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Home News Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 review

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 review

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(CNN) —  

The new Samsung Galaxy Book Pro and Galaxy Book Pro 360 are designed for those who are constantly on the go, with ultra-thin housings, long battery life and performance to match.

You can order the 2-in-1 Galaxy Pro 360 that starts at a respectable $1,199 for the 13.3-inch model, or $1,299 for the 15.6-inch model from Samsung right now.

We’ve spent the last week testing the Pro 360, which comes in a mystic bronze or mystic navy color option (we have the former and it looks sharp). And with one exception, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time testing Samsung’s latest laptop. From deep tie-ins with Samsung’s ecosystem, to a svelte look — there’s a lot to like here.

Who it’s for: The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 is for someone who wants a portable laptop with respectable battery life and performance. It’s especially attractive for those who are deeply invested in Samsung’s ecosystem, and even comes with an S Pen stylus.

What you need to know: Samsung’s latest laptop comes in 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch configurations, both of which are powered by an Intel Core 7 processor. You can get them in a unique mystic bronze or mystic blue color, with up to 1TB of storage and 16GB of memory.

How it compares: The Galaxy Book Pro 360 reminds us a lot of the Surface Laptop 4, only without facial recognition and slightly more refined design. Its 2-in-1 performance keeps up with the Surface Pro 7, albeit with a bigger, brighter display.

Jason Cipriani/CNN

As we talked about during our hands-on with the Pro and Pro 360, the Galaxy Book’s design is impressive. The Pro 360 is attractively thin and light; almost deceivingly so. When we first unboxed the Pro 360 and picked it up, it reminded us of the old Apple MacBook Air commercial where the laptop is placed inside a large envelope, indicating just how slim is.

We tested out the 15.6-inch model, but you can get it with a 13-inch display if you want to go the ultra-portable route. The larger display gets you a laptop that weighs 3.06 pounds, while the smaller design gets you down to 2.3 pounds. In comparison, the current MacBook Air and it’s 13-inch display weighs 2.8-pounds.

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 is just under a half-an-inch thick;the thin silhouette gives it a premium design. It’s somewhat similar to Microsoft’s Surface Laptops, but what sets the Galaxy Book apart is the rounded edges and corners, instead of the squared-off design that Microsoft users. You can’t go wrong with either one. It all comes down to personal preference, but we’re loving the look and feel of the Galaxy Book Pro 360.

There are a handful of ports on the Pro 360. On the left side you’ll find the lone Thunderbolt 4 port next to a USB-C port. Thunderbolt 4 allows for faster data transfer rates with external storage and improved display support compared to standard USB-C. On the right side of the housing is another USB-C port, a microSD card reader and a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack.

Included in the box is a 65W wall adapter and a USB-C to USB-C cable that can be used on any of the three ports to charge the laptop.

Jason Cipriani/CNN

Every time you open the lid of the Galaxy Book Pro 360 you’re immediately greeted by the 1080p AMOLED display and the Windows logo or your Lock Screen wallpaper while the laptop quickly turns itself back on. There’s a setting in the Samsung-specific settings app that allows you to control whether you want the Pro 360 to use its auto boot feature. We left it turned on, because who doesn’t want their computer ready to get to work the moment it’s opened?

The AMOLED display used in the Pro 360 is the same kind of tech you’ll find in most flagship smartphones, like the iPhone 12 or Galaxy S21. It provides better color saturation and increased brightness when compared to the more traditional LCD display that most laptops come with. We watched plenty of 4K YouTube videos during our testing and don’t have any complaints about the color reproduction, clarity and overall look.

There are two hinges connecting the display to the bottom deck of the Pro 360. They allow the screen to rotate backwards, until it’s touching the bottom of the housing. In tablet mode, the keyboard and trackpad are disabled so you can hold the device without errantly entering information or switching between apps.

There’s a 720p webcam centered on the top bezel going across the display. It’s pretty standard for a laptop webcam, in that it’s neither very impressive, nor is it as bad as the MacBook Pro’s webcam that has a reputation for looking overexposed and grainy. It’ll certainly work for casual and work calls alike.

The Pro 360 doesn’t have Windows Hello facial recognition to unlock or sign into the laptop, but it does have a fingerprint reader in the power button. You’ll find the power button tucked into the top-right corner of the keyboard, just above the half-size number pad. The sensor is quick and responsive, reading our fingerprint in the amount of time it takes to press the power button. We do have to admit, however, after using the Surface Laptop 4 for a few weeks, we do miss the ease of opening the lid and get signed in without having to think about it.

Jason Cipriani/CNN

Typing on the keyboard is a true pleasure. The keys don’t have much movement to them, requiring only light pressure for each activation and are almost immediately ready for another keypress. Our favorite part about the keyboard? It’s fairly quiet.

Included in the box with the Pro 360 is an S Pen stylus that you can use to write or draw directly on the display. The S Pen doesn’t use Bluetooth to connect to the Pro 360, therefore you don’t have to worry about charging a battery or replacing batteries.

Jason Cipriani/CNN

You have a few options when it comes to what’s inside the Galaxy Book Pro 360. Samsung sent us the high-end $1,499 configuration, equipped with an Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor, 16GB of memory and 1TB SSD of storage that powers the 15.6-inch screen. As for connectivity, the Pro 360 boasts Bluetooth 5.1, is Wi-Fi 6E ready, supports Wi-Fi 6, and there’s a 5G option that will be available later this year.

That’s a lot of tech jargon, but rest assured, that it all adds up to a very modern configuration, full of the latest and greatest connectivity options and enough horsepower to keep pace with whatever tasks you throw at it. To be clear, you’ll need to have a Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E compatible wireless system at home in order to take advantage of the new tech. But at the very least, The Pro 360 is a future-proof investment.

