Samsung

Samsung is the latest OEM to hop on the convertible bandwagon

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Written by Kamil Arli

Tech Columnist VALENTINA PALLADINO published an article on the Samsung that tackles tablets and two-in-ones with new Tab S3 and Galaxy Book

Spain—We already know we’re not going to see Samsung’s Galaxy S8 smartphone at MWC. But the company has other devices up its sleeve for the show.

SAMSUNG ANNOUNCED THE NEW VERSION OF THE TAB S2

Today, Samsung announced the new version of the Tab S2 (which it’s calling the Tab S3) and the Galaxy Book, a two-in-one that’s reminiscent of the company’s Tab Pro S. According to Samsung’s research, consumers are interested in buying tablets more than smartphones right now, and they’re also interested in doing more with these devices.

Most PC OEMs have embraced the two-in-one trend in recent months. Now it’s Samsung’s turn as it positions these new slabs as hard-working productivity and entertainment tools.

Let’s start with the Tab S3. It looks similar to the Tab S2, but Samsung invested in better materials for the design of the new tablet. Instead of plastic, its back is made of dark glass that looks slick but is not immune to fingerprint smudges. It retains the metal frame of the previous model, and, while it doesn’t feel flimsy when you pick it up, it’s surprisingly light (429g or 15 ounces). Samsung hasn’t abandoned physical buttons yet, so the home button remains at the bottom of the display panel along with the touch-sensitive app drawer and the back icons. The home button also acts as a fingerprint sensor, so you can unlock the device just by touching it.

The tablet’s display has the same 2048 x 1536 resolution as its predecessor. But now the 9.7-inch display is a Super AMOLED panel that’s HDR ready, so it can produce a wider gamut of colors. I received a comparison demo of video shown in HDR versus non-HDR, and the HDR rendering produced richer, more saturated, and bolder colors than its counterpart.

THE TAB S3 HAS QUAD SPEAKERS TUNED BY AKG FOR BETTER SOUND

As a complement to the improved display, the Tab S3 has quad speakers tuned by AKG for better sound. Those speakers auto-calibrate depending on how you’re holding the device. When using it in portrait or landscape mode, the tablet will detect its orientation and adjust how the audio comes out of those speakers. Samsung also upgraded the Tab S3’s camera to 13MP and 5MP for the rear and front-facing shooters, respectively.

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As for internals, Samsung upped the ante in nearly ever aspect of the Tab S3. Now it comes standard with a quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage that can be expanded to 256GB with a microSD card (more than even the Tab S2, which only supports up to 128GB). The Tab S2 used Samsung’s own Exynos 5433 SoC, so the inclusion of Snapdragon in the new model is an improvement. However, the Tab S3 ships with Android 6.0—not Android N like we would have liked.

Samsung also includes an improved S Pen in the Tab S3 box. The new stylus now has an all-rubber construction and a narrower tip. The rubber makes it more grippy while the smaller tip makes small strokes more precise. It supports 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity, and it has a new tilt function that lets you draw with the sides of the tip. This will be useful for artists who would normally tilt a regular pen or pencil—now they can get the same results with a digital stylus.

The new S Pen doesn’t need to be charged to work, which is a plus. But there’s no place on the Tab S3 (or the new Galaxy Book for that matter) to keep the stylus so it doesn’t get lost.

The Tab S3 also has its own detachable keyboard accessory, but it doesn’t come included like the S Pen does. It’s small and, typical of other tablet keyboards, doesn’t have much room for your fingers to move. It doesn’t have a trackpad either. This keyboard seems to be an afterthought, which makes sense since Samsung is pushing its other new slab as the power device among its new releases.

This brings us to the Galaxy Book, a two-in-one device that appears to be an evolution of the Galaxy Tab Pro S. The Galaxy Book comes in 10-inch and 12-inch models, and it seems to be the Windows counterpart to the company’s recently released Chromebook Pro. The Galaxy Book appears to be another hybrid targeting creatives and entertainment buffs.

