The TabPro S is one of the slickest 2-in-1 tablets we’ve ever laid our hands on.
With an aluminium-alloy frame running around the outside edge and a body that’s just 6.4mm thick, this Windows 10 device is thinner than most flagship smartphones.
Weighing just 690g at its 12-inch size, it’s reasonably comfortable to hold one-handed — that can’t be said for many bigger tablets.
Using one of Samsung’s Super AMOLED panels, the screen is gorgeous and fairly frugal when it comes to power draw, despite a 2,160 x 1,440-pixel resolution that matches the best at this size.
Inside, Samsung’s gone with one of Intel’s Core M processors that are specifically geared towards 2-in-1 devices like this — it’s what’s in Apple’s mould-breaking 12-inch MacBook from 2015 — and although it’s a lower-end Core m3-6Y30 chip working in combination with 4GB of memory, that’s enough to handle almost any productivity or entertainment task you might want, barring hardcore PC gaming.
You won’t be playing any first-person shooters or modern MMOs on this device — the Intel HD Graphics 515 GPU isn’t quite up to the task.
For storage, you’ve got a LiteOn-made 128GB SSD that’s average in terms of performance — it almost exactly matched what HP has in its similar Spectre x2 2-in-1.
Samsung has included a combined case/cover with the TabPro S that’s mostly praiseworthy — it’s a good combination of being easy to remove but comprehensive enough to turn it into a serviceable laptop and also protect the tablet’s front and back from scratches.
The keys are generously sized and the trackpad is just big enough so that it’s not frustrating to use.
When in laptop mode, you can lock the screen at two angles and the key benefit of the way the stand works is that it provides a flat base, meaning that, unlike the Surface Pro, you can actually balance it on your lap, so you can work with it while you’re on the couch, sitting at a presentation or on public transport.
It’s not perfect, though: there’s no space between the back row of keyboard keys and the bottom of the screen, which isn’t ideal from a comfort or screen-viability perspective.
Still, with a battery life of around 5:30hr in our tougher battery PCMark 8 battery tests, you’ll be able to type away for a good 1:30hr more than on a Surface Pro 4.
We found the TabPro took around 3 hours to charge up if you’re using it, 2.5 hours if you’re not.
In fact, the TabPro S’s only significant shortcoming comes in the form of a rather puzzling omission: no stylus. That’s disappointing because, for all its improvements, Windows 10 isn’t the best OS when it comes to interacting with your fingers.
There’s still too many applications that don’t offer touch-optimised equivalents: trying to move files around in Windows Explorer or select the smaller menu items in Office apps is a fiddly and frustrating endeavour.
Samsung does seem to have an upcoming optional C-Pen stylus that should be around $90 locally, although it hadn’t officially been announced at the time of our review.
With that stylus, this could be a real Surface killer. Without it, though, it’s stuck somewhere between an iPad and more professional-oriented devices.
Verdict: A slick 12-inch tablet with a great screen, but without a stylus, it falls short of being a true Surface competitor.