Do­ing tech­nol­ogy re­views can be a tough gig, there are the real jour­nal­ists who have an ex­cel­lent eye for de­tail and can ac­tu­ally write, then there are the ones who love tech but don’t know how to string to­gether the words and ram­ble on.

SmartHouse - - FIRST LOOK | SAMSUNG - Writ­ten by David Richards

Then there are the ones who work on pub­li­ca­tions that have so called au­di­ence pulling power de­spite their circulation fall­ing year on year, these are the ones that big brands gush over till they get a ques­tion­able re­view.

This week I was work­ing on a re­view of the new Sam­sung Book note­book that is a di­rect com­peti­tor to the Mi­crosoft Sur­face, when I came across a re­view of the same prod­uct in a lead­ing morn­ing news­pa­per, af­ter read­ing it I had to se­ri­ously pinch my­self to see if I was ac­tu­ally re­view­ing the same prod­uct.

The re­viewer ac­tu­ally writes some of the best re­views out there, so I se­ri­ously had to shake my head over this re­view which panned sev­eral as­pects of the de­vice I was re­view­ing.

This is the same pub­li­ca­tion that gushed about the lat­est Sur­face lap­tops from Mi­crosoft de­scrib­ing them as “highly de­sir­able ma­chine that show off the best that Win­dows 10 have to of­fer”.

This is ironic con­sid­er­ing that weeks af­ter the gush­ing Sur­face Re­view ap­peared iFixit tried to take apart the new Mi­crosoft Sur­face lap­tops which is an ul­tra-thin and light unit which starts at $1,498 and seem­ingly couldn't do it with­out com­pletely and ut­terly de­stroy­ing it.

At­tempt­ing to crack the box apart, the tear­down team met re­sis­tance from metal feet in­stead of screws, clips, ad­he­sive, fab­ric cover and sol­dered parts.

One of the Sur­face's lux­ury fea­tures, the magic Al­can­tara ma­te­rial – which turns out to be a ma­jor repara­bil­ity down­fall. iFixit ap­peared to need a knife to cut through to reach its in­ter­nals.

Af­ter nav­i­gat­ing through walls of plas­tic, tape and clips, the site found that it would be ba­si­cally im­pos­si­ble to re­place any of the com­po­nents.

IFixit ul­ti­mately gave the Sur­face a 0/10 for repara­bil­ity – a full point lower than the Mi­crosoft Sur­face Book's 1/10.

Then at the week­end Con­sumer Re­port in the USA came out and ut­terly trashed the Mi­crosoft Sur­face range of note­books due to con­stant com­po­nent fail­ures.

As for the new Sam­sung Note­book, the Aus­tralian pub­li­ca­tion de­scribed the key­board typ­ing process as poor some­thing that I could not em­u­late de­spite sev­eral at­tempts pound­ing the key­board which is a vast im­prove­ment over the pre­vi­ous model.

Be­ing a writer the first thing you no­tice is how good a key­board is when re­view­ing a note­book.

For me the Galaxy Book's key­board is its stand-out fea­ture, and it's in­cluded in the box for free. I also like the way that the tablet screen at­taches to the key­board, it's very solid and in­stantly feeds com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the key­board and the screen.

For some the down­side could be that the cover which clips on to the screen and then can be folded up to­blerone-style to the back of the tablet is lim­it­ing in the po­si­tions that one can set the screen to, hav­ing said that I had no prob­lems writ­ing to the screen at the pre-set an­gle.

Some me­dia have also com­plained about the screen saver, which is a bit rich, be­cause all you must do is go to set­ting and turn the screen saver off if you don't want it, you can also set the du­ra­tion for the screen to stay on be­fore it pow­ers down to save en­ergy.

If you are like me I tend to power up my note­books when I can, even on an air­craft, this al­lows me to get bet­ter bright­ness to the screen.

The Sam­sung of­fer­ing weighs in at 644g, which is around 200g heav­ier than the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. I found it ex­tremely easy to carry around and it's sig­nif­i­cantly lighter than any note­book I use. I also got 7.5 hours bat­tery life out of this de­vice and this was with the screen set to 60% bright­ness.

Un­like Mi­crosoft and their Sur­face note­books, Sam­sung makes, the bulk of the com­po­nents in this de­vice which for me is a big plus as man­u­fac­tur­ing Com­pa­nies like Sam­sung of­ten save the best com­po­nents for their own de­vices. Nei­ther Ap­ple or Mi­crosoft make com­po­nents for their de­vices, they of­ten buy them from Sam­sung. The qual­ity of Sam­sung made com­po­nents are ob­vi­ous when you open the de­vice for the first time and you get to ex­pe­ri­ence the High Dy­namic Range (HDR) Su­per AMOLED screen.

