The highlight of Samsung's CES 2016 announcements was a 2-in-1 that combines the light and thin form factor of Samsung's Galaxy Tab series with software that allows it to be a legit work machine. The Galaxy TabPro S looks like a promising Surface Pro 4 rival – and one less reason to bother with an iPad Pro.
The most important feature of the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S is that it runs Windows 10. Take the exact same form factor and put Android on it, and you have an illogical mobile device that won't make much sense as a work machine (see Pixel C or, the iOS equivalent, iPad Pro). But Samsung wisely switched to the only current OS that fits the 2-in-1 form factor in this new attempt to revive the Galaxy Tab lineup.
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Based on our CES hands-on, we can't wait to get our hands on a TabPro S review unit and run it through the paces. It's incredibly light and thin: at just 6.3 mm (0.25-inch) thick it's 26 percent thinner than the Surface Pro 4 and 9 percent thinner than the iPad Pro. It's also 35 percent lighter than even the Core M3 Surface Pro 4 and 3 percent lighter than the iPad Pro. In hand, that translates to an absurdly light and thin experience, one we aren't used to seeing in Windows 2-in-1s.
That isn't a completely fair comparison, though, as both the Surface and iPad are all-metal tablets. The TabPro S has a metal frame, but a matte plastic back.
There were several Windows laptops with AMOLED screens shown off at CES, but Samsung says the TabPro S will be the first to market. It's a richer-colored, deeper-blacked view into Windows 10 – and it looks pretty sharp, at 216 PPI.
Unlike the latest Surfaces, the TabPro S will only be sold with a 6th-gen Core M processor, so those wanting the power of a Core i5/7 series chip will want to look elsewhere. The device was fluid and responsive in our demo, but you can't do anything remotely taxing in these quick hands-ons. The Core M chip does mean, however, that the tablet is fanless.
Unlike the Surface and iPad, the Galaxy TabPro S will ship with its keyboard accessory in the box (though if total pricing comes out to about even, then that will be mostly a moot point). It doesn't have a kickstand like the Surface, so there are only a few angles you can prop it up in – it's similar to the official Apple keyboard cover for the iPad Pro.
A Samsung rep said the company is also going to have a Bluetooth pen to sell separately for the device, but there wasn't anything to show off this week.
One of the biggest reasons to hesitate about the TabPro S is that, like Apple's 12-inch MacBook, it only has a single USB Type C port:
There are no other USB connectors and there's no separate charging port; only a promise that you'll be able to buy an adapter separately to expand its port selection. That somewhat fits with the device's Core M/light and thin nature, but it would have been nice to see at least a second USB-C port.
There's a lot to get excited about here, and a few things to hesitate about, but we won't have the full perspective until Samsung announces pricing. Based on Samsung's history, we're guessing it will fall somewhere in the iPad Pro's price range (Samsung's recent high-end tablets have been priced just like the latest iPads). But it could always be different this time.
The Galaxy TabPro S releases globally in February.
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