Samsung Galaxy TabPro S, review: a convertible with light and shadow

The convertible segment seems to be increasingly the clear evolution of that of tablets, and there are several manufacturers that have followed in recent months in the wake of a Microsoft that started that path. Samsung has been the last to bet on this market, and it has done so with an interesting bet.

It is the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S, a 12-inch convertible tablet that arrives remembering other protagonists of the category but that also offers its own hallmarks. We have had the opportunity to analyze it, and these are our conclusions.

Design: Convertibles can also be ultrathin

If the design of the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S stands out for something, it is because of its thinness. The 12-inch screen is surrounded by remarkable frames, something normal since we need them to have some margin when operating in tablet mode. However, those 6.3 mm thick make this one of the most "sharp" devices in this section.

That has two direct effects: the first, that we have a battery logically conditioned by that dimension (its capacity is 5,200 mAh), and the second, that the weight of the device is really reduced: with those 693 grams this tablet is certainly a light weight if we consider that diagonal.

The materials are correct: the plastic dominates the back, although it does so with a nice finish that again makes the absence of metal everywhere not seem so relevant. Where a magnesium alloy is used is at the edges, slightly rounded, like the corners.

In this design we have rounded corners and edges also with that curved profile. At those edges we find the different buttons and connectors: at the top is the on / off button and the volume controls. On the left we find the physical Windows button (for tablet mode), a speaker and a small band for the WiFi antenna.

On the right side we find another speaker and another band for the WiFi antenna in addition to the USB-C connector and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. Finally we have the magnetic connector for the keyboard that attaches to the tablet to turn it into a laptop.

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S specifications

What is the hardware offer that Samsung offers us in this equipment? It is what we discover below with the table in which you can find the main characteristics of the device and its final price:

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S screen 12 '' sAMOLED (2,160 x 1,440) Processor Intel Core m3-6Y30 (0.9 GHz Dual-core, up to 2.2 GHz with Turbo, 4.5W TDP) Memory 4GB LPDDR3-1600 Graphics Intel HD 515 (24 EUs at 300-850 MHz) Storage 128GB M.2 SSD (LiteOn CV1-8B128) Connectivity 802.11ac with Bluetooth 4.1 Ports 1 USB 3.1 (USB-C), headphone jack Sound 2 stereo speakers Battery 5,200 mAh (39 Wh) Cameras Rear 5 Mpixels, Front 5 Mpixels Others Keyboard case with integrated touchpad Dimensions 290 x 198.8 x 6.3 mm Weight 693 g (without cover) Price 999 euros

In those specifications we find outstanding notes such as the screen - which we will talk about later - or the integration of an Intel Core m3-6Y30 processor from the Skylake family. That alternative has given us a pleasant surprise in the performance tests, but there have also been some relevant disappointments.

But before speaking of disappointments, honorable mention for the decision to include the keyboard next to the tablet, something that most manufacturers of this type of convertible do not do -Microsoft, we are looking at you-. Unfortunately it is a non-backlit keyboard, and although Samsung does include it and Microsoft does not, it is fair to say that Microsoft integrates the stylus, and Samsung offers it as an option (the price is not yet known, but it will be around 80 euros).

What is the best decision? We believe that the ideal would be to include everything, but that could increase the price, so to choose it seems logical to think that the orientation to convertibles of these teams makes that keyboard almost mandatory that manufacturers usually sell separately. So, minipoint for Samsung.

The front and rear cameras coincide in the resolution of the sensor, 5 Mpixels, which offers many guarantees, especially in the case of the front for video conferencing. In the case of the rear camera, we saw how the behavior was expected from a camera with that resolution, and here it is true that the tablet screen benefits the result because the colors, slightly saturated, give a lot of liveliness to the images. Contrary to what happens with some competing models, here there is no obvious commitment to the production of audiovisual content directly from the tablet.

The inclusion of NFC support is also interesting, something that has been done with a clear purpose: the Samsung Flow application will allow interoperability between different mobile devices (S6 and later, beware, here the firm defends its ecosystem again) and desktop. The tool will appear next April for Android, they tell us from Samsung, and will allow things like authenticating on the laptop with the fingerprint sensor of the mobile or transferring content and passing notifications from one to another.

First downside: a USB-C is not enough, Samsung

The presence of a single USB-C connector (nothing of Thunderbolt 3, it is a USB 3.1 interface) is a clear and important limitation of this equipment, which makes it impossible to charge and connect a peripheral at the same time unless we buy some adapter.

