For the past 6-ish months we have been anticipating Samsung's new ultra-light ARM-based laptop. Announced during last year's Note 10 launch, it promised portability, power and LTE functionality.
It's finally gotten a release date in Australia and I was afforded the opportunity to give it a quick whirl ahead of it hitting the shelves.
At the arse-end of Samsung's Galaxy Note 10 launch last year, the company unveiled an ultra-light Windows 10 ARM-based laptop with eSIM functionality. Just shy of six months later the Samsung Galaxy Book S will be unleashed into the wild. Here's how much it will set you back in Australia.
It's important to note that I only got about half an hour of hands-on time with the Book S, so this is a top line first-impressions piece. As such, I can't comment on the processing power, how it goes as a work horse or how it performs even basic tasks on a long-term basis.
That being said, I do have some initial thoughts.
Just the specs, please
The S Book is a 13.3-inch ultra-light laptop that has been designed for using and working on the go - hence having an eSIM slot.
Down in the guts there's 8GB RAM, 256GB on-board storage (there is a 512GB variant in other markets) and a Snapdragon 8cx ARM processor. The battery 42W fast-charging battery will apparently clock 25 hours of video playback, which I'll certainly be putting to the test in my upcoming review.
There's a big old question mark around how this ARM-based laptop will go from a performance perspective, particularly with such robust battery claims. However, Samsung is claiming that ARM has come a long way since it used it in the Galaxy Book 2. The S book is said to have a 40 per cent faster CPU and 80 per cent better graphics.
Here's a full list of the key specs:
- Display: 13.3-inch FHD TFT
- Processor: Snapdragon 8cx
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 256GB on board with expandable storage option up to 1TB
- Battery: 42Wh battery with fast charge and 25 hours of video playback
- Ports: 2 x USB-C, micro-SD, headphone jack
- Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi and LTE
- Sensors: Fingerprint Sensor, Hall Sensor, Light Sensor (Keyboard Backlit on/off)
- Dimensions: 305.2 x 203.2 x 6.2-11.8mm
- Weight: 0.96 kg
- Colour options: Mercury Grey and Earth Gold
What's good about it?
At 0.96kg, the S Book is incredibly light. My daily driver is a Dell XPS 13 which at 1.2kg is a very light laptop. Apparently 204g is more significant than I thought because the S Book was noticeably lighter. there I couldn't stop picking it up and envisioned multiple scenarios where this would be convenient for me - working out of the office, travel and covering conventions.
And because it's only 13.3-inches, it will also fit easily into work handbags. While I generally prefer backpacks, some occasions call for something a little more professional. Considering that I am rarely without my laptop, this would be great solution that would throw my shoulder out.
Good touch screen
I've only become a touchscreen convert over the past year and a half. Now, I can't imagine my on-the-go workflow without it. I was anticipating the S Book to perhaps be at a lower quality due to the differing price point between it and the likes of the Dell XPS 13 and HP Spectre. But I couldn't distinguish any difference.
The 10-point multi-touch screen had a swift reaction time and felt good under the fingertips. I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes after more long-term use.
Keyboard, USB-C ports and the beloved headphone jack
When it comes to my desktop machine, I'm all about that obnoxious mechanical keyboard life. I want clicky keys and medium travel. But for some reason this preference hasn't really translated to laptops - I prefer shallow keys with reduced travel. This may be because I have found deeper laptop keyboards to become too spongy overtime. I'm also most likely just a weird unit.
The keys on the S book are shallow, metallic feeling and feel great to type on. I look forward to seeing whether it can handle my psychotic typing during a proper testing period.
A bold move in 2020 and I respect it. Long live our porty boy.
What's not so good?
As pretty as the chassis for this bad girl is, it smudges as soon as you touch it. Not so pretty anymore.
Sadly the S Book suffered from significant screen-glare from all angles. While the side views were ultimately worse, it still wasn't great when viewing web pages or video front-on. In terms of the environment we were in a board room with large windows and down lights.
While the screen (and sound for that matter) seemed great for watching content, this did detract from the experience.
While this might not be an issue if, like me, you prefer to live life as a cave goblin with the shades drawn, this isn't ideal. I can foresee this being annoying while commuting or trying to work anywhere out of office that involves bright lights or, you know, the sun.
There are some accessories available separately as well, such as this pouch and a multi-port adaptor
While I can't draw any conclusions from my short time with the S Book, it's probably safe to say it will be best suited to light workloads, browsing and streaming. Considering the specs, it probably won't handle labour intensive tasks such as video editing or gaming particularly well. But hey, I'll definitely stress test it to find out for sure.
The Samsung Galaxy Book S will go on sale in Australia on January 31 and will have an RRP of $1,699. It will be available from JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman and Samsung's own stores. Despite it having an eSIM you won't be able to get one on a telco plan at the present time.