Samsung Galaxy Book Review: A slim Surface alternative

Alex Kidman 25 August 2017

Quick Verdict
Some 2-in-1 devices are essentially cut-down laptops, but Samsung's Galaxy Book takes the alternative approach, appending a tablet design into the Windows 10 world.

Strengths

  • Great tablet screen
  • Keyboard and pen both included
  • 4G capable for selected models

Could be better

    • Slightly cheap look and feel
    • Keyboard less responsive than Surface


Samsung has a fairly considerable pedigree in the laptop space, although its efforts to date in the Australian market have been somewhat limited.

While there are many quite desirable Samsung laptops, including some very nice gaming models that sell in foreign markets, here in Australia we've only intermittently seen Samsung release Windows-based devices here at all.

The Galaxy Book, launched back at Mobile World Congress in March, is essentially the successor to the Galaxy TabPro S, with updated internal componentry and just a touch of Samsung's own software pre-installed.

Design

Samsung wants you to think of the Galaxy Book as a productivity-centric 2-in-1 device, because if you're more in the content consumption space, there's the Galaxy Tab series for that. Productivity-centric 2-in-1s tend towards a more notebook-esque style, to make them fit more into the kinds of office environments they're envisaged as living within.

That's not the style route that Samsung has gone down, however, instead taking much the same notes it used for the Galaxy TabPro S, and indeed its own Android-based Galaxy Tab line of devices and super-sizing it into Galaxy Book models that sell with either 10 or 12-inch display screens. So instead of looking like you're lugging a laptop around, you look as though you're carrying a tablet with a keyboard accessory case on it.

Not that the keyboard, as is the case for other tablets, is an optional extra. It's very much part of the package, with a clip on back that forms the rear "case" part of the Galaxy Book, folding down to become a relatively light kickback stand for more laptop-style use.

It's all but impossible not to bring comparisons to Microsoft's Surface Pro line into the discussion here, and while Samsung is to be lauded for making the keyboard part of the package rather than a costly add-on, the downside here is that comparatively, the Surface Pro's kickstand is much better than the stand on the Surface Book. It's acceptable once it's in place, but it's a fiddly solution if you're struggling to set it up on your lap while in transit, for example.

Performance

The Galaxy Book is a Windows 10 Tablet, running on Intel's 7th Generation Core i5 "Kaby Lake" processors, with a variety of configurations depending on screen size and internal storage. That's a potent mix for a portable machine, and for most users it should be more than adequate for day to day productivity tasks. You're likely to heat it up quite a lot if you throw heavy image editing or gaming tasks at it, but for day to day work it's more than well enough equipped.

It's great that Samsung provides a keyboard as standard with the Galaxy Book, but I did find myself wishing more than once that it was a slightly better keyboard. The keys feel springy and cheap, and balancing it without twisting it on the lap is a little harder than it really ought to be at this price point. If there's a Galaxy Book 2 in the works, the first thing Samsung ought to improve is the keyboard.

While Samsung has more closely tied its S-Pen stylus brand into the Note series, of phones, including the recently announced Galaxy Note 8, the Galaxy Book also comes with its own S-Pen standard in the box. It's a non-powered stylus with reasonable responsiveness for input and drawing tasks. My own artistic endeavours were never going to fuss the Galaxy Book to speak of, and it's not exactly going to become a Wacom tablet overnight, but it's workable enough. It's worth noting that the S-Pen itself isn't magnetic, so be careful not to lose it.

The Super AMOLED screen found on the 12 inch model as tested is gorgeous, and while you're most likely going to have to convince your boss to buy a Galaxy Book based on its productivity chops, it also does quite admirable duty as a video watching platform. In terms of expandability it can take microSD expansion, as well as USB-C connected peripherals from its two right hand side USB ports.

Samsung sells a variant of the Galaxy Book 12 with integrated 4G if you want truly mobile data on the go, but you do have to bear in mind there both the additional cost of data and the potential power hit from using 4G data.

Samsung's own preinstalled software is pretty light on, with the return of its "Flow" application, which allows you to pair a compatible Samsung Galaxy phone to enable fast unlocking and notification sharing from your device. It can be a little fiddly to get set up, but once it works it's perfectly acceptable software.

GBook2_738

Battery Life

The Galaxy Book 12 as tested comes with a 5070mAh battery that Samsung suggests can handle up to 11 hours of video playback. There are all sorts of ways you can exhaust a laptop battery, and clearly if you push it it will go flat faster than if you're idling.

Looping a full screen, full HD video on the Galaxy Book to the point of exhaustion with battery saving measures disabled saw the battery die in 9 hours and 51 minutes, which is a little shorter than Samsung's own estimates, but probably enough for most working situations. Charging is via USB C, and the supplied charger is very quick to replenish the Galaxy Book, which is a major plus. It's also good that it's a smaller Samsung charger, so mobile types, and especially those travelling should benefit from less of a storage hit to their baggage.

GBook4_738

Verdict

The Galaxy Book is an interesting take on a 2-in-1 with plenty of appeal if you're more of a fan of tablet form factors but with the need for the types of productivity that only a full laptop experience can bring. It's not without its flaws, however, with a keyboard case and stand that's not up to the default standard set by Microsoft's Surface Pro line, even though it is bundled in with the device itself. If you're after a productivity 2-in-1 and the tablet side of the equation appeals more to you than the laptop side, it's certainly worth consideration.

Pricing on the Galaxy Book starts at $1,099 for the 10 inch version; the supplied 12 inch 4G version would set you back $2,299 outright. Telstra is also offering the 4G Galaxy Book range on contract terms with a bundled mobile broadband plan if that better suits your needs.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy Book 12 128GB from Samsung

Samsung released a 2-in-1 Windows 10 device for the Galaxy line. The Galaxy Book is a powerful and portable hybrid with stylus compatibility.

View details

Specifications

Product Name
Samsung Galaxy Book 12
Display
12in
Resolution
2160 x 1440 pixels
Software
Windows 10 Home
Storage
128/256GB
RAM
4/8GB
Battery
5070mAh
Front camera
5.0MP
Rear camera
13MP
Processor
Intel Core i5 7th Generation
Size
199.8 x 291.3 x 7.4mm
Weight
754g

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