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Gear review: The Samsung Galaxy TabPro S

In February this year, Samsung announced the Galaxy TabPro S to join their growing pool of work-and-play devices. The Galaxy family is tied to Android, but the company has equipped the 12-inch tablet with Windows 10, to the delight of die-hard Windows fans.

It was Microsoft that first wowed the market with the Surface line, and they have since refined both hardware and operating system to bring us Surface Pro 4 and Windows 10. Apple also jumped at the chance to give their tablets the necessary boosts to make them veritable productivity tools. These tablets – that come with detachable keyboards – moonlight as laptops, and are primarily advertised to mobile professionals.

Quick observations

The TabPro S comes with a full keyboard and trackpad that doubles as its convenient protective case. The leather exterior gives it a classic, sturdy look which screams "business," but the keyboard itself feels fragile to the touch and can be wobbly when not propped up against a flat surface. The 12-inch tablet is magnetically secured with two ways to recline. The first one gives you an ideal angle to prop it up against a desk, while the second one allows you to work from your lap with great ease.

As much as it looks like an oversized first-generation tablet, the TabPro S is sleek and light with a simple design. It weighs about 703 grams and is about 0.26 inches thick with the keyboard case attached. The speakers are located on either side of the device when propped up on the keyboard and the sound quality is pretty good both indoors and outdoors. The device only comes with only one USB-C port for charging and peripherals, which may mean purchasing adapters such as a Hyperdrive for your old USB devices and SD cards.

Nice to have are the 5-megapixel front-facing and rear-facing cameras. They take decent pictures but are nothing to sing praises about, which is to be expected in a device that isn’t primarily meant to decorate your Instagram. 

Beautiful Display

The first thing you’ll notice about the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S is its vibrant display. This 12-inch Super AMOLED screen boasts a 2160x1440 resolution as its banner feature, which sets the TabPro S up as a solid entertainment device, giving itself an edge over its competitors in the tablet-laptop hybrid scene. 

Windows 10 looks stunning in rich and crisp detail. The operating system’s play with colors is appreciated in a Samsung OLED. Faux touchscreen technology in movies make us laugh because they seem far-fetched, but apps like TouchMail deliver a promising user experience.

The TabPro S really shines when watching HD videos. Even playing touch-based games is a delight because of the bright and sharp display.

As a protective measure, Samsung has included its own bubbly screensaver. According to Make Use Of, this prolongs the life of the AMOLED screen by keeping constantly bright displays from burning-in prematurely. The TabPro S is also armed with “adaptive brightness” settings which you may want to turn off while watching videos or editing photos. The default system settings come with copious amounts of dimming should you go idle for even a minute. Let it dim, we say, as it preserves the life of the OLED display – historically a type of display that wears down faster than other types of displays – on this 55,900-peso device.

F.lux – a program that adjusts a display's color temperature according to your location and the time of day – and other apps that brighten display settings may not be a good idea to use on this tablet. 

Performance and Power

The Intel Core M processor that powers the TabPro S can run the usual suspects blip-free. The device did not seem to bat an eye as I spent around 2 hours of light usage, going between 5 Google Chrome tabs and note-keeping app Evernote, while Spotify was running some music in the background. There were no issues with process-heavy tasks such as photo editing and video-watching, provided you do not do both at the same time. Watching a 30-minute 4K stream on the Netflix app chowed the power down from 69% to 55%. Not bad.

However, notorious multi-taskers and power users will definitely find some issues with the 4GB RAM. Current tasks don’t bog the system down whenever processing gets heavy, but the background tasks and battery power will take the hits. For instance, Chrome tabs will quit and reload when you go back to them after several tasks outside of the browser. When I paused Netflix to go back to a photo-editing task, Netflix encountered an error after a few unresponsive moments from the system. 

But you can’t put Windows 10 in a tablet-laptop hybrid and go for light usage. The full desktop OS unfortunately cannot live up to its potential with such a small RAM allocation. Hopefully we can see some upgrades when Samsung refreshes the TabPro S in the future. Until then, Adobe Photoshop and Premiere professionals may want to stick with more powerful desktops or laptops. 

The TabPro S advertises a 10.5-hour use over a 2-hour charging time, which I found to be a little on the generous side. Based on my usage, the device gives you a maximum of 6 hours before you find yourself running towards a power outlet again. Even in battery-saving mode, it's unforgiving.

About the battery, the device we reviewed only had a Samsung travel charger. I was not able to test using the actual charger that comes with the TabPro S as it had not been provided. The actual quality of the battery may be different when used with the real charger. Based on other online reviews, the Tab Pro S has an excellent battery.

In our case, we used a Samsung travel charger (5V), which took over 8 hours to charge from 0% to 100% with the device shut down. Upon fully recharging the TabPro S, a 100% battery status is tantamount to 5 hours and 59 minutes of usage. It’s hard to get in the zone when you are constantly worried about your device dying down. 

Ending Notes 

Windows 10 is a good desktop operating system, but I was surprisingly disappointed by the debilitating lack of apps available for download on the Windows Store. There aren’t a lot of touch-based apps on Windows 10 that really hit the mark yet.

Without its keyboard and trackpad, it takes a while to get used to maneuvering around familiar Windows interface using touchscreen. I have small hands but there are times when I feel that user interface (UI) elements are too small for fingers to be clicked with precision, so I barely ever took the tablet out of its keyboard shell. However, it is a delight to use as a reading device because of the gorgeous, large screen.

There’s a lot to improve and you tend to notice what it lacks and where it falls short than where it excels. The TabPro S retails at 55,900, and at that price point I was expecting an accompanying stylus pen. Still, it's beautiful, both the screen and its frame. It's a strong, steady performer but also not a laptop replacement. –

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