Want an always-on PC with gigabit connectivity, a stylus, and detachable keyboard? Look no further than Samsung’s spiffy new 2-in-1 laptop. At an event in New York City today, the Seoul, South Korea electronics giant took the wraps off of the Galaxy Book2, a Windows ultraportable Always Connected PC powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 850 chip.
It’s technically the successor to the Galaxy Book, which launched in February 2017. But Samsung went back to the drawing board for the Book2 — you won’t find an Intel chip inside this year’s model.
The only catch? It runs Windows 10 S, a slimmed-down version of Microsoft’s operating system that can only run applications from the Windows Store — specifically Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps and Win32 apps that Microsoft has explicitly approved (including, but not limited to, Microsoft Office). You can upgrade to Windows 10 for free, of course, but it’s an emulated experience.
But if that doesn’t bother you, you’ll be able to pick up a Book2 at AT&T, Microsoft, and Samsung stores online for $999.99 starting November 2, 2018. It’ll hit brick and mortar at AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon later in the month.
“The way the world works is undergoing an incredible transformation, and users need technology that keeps them connected and ready for anything when they’re out in the world getting things done,” Alanna Cotton, senior vice president and general manager at Samsung Electronics America, said this morning. “The Galaxy Book2 brings together Samsung’s hardware and connectivity leadership with innovations from Qualcomm and Microsoft for a two-in-one that uniquely delivers PC productivity and superior mobility.”
The Book2 — which measures 11.32 x 7.89 x 30 inches and weighs in at 1.75 pounds — looks sort of like devices in Microsoft’s Surface lineup. Its gorgeous 12-inch 2,160 by 1,440-pixel AMOLED display (216 pixels per inch) is fully compatible with Samsung’s S Pen stylus, which comes bundled in the box (along with a detachable backlit keyboard that attaches magnetically to the bottom bezel), allowing you to scribble notes and mark up documents easily. The screen is paired with stereo speakers tuned by Samsung subsidiary AKG Acoustic with support for Dolby Atmos, a premium audio format for multichannel surround sound setups, and there are two cameras onboard: a front-facing 5-megapixel camera and an 8-megapixel camera on the rear.
Under the hood is the aforementioned Snapdragon 850 system-on-chip paired with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, comprising four high-performance Kryo 385 processor cores running at 2.96 GHz and four power-efficient cores clocked at 1.7 GHz; an Adreno 630 graphics chip; and a Spectra 280 image signal processor, among other components. (The Snapdragon 850 is 30 percent more powerful than the Snapdragon 835, Qualcomm claims.) Regarding ports, the Book2 has two USB Type-C connectors, a microSD slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack; sensors include an accelerometer, a fingerprint sensor (which works with Windows Hello), a gyroscope, a geomagnetic sensor, and a light sensor.
But the real highlight is the battery life. It lasts a whopping 20 hours on a single charge — just about a full day and night, Samsung points out, and 30 percent better than Snapdragon 835-powered PCs. It supports Adaptive Fast charging, too, allowing it to juice up quickly when connected to a compatible wall charger.
On the connectivity end of things, the Book2 supports 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5GHz bands), Bluetooth 5.0, and Gigabit LTE (up to Cat. 18 speeds, or 1.2Gbps) thanks to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X20 LTE modem.
“PC consumers deserve the same smooth, fast and always connected user experience they are used to on their smartphones,” Don McGuire, vice president of global product marketing at Qualcomm, said. “[The] Galaxy Book2 delivers the instant connectivity, multiday battery life, unrivaled speed and multitasking that consumers desire.”
The Samsung Book2’s launch comes on the heels of Windows 10 S devices debuted earlier this year by Lenovo, JP, and Trigono, but it’s substantially more powerful; the Lenovo 100e, for instance, packs Intel’s Celeron Apollo Lake.
It’s more in line with Lenovo’s Yoga C630 WOS, a 13.3-inch two-in-one expected to be available in November.
The Book2’s key software features include compatibility with Samsung Flow, a software service that allows you to sync files and other content across devices; and the ability to synchronize and mirror notifications with a Samsung Galaxy smartphone.
It’s worth diving into the differences between Windows 10 S and the standard Windows 10, in any case.
At the event this morning, Erin Chapple, corporate vice president of platforms engineering at Microsoft, emphasized the OS’ security features.
“Today’s users are looking for seamless productivity experiences that are both familiar and trusted — built for working anywhere and secure in any environment,” Chapple said. “[With] Microsoft-verified security, they’ll know that their most sensitive data is protected. It’s these types of experiences that make connected computing the backbone for a successful modern workplace, where productivity can happen anywhere and everywhere.”
It’s not all bad news, though. Windows 10 S has live tiles, push notifications, and other standard Windows features in tow, including the Windows Timeline and Cortana’s Pick Up Where I Left Off. The screen turns on instantly — you don’t have to wait for it to wake up. It’s also cloud-manageable through Microsoft’s Intune, Intune for Education, and other modern management systems, and sets up OneDrive cloud syncing by default. Finally, because it doesn’t run traditional Win32 apps that often run in the background and push their own updates, Microsoft claims it offers faster sign-in times (about 15 seconds).
And again, if Windows 10 S doesn’t suit you, there’s no penalty or cost associated with upgrading to Windows 10. However, the version of Windows 10 compiled for ARM processors like the Snapdragon 850 doesn’t support 32-bit x86 applications, and it runs in emulation on the CPU on top of the Windows on Windows (WOW) abstraction layer. Thanks to what Microsoft has dubbed a Dynamic Binary Translator, blocks of ARM 64 code are translated and cached in memory on or disk.
That’s all to say that for the most part, you won’t notice any significant performance differences between Windows 10 and Windows 10 S running on ARM hardware for the most part, but your mileage may vary. CPU-bound apps will struggle more than others.