Total Downloads

2,583,119

Total Files

9,206

Latest Update

10

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 15 Review

Posted October 14, 2021 | Hardware | Mobile | Samsung | Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 | Windows | Windows 10 | Windows 11


The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 15 is one of the sleekest, thinnest, and lightest 15.6-inch portable PCs I’ve ever used. But a few downsides, including a shallow, uncomfortable keyboard and an epic, unforgivable collection of crapware, detract from the overall experience.

Design

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 15 is a stunner. Available in Mystic Navy or Mystic Bronze—the review unit is the former, but I’m torn between the two—this large but surprisingly thin and light convertible PC transforms between the now-customary four usage modes common to this type of PC. But bigger.

Its size can be awkward in tablet mode, when the display lid is rotated back so far that its back is against the back of the keyboard base. And though the two pieces don’t attach, even magnetically, it holds in place quite well.

Not that it matters, I guess: I suspect that most Galaxy Book Pro 360 15 users will use this capable machine more frequently for standard clamshell-based productivity tasks and entertainment anyway. But it’s just nice to have the option.

However you use it, you’ll be struck by Samsung’s incredible industrial design and build quality … and by all the smudges that build up over time. It looks and feels like the premium PC that it is, and it bears an obvious resemblance, design-wise, to the firm’s flagship smartphones, right down to the greasy scuffs you’ll leave on the wrist rests. Fans of the brand will gravitate to it immediately. And it will no doubt make new fans of its own too.

With a body this wide and this thin, it’s reasonable to expect a bit of flex, but the Galaxy Book Pro x360 15 will have none of that. Instead, the body feels stiff and strong, with no flex at all in normal use. In fact, I have to press very hard on the center of the keyboard before I see any give. So it’s gorgeous and well-made.

Display

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 15 ships with a 15.6-inch Super AMOLED display panel—so named because the display and the touch digitizer, normally separate layers, are integrated into a single panel—and it is among the clearest and most vibrant displays I’ve ever used. Oddly, it’s only available with a single, Full HD​ resolution (1920 x 1080), and it seems like many would find a 1440p or 4K panel a desirable option. And 16:9, seriously? There’s plenty of room for a 16:10 panel in the display lid.

It’s glossy and probably not bright enough for outdoor work on a sunny day. But it’s beautiful and works well, whether on its own or when docked on my desk, with deep blacks, poppy colors, and excellent contrast. It’s also color accurate: Samsung says that it delivers 100 percent of the DCI-P3 and sRGB color gamuts, so it’s suitable for any type of creator. (You can configure the display to explicitly work in AMOLED native, sRGB, Adobe RGB, or DCI-P3 mode, or just use an automatic mode.) But it works well for productivity work, and it excels at entertainment.

Almost as good, the display is surrounded by some very small bezels, with the exception of the bottom bezel, a one-inch-tall expanse that would be neatly filled had Samsung gone with 16:10 panel instead. But it’s possible the bezels are too small: Samsung wasn’t able to fit a Windows Hello-compatible IR camera in the top. I’m OK with that, as I prefer a fingerprint reader, which the Galaxy Book Pro 360 15 does provide.

One other minor nit: thanks in part to its large size, the display can wobble a bit, even when used on a steady desk, when you type. I didn’t find this particularly problematic, and I should note that when the Samsung is perched on my desktop stand and docked, the display didn’t wobble at all.

Internal components

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 is powered by a quad-core 11th-generation Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor with Intel Iris Xe graphics. It can be allegedly be had with 8, 16, or 32 GB of LPDDR4x RAM, and up to 1 TB of NVMe SSD storage, but I’ve only seen the review configuration, with 16 GB of RAM and 1 TB of storage, online.

Anyway, this is of course an Intel Evo configuration, and so it comes with all of the expected benefits of Evo, including those modern Intel components, Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 6, 9 hours or more of battery life, and instant wake capabilities. I’ve been following Evo closely this year, and while Intel clearly designed the program as a response, of sorts, to Apple Silicon and its near-magical capabilities, I think it’s better understood as a seal of approval, of sorts, for modern PCs that definitely meet performance and usage criteria that really matters to real customers. Put simply, most consumers should look for Evo on the box and shop elsewhere if they don’t see it. And the Galaxy Book Pro 360 15 delivers on that promise.

On that note, performance is exactly what I expected, given how common these components have been in the premium PC space this past year. The Samsung muscles through standard productivity tasks—Microsoft Office, Teams, multiple tabs in a modern browser, and the like, and all at the same time—without any issues at all. And it generally does so without any noticeable noise or heat at all. That said, one of Samsung’s better utilities, called Samsung Settings, lets you configure various performance modes, including two, Silent and No fan, that reduces fan noise by ratcheting down processor performance. I experimented with both, but ended up leaving it in its default mode, Optimized, since it works so well out of the box.

Connectivity

Connectivity is modern, as expected, with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 radios, but there is no cellular data option. (Oddly, the 13.3-inch version of this laptop offers 5G capabilities.)

Ports and expansion

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 provides three USB-C ports, but only one of them offers Thunderbolt 4 capabilities. Finding that Thunderbolt requires excellent eyesight, since there is a tiny, barely visible lightning bolt icon next to it. But I’ll cut to the chase for the curious: it’s the closer of the two USB-C ports on the left side of the PC.

