Samsung Galaxy Book review: A better TabPro S, but not a laptop replacement – Ars Technica


Samsung revamped one of its 2016 hybrids while simultaneously creating a challenger to Microsoft’s Surface family. Last year’s Galaxy TabPro S was a thin-and-light tablet powered by a Skylake Core M processor and featuring an OLED display. While stunning, the OLED display raised questions about the longevity of the device, and the tablet itself was lacking in connectivity options.

The new Galaxy Book tries to fix some of that while keeping the good parts intact: it’s a slim Windows tablet, accompanied by a folio keyboard case and S Pen stylus, that’s vying to replace your regular laptop by enticing you with Ultrabook-grade internals. The Galaxy Book comes in 10- and 12-inch models, but both are very different, not just in their screen size, but in internal quality as well. While Samsung managed to right some of the wrongs of the TabPro S, it’s hard to make a case for the Galaxy Book replacing your everyday work device.

Look and feel

As the next iteration of the TabPro S, the Galaxy Book’s kicker is its 12-inch, 2160×1400 Super AMOLED display. It produces highly saturated colors and rich blacks that make photo and video viewing (or editing) a vibrant experience. But since it is an OLED panel, I ran into the same issues that Ars’ Peter Bright did while reviewing the TabPro S: the pixels in OLED panels degrade over time. Areas of the screen that are brightly lit grow dimmer more quickly than areas of the screen that stay dark.

This degradation is much faster and more uneven than the gradual backlight dimming of LCD screens. Samsung tries to slow that process as much as possible with the use of screensavers and screen-dimming software. You can turn off the screensaver completely, but, just like with the TabPro S, there’s no straightforward way to stop the display from dimming after about 10 minutes of inactivity.

Samsung included this feature for good reason: similar to the Tab Pro S, screen-dimming will help reduce the effects of the pixel degradation. Since the Galaxy Book is positioned as a productivity two-in-one, users will be tapping, typing, and writing with the device, presumably for hours on end. Screen dimming will likely increase the longevity of the device overall, even if it was an annoying obstacle during our testing.

The bezels surrounding the display are a bit wide (the biggest measuring about .75-inches), but the bezel that sits at the top of the tablet in laptop mode holds the front-facing 5MP camera. Mirroring its placement on the back of the tablet is the 13MP rear camera. This isn’t complemented by a cutout on the keyboard cast like the TabPro S’s rear camera had. Instead, the plastic flap covering the camera is narrower than the other two sections of the case’s back, so you can simply fold it down to reveal the camera and not much else. Still, having the cutout is more convenient because you don’t have an extra step to complete before taking a photo.

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