Not long ago, the laptop category teemed with “desktop replacements,” sorta portable workhorses with big screens and powerful processors. They’ve given way to laptop replacements, —tablets with pop-on keyboards and enough oomph to make a tablet your only computer.
The new 12-inch Samsung Galaxy Book is the latest tablet that’ll make you think twice about buying a laptop. A 10-inch version offers lesser specs and it’s nice enough, but the big Book is where it’s at. In terms of ethos, the closest match is Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4. You could argue both tablets were designed to be laptops first: Their screens, with 3:2 aspect ratios, accommodate documents and browser windows when you use them in landscape mode with a keyboard.
The Galaxy Book weighs 1.6 pounds, runs Windows 10, and sports a redesigned S Pen stylus and a surprisingly good keyboard cover. The backlit keys offer plenty of travel, and sufficient spacing to feel like you’re typing on a 13-inch laptop. The touchpad provides plenty of space to do your thing, and a pair of USB-C 3.1 ports let you get jiggy with peripherals.
That matte-finish S Pen feels like a 0.7mm rollerball, and you don’t need to charge it. No need to juice that keyboard, either. Magnets hold it in place, pogo pins provide the connection, and the backlights sipfrom the Galaxy Book’s 10-hour battery. When it’s time to throw it in your bag, the three-position stand collapses easily against the back of the device and the keyboard lays flat against the screen.
No word yet on the price or availability, so if you want one, sit tight.
For now, the Galaxy Book beats the Surface Pro in terms of feeds and speeds. It sports newer internals, with Intel’s 3.1GHz “Kaby Lake” Core i5 dual-core CPU. Fully loaded it provides 8 gigabytes of RAM and a 256GB SSD. A microSD slot doubles the storage, so long as you provide the card. The base model features Wi-Fi, and Samsung will offer a 4G LTE option.
This may be a productivity machine dressed like a tablet, but it can still party. The AMOLED display (2160 by 1440, with a resolution of 216 pixels per inch) supports HDR video playback from as-yet-unnamed streaming services. It’ll sync with a Samsung phone to deliver mobile notifications and text messages to the bigger screen, and you can use the fingerprint reader on your Galaxy phone to log into the Book. You can quick-charge the battery, just like the latest Galaxy phones.
These new Galaxy Books run Windows, but Samsung isn’t abandoning Android tablets. The new 10-inch Galaxy Tab S3 features a Snapdragon 820 and an AMOLED display that supports HDR video. Samsung describes it more of an “entertainment” device. If you want a keyboard cover, you’ll have to buy it separately.
The 10-inch machine is nice, but the 12-inch Galaxy Book represents the next step in computing. Windows 10 can morph to fit the experience of any device, powerful components let slim machines do almost anything, and detachable keyboards are getting really, really good. It took about 15 years, but the era of the tablet PC may finally be here.