That domain – the only area of growth in the otherwise depressed computer industry – is where you will see all the action from many players.
And to win in that domain a product needs to be very good – right size, specifications, features, and that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ - a special quality that stands above all.
Enter Samsung’s 12”, Galaxy TabPro S – and on the surface it compares very favourably with the Surface and adds Samsung ‘Flow’ to better integrate its Galaxy class, Android smartphones with Windows.
I asked Prasad Gokhale, Vice President, IT & Mobile at Samsung Australia, whether the Windows 10 TabPro S was a ‘sell-out’ of its Android roots.
Gokhale was most emphatic that Samsung made what people asked for, and they were asking for a Windows, two-in-one tablet that worked with its Galaxy devices. “For many they need the power and functionality of Windows on a tablet but are not prepared to give up the Android experience on a smartphone,” he said. “It’s all about the experience – Galaxy is our premium mobility offering and this tablet is a Galaxy-class device that will extend the story of the Galaxy family.”
I asked whether Samsung had a Windows 10 Mobile smartphone coming. His canny response was that if enough people asked for it, then it would be considered.
Samsung is no stranger to working with Microsoft. It's Windows notebooks last sold in Australia under the model name ATIV – they were well made and category leaders. They are still available in some countries including the U.S. where it offers varieties from 12.2 to 13.3” with Intel Core M to i7 processors.
On with the first looks at what just may be the sexiest hybrid on the market.
The new tablet is not about ‘grunt’, but it is about being fully featured, having a great battery life and being portable.
- Good battery life – 5200 mAh for 10.5 hours and a 2.5-hour fast charge – zero to full
- Super AMOLED 2160 x 1440 with great daylight readability and the best colours of any screen
- Intel m3, 2.2GHZ dual core which also means we can use USB-C for charge and data
- 4GB RAM, 128 or 256GB SSD
- 5MP Front camera and 5MP rear auto focus with HD record and 4K playback
- Its smaller than an A4 sheet of paper – 290.3 x 198.8 x 6.3 mm and 693g (plus keyboard/cover)
- GPS (both the Wi-Fi and LTE Cat 6 models), Wi-Fi AC, dual band MIMO, Wi-Fi Direct, and Bluetooth 4.1
- And the full size, type keyboard and cover is included (it is an option on the Surface). The keyboard adds 4.9mm to the overall width.
Go with the Flow
Samsung Flow is the beginnings of the melding of Android smartphone and Windows computer functionality. It was born from a Think-tank that identified key crossovers from a Galaxy-class Android device to Windows 10.
- Common login authentication (using the smartphone fingerprint, pin or pattern)
- Display mobile notifications like missed calls, messages, tasks and others to appear on the tablet
- Hotspot sharing
- Activity transfer
- Activity defer
- And much more
The first three items have been accomplished and its pretty cool to use fingerprint recognition on an S7 (or S6/Note 5 series) to login to the TabPro S and use it as a hotspot. Message notification is also good. Samsung’s official Flow page is here , and I suspect we will see a lot more innovation on this including use on a wider range of Windows and Android devices.
Let me explain that Microsoft’s Surface range was only ever designed to be proof-of-concept and a reference range that other OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) could innovate on, add features to, or be cheaper or more expensive, than.
The hybrid category – a tablet that can replace your laptop or desktop – was unproven and Microsoft has shown that the market wants it. It strongly encourages competition from Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Toshiba and others like Samsung and Huawei in this space. The pie is growing, and there is enough to go around for all.
Samsung has been clever with its first entrant. The Galaxy TabPro S is a premium, beautifully crafted, product that is very different to other offerings especially if you add Flow into the mix. The decision to use the Intel m3 processor and USB-C is smart – if you need more power then buy the Surface Pro 4 or Book and you will be very happy.
Pricewise it is value for what you get but it is definately not cheap. The Cat 6 LTE model will be a month or so away.
- Wi-Fi Windows 10 Home (12-inch) – RRP $1,499
- Wi-Fi Windows 10 Pro (12-inch) – RRP $1,649 (for enterprise use in joining a Domain)
By comparison, a Surface Pro 4 with Core m3 and 4/128GB is $1249 plus $199.95 for the type cover.
Options include a USB-C dock (HDMI, USB-A and C) and a Bluetooth Pen. Being Windows any third-party product should work.