The external differences between the 10-inch and 12-inch Galaxy Book models are less apparent than the internal differences. They both look like slightly larger Tab S3s, feature an all-black design, one physical home button, and USB Type C ports for charging (the 10-inch has just one port, while the 12-inch has two). The models weigh only 645g (about 22 ounces) and 754g (about 26.5 ounces) respectively. The 12-inch model is less than 7.4mm thick, making it as thin as it is light.

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The touch screens are different, with the 10-inch Galaxy Book sporting a 1920 x 1280-resolution display and the 12-inch model using an AMOLED, 2160 x 1440-resolution display, which is closer to that on the Tab S3. Neither model has an OLED option like the Tab Pro S had, but that might be for the best since Ars’ Peter Bright wasn’t sold on its benefits when he reviewed that two-in-one (even if it was a gorgeous panel). The 10-inch model only has a 5MP front-facing camera, while the 12-inch model sports that same shooter, as well as a 13MP rear camera.

The internals of both Galaxy Book models reflect how Samsung is positioning them. The 12-inch model has a Kaby Lake Core i5 processor, up to 8GB of RAM, and a 39.04 Whr battery capable of lasting up to 10.5 hours on one charge. You’ll be able to get a model with 256GB of storage, but models with less storage can be expanded to that amount via a microSD card. The 10-inch Galaxy Book is powered by an Intel Core m3 CPU, has up to 4GB of RAM, and a 30.4 Whr battery that can last up to 10 hours on one charge. Like its big brother, the 10-inch version can get up to 256GB of storage with microSD cards, but the biggest built-in storage is only 128GB.

Ten- and 12-inch models both support Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac MIMO, Wi-Fi Direct, and Bluetooth 4.1. Both will have LTE-capable options. The CPU difference will mean the most for buyers—the 10-inch model is closer to the Tab Pro S’s power, while the 12-inch model appears to be Samsung’s challenger to hybrids like Microsoft’s Surface Pro or HP’s Spectre x360.

Both Galaxy Book models come with the same improved S Pen that the Tab S3 has, and they both have included keyboard-cover docks. Those differ greatly from that of Samsung’s newest tablet, and they look more like a traditional keyboard than even the accessory accompanying the Tab Pro S. Instead of the large, square keys on the accessory for the Tab Pro S, this new keyboard has island keys that have a moderately comfortable 1.5mm of travel. The design of the keys makes the Galaxy Book’s keyboard feel more familiar than its predecessor, and the backlighting makes using it in dark environments easier.

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The trackpad is narrow and small, and the size of the Galaxy Book means there’s not much room to make it larger. The keyboard attaches magnetically to the device, and it props the Galaxy Book up with its back panel of soft plastic. Similarly to the Tab Pro S, you’ll need the keyboard case to prop up the Galaxy Book since it doesn’t have a built-in retractable kickstand. In the short time I spent with the Galaxy Book, I could tell the keyboard attachment is strong enough to keep the device up on a flat surface. But like many other two-in-ones, you’ll need two hands to support the entire system when you pick it up.

Samsung is pushing the brand-only features on the Galaxy Book hard. One of them, Samsung Flow, lets you view and respond to text messages received on your Galaxy smartphone from the Galaxy Book. Flow isn’t new, but Samsung is emphasizing its convenience, and that of similar features, more than ever. Also, when you have a Galaxy smartphone connected to the Galaxy Book, you can use the fingerprint sensor on that smartphone to unlock the convertible. That’s supposed to make up for the Galaxy Book lacking the Tab S3’s fingerprint sensor, but having to whip out your smartphone every time you want to unlock your two-in-one is not what I call convenient.

The company clearly wants to encourage those with Galaxy smartphones to invest in other Samsung products rather than Windows/Android devices. Samsung apparently wants to elevate the Tab Pro S to the same level of other hybrids available now, and the company did so with the two different models of the Galaxy Book. However, until pricing is revealed and we get to review the Galaxy Book properly, we won’t know how it truly stands up to its competitors.

Samsung hasn’t released pricing for the Tab S3 yet, but we assume it will be close to the $500 price tag on the 9.7-inch model of the Tab S2. Both the Galaxy Tab S3 and the Galaxy Book will be available later this year.

About the author

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Kamil Arli

Editor of DigitalReview.co. Digital Media Consultant

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