The Samsung Galaxy book is a 2-in-1 detachable hybrid tablet running Windows 10. The Galaxy Book packs a brilliant Super AMOLED screen, LTE connectivity, and an impressive 14 hours of battery life that help it stand out in this crowded field. The Galaxy Book’s 12-inch touch-enabled 2,160-by-1,440-resolution Super AMOLED display very well may be the main reason to buy this tablet. Screen images are crystal clear and colours pop. The screen is correct, and a good match when you use programs like Adobe Lightroom CC for organizing and proofing photos. With better black levels.
S Pen stylus
Bundled with the Galaxy Book is Samsung’s excellent S Pen stylus. It’s the size and shape of a regular ink pen, but with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, and it doesn’t need an AAAA battery like the Surface Pen, or to be periodically charged like the Apple Pencil. The stylus supports Windows Ink and full-brush tilting in programs like Adobe Photoshop, which makes it a useful tool for digital artists. The pen is responsive in use, but because it is passive, it functions a little differently than active stylus like the Surface Pen or the Active Pen for the Lenovo Miix 510. A button on the side of the S Pen controls erase functions, but there are no right-click or shortcut options, both of which would need powered Bluetooth. The side button also invokes Air Command, Samsung’s overlay that acts as an alternative to Windows Ink. Air Command lets you use the pen to mark up the screen and create sticky notes. The S Pen comes with a plastic loop that sticks to the keyboard cover for storage. It seems secure, though I’m not sure how long the adhesive will last before the pen loop falls off.
The tablet’s 5-megapixel webcam is good for selfies and Skype calls, and the 13MP rear-facing camera is adequate for snapshots, though it could use a flash for low-light situations. Stereo speakers vent out of the left and right sides of the tablet and can fill a small to medium-sized room with sound. You’ll hear more treble than bass, but that’s not uncommon for tablets and ultra-portable laptops.
Detachable-hybrid tablets like the Galaxy Book give you the option of using a lighter slate-like tablet when you want to sketch a quick drawing or read an e-book, but also let you clip on a keyboard when you need to type more than 140 characters. Unlike the Apple iPad Pro and the Surface Pro, the Galaxy Book is bundled with a keyboard case. The keyboard is a must for working in a desktop operating system like Windows 10.
The keyboard has a magnetic stand that clips on to the tablet’s back side and gives you four usable angles, from nearly flat to standing straight up. But this also means you’ll need to carry the case with you since the tablet can’t stand up on its own. The backlit keyboard built into the case is comfortable to use, with a full keystroke, but it flexes when you press hard on the keys around its midsection.
The Galaxy Book has two USB-C ports on its right side. The only other I/O port is a headset jack, also on the right side panel. It’s notable that the Galaxy Book doesn’t come with a USB-C-to-Type-A adapter, even though you can buy one for less than $10 on Amazon.
Wireless is handled by 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, and there’s also a 4G LTE radio in this Verizon-exclusive model for always-available connectivity. You’ll need to sign up for an LTE data plan, but that’s easily done online or in person at a Verizon store. It’s easy to switch between Wi-Fi and 4G LTE networks if you are in the range of a hotspot.
The $1,129.99 base model and the LTE-equipped version of the Galaxy Book come with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. While usable, a Windows 10 tablet should really come with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, especially at this price. You can buy a version of the tablet with those specs for $1,329.99, but you won’t get an LTE radio. The main concern is that you can’t upgrade the memory post-purchase, so you’re stuck with what you get when you open the box. On the bright side, it gives you the option of adding up to 256GB of storage with a micro SD card.
The Galaxy Book supports neither of these biometric-based security features. Instead, it comes with Samsung Flow, which lets you log into your tablet using the fingerprint reader on your Samsung Galaxy phone. The catch is it won’t work if you use another brand of Android phone or an Apple iPhone. Samsung covers the Galaxy Book with a one-year warranty.
Under the hood is an Intel Core i5-7200U processor with integrated Intel HD 620 graphics, which helped the Galaxy Book eke out a win over the Surface Pro 4 on the PCMark 8 Work Conventional (2,906 points), Handbrake (2:16), and CineBench (318 points) tests. The Galaxy Book, the Latitude 5285, and the Surface Pro 4 were faster across the multi media tests than the HP Spectre x2 and Huawei MateBook, both of which use low-powered Core m processors.
At 14 hours, 6 minutes, the Galaxy Book excelled on our battery rundown test. With a fully charged battery, you can watch locally stored movies on the Galaxy Book for an entire trans-Pacific flight from San Francisco to the Philippines. Using the Wi-Fi or the 4G LTE connections will sap the battery faster, but it’s fair to say that the Galaxy Book will make a good travel companion if you’re going to be away from a power plug for an extended period.