In terms of performance, the Galaxy Book Pro 360 kept up with everything we threw at it. Our standard workflow includes multiple tabs open in Microsoft’s Edge browser, Slack, Spotify, Discord, Mail, 1Password and occasional photo editing in the Windows Photos app. The only time we experienced any sort of sluggish performance was when we were using Samsung’s Windows apps (more on those in a minute), and typically only when opening them. They’d often take long enough to open that we’d click on the app icon again, thinking we must have miss-clicked the first time, only to see an alert a few seconds later that the app is already running.

However, as we do with all testing at CNN Underscored, we put the Pro 360 through a series of benchmark tests that mimic heavy workloads, some over an extended amount of time. We won’t bore you by detailing every result. But we can say that the Galaxy Book Pro 360 received roughly a 20% performance boost across all tests when compared to the Galaxy Book Flex, which Samsung released last year (and had a 10th Generation Intel Core i7 processor). That’s a fairly big jump. As for a more recent comparison, the Pro 360 outperformed Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 4 in the same tests by a wide margin — over 30% in some cases.

Jason Cipriani/CNN

Using the S Pen stylus to write notes or draw horrible stick figures (an artist, we are not) was a mostly smooth experience. The stylus glides over the screen without any hiccups, but we ran into several instances of palm-rejection not working. Instead, we’d see the document we were working on start to zoom in and out as we were writing and moving our hand across the screen.

We think we figured out the trick — you have to put the pen on the display before placing your palm on the screen. As long as we did that, we didn’t have any issues.

One of our favorite S Pen features from the Galaxy phone lineup — Air Command — is available on the Pro 360. When holding the pen just above the screen, you press and hold a button on the side of the pen. This launches the Air Command menu that gives you the option to take a cropped screenshot, capture the entire screen and notate it along with several other options. It’s just as useful on a Windows laptop as it is on a smartphone.

As far as battery life goes, Samsung estimates the Galaxy Book Pro 360’s battery will power through 20 hours of use for the 15.6-inch model, or 21 hours for the 13.3-inch version.

We put our test unit’s battery through our usual battery life test that consists of playing a 4K video on repeat with Bluetooth and Location disabled, and the display brightness set to 50-percent. The battery gave out after 11 hours and 20 minutes – well short of the 20 hour estimate, but that’s par for the course with almost every laptop. However, the battery is strong enough to last through a normal workday, both according to the benchmark and our personal experience.

You’ll need to charge it nightly, but you shouldn’t need to worry about keeping tabs on the nearest outlet at all times.

Jason Cipriani/CNN

One of the key selling points for Apple products is ubiquitous experience, regardless if you’re using iMessage on a Mac, iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch. For its part, Samsung has tried to create the same seamless experiences across its product lineup. But instead of controlling the entire experience for both hardware and software, Samsung has to rely on Google for the Android platform, and Microsoft for Windows 10. In order to string together the same Samsung experience between, say, a Galaxy S21 and the Galaxy Book Pro 360, Samsung pre-installed several of its own apps on the sleek laptop.

Actually, we counted. There are 28 Samsung apps installed on the Pro 360 out of the box. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is. Some of the apps are useful and serve a clear purpose, adding value to the overall experience. For instance, Samsung’s SmartThings app allows you to control your smart home devices, and even connects to the SmartThings Find network to help you find your misplaced phone, Galaxy Buds or any of your other Samsung gear. Another handy Samsung app is Samsung Notes, which is the same Notes app that you’ll find on a Galaxy phone or tablet. You’ll even find your notes sync between all of the devices after you sign into your Samsung account.

Samsung also released a Galaxy Book Smart Switch app that will help you setup your new Galaxy Book by transferring some of your settings, apps and files from your previous computer. We tested it, and it worked just like the smartphone version does. You wirelessly connect your two computers, sending data from your old machine to the new one. We were able to transfer some of our installed apps and settings to the Galaxy Book Pro 360 with a few taps. It’s not a complete solution since it only transfers apps you installed from the Microsoft Store, but it does enough to get you started.

But then there’s an app icon for Samsung TV Plus, the company’s free tv streaming service, that launches your default browser so you can watch one of the countless shows available on the platform. Or the Live Message app that made its debut on the Galaxy Note line a few years ago. You can draw a message in various colors and effects, and then share it — but it feels out of place on a Windows laptop.

We understand Samsung’s desire to bring over as much of the mobile experience to Windows, but there’s something to be said about taking a more direct approach by adding only those features and apps that make sense. For a lot of the pre-installed Samsung apps, they’re better suited for a Galaxy phone or tablet.

In a lot of ways, the addition of so many Samsung apps on a Windows device feels like the early days of Samsung’s Android aspirations. The company put a lot of work and effort into including a ton of different ideas and use cases, if for no other reason to learn what its users want and need. Eventually, the company pared down its offering. Hopefully that’s what is going to happen with future Galaxy Books.

Jason Cipriani/CNN

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 is a solid 2-in-1 laptop that kept pace with whatever we threw at it. It offers decent battery life that powers a crisp display we had no issues staring at for hours on end. It’s lightweight and portable, and comes with the bonus of an S Pen that’s sure to make any Samsung fan happy. The number of Samsung apps installed is a bit much for our liking, but not enough to be a deal breaker.

The 13-inch model starts at $1,199 for 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage. For $1,399 you get double the memory and storage. The 15-inch model starts at $1,299 for 8GB of memory and 512GB of storage. For $1,499, you double those specs for a total of 16GB of memory and 1TB of storage. Not bad prices, all around.

However, if you don’t want to deal with the extra bloat that Samsung includes, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 4 is a worthy option you should consider.

http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/cnn_topstories/~3/C6MeYgNIY5g/index.html

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