NEW YORK–Samsung is expanding its Galaxy ecosystem to Windows 10, specifically through the Galaxy TabPro S tablet that goes on sale Friday. I got some hands-on time in advance.
Samsung would appear to be targeting Microsoft’s Surface line of convertible tablets, following the lead of other companies who have or will invade the space, including Huawei, HP and Lenovo.
TabPro S sports a thin (about ¼ inch), 1.5-pound “2-in-1” design. It starts at $899.99 and comes bundled with a full-size detachable keyboard cover with an integrated touchpad, thus the 2-in-1 designation.
When the keyboard is attached you can use the machine as a laptop and prop it up at either a 25-degree or 65-degree angle; when the keyboard is removed you can use it as a tablet.
The keys seemed to have decent travel in the brief time I spent banging away on the keyboard.
A special pen that will let you write directly on the touch display is an option promised relatively soon, but Samsung hasn’t announced pricing for it yet.
The screen itself, the Super AMOLED type, 12-inch display is lovely, and as I discovered taking it out onto a balcony at a Samsung press event here, visible even outdoors.
Inside is an Intel Core M3 processor with 4GB or RAM and 128 GB solid state drive. It has front and rear 5-megapixel cameras. There are white and black versions.
Samsung’s Galaxy TabPro S models come in black or white. (Photo: Edward C. Baig)
As the first Samsung Galaxy tablet that runs Windows, the natural inclination is to question Samsung’s ongoing commitment to Android, since Samsung has sold a number of tablets that run Android.
“This is not any kind of walk back from Android at all. This is a vote for Windows, not a vote against (Android), says Gary Riding, Samsung’s senior vice president for mobile computing marketing. “Consumers are saying they want this choice.”
Samsung claims 10 ½ hours of battery life on a single charge for TabPro S. What’s more, the machine features the speedy fast charging capabilities found on the latest Galaxy phones. According to Samsung, you can get to 2.4 hours of battery life having plugged TabPro S into the charger for just 30 minutes, or 4.9 hours after plugging it in for an hour.
Any small, thin and light machine exacts some compromises and the biggest here is that there is only one connectivity port. The good news, at least if you’re looking ahead is that the connector happens to be the USB-Type C variety that is an emerging standard. The bad news is that your older cords and cables won’t work, at least without an adaptor. Samsung plans on selling a multi-port adapter accessory (adding USB A 3.0, HDMI and USB-C ports) soon but hasn’t said what it will cost either.
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Galaxy TabPro S is also designed to work with the recently announced Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphones, through a product called Flow that Samsung says will enable
automatic logins and will also let you automatically create a mobile hotspot–all part of its drive to get you to buy into the Galaxy ecosystem.
Chris Cocks, the Microsoft vice president for OEM technical sales, says 2-in-1 machines are the fastest growing category across the phone, phablet and PC form factors. IDC predicts that this year Windows will have better than a 50% machine of the category and will approach 75% by 2020.
Cocks adds that about 600 million PCs in the world today are five years or older. “When (consumers) go into a store and sees something like the TabPro S…their reference of comparison will be a PC that they bought in 2011.” To put this in perspective, not only are the latest machines lighter, faster and boast superior battery life, compared to those older entries, but he says you can stack 6 Galaxy TabPro S models into what would have been the chassis on a best-selling computer back then.
These days, it is standalone tablets that are getting pressured on two fronts, says Navin Shenoy, an Intel corporate vice president: smaller tablets from phablets; larger ones from 2-in-1s.
How Samsung’s new Windows 2-in-1 will sell remains to be seen. But it certainly leaves a favorable first impression.