By Santiago J. Arnaiz
THE 2-in-1 category gets a lot of flak for being rife with compromise machines, marrying the weaknesses of both laptops and tablets more often than their strengths. But for light users that value versatility and portability over power, they can be wonderful devices.
The Samsung Galaxy Book is by no means a showstopper – decent where it counts and understandably middling in performance given its classification as a 2-in-1 workbook.
But its thoughtful design and affordable price point make it a solid choice in its own right.
Unlike Samsung’s flagship phablet, the Note 8, the Galaxy Book isn’t beautiful by any means. It’s wide black bezel and silver chassis are straight out of 2010 and make for a very plain-looking device. But where it lacks in looks, it makes up for in thoughtful functionality.
The workbook comes with a USB-C port, a microSD tray for expandable storage, and a 3.5-mm headset jack (which will definitely come in handy given the device’s tinny, underpowered speakers).
The Galaxy Book comes packaged with both a keyboard case and a stylus, making it fully functional out of the box. The case fastens onto the device magnetically, while a rubber hoop places the stylus right along the left side of the keyboard.
I found the magnetic prongs incredibly nifty. They’re very secure, and clap onto the back of the device in three specific orientations, allowing for an array of viewing angles.
I’ll admit, ditching my MacBook Pro for a week and toting around the Galaxy Book was a fantastic (and quite literal) weight off my shoulders.
Coming in at just under 650 grams (about a kilogram with the keyboard case and stylus), it’s a no-brainer for someone who doesn’t need all the bells, whistles, and heavy metals of a full laptop.
Typing on the Galaxy Book’s compact keyboard was surprisingly pleasurable. Even my notoriously stubby fingers rarely missed their marks. The touchpad is a little difficult to manipulate, but you have a full 10.6 inches of touch-enabled screen to work with, so that’s of little consequence.
To that end, the S Pen – Samsung’s fancy new stylus – is really quite fantastic.
It’s lightweight, powerfully accurate, and, short of dragging a Sharpie across your screen, as close to the traditional writing experience as you’ll get on a 2-in-1 tablet.
Co-developed with Wacom, the stylus is perhaps the Galaxy Book’s biggest selling point, and Samsung knows it.
The workbook comes with the same proprietary software packed into the Note series, meaning you’re always only a click of the stylus button away from being able to doodle or jot down your thoughts on the fly.
That said, it’s a shame that the Galaxy Book is unable to capitalize on its note-taking software the way it has on its mobile platforms.
Because it runs on Microsoft’s tablet-ready Windows 10, the Galaxy Book comes bundled with the operating system’s own stylus software Ink Workspace. It’s an awkward redundancy that often results in the two systems bogging each other down.
As with anything that claims to be an all-in-one solution, the Galaxy Book brings both the pros and the cons of both its parent categories.
So while I did appreciate the Galaxy Book’s compact, yet surprisingly decent keyboard and wonderful stylus, I would be remiss to leave out its shortcomings.
While the larger version of the Galaxy Book boasts slightly more powerful components, the 10.6-inch model is a lightweight machine in more ways than one.
Pairing a weak Intel Core m3 processor with only 4GB of RAM, the Galaxy Book is underpowered even by 2-in-1 standards.
Of course, skimming through spreadsheets and working on a Powerpoint presentation should be no problem. But don’t expect to be jumping between Photoshop and Illustrator, building any 3D animation project – a shame given the fantastic S-Pen.
On average, the battery lasted me about six to seven hours of moderate usage. This machine isn’t designed to be your all-day workhorse, so the modest battery life shouldn’t be too big an issue for most.
But if you’re hoping for something wieldy to take notes on that’ll last you all day, I’d suggest maybe a Moleskine.
The Galaxy Book was designed with one thing in mind: taking notes. So digital artists looking for an affordable alternative to the iPad Pro will be sorely dissappointed.
It’s not nearly as polished as Apple’s offerings, and offers nowhere near the amount of power Microsoft’s homegrown products boast. But it doesn’t have to.
Priced at a reasonable P44,990, the Galaxy Book comes already packaged with a great keyboard and wonderful stylus, making it the more affordable option over the similarly sized iPad Pro when bundled with its Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil.
If you’re looking for more bang-for-your-buck on a versatile machine that will allow you to both type out and jot down notes with ease, the Galaxy Book is a solid, practical choice.