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Samsung Galaxy Book sets its sights on the Microsoft Surface

The Windows 10 tablets come bundled with a stylus and keyboard and will hit stores on May 21.

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The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 better watch its back; the Samsung Galaxy Book is coming.

Available in 10- and 12-inch models, preorders for the Windows 10 ($145 at Amazon) tablets start on April 21. Both come bundled with a detachable keyboard cover and S-Pen stylus, unlike Microsoft's Surface Pro line, which still requires you to buy the keyboard separately.

The 12-inch Wi-Fi only Galaxy Book starts at $1,130 (£910, AU$1,506) and the 10-inch model runs for $630 (£507, AU$840). Verizon will offer an LTE version of the 12-inch model for $1,300 (£1,046, AU$1,733) . In-store availability is expected May 21, and Best Buy will be the only place to find the black model.

(Samsung has not yet confirmed pricing or availability in the UK or Australia. Pricing listed is converted from the US price.)

Bigger is better

The 12-inch Samsung Galaxy Book is a higher-end version with top-shelf specs. It features a crazy-sharp super-AMOLED screen and one of Intel's latest low-voltage Kaby Lake processors. At 7.4mm thick, it's very thin for a large tablet, even with the added thickness of the keyboard cover.

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The keyboard and stylus are included.

Josh Miller/CNET
  • 2,160x1,440-pixel resolution
  • 3.1GHz dual-core seventh-gen Intel Core i5
  • 4GB or 8GB RAM
  • 128GB or 256GB of storage
  • MicroSD card slot expandable up to 256GB
  • LTE models available
  • Two USB-Type C ports

The smaller, 10-inch model of the Samsung Galaxy Book isn't exactly chopped liver, however. At $630, it's pretty comparable to the $899 entry-level Surface Pro 4, with a similar processor and full-HD screen. Although seeing them in person, the AMOLED screen on the larger version blows this one away.

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Two versions of the same tablet.

Josh Miller/CNET
  • 1,920x1,280-pixel resolution
  • 2.6GHz dual-core seventh-gen Intel Core m3
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB or 128GB storage
  • MicroSD card slot expandable up to 256GB
  • LTE models available
  • USB-Type C port

Successful accessorizing

The Microsoft Surface is a great tablet-hybrid because it totally nails a productivity-centered design that's both powerful and compact. By including the detachable keyboard and S-Pen stylus in the Galaxy Book's base price, Samsung aims for the same target, but as a complete out-of-the-box solution. (With the Surface, you get the pen in the box, but the keyboard is sold separately.)

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Compact, even with the keyboard case on.

Josh Miller/CNET

The S-Pen has a precise tip made out of rubber to feel more like drawing on paper. It supports tilt, for thicker lines when drawing at an angle, and doesn't require any charging. Flat sides help prevent it from rolling off your desk and a built-in clip is supposed to help you safely store it.

I enjoyed using the stylus more than I expected. It's small, comfortable to grip (not too skinny) and the rubber tip gracefully glided across the glass screen the way my favorite ballpoint pen smoothly slides on paper. Unfortunately, there isn't a place on the tablet or keyboard to easily store the S-Pen.

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The stylus software integration isn't as robust as the Samsung Note series.

Josh Miller/CNET

Galaxy and Flow

Samsung is also including its Flow software, which is available for Samsung Galaxy Devices only. Comparable to how iMessage syncs across Apple iPhones, iPads and Mac computers, the Flow software allows text messages to sync across Samsung Galaxy devices.

For example, if you receive a text on your Samsung Galaxy phone, it will also appear on the screen of your Samsung Galaxy Book (or other Samsung Galaxy device) and you'll be able to easily respond to messages from there. It's not new or revolutionary, but it is a new, streamlined feature for those who own multiple Samsung Galaxy devices.

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Screen your texts from the comfort of your Samsung Galaxy tablet.

Josh Miller/CNET

Surface who?

Unlike other 2-in-1 Windows 10 tablet-hybrids, the Galaxy Book's svelte dimensions make it look and feel more like an Android tablet. Most tablet-hybrids have thicker designs that accommodate built-in stands, powerful processors and a variety of ports.

The Samsung Galaxy Book impressively packs full PC-like potential inside of an ultracompact build, and the included keyboard and S-Pen definitely add to its productivity appeal. Pricing-wise, it's very competitive in comparison to the Surface Pro 4, especially the 10-inch model. We'll have to wait until we get our hands on a review unit to see if the Galaxy Book can truly dethrone the Surface Pro 4 as the king of the PC hill, or if it's just another contender.

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