C port that was also used to charge it. This was a silly limitation given it meant you couldn’t, for example , connect it to a monitor while charging.
The enhanced S Pen also feels like a significant step forward. Samsung lists the S Pen as being its most advanced to date, claiming it can detect a whopping 4096 pressure levels. The Microsoft Surface Pen can detect just over 1000, by comparison. Testing the pen in Photoshop, though, it didn’t detect changes in angle as well as the stylus on Wacom’s premier Mobile Studio Pro, it still performed excellently. Brush strokes were enacted with near no latency and, outside of a few palm detection issues Samsung promised were due to pre-release software, the pen felt more than good enough for digital painting and note taking.
I’m also very impressed with the hardware changes Samsung’s made. The Core M in the original Galaxy Tab Pro S was sub par and as a result the device offered poor performance during intensive tasks. This was a key issue, especially if you wanted to take advantage of its stellar AMOLED screen and work on large painting projects.
Thankfully, Samsung’s fixed this on the 12-inch Galaxy Book, which now comes running a 7th-gen Intel Core i5U Kaby Lake CPU clocked at 3. 1GHz. I tested 128GB model, which comes with 4GB RAM not the more expensive 256GB model, which comes with 8GB RAM.
Some may scoff at the U-series CPU, which is basically a rebranded next generation M chip. But, even with the diminished memory, I was impressed how much faster the 12-inch Galaxy Book felt and can see it being a great choice for creatives working on small scale projects.
I also don’t see how Samsung could have gotten anything more powerful into a tablet that’s just 7. 4mm thick and weighs a piddly 754g.
The 12-inch AMOLED screen also looks excellent. According to a Samsung spokeswoman, it will cover 99% of the Adobe RGB and 100% of the sRGB gamuts favoured by artists and photographers who need accurate colour representation. Normally I’d take these claims with a pinch of salt, but considering how great the Tab Pro S’ screen was and my naked eye impressions, I’m fairly convinced the screen will at the very least be above average.
The 10-inch configuration doesn’t match its bigger brother’s specs, but if priced correctly could be a solid choice for more general users looking for a laptop-tablet convertible. The 10. 6-inch HD screen uses an LCD, maybe not AMOLED panel and as a result isn’t as vibrant, or bright, but from what I saw it’s more than good enough for general use and watching movies.
The use of a 2 . 6GHz Intel Core M3 CPU and set 4GB of RAM will also make it slower, but the specs are more than sufficient for people that just want to use the Galaxy Book as a basic laptop.
My only serious issue with both Galaxy Books relates to their attachable keyboard covers. Samsung has done stellar work making the keyboards more comfortable, by giving them a 1 . 5mm travel depth and three adjustable backlight levels, but I’m still perhaps not sold on the magnetic docking system.
The docking system works the same way it did on the Galaxy Tab Pro S and Huawei Matebook. This limits you to three stand angles, one of that is an artists’ easel mode that flips the keyboard behind the tablet. This will inevitably make the device difficult to use on anything but a flat surface, and I can’t help but wish Samsung would drop the magnets and create a properly hinged keyboard dock.
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Both the 12 and 10-inch Galaxy Books look like seriously impressive hybrid devices. However , from what I’ve seen, outside of their branding and aesthetics they are completely different devices that cater to two different markets.
The 12-inch variant has a super-looking screen that, combined with the tablet’s S Pen, seems tailor-made for artists and photographers. However , its upgraded components mean it will likely cost a pretty penny.
The smaller 10-inch variant seems better suited for general consumers that have been hankering for Microsoft’s long rumoured Surface Mini. Despite having lower specs, the device appears to be more than powerful enough for general users and, if priced correctly, could be the hybrid to get this year for students looking for a truly all-on-one device.