Samsung Galaxy Book (12-inch) Review

by Reads (4,093)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Price/Value Rating
      • 8.5
      • Total Score:
      • 8.50
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Gorgeous Super AMOLED display
    • Strong performance
    • Responsive keyboard
    • Interesting convertible design
  • Cons

    • Mediocre battery life
    • Lack of premium design
    • Expensive

Quick Take

The Samsung Galaxy Book has it's draw, with an interesting design and one of the best displays we’ve seen on a tablet, but the mediocre battery life, steep asking price, and lack of premium trappings prevent it from being a must-buy.

Samsung is taking another stab at the two-in-one market with the Samsung Galaxy Book. Despite different branding, this feels like a successor to last year’s Samsung Galaxy TabPro S. Sporting a similar design with its rounded edges and wrap around keyboard, along with an even more impressive high-resolution display it’s easy to see the Tab Pro S’ lineage. The Galaxy Book isn’t a complete carbon copy though, the improved keyboard design, and bolstered specs are a welcomed addition.

The question is, however; is that enough to warrant the steep price tag? The Samsung Galaxy Book is a great convertible, but the device does have a few flaws, which is only further highlighted by the machine’s asking price. The lack of premium trappings and subpar battery life only further detract from the overall picture.

Is the Samsung Galaxy Book worth the hefty price? Read the full review to find out.

Samsung Galaxy Book

Samsung Galaxy Book

Samsung Galaxy Book Build and Design

Like most Samsung devices the Galaxy Book looks good. The rounded corners, black bezel, slick silver frame and gray wrap around keyboard all come together and compliment one another. The keyboard, in particular, is welcomed addition over the flimsier iteration found in the TabPro S. The the padded rubber exterior snugs closely and protects the high-end tablet thanks to the magnetic strips along the bottom and top portion of the pad (along the with the magnetic lining that helps align and hold the tablet).

That same magnetic lining also helps to prop up the back portion to hold the display when using the keyboard. Samsung design is actually a bit different that most convertibles and can be a bit disorienting if you don’t read the instructions. The back portion of the cover folds in on itself instead of outwards, with the top flap laying flat along the tablet to form a sturdy triangle pattern. The magnetic strip holds the display firmly in place and makes it surprisingly easy to adjust the display, something that can often be difficult with these types of devices. Truthfully this is probably the sturdiest design we’ve seen from one of these wrap around keyboards.

Samsung Galaxy Book

Galaxy Book in Folio Case

Unfortunately, Samsung’s ingenuity is also somewhat marred by the lack of premium trappings. From far away the Samsung Galaxy Book likes premium aluminum build, but up close it’s easy enough to see that it’s mostly plastic. This top of the line tablet is the body of a much more affordable device. Personally, the plastic exterior wasn’t actually that big a deal for us. NBR enjoyed the design and, like we said earlier, the device looks good and actually feels good to hold and to use as well. But there is the old adage that “you should get what you pay for”, so it’s understandable to see why some consumers may feel they’re overpaying for what looks and feels like a value-oriented consumer device.

Measuring 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.6-inches and weighing 2.6 pounds the Samsung Galaxy Book isn’t the lightest convertible we’ve seen, but it’s still portable enough for easy travel. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 is slightly thinner at 0.4-inches and weighs less at 2.4 pounds. The Acer Switch Alpha matches the width of the Galaxy Book at 0.6-inches but is a bit heavier at 2.7 pounds. Still, with all of these devices ultimately weighing less than 3 pounds, you shouldn’t let the differences in weight sway you too much.

Samsung Galaxy Book Ports

As you’d expect with any 2-in-1 device there’s not much in the way of ports on the Samsung Galaxy Book. That said, you do get a pair of power-drawing USB Type-C ports and a headphone jack sitting along the bottom right side of the tablet.

Samsung Galaxy Book

Galaxy Book Ports

The lack of a standard USB on the device is understandable given the size of the machine, though it would have been nice to see perhaps some connectivity options on the keyboard or perhaps even have the device ship with a USB Type-C to USB connector. Eventually, this won’t be as a big of a deal, but as it currently stands most of our external peripherals and devices still utilize traditional USB ports to connect.

Those who want access to a full array of ports might consider adding the AUKEY USB-C Hub, the Huawei MateDock, or the Dell DA200.

Samsung Galaxy Book Keyboard, Touchpad, and S Pen

The Samsung Galaxy Book features a detachable backlit keyboard. Key travel is somewhat shallow but still better than most detachable wrap-around keyboards. Feedback is also fairly solid and it’s easy enough to get into a comfortable typing rhythm, especially when using the device on a flat surface. The soft rubber pad does have a little give or flex towards the center, but it was never really an issue when using the device on my desk, and only become a minor annoyance when typing on one’s lap.

While the Galaxy Book boasts one of the best wrap-around keyboards that we’ve seen, even the best pale in comparison to traditional hard plastic physical keyboards. Still, if you’re looking for a 2-in-1 device this is one of the best typing experiences you’re going to get.

Samsung Galaxy Book

Galaxy Book Redesigned Keyboard

The touchpad proves to be just as impressive as the keyboard. The modestly-sized pad resides just below to the right of the space bar. The gray hard rubber pad is smooth to the touch, allowing for excellent sensitivity and travel. The pad responded to swipes, clicks, and multi-finger gestures quickly and without fail.

The Samsung Galaxy Book also includes Samsung’s S Pen. The stylus adds another high-quality input option, as the device was able to quickly jot down notes and doodles without fail. The S Pen is a little thicker than most styluses, which we really like, as it makes it easy to grip and feel more like a traditional writing utensil.

