Another day, another Windows 10 hybrid tablet. But this one is notable for two reasons: it’s coming from Samsung, which isn’t known for its Windows machines, and Samsung has designed this device to be far more tablet than most hybrids on the market.
It shouldn’t surprise that Samsung is releasing beautiful, well made devices. The Galaxy S5 and the negative reviews it received seemed to be the turning point for the company. Up until the Galaxy S5, Samsung hardware felt cheap and plastic, with software to match. But from the S6 onwards, Samsung has lifted its game. Here again, the hardware is excellent. It’s one of the thinnest and lightest Windows 10 machines on the market, much lighter than that 12-inch screen would suggest.
As hybrids go, the Galaxy TabPro S is clearly a tablet first. It has all the benefits that an iPad or Android powered tablet have. It's portable above all else, thin and light, and has fantastic battery life — around eight hours of real world use. The TabPro S supports Samsung's fast-charging technology – you'll get a full charge in just two hours, and it is available in Wi-Fi or 4G models, as you'd expect from consumer tablets.
The keyboard case that ships with the tablet feels much like a third party iPad keyboard cover, too. It's designed more for thinness and portability than ergonomics. While it is a full-sized keyboard, the lack of space between keys and the shallow key travel makes it a little tricky for longer typing sessions, but it's more than good enough for quick tapping on the go.
Similarly, the Intel M processor that powers the TabPro S was chosen for power efficiency and portability, as opposed to the the desktop-strength Core i5 found in the Surface Pro. If you're looking for a hybrid that can power Photoshop and Autocad, this is not the device for you. The TabPro S is more suited to answering emails and updating Excel spreadsheets, while still having battery to burn for a few hours Netflix bingeing when you get home.
And the TabPro S makes a great Netflix device. The super bright AMOLED display is 2160x1440 pixels, and continues Samsung's tradition of fantastic screens. Samsung Flow allows a Samsung Galaxy S6 or S7 phone to pair with the device, and use the thumbprint reader to unlock it , as well as share files and the phone's internet connection. You can also reply to texts and take calls via Flow on either device, mimicking the benefits of Apple's iMessage and Continuity, only here it's cross platform, bridging an Android phone to Windows 10. Of course, you can achieve much of this without a Samsung phone using third party software such as Dropbox or Pushbullet, but Flow is easier out of the box, and the integration is seamless.
The only disappointment was a lack of stylus in the TabPro S box. Samsung will be releasing one soon and promise it will match the performance of the Surface Pen, but it seems an oversight to not have it ready at launch.
And of course, a Windows 10 tablet comes with the standard caveat: there just aren't that many great Windows 10 apps for tablet mode. Most of the big names, such as Twitter and Evernote, are here, but their apps feel old and neglected.
I'm always interested in the review units that catch the eye of my partner. She's as tech-obsessed as I am, but unimpressed by most of the toys that pass through our home. But the TabPro S is one of the few products this year she's lusted after, thanks to the gorgeous screen, excellent battery life, and thin and light design. Samsung is new to the Windows 10 hybrid market, but the TabPro S is an impressive debut.