This 12-inch Su­per AMOLED dis­play de­liv­ers an im­pres­sive 2,160 by 1,440 res­o­lu­tion.

Sam­sung make dis­play screens and you only have to com­pare this note­book with the lat­est Ap­ple Mac of­fer­ing or the Sur­face note­book to re­alise that what Sam­sung is de­liv­er­ing is sig­nif­i­cantly su­pe­rior when it comes to dis­play res­o­lu­tion, es­pe­cially when it comes to fine de­tail in an im­age such as an Ap­ple leaf or a half-cut Ap­ple.

I took the Sam­sung note­book with me to Mel­bourne and it was a plea­sure to watch Net­flix con­tent on this de­vice, how­ever draw­back is that Net­flix doesn't recog­nise this Sam­sung de­vice as an HDR-ca­pa­ble de­vice.

Let's get one thing straight, this is not a re­place­ment for a full-blown note­book, but it's a dam good al­ter­na­tive es­pe­cially when you want to travel light with­out los­ing most of the func­tion­al­ity of a note­book.

How it dif­fers is that be­ing a high­per­for­mance tablet, the Galaxy Book doesn't have many ports on its edges.

Both of the short sides sport speaker grills, the right side holds the two USB Type-C ports and a head­phone jack, and the op­po­site side holds a mi­croSD card slot.

What I did was sim­ple plug in a Belkin USB C to HDMI dock, this al­lowed me to con­nect sev­eral de­vices in sec­onds to the de­vice.

The power and vol­ume but­tons are at the top edge of the de­vice for easy ac­cess when in lap­top mode. Sam­sung has also added an ad­di­tional USB Type-C port since the TabPro S which only had one port.

The 12-inch Galaxy Book screen is big enough for most B2B busi­ness func­tions.

An­other ex­cel­lent ad­di­tion with this de­vice is the pen which comes with 4096 pres­sure lev­els and has a tilt sen­sor that's sup­ported by Pho­to­shop. The in­cluded S Pen is self-charg­ing so it does not need to be docked, in­side the box that the de­vice comes in is an ad­he­sive sleeve that you can at­tach to an in­den­ta­tion on the key­board case.

The sleeve places the pen at the left side of the key­board at all times. The pen's 0.7mm tip is pre­cise and easy to use to write, sketch, or high­light.

The pen's la­tency is not no­tice­able and I found that I could eas­ily take notes at a press con­fer­ence, I also found it ex­tremely sen­si­tive when draw­ing or writ­ing quick post it notes, it also worked ex­tremely well with Pho­to­shop and Adobe Il­lus­tra­tor.

With the pen tip close to the dis­play, you can bring up the Air Com­mand menu by press­ing the sin­gu­lar side but­ton on the S Pen. By de­fault, five apps pop up, let­ting you quickly grab a screen­shot, write notes, se­lect parts of the screen, and more.

A big ir­ri­tant is the but­ton on the side of the pen it's too far down the pen and like the fin­ger­print sen­sor on the Galaxy S8+ It's in the wrong place. It's also easy to ac­ci­den­tally click the side but­ton.

Air Com­mand which is linked to five apps, makes us­ing the S Pen much eas­ier in sit­u­a­tions where you wouldn't nec­es­sar­ily think to use a sty­lus.


The ver­sion I tested comes with an In­tense vivid 12-inch FHD+Su­per

AMOLED Dis­play, In­tel 7th Gen In­tel® Core™ i5 Pro­ces­sor, back­lit key­board cover, adap­tive Fast Charg­ing, Rede­fined S Pen and 128GB (Mi­croSD™ ex­pand­able up to 256GB).

It can be pur­chased out­right for $1,599 or Tel­stra has it listed at $100 a month com­plete with 10GB of data.

The cost is $1,099 for the 10.6-inch dis­play ver­sion.

The bot­tom line is that the Galaxy Book is a great re­source for peo­ple who want a de­vice that is light can be eas­ily packed away and car­ried yet de­liv­ers per­for­mance when you need it.

It does ev­ery­thing most top end note­books do. And when con­sid­er­ing the qual­ity of the de­vice Vs the over­priced Mi­crosoft Sur­face cou­pled with the su­pe­rior key­board that has al­lowed me to type this re­view with­out any prob­lems one has to se­ri­ously con­sider this de­vice if you are look­ing for a high qual­ity two in one.

I also loved the pen es­pe­cially as I at­tend a lot of press events and like to scrib­ble notes and “doo­dle”.


On the down­side, the ports are lim­ited but one can eas­ily over­come this by buy­ing a USB C Dock. Re­mem­ber the Sam­sung Pen comes free Vs the $139 cost for a Mi­crosoft Sur­face Pen so buy­ing a sub $50 dock that fits eas­ily in a small pocket more than com­pen­sates for the lack of ports.



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