Truthfully the only bad thing is that it accurately captured our handwriting and drawing skills, which admittedly leave a bit to be desired.

Samsung Galaxy Book

Samsung S Pen

Samsung Galaxy Book Screen and Speakers

The crown jewel of the Samsung Galaxy Book is its 12-inch FHD+ (2,160 x 1,440) resolution Super AMOLED display. The bright glossy panel features high-dynamic range (HDR), which gives the display the capability of rendering brighter brights and deeper blacks. The feature has become a mainstay on high-end televisions and makes the Samsung Galaxy Book one of the go-to convertibles for media lovers when it comes to 2-in-1 tablets.

With a brightness of 355 nits and excellent color accuracy, the display is as useful as it is beautiful. Watching Jessica Jones on Netflix NBR was impressed by how well the display captures the dark and dismal streets of New York with absolute clarity. Of course, that color accuracy also means the tablet is great for image or video editing and not just lounging around with your favorite TV show. The bright panel also affords flexible viewing angles with images holding up well over 120 degrees without any color loss. The panel also performs well in direct light, which is a real boon for any tablet, especially if there’s overhead lighting.

Samsung Galaxy Book Samsung Galaxy Book

No matter which way you look at it, the Samsung Galaxy Book boasts one of the best screens that you’ll find on a two-in-one.

The tablet’s audio is a bit more boisterous than it’s small stature would let on. The Samsung Galaxy Book is capable of filling a modestly sized room with audio, making it serviceable for small presentations. The sound quality is terrible, the tablet was capable of capturing mids and highs fairly well. However, when listening to a number of orchestral pieces NBR was displeased by how distorted the lows sounded. Even the deeper strings on the guitar caused notable hums in the speakers. To be fair this isn’t an issue that’s unique the Samsung Galaxy Book. Most tablets, even the top of the line ones, suffer from poor audio. In fact, the boisterous speakers, while not perfect, actually give the device a leg up on most of the competition.

Samsung Galaxy Book Performance

Equipped with a 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5-7200U CPU, with 8 GB of RAM, Intel HD Graphics, and a 25 GB the Samsung Galaxy Book offers strong performance. The tablet is particularly adept at multi-tasking. The NBR team was able to run 12 active Google Chrome tabs with 2 HD video streams without a drop in performance. As can be seen from the strong benchmark scores, the Samsung Galaxy Book can also be a powerful productivity tool as well. The SSD is rather snappy as well, meaning that the device is quick to boot up and programs and files load lighting quick. Like most two-in-ones, the weakest aspect is going to be the graphics performance. The integrated graphics aren’t a complete slouch though, as the device is capable of handling HD video editing, and even less demanding game titles like League of Legends and Hearthstone.

The Samsung Galaxy Book review unit that we tested had the following specifications:

  • Windows 10 Pro
  • 12-inch (2,160 x 1,440) Super AMOLED display
  • Intel Core i5-7200U 2.5 GHz
  • Intel HD 620 Graphics
  • 8 GB of RAM
  • 256 GB SSD
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth 4.1 +LTE
  • Dimensions: 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.6-inches
  • Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Price: $1,330

Samsung Galaxy Book Benchmarks

PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):

Samsung Galaxy Book

PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):

Samsung Galaxy Book

3DMark Fire Strike measures the overall gaming performance of the GPU (higher scores mean better performance):

Samsung Galaxy Book

CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:

Samsung Galaxy Book

Samsung Galaxy Book Battery Life

To test battery life, we used Futuremark’s PowerMark benchmark in balanced mode. The test consists of a combination of automated web browsing, word processing, gaming and video playback workloads. The test is far more strenuous than typical web browsing alone, measuring the machine under a litany of scenarios to better simulate high-stress usage. With the test being far more demanding the scores are understandably lower than what you’ll experience just checking Facebook or watching Netflix.

PowerMark “Balanced” battery life test results listed in minutes (higher scores mean better life):

Samsung Galaxy Book

In our tests, the Samsung Galaxy Book ran for 4 hours and 48 minutes before shutting down. Considering the fact that our tests are rather demanding, users can expect to get upwards of 7 to seven and half hours of battery life. That’s not necessarily terrible, but it is well below Samsung’s advertised 11 hours of continuous video playback. There’s is a silver lining though, while the battery life may not be industry leading, the device does offer Samsung’s Adaptive Fast charging, meaning that the convertible can be charged in less than 3 hours.

Samsung Galaxy Book Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy Book is one of those devices that makes it difficult for a review to give a clear recommendation. We can’t definitively say whether or not it’s worth a purchase because that really depends on what you value. There’s a lot to love here. The Super AMOLED screen is nothing short of breathtaking, and you’ll be hard knocked to find a better display on a convertible. Overall performance is quite good and the battery life is acceptable for most use cases. Additionally, the keyboard is one of the best wrap-around peripherals we’ve tried, and the magnetic design is one of the best solutions we’ve tried.

Samsung Galaxy BookBut the Samsung Galaxy Book doesn’t come cheap, and it’s far from perfect. Costing well over $1,000 it’s not unreasonable to expect a premium design. But with a plastic frame, the Galaxy Book does not offer that. Also, while the battery life is “acceptable” it is far from exceptional, hurting one of the biggest appeals of this device as a high-end portable computing solution.

Still, if you want the flexibility of a two-in-one the Samsung offers a solid package that is perfect for media lovers.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous Super AMOLED display
  • Strong performance
  • Responsive keyboard
  • Interesting convertible design

Cons:

  • Mediocre battery life
  • Lack of premium design
  • Expensive



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