Samsung's Galaxy TabPro S is a solid Windows 2-in-1 that's good for light productivity on the go. Workers will appreciate that it's thinner and lighter, and lasts longer on a charge, than competing keyboard-equipped tablets. And starting at $899 with the keyboard included, it's more affordable than the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, which costs $1,029 when purchased with a keyboard. However, a mediocre typing experience and a very limited selection of ports make the TabPro S a questionable option for serious work.
The TabPro S is a 12-inch tablet that comes with a snap-on keyboard dock. The keyboard includes an adjustable, folding kickstand that lets you choose between two different viewing angles while you type.
Right away, I encountered some challenges when using the restrictive kickstand. Although the high angle was fine for desktop use, I sometimes wished I could tip it back an extra 10 to 15 degrees for a slightly more comfortable view while working at my desk.
And although the low angle was pretty good for lap use, it was slightly too steep for me most of the time. I found myself pining for the fully adjustable kickstand of Microsoft's Surface Pro 4, which is a much more versatile device.
Commuters will appreciate that the TabPro S is thinner and lighter than competing machines. Measuring just 0.25 inches thick, it's slimmer than the HP Spectre x2 (0.31 inches) and the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (0.33 inches). And Samsung's slate weighs just 2.35 lbs. with the keyboard attached, which makes it lighter than the Spectre x2 (2.65 lbs.) and the Surface Pro 4 (2.37 lbs.). That's all good news for workers who need to carry the system back and forth between home and the office.
Workers might not be thrilled about the tablet's single port — a USB Type-C connector that doubles as the charger. That means you'll need to purchase an adapter to use simple accessories like a USB flash drive. Even more disappointing is the lack of an SD card, which makes it impossible to expand the system's 256GB of internal storage.
The TabPro S' 12-inch, 2160 x 1440-pixel panel is roomy enough for everyday work tasks, but things can start to feel a bit cramped when you're viewing two windows side by side. By comparison, the Surface Pro 4's 12.3-inch, 2736 x 1824-pixel display feels a bit more comfortable for serious multitasking. But at least the TabPro S' display looks gorgeous, producing saturated colors and crisp images.
Plus, the screen is nice and bright, topping out at 341 nits of brightness. That outshines the Spectre x2 but is slightly dimmer than the Surface Pro 4's display. A brighter screen is easier to view outdoors or in direct sunlight.
The TabPro S' keyboard is fine for basic productivity tasks, such as responding to email or doing light document editing, but it's not cut out for marathon typing sessions. That's mostly because the keys are seriously shallow, with a meager 0.95 millimeters of key travel on each stroke. That's noticeably less than the 1.5 mm we look for in a laptop keyboard, and it caused me to feel like I was constantly "bottoming out" while typing up this review on the TabPro S' keyboard. The keys also felt a bit on the mushy side because they don't provide much tactile feedback.
The compact 3.4 x 1.7-inch touchpad felt pretty good, with a nice smooth finish that let my finger glide easily. Meanwhile, gestures such as two-finger scrolling felt responsive, and the pad also clicked down firmly without making too much noise for left and right clicks. The one downside is that the pad is a bit on the small side, so it can feel a little cramped for navigating documents and web pages.
Despite the "Pro" label in the name, the TabPro S lacks many security options you'll find on competing systems. Microsoft's Surface Pro 4, for example, provides two different biometric authentication options: a fingerprint scanner and a 3D camera with facial-recognition capabilities. Neither of those is available on the TabPro S.
You do get good encryption capabilities, as the system includes a Trusted Platform Module. That's a special chip attached to the system's motherboard that enables hardware-based encryption, which keeps thieves from viewing your data.
One unique security option you get with the TabPro S is called Samsung Flow, which lets you use a Samsung smartphone as an authentication device. After the two devices are paired via Bluetooth, the TabPro S can be unlocked only if it detects your smartphone nearby. Samsung Flow isn't just about security; it also pushes your smartphone notifications to the TabPro S' desktop, which will help you stay on top of incoming calls and messages.
But while detachables like this one aren't known for their great battery life, the TabPro S' longevity was a pleasant surprise. It ran for a solid 6 hours and 46 minutes, which is better than the Surface Pro 4 (6 hours) and the Spectre x2 (6:31). If you need a machine that can last through the whole workday without a recharge, though, you might be better off with a nondetachable laptop such as the Lenovo Yoga 900, which ran for a very solid 8 hours on the same test.
The TabPro S is equipped with an Intel Core m3 processor with 4GB of RAM, which may or may not provide enough performance depending on your workload. During my testing period, I didn't notice even a hint of lag while editing a large spreadsheet with more than a dozen tabs open in my Chrome web browser. The bottom line is that the TabPro S provides more than enough performance for everyday work tasks such as editing documents and browsing the web.
Rival systems are outfitted with more powerful processors, which explains the Tab Pro S' middling score of 4,675 on the Geekbench 3 test, a benchmark that measures overall performance. The Intel Core i5-equipped Surface Pro 4 blew past that, with a score of 6,811, while the Core m7-powered Spectre x2 racked up a score of 5,814. There are trade-offs, of course; those systems are thicker and heavier, and don't last as long on a charge.
Samsung's tablet actually did fairly well on our spreadsheet test, matching 20,000 names to their addresses in 5 minutes and 34 seconds. That's not bad at all, even if it took about a minute and a half longer than rival devices.
The Samsung Galaxy TabPro S is a great Windows 10 tablet that comes up a bit short as a productivity system. While it offers a brilliant 12-inch display, snappy performance and long battery life, the $899 tablet lacks some key features that workers will want.
Although the slim design is nice, a slightly thicker device could have accommodated a full-size USB port. Plus, the lack of an SD card slot for expanding the system's storage feels like a real oversight. And while its snap-on keyboard offers a passable typing experience, the restrictive kickstand had me struggling to get a comfortable view of the display. And finally, considering that all of Samsung's flagship smartphones include a fingerprint scanner, you'd expect its "Pro"-branded tablet to come with that feature as well, but it does not.
Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 is a better pick for workers, offering a better selection of ports, stronger security options and a more adjustable kickstand. It also comes with a stylus, which is handy for taking digital notes. The TabPro S lacks pen support altogether. However, the Surface Pro 4 costs roughly $130 more than the TabPro S. But for workers who want a solid 2-in-1 productivity system for less than a grand, the TabPro S isn't a bad option.