Review: Samsung TabPro S – laptop and tablet combo doesn’t quite succeed

Windows 10 hybrid has good resolution and sound and decent battery life, but is let down by its non-responsive keyboard and flimsy body

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 June, 2016, 12:31pm
UPDATED : Monday, 06 June, 2016, 9:01am

Riding on the latest “hybrid” trend in tablets, Samsung has forged ahead with its two-in-one offerings by bringing the TabPro line, previously running on the Android OS, into Windows 10 territory.

Design

This tablet is very slim yet feels weighty on the hand. That’s probably because you expect something that is 7.9mm thick will be extremely light.

With a substantial 12-inch display and a battery rated to last 10 hours, its 693 grams weight is excusable. The body – a mix of polycarbonate, metallic frame, and glass – feels sturdy. But being a large but thin device, it also flexes easily, with the weakest point being the middle of the device. It is a genuine cause for concern, as the folio style keyboard case that comes with it isn’t meant to provide any additional protection.

Features

Apple has Continuity and Blackberry has Blend. Samsung has come up with Flow.

With the Samsung Flow, I can respond to all my messages (including WhatsApp) and see every single notification in the Windows setting.

I connect Flow between my Galaxy S7 and the TabPro S to try the remote fingerprint unlock (yes, that same elusive feature that developers have tried to produce on the OSX with the iPhone). While the set-up is not straightforward, once the pairing is done the feature works smoothly.

Bring up the app on the phone and it’ll take your fingerprint and immediately authenticate the TabPro S. This works through Bluetooth so a constant connection is necessary.

Flow does more than I initially expected it to. One downside is that it’s a closed system – you can’t get this to work on another phone, or vice versa on another laptop that’s not made by Samsung.

Keyboard case

The keyboard folio case is sadly a disaster. The first issue I ran into was a possessed mousepad. It is quite small, so that makes multitouch gestures awkward. The two-finger swipe – typically used for scrolling – can sometimes result in erratic behaviour. The cursor would teleport around the screen and the page being scrolled would follow similar patterns.

The typing experience doesn’t do the TabPro S any justice. While the keys are sufficiently large, the case itself is too thin to allow for any vertical travel in the keys themselves. Combined with an unsatisfying tactile feedback and a flimsy case, held down by a couple of magnets, that’s wobbly (especially when placed on the lap), typos are frustratingly inevitable. Attaching the keyboard case also adds 372 grams.

Conclusion

On the whole, the TabPro S performs adequately. Windows 10 is a very efficient operating system and the low-power, dual-core Intel processor can mostly keep up, with only minor stutters or unresponsiveness .

It’s perfect for web browsing; it handles documents and storage-intensive tasks very well, as it runs on SSD (solid state drive). However, it seriously tests your patience if you venture into media editing or heavy gaming.

It’s worth noting that the QuadHD (2160x1440) Super AMOLED display is quite beautiful and great for watching media. The stereo speakers are loud and have clear stereo separation.

With a large (5200 mAh) battery, it lasts nine to 10 hours per charge.

Taking a step back, it’s easy to get tangled up and look at the TabPro S as a laptop. It obviously isn’t and I wouldn’t recommend it to be used as one.

It’s disappointing that no one has yet been able to come up with a perfect hybrid, and still more disappointing so to see the TabPro S repeating the Surface Pro’s mistakes. But with its slim build – traceable to its TabPro roots – ruling out a conventional port, this is very much a tablet computer. That means it’s good for those who prefer using it in its tablet form, and occasionally attaching the keyboard for some light typing.

Those looking for a laptop that can occasionally be detached and act as a tablet in short bursts should look elsewhere.

HK$7,698 with keyboard cover