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Samsung Galaxy Book (12-inch) review: A great Windows tablet that just scratches the Surface

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The Good The Samsung Galaxy Book has an excellent screen, strong performance and long battery life. For a 12-inch tablet, it's compact. A keyboard cover and stylus are both included.

The Bad It can get hot if multitasking for a long time. The keyboard case is wobbly if not sitting on a sturdy surface. The kickstand situation isn't as solid as the Surface's.

The Bottom Line The Samsung Galaxy Book beats the Surface on value by including a keyboard cover and stylus in the box, but the Surface's design is still much more refined.

8.3 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Battery 8

The Samsung Galaxy Book rightfully belongs on the quickly growing list of impressive Microsoft Surface Pro contenders.

It's a Windows 10 tablet with a stunning 12-inch Super AMOLED display, Intel's latest processors and detachable keyboard cover with stylus. It starts at $1,130 for the Wi-Fi-only version and $1,300 for the LTE model, sold via Verizon, which was the configuration we reviewed. Samsung offers a 10-inch variant that runs for $630, but this review is of the 12-inch model.

Though it's seemingly more expensive than the latest Surface Pro's entry-level $799 starting price, that price doesn't include the $129-to-$169 keyboard cover or the $99 stylus pen. (Microsoft requires you to buy the must-have keyboard for the Surface line separately.)

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Samsung bundles the Galaxy Pro with a keyboard and stylus.

Josh Miller/CNET

The Galaxy Book makes no bones about its price tag -- it's expensive but still roughly comparable in price to the Surface Pro with keyboard and stylus. The bad news is that the Galaxy Book's design falls short of the Microsoft tablet.

The Surface tablet and its accompanying keyboard's physical design are among the best. Its perfectly adjustable kickstand and slim magnetic keyboard cover are excellent. Samsung's large and floppy keyboard stand just doesn't stand a chance in comparison. If it wasn't placed on a completely flat surface, it bent easily, and using it on my lap required careful balancing, otherwise it would topple over.

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The S-Pen stylus also comes with the Galaxy Tab S3.

Josh Miller/CNET

Body like an Android

Unlike other two-in-one Windows 10 tablets, the Galaxy Book's svelte dimensions make it look and feel more like an Android tablet than a Windows 10 PC.

Removed from its cover, the Galaxy Book is slightly more svelte than the Surface Pro 4. It's 7.36mm thick and weighs 1.66 pounds (754 grams), versus 8.5mm and 1.69 pounds (766 grams) for the Surface Pro. Smooth, rounded edges help convey the visage of its seemingly slimmer facade.

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Rounded edges make it appear slimmer.

Josh Miller/CNET

While its chassis is more iPad-like than Surface-esque, it's still a big device. As a standalone tablet, it's too big and heavy to hold in your hands and watch a half-hour of "The Office," let alone an entire movie. The fanless tablet also got rather hot when used for a long period of time, making it uncomfortable to hold. It all makes the included keyboard case accessory, which doubles as a stand, an even more important addition.

Accessories included

One of the Samsung Galaxy Book's biggest advantages over the Surface Pro line is that it comes with a keyboard case and stylus.

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The keyboard case protects the screen without adding too much bulk.

Josh Miller/CNET

The tablet magnetically docks into the folio case, and the back flap can fold back into a stand. There are few different configurations, but thanks to the awesome screen quality, viewing angles are great no matter how it's set up.

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