PC

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S: Decent rival to Surface Pro

The biggest selling point of the TabPro S is probably its support for 4G LTE Advanced (up to 300Mbps).
The biggest selling point of the TabPro S is probably its support for 4G LTE Advanced (up to 300Mbps).PHOTO: SAMSUNG

This model marks Samsung's return to Windows PC market

Samsung's latest tablet bears the same Galaxy branding as its smartphones and tablets, but it does not run Android.

Instead, it runs Windows 10 and is yet another tablet-laptop hybrid competing against the Microsoft Surface Pro 4.

The Galaxy TabPro S also marks Samsung's return to the Windows PC market in Singapore, roughly two years after it stopped selling laptops here.

The biggest selling point of the TabPro S is probably its support for 4G LTE Advanced (up to 300Mbps). The Surface Pro 4 comes in Wi-Fi models only.

In addition, Samsung bundles a keyboard accessory, which turns the TabPro from a tablet into a laptop when attached magnetically. Microsoft charges $199 for its Type Cover keyboard.

On the other hand, the TabPro S does not come with a stylus, which costs $98. Microsoft includes its Surface Pen stylus at no extra charge.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $1,698

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core m3-6Y30 (900MHz)

    GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 515 RAM: 4GB

    SCREEN SIZE: 12 inches, 2,160 x 1,440 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x Type-C USB 3.1, headphone jack

    BATTERY: 39.5 watt-hour

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

There are more in Samsung's favour. The TabPro S is just 6.3mm thick compared with the 8.5mm Surface Pro 4. The TabPro S also weighs less (696g vs 766g), though both devices are not the most handy of tablets because of their relatively large 12-inch screens.

I prefer the industrial design of the magnesium-clad Surface Pro 4. The sides of the TabPro S are metallic but its glossy bezel and matte plastic back are throwbacks to older Samsung devices rather than the sleek, metal and glass body of the latest Galaxy S7 smartphone.

The TabPro S does not have the Surface Pro's built-in kickstand that lets you adjust the angle of its screen. Instead, the TabPro's keyboard props up the device when attached. However, the keyboard offers just two angles for the screen: an almost upright version and a laidback and gradual angle.

On the other hand, the TabPro has a smaller footprint when propped upright, compared with the Surface Pro.

Key travel is decent, but the TabPro's keyboard does not have a backlight. It feels a bit cramped compared with the island-style Microsoft Type Cover keyboard.

The TabPro has a single USB 3.1 Type-C port, which means you will almost certainly need to buy an adapter. Samsung sells one with HDMI and a USB Type-A port for $128. At least the Surface Pro comes with a standard full-size USB port and a mini-DisplayPort.

Samsung has equipped the TabPro S with a premium Amoled display. The screen resolution is sharp at 2,160 x 1,440 pixels and colours look deeper and richer than standard LCD screens.

I did find the screen to be dimmer than what I like, especially for videos with night scenes.

If you have a compatible Samsung smartphone (Galaxy S6/S7/ Note 5), you can install the Samsung Flow app from the Google Play store on your handset. This lets you unlock the TabPro S via the smartphone's fingerprint sensor.

But first, you have to pair the TabPro with the smartphone via Bluetooth. To unlock the TabPro, place the smartphone near the NFC logo on the TabPro's keyboard and swipe your finger on the phone's sensor.

This feels overly complicated, compared with using a password or PIN to unlock the TabPro. Samsung Flow also has a secondary feature: it sends notifications for apps on the paired phone such as e-mail and instant messages, which show up as Windows 10 notifications on the Tab Pro.

You can then use the TabPro to reply directly to e-mail or messages originating from your smartphone. Depending on your workflow, this feature may be useful.

Samsung offers just one hardware configuration for the TabPro S: Intel Core m3 processor, 4GB RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive. At $1,698 ($1,796 with stylus), it is pricier than the base Surface Pro 4 ($1,598, including keyboard). The latter offers similar hardware, but lacks LTE.

Battery life is fantastic (it lasted around nine hours during the review). This is probably because the TabPro uses a low-power processor and a power-efficient Amoled display.

•Verdict: The TabPro S is one of the few hybrids that offer LTE. It also has very impressive battery stamina. But it is not as attractive as the Surface Pro 4 because there is only one hardware configuration and a single USB Type-C port.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2016, with the headline 'Samsung Galaxy TabPro S: Decent rival to Surface Pro'. Print Edition | Subscribe