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How to describe my experience with Samsung's Galaxy Book2 in one word? Seamless.
Between the Windows tablet's long battery life and Gigabit LTE wireless, you can work on it all day anywhere you want and then close it up, run to catch your train and open it up again to keep working on your commute home. Or you could watch some Netflix, catch up on email, read a graphic novel or sketch out one of your own with the included S Pen.
The Galaxy Book2 behaves more like your phone than a typical laptop, switching from Wi-Fi to LTE and back again so you always have a connection. And when you open up its keyboard cover (also included) it just turns on and is ready to go -- again, just like waking your phone.
At least part of this is owed to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 mobile platform designed specifically for Windows 10 PCs. The chipset, which was announced at Computex 2018 in June, gives you better performance than first-gen models we tested running on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 platform along with up to 20 hours of battery life and an always-on web connection.
There are a lot of options at or below the Book2's $1,000 price (roughly £765 or AU$1,400), and many with faster performance, more storage or other things that might be important to you. But if it's crucial for you to have battery life that takes you well beyond your work day, a wireless connection that's always available and a versatile ultraportable design, it's well worth the investment.
|Samsung Galaxy Book2|
|Price as reviewed||$1,000|
|Display size/resolution||12-inch 2,160 x 1,440 Super AMOLED touch display|
|CPU||2.95GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 Mobile Processor|
|Networking||802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 5.0|
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit)|
The Samsung Galaxy Book2 is a detachable two-in-one PC not too unlike Microsoft's Surface Pro, right down to its fold-out kickstand on the back. It's built around a nice-looking 12-inch super AMOLED touch display that's bright, but should be brighter to help fight reflections under office lights and out in daylight.
Compared with last year's model, the frame around the display is slimmer and the body's rounded corners are now squared off. The aforementioned kickstand is new, too, which allows you to not only position the display at the perfect angle for how you're working, it makes it possible to comfortably use it on your lap.
Paired with the display are speakers tuned by premium audio brand AKG, a Samsung subsidiary managed by Harman. They sound good for tablet speakers, and even better when you kick on the Dolby Atmos processing. You'll probably still want to use headphones when you can; there's a 3.5mm headphone jack on the right side as well as two USB Type-C ports. There's a microSD card tray in with the SIM card on the left side.
The nicest part of using the Galaxy Book2 is that there's really nothing separating you from your work. No booting up or waking from sleep mode. No starting up a mobile hotspot or tethering to a phone. The tablet comes to life instantly and its built-in fingerprint reader on back signs you in fast.
Just flip out its kickstand, drop down the keyboard cover and you're ready. If you're out and about, the tablet will use your LTE connection, or if you're in range of a known Wi-Fi network, it'll connect to that first. The point is, either way you're on a relatively safe connection the instant you open it up.
Earlier this year we reviewed a couple of the Windows on Snapdragon devices using Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 chipset like the Asus NovaGo. They promised long battery life and LTE connectivity, but performance was never really part of the conversation. That changes to some extent with the Galaxy Book2 and its Snapdragon 850 platform, which, unlike the 835, is expressly designed to run Windows 10.
The Snapdragon 850 was noticeably better, but it's still no powerhouse and is best suited for the kind of stuff that you'll want to do from anywhere over a mobile connection, like email, general work and streaming video. It did feel laggy at times, but not to the point of frustration. If you're doing truly demanding work -- photo or video editing, working with large spreadsheets or databases -- all day, every day, you'll want something more powerful than this.
The tablet runs Windows 10 out of the box in the safer, more efficient S mode. That limits you to the approved apps in Microsoft's store, which can be an issue. The only web browser is Microsoft Edge, for example. So if you prefer Google's Chrome or Mozilla's Firefox, you're out of luck.
The Snapdragon 850 can run Windows 10 Home or Pro, so you can upgrade the tablet from S mode. But S mode is streamlined for efficiency to give this tablet the best performance and deliver that 20 hours of battery life Samsung claims. Using Windows 10 Home we hit 14 hours in our tests, so you'll still get plenty of work time out of S mode.
It's also worth noting that, while this is a 64-bit Arm processor, the software you want to use has to be developed to run on it. During our benchmark testing, two of our Windows performance tests wouldn't run on it and the one we could run would only do so in 32-bit mode.
Samsung has been out in front this year when it comes to adding LTE connectivity to its devices. In August, it released an LTE version of its Galaxy Tab S4, an Android tablet with a desktop interface for increased productivity and on Oct. 12 Samsung announced its Chromebook Plus V2 will be available with LTE support.
Having built-in LTE means you'll be able to connect anywhere you have cell service without worrying about sketchy Wi-Fi networks or tethering to a phone or mobile hotspot. But it does also mean you'll also have to add the Book2 to your data plan. (The Book2 will be available from Sprint, AT&T and Verizon.)
While the Samsung Galaxy Book2 isn't outrageously different in design from what already exists and its general performance is nothing to get excited about, it does feel like a move forward for the mobile workforce. It is slightly speedier than the last attempts using the Snapdragon 835 platform, it has fast Gigabit LTE for better mobile wireless performance and it keeps its long battery life. The overall system performance just isn't there yet.