The world is trying to move us away from laptops and toward 2-in-1 devices. Following Microsoft's original dalliance and the emergence of Window RT, there was some turmoil, as it became immediately evident that people didn't want RT - they wanted the full Windows experience.
The Surface typified this move to a more mobile line of devices, as the chunky laptops of the past were resigned to tech landfill. Samsung went as far as folding its laptop business in the UK, but device like the Galaxy TabPro started this transition to something new, a rival to the Surface.
The Galaxy Book, launched at Mobile World Congress 2017 bring a much stronger identity to this type of device, leaving the Tab S3 on Android, the Galaxy Book is a sophisticated rival to the Surface Pro.
Samsung Galaxy Book preview: 10.6 and 12-inch versions
- 10.6-inch models gets Intel Core i3
- 12-inch model packs HDR and Intel Core i5
There are two versions of the Galaxy Book - 10.6 and 12-inch. These aren't just a different size, they are different spec too, with the 12-inch model being the one you'd probably append the Pro moniker too: it offers HDR, has a higher resolution 2160 x 1440 pixel display, more power and more ports.
That 12-inch display is really impressive and the support for HDR is a relatively new development in mobile devices. It's a technology that's been talked about in television for the last few years, giving you wider colours and greater contrast, with greater peak brightness output. It only really applies to video content, however, so you'll probably only really revel in its greatness when watching the likes of Amazon Video.
It comes with the Intel Core i5, 7-gen, and Samsung was keen to point out that this was the i5 U, so fan cooled, meaning real power. It's paired with 4GB RAM as standard, but there's an 8GB version, depending on how much grunt you really need. For storage you have 128GB SSD on the 4GB version, jumping to 256GB on the 8GB version.
The 12-inch Galaxy Book also doubles the connection, offering two USB Type-C connections, and we've seen this running with two connected USB monitors, but it means you'll be able to connect a range of accessories quickly and easily.
The 10.6-inch model by comparison offers a 1920 x 1280 pixel display and is powered by a 7-gen Intel Core m3 processor, 4GB RAM and 128GB SSD. There's also only the one USB Type-C connection on offer.
We imagine there will be a substantial difference in price: the 2016 Galaxy TabPro S was £849 and that sort of fell between the spec of these two models, basically offering the larger's display with smaller's hardware. We suspect the 12-inch Galaxy Book will sail well over £1000.
Samsung Galaxy Book preview: Great design
- Galaxy Book 12: 291.3 x 199.8 x 7.4mm, 754g
- Galaxy Book 10: 261.2 x 179.1 x 8.9mm, 640g
The Galaxy Book gets off to a great start offering a wonderful slim design. We don't think it's quite as luscious as the Galaxy Tab S3 with its glass back: it's more serious in its design, but all of Samsung's tablets at this level offer an elegance in their design.
They're also impressively thin, as the TabPro S was previously, with a 7.4mm thickness on the larger 12-inch model. There's certainly no questioning the portability here and with a weight that comes in much lighter than small laptops, that's less strain on your shoulders.
The important thing is that the Galaxy Book comes with the keyboard cover. This has been refined over the previous offerings, designed to create more space for keys and give a nice action, with 1.5mm of travel. The action on this keyboard cover seems good, although we've not had the chance to really put it through its paces and see how it performs in the real world.
We do like the overall fit and feel of the covers. The Galaxy Book docks easily enough and the cover offers a range of different positions. This is common territory: you can have note model or easel mode, depending on how you set the tablet and what you want to do with it. Of course, ditching the keyboard means you're working in tablet mode with your finger, or with the new S Pen.
Samsung Galaxy Book preview: S Pen included
- S Pen included
- Adobe support
Samsung has also redesigned the S Pen, making it more like the Apple Pencil and elevating it from integrated stylus as it was on the Galaxy Note to something more accomplished. It comes with the Galaxy Book, so you have full handwriting, stylus and more advanced drawing functions.
The S Pen is also battery free, relying on sensitivity in the display, with 4096 levels of pressure. As a fun move, Samsung has teamed up with Staedtler to create a Noris digital - an S Pen that's in the form of a classic pencil. It even smells of pencil - take that Apple.
The tip is a special kind of rubber on the S Pen to give a smoother paper feel when you're writing and sketching, and although we've not had the chance to use it to a great extent, we've had a play with the tilt detection to change the thickness of the lines and so on, and it all seems to work nicely.
While many will never use the S Pen of any sort of graphical art work, it does mean you can kick back and scrawl notes at your leisure, rather than having to type everything.
Samsung Galaxy Book preview: It's the full Windows experience
- Windows 10
- Multiple desktops supported
As we said at the start of this Galaxy Book exploration, it runs Windows 10, giving you a full Windows experience so you can run proper apps, in proper windows, with proper multitasking.
Samsung is also letting you create multiple desktops, so you can have different tasks running in different places and swipe between them using the trackpad on the keyboard. It seems slick and fast, but naturally, we've not seen it running when under real strain. We've mentioned that Samsung has teamed up with Adobe to let you do things like write on PDFs using the S Pen, as well as using the Pen in applications like Photoshop.
One of the other Samsung additions on the software front is called Samsung Flow. Designed to deal with the problem of having devices on different platforms - Windows, Tizen, Android - Samsung Flow will create a link between these different devices, so you can "flow" and attachment from your phone to your tablet, for example, or get your notifications from your Android phone on your Windows desktop - to save juggling different devices all the time.
The Samsung Galaxy Book has a great form factor. We like the look and the feel and on paper at least, there are two different devices here to appeal to different types of users. The Galaxy Book 10 will have ample power for those looking for mobile Windows working, without stepping into the realms of serious processing of things like video that might need the additional grunt of the 12-inch model.
The 12-inch version is the model that's caught our eye however. The premium display, the additional USB (although the lack of a regular full-size USB will leave some complaining) and that slim body draw us to it.
There's no word on the exact pricing yet and the availability to still to be confirmed. We suspect that the Galaxy Book is going to be expensive. The real question is whether it ends up costing more or less than the Surface Pro.