Samsung Galaxy Book – Lee Bell tests an affordable Windows 10 hybrid that offers a surprisingly robust alternative to Microsoft’s Surface laptop
Mention Samsung and most people will think of Android phones, but the manufacturer has also produced a notable series of Windows hybrids – a combination of tablet and laptop – over the last few years. The latest is the Galaxy Book, the successor to the Galaxy TabPro S. Although the Galaxy Book has been available for a few months, its price recently dropped considerably, making it well worth a look if you’re after a laptop-tablet hybrid at a terrific price. There are two versions available: a 10.6in and a 12in model. Both are fully-fledged Windows tablets with clip-on keyboards and true go- anywhere credentials.
If you’ve used a Samsung TabPro S, you’ll feel right at home with the Galaxy Book. Not only do these products look similar, but place the two side by side and you’d struggle to tell them apart. One key difference, however, is that the Galaxy Book’s more powerful hardware requires a bulkier chassis.
The design of the Galaxy Book isn’t what we’d expect from Samsung. Its chassis has a faux gun-metal trim, which makes it look like it’s forged in aluminium, but it’s plasticky to the touch and feels more like a mid-range tablet than a premium Windows device.
Keyboard and touchpad
We love the Galaxy Book’s keyboard, which – in a nod to Apple’s Smart covers – clips on securely and folds at the back, Toblerone-style, to prop up the tablet. The downside is that it can only be rested in two positions, which means it isn’t always possible to position the display at the optimum angle, as you can with Microsoft’s more flexible
Windows 10 runs smoothly and there wasn’t the slightest hint of lag with touchpad or touchscreen gestures or web browsing
The keyboard is more comfortable to use than most other hybrids we’ve tried. With plenty of movement to each keystroke and a satisfyingly clicky feel, it’s a joy to type on. However, the keys on the 10.6in model are a little on the small side, which takes a bit of getting used to.
The touchpad on the 10.6in model is similarly tiny but it still works superbly. Not only is it smooth to run your fingers across but it works perfectly with Windows 10’s multi-touch gestures. The stylus is included in the box for free, too.
Screen and internal components
Both the 10.6in model’s 1,920 x 1,260 pixels resolution and the 12in model’s 2,160 x 1,440 pixels resolution provide a crisp display. However, while the smaller screen is a standard LCD panel, the 12in version has a Super AMOLED display that also supports HDR, delivering a dramatic increase in image quality.
We tested both screens with a colorimeter and found that the 10.6in model delivers a maximum brightness of 387cd/m2 (candles per square meter) and a contrast ratio of 928:1; while the 12in model’s screen is 376cd/m2 with the nominally perfect contrast that AMOLED typically achieves. Color reproduction across both is also superb, but the 12in model has a slight edge, with more vibrant and eye-popping colors.
On the inside, the 10.6in Galaxy Book is powered by a modest Intel Core m3 processor alongside 4GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC storage, which is expandable via microSD. This is noticeably less powerful than the 12in model, powered by an Intel Core i5-7200U, which comes with either 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, or 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.
Performance, battery and value for money
Both tablets acquit themselves well in daily use. Windows 10 runs smoothly on both, and there wasn’t the slightest hint of lag with touchpad or touchscreen gestures or day-to-day web browsing. In benchmark testing, though, the 10.6in Galaxy Book achieved a modest total of 25, placing it just ahead of Huawei’s MateBook E, while the 12in model hit a more impressive 47, though it lags behind the recent Core i5-equipped Surface Pro.
Battery life isn’t the Galaxy Book’s best feature. In our tests, the 10.6in model managed 7 hours and 18 minutes of video playback from a full charge before it died, which is just enough for a day’s work but still a long way behind the 10.5in iPad Pro’s 12 hours 59 minutes and Asus Transformer Mini’s 11 hours 19 minutes. However, you can squeeze an extra hour out of the 12in model.
The Galaxy Book’s main competitor is Microsoft’s newest Surface Pro, but it outstrips its rival on price. Now in its fifth incarnation, the Surface Pro is still an expensive option. Prices start at a lofty £720 for the Core m3 model with its 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD. You’ll also have to fork out an extra £150 for the Type Cover and a further £100 if you want the new Surface Pen. The Core i5 Surface Pro is £1,229 all in and the iPad Pro is even more expensive for the full package.
Samsung’s Galaxy Book, on the other hand, gives you all of the above included in the box for a one-off cost of just for the 10.6in model and for the Core i5 version, with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. That’s a whole lot more value for money.
OUR VERDICT 4/5
It seems Apple and Microsoft have some genuine competition with Samsung’s tablet/laptop hybrids and both 10.6in and 12in Galaxy Book models are strong contenders.
Despite not being the most luxurious-feeling devices, they provide a sensible balance of price,
EASE OF USE 5/5
VALUE FOR MONEY 5/5
performance and usability and, best of all, the top-notch keyboard and stylus are included at no extra cost.
Samsung Galaxy Book SPECIFICATIONS
- Intel Core m3 (10.6in) or Intel Core i5 7200 U(12in)
- 10.6in: 1,920 x 1,280 pixels resolution TFT or 12in: 2,160 x 1,440 pixels resolution Super AMOLED FHD
- 4GB or 8GB of memory
- 128GB or 256GB eMMC/SSD
- Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
- Bluetooth 4.1
- Windows 10
- 261 x 179 x 8.9mm (10.6in), 291 x 200 x 7.4mm (12in)
- 648g(10.6in), 754g(12in)
– Great price (particularly the 10.6in model)
– Gorgeous screen – Brilliant keyboard included
– Slightly thicker than rivals – Smaller model has lower specification
Microsoft Surface Pro
BETTER BATTERY LIFE
Apple iPad Pro (10.5in)