The commitment to USB-C is defensible, but not the fact that they have not even included an additional USB-A connector (or another USB-C) for traditional peripherals or, at least, a USB-A to USB-C adapter for our peripherals.

That also limits their possibilities in that professional orientation that Samsung theoretically presumes. Here connecting the equipment to an Ethernet network is impossible without an adapter, and although Samsung seems to offer one, there is no news about its price, but adapters of this type for USB-C connectors make the investment increase again if some had already with USB (USB-A) to Ethernet adapters.

In fact, that ultra-slim design that is worth mentioning has not included any other element that is usually appreciated in this type of device: there are no expansion slots and no card readers, something that has been integrated into other solutions of the competition and that adds integers to the versatility of these products.

Super AMOLED shines, but not always

If there is a remarkable factor in this equipment when using it is the quality of its screen. Samsung has had the wisdom to take advantage of its experience with Super AMOLED technology to integrate it into this tablet, something that certainly puts it at the forefront of the sector in terms of image quality, definition and contrast.

That screen has a 3: 2 aspect ratio that we've already seen on other productivity-oriented tablets, and the working resolution is 2,160 x 1,440 pixels, resulting in a density of 217 pixels per inch. The AMOLED technology makes the viewing angles not as wide as those of other panels, but still that contrast and vividness more than compensate for this handicap.

There is also a clear benefit in energy efficiency that we have noticed in the autonomy of the battery. So, that thinness and that battery with a somewhat reduced capacity is compensated by this factor, although the AMOLED technology that makes the contrast fantastic and the bright and vivid colors is not without problems.

Those responsible for Samsung have introduced a curious system that darkens the screen after a period of one minute so that the panel does not degrade. This occurs in different activities, for example with different benchmarks or even in browser sessions in which we leave the screen quiet for a few minutes.

Although we have set the computer to turn off the screen after 5 minutes in the Windows power management preferences, that screen will inevitably darken after one minute and that brightness will fluctuate strangely (without recovering the native brightness unless we touch some key, touchpad, or screen) during those periods of inactivity. In fact, by default a screensaver is configured that takes action after two minutes, something that we had not seen preconfigured on these computers in a long time.

The problem is persistent and cannot be solved in Windows preferences or in any Samsung utility or tool included in the system or that we have been able to find, and it is something that can be annoying for many users in those little breaks of activity .

Performance: we measure the power of the Galaxy TabPro S

The launch of the Intel Core M was promising, and augured ultrathin equipment perfect for the hybrid behavior that we are now seeing become popular. The first range of mics of this type was disappointing, and the teams that built it were losing too many power integers to offset the improvements in energy efficiency.

Things have changed with the introduction of the new Skylake family models. We have been able to verify it with the Intel Core m3-6Y30 at 900 MHz (up to 2.2 GHz with Turbo) that have a fundamental advantage over the Core i3, i5 or i7 that other manufacturers of convertible tablets and laptops have chosen: we have with a team fanless, without active cooling, which is a joy for the ears.

As we said, the account did not come out in previous editions of the Core M, and in fact some computers with these processors integrated a fan even though their TDPs were not supposed to do so. In the Galaxy TabPro S we find ourselves before a remarkable balance that is confirmed in the performance tests in which we have compared it with equipment with specifications in that line:

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S (Core m3-6Y30) Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 (Core M-5Y70) ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi Surface 3 (Atom x7) PCmark Home 2.526 2.261 2.287 1.667 PCmark Creative 3.005 2.844 2.678 1.933 3DMark Cloud Gate 3.955 3.076 3.222 2.112 3DMark Ice Storm 15.047 26.361 15.255 20.894

The numbers make it clear that the performance of these Core m3s is very decent, even when compared to the Core i5 processors of the Haswell family destined for Ultrabooks and that therefore have a greater leeway. The comparison with the Surface Pro 4 with a Core i5 is also inevitable, and here we confirm it again: in PCMark 8 Home we obtained 2,523 points in the Microsoft team (for 2,526 of the TabPro S), for example.

The thing changes in graphic performance, of course: the GPU of the Surface Pro 4 allows us to reach 5,812 points in our tests, and here we have about 3,955 that are indeed below. Let's not fool ourselves though: neither of these two teams is oriented to video games, and although it is evident that this difference will allow us to have more joys in the Microsoft team, the differences are not as important as it seems.

So that choice regarding the integrated processor does not seem bad at all on the part of Samsung. In other synthetic tests like Geekbench we scored 2,236 points in Single-Core and 4,412 in Multi-Core.

