Samsung may not be ready to unveil the Galaxy S8 smartphone just yet, but it still has fancy new hardware for us here at MWC. In addition to the Tab S3, the company is showing off two new hybrids that it’s calling the Galaxy Book. They’re ten- and twelve-inch Windows 10 tablets that support new S Pen features, come with keyboards and are light enough to carry around. They’re well-designed and performed quickly during a brief hands-on, and apart from the S Pen support there are a few small features that differentiate the Galaxy Books from rival Windows 10 convertibles.
The larger Book is the more full-featured and more compelling option of the two new slates. Despite its relatively svelte 7.4mm profile, the 12-incher sports Intel’s latest Kaby Lake Core i5 processor, an LTE radio, 4 or 8 GB of RAM and a 128GB or 256GB SSD. That’s pretty promising, performance-wise, for a tablet convertible that’s this portable, although it’s important to note that the 10-inch unit comes with a Core M processor instead. When bundled with its included keyboard, though, the 12-inch Book still felt somewhat hefty when I picked it up, but not noticeably heavier or lighter than a similarly sized laptop.
Like the just-announced Tab S3, both Galaxy Books will support the new S Pen, which can detect up to 4096 levels of pressure with its fine 0.7mm nib. S Pen fans will find some familiar features here, such as Screen Off Memo and the Air Command shortcut menu for outlining screenshots and annotating PDFs. A new function that Samsung believes will excite artists and designers is the pen’s ability to understand the angle at which you are tilting it. So say you have the stylus at about 60 degrees away from the screen. Compatible programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, can integrate that slant into your brushstrokes. During my testing this wasn’t working very well: Photoshop thought I was holding the brush upright, even though I was holding it horizontally.
Another feature that Samsung has brought over from its phones to these Windows tablets is its Flow software that lets you get smartphone notifications on your laptop’s screen. Flow also lets you easily share files across Samsung devices, or remote control each other.
With a 2,160 x 1,440 AMOLED display, the twelve-inch model should also provide enjoyable multimedia playback and gaming. And Samsung has brought the HDR support its TVs offer to the larger Book’s screen, giving it a wider color gamut that makes videos and images more vibrant. Of course, the content itself will have to be in HDR, which means you’ll have to hunt for videos and photos with that effect to truly see the difference. It was definitely noticeable during our demo, where an HDR video looked richer and had higher contrast that the same clip without. Unfortunately, that’s just on the 12-inch Book. The 10-inch version uses a full HD LCD display that doesn’t support HDR.
Because they were designed to be portable, the Galaxy Books also sport generous 30- and 39-watt hour batteries on the 10- and 12-inch flavors respectively. Samsung says these will last approximately 10 hours, and thanks to quick charge support, you shouldn’t have to wait too long to get back to 100 percent.
Of the two new tablets, the 12-inch is clearly the more compelling option. It has the superior screen, desktop-level processor and slimmer profile. But it’ll surely come at a higher price than its smaller brother. Too bad we don’t know how much either will cost just yet, although it’s likely they will cost about the same as the latest Surface Book. Until then, the new S Pen features make Samsung’s Windows convertibles slightly more useful than before, but we’ll have to spend more time with the devices to know if they’re truly worth considering.
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