We also analyzed the performance of the storage unit, which was somewhat lower than expected: 539 MB / s for reads is a decent figure, but its 180 MB / s, without being worrisome, does fall below a trend that it seemed to adopt increasingly powerful units. The LiteOn drive integrated by Samsung falls below our expectations, and the irony here is that many manufacturers have long used the M.2 SSD drives that Samsung itself manufactures and achieve much more remarkable speeds.

What is it like to work (and enjoy) with this team?

If you have reached this point, surely you could have formed a good impression of the team, but this is where the feelings come into play and we put aside that "crude" analysis that the numbers and specifications offer us.

And the truth is that at this point the Samsung team does not go so well, although again there is good and bad news. We have already commented on some issues such as those that affect the USB-C port or that curious screen brightness management system, but we also have things to comment on the keyboard and touchpad of the team.

Here the format adopted by Samsung in that case is reminiscent of iPads, with an ingenious system that allows the case itself, magnetized to fit perfectly with the tablet, to place it in two positions. That is already a clear handicap in front of convertible laptops -the hinges here win by a landslide- but also in front of convertible tablets that like Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 allow the screen to be lowered in all kinds of angles without problems.

Not only that: the keyboard is not backlit, something that would not be serious if we did not take into account that we are talking about a team with a price of 1,000 euros in which these details begin to weigh. The keyboard itself is very correct, and although the keys are not separated from each other (no chiclet format in this case) their size and layout is decent. Even the travel is correct despite the overall 4.3mm thickness of the case, although some keys like the up and down arrows suffer a bit.

The touchpad, on the other hand, is remarkable, especially for the size to which Samsung engineers have been forced to reduce it. The touch and tactile response is remarkable, and although here, as always, a larger size would have been a great help, the design of the device itself made it difficult to improve in this section.

As with other convertible tablets, the problem is that they are not intended to be used on the legs. At least not if we are sitting normally: the mechanism that allows you to connect the tablet to the keyboard is perfect when we have it resting on a table, but it is not so much when placing it on a less stable surface: there are the limitations of a system of this type. type and that limitation of the two angles is too evident. So if you are one of those who often works with the laptop on your legs, keep that in mind.

See complete gallery »Samsung Galaxy TabPro S (32 photos)

Where we did get a joy was in the autonomy of the battery, which was of course around 10 hours that the manufacturer told us about and that with more moderate use can surely be extended to 12 hours. The fast charge support is also a noteworthy feature, and it is possible to fully recharge the equipment in about two and a half hours, although to charge half the battery we will only need just 30 minutes.

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S, the opinion and note of Xataka

The attempt to convert tablets into devices in which it is also possible to produce in a comfortable way is commendable, and in fact I think that this format has a clear niche of users in which the use of the tablet format predominates over that of the laptop . The productivity options are there if we want to take advantage of them thanks to Windows 10, but the keyboard, despite being included in the price, does not meet expectations if one is going to make extensive use of this equipment in tablet format.

I sincerely believe that for a productivity orientation it is much more advisable to have a rigid keyboard, and here conventional laptops and Ultrabooks and even convertible laptops are fully successful in meeting that need. The thing is especially true precisely in environments where Samsung wants to direct this solution: companies.

If I were an employee of a company and had to produce frequently with a mouse and keyboard, I would surely appreciate the compactness and lightness of this device, but I would miss a keyboard and touchpad too much. It is evident that one can solve that section by connecting the tablet to a monitor (first you will have to buy an adapter or a suitable Dock, of course), optional keyboard and mouse, but still the Ultrabook and the laptop (convertible or not) emerge strongly. in that field.

The Samsung Galaxy TabPro is condemned by that and errors such as those that affect its only USB-C port -something that we already criticized in the Apple MacBook- or that mysterious screen brightness management system that we are not used to. Even solving this last section - we assume that a software update will arrive in some time - we do not believe that the team meets the expectations of those who are really looking to produce on a portable computer.

If for you the consumption of content clearly prevails over the production of the same, this may obviously be a good alternative, but here we wonder if in that case a smaller and more compact (pure or convertible) tablet will not make more sense, and even some based on Android or iOS in which precisely that factor of content consumption is a clear protagonist.

7,9

Design8.5 screen Performance7.7 Keyboard / trackpad6.5 Software8.5 Autonomy 9.0

In favor

  • Its display has fantastic brightness and contrast
  • Really remarkable autonomy
  • Good performance in a fanless team at last

Against

  • A single USB-C port is not enough
  • Screen brightness management causes discomfort
  • The keyboard is not backlit and only allows two support angles

The computer has been loaned for testing by Samsung. Can inquire our policy of relationships with enterprises

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