The other USB-C port is on the right, between the combo headphone/mic jack and the microSD card slot, which can accept up to 1 TB of additional storage.

Given the thinness of this PC, one shouldn’t expect to see legacy ports like USB-A or HDMI, but with three USB-C ports, you should be able to connect to whatever you need. Just bring the appropriate dongles if needed.

Audio and video

Outfitted with two small downward-firing stereo speakers, the Galaxy Book Pro 360 delivers decent sound with good stereo separation when placed on a desk or other hard surface, and Dolby Atmos support helps with movies. But in the other situations—laying on a bed, perhaps, or perched above my desktop on a stand, the speakers are tinny and don’t get loud enough. I’d rather that Samsung had foregone the numeric keypad and used the extra space for two more substantial speakers.

The 720p webcam is as weak and noisy as most webcams these days, especially in low light, but Samsung tries to make up for that with an interesting software dashboard that lets you experiment with some filters—Beauty, Natural, Clean, and so on—and some really weird settings related to eye and nose size, makeup, and blemishes. But you can’t do much with a middling source, and here the Samsung is no better and no worse than most of its competition. With so many of us working from home these days, I’m surprised that webcam quality hasn’t taken a big step forward.

Keyboard, touchpad, and pen

I struggled to adapt to the shallow, hard keyboard, and initially found it even a bit painful to use. But as was the case with Apple’s maligned Butterfly keyboard, I eventually got used to it and I suspect customers will as well. But I should be clear here: the keyboard experience isn’t great, and it doesn’t live up to the standard set by industry-best keyboards from HP and Microsoft. If your primary function involves typing words, you may want to look elsewhere.

Not helping matters, the keyboard is also unnecessarily cramped by the addition of a numeric keypad that most customers won’t need or want, and some keys, like Del and Right Arrow, are hard to find accurately because they’re no longer where you expect them. And its set back too far, and hard to reach comfortably, even for someone with large hands like me, thanks to the enormous and deep wrist rest.

There is one good thing about the numeric keypad: you can toggle Num Lock off and then use its small keys as arrow keys and special functions like Home, End, Pg Up, and Pg Dn. I adapted to those latter keys pretty quickly and like it, but it doesn’t obviate the issues noted above.

And then there’s the precision glass touchpad. It’s overly large and it often triggers misclicks while I type, sending the cursor off to the wrong part of the document. And its mammoth size makes it hard to use. For example, when I try to select text, I’m almost always not far enough to the left on the touchpad for it to work, and I constantly have to adjust my hand in that direction. But it is mostly smooth and accurate when browsing or navigating the UI, at least after I disabled the three- and four-finger gestures.

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 15 ships with a bundled S Pen, but unlike its smartphone cousins, this is a full-sized pen, not a tiny stylus. I find it to be much more comfortable than Microsoft’s oddly shaped Surface Slim Pen 2, and it’s about the same size as HP’s smartpens. There’s no integrated garage, of course, given the thinness of the PC, but there are some magnets that will weakly hold the pen to the back of the display lid. Don’t trust them to keep it secure in transit, however.

Special hardware features

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 integrates a Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint reader into its power button, which is itself integrated into the keyboard as the top-rightmost key, above the numeric keypad. Since there is a numeric keypad, that’s OK, but I generally prefer for the Delete key to be in that position, and an integrated power button/key to be to its left.

Portability

With its 3-pound curb weight, the Galaxy Book Pro 15 is quite light for a 15.6-inch laptop; as you may know, this is the target weight for smaller 14-inch Ultrabooks. Plus, convertible and 2-in-1 designs tend to be a bit heavier, making Samsung’s achievement here all the more impressive.

And speaking of impressive, I averaged over 10 hours of battery life, though it’s worth pointing out that it was often docked, and I saw over 13 hours on two separate runs. This is real-world battery, too, and not a video rundown test: I suspect the Galaxy could easily hit Samsung’s claim of 20+ hours if all you needed was a video playback machine.

Power is supplied by a surprisingly small—and white, an unusual color for a non-Apple power supply—65-watt USB-C fast charger. It can achieve a 40 percent charge in about 45 minutes, and 100 percent in less than two hours. That’s fast-ish, I guess.

Software

Anyone who has used a Samsung smartphone is probably prepared for this bit of bad news. For those who have not, you may want to sit down, as the software bundle on this PC is the most voluminous and of the worst quality I’ve ever seen. It’s so bad that it feels like a parody of PC crapware created by Apple for one of its Mac launches. It’s almost beyond words.

So I’ll summarize it like so: there are an incredible 30 Samsung apps and third-party crapware titles on this PC, by my count, along with a few other more reasonable Dolby- and Intel-type utilities. And I don’t even where to start, since there is so much to complain about. Including some weird “apps”—really, stubs for websites like Google Duo—that you can’t even uninstall. It would take a lifetime to fully explore all the junk on this PC. And I just can’t be bothered.

What’s odd is that some of these utilities are truly useful. The Samsung Settings app I mentioned previously, for example, is used to configure system features like connectivity, the display, battery and performance, the keyboard, and more.

Playing devil’s advocate, I suspect that some of the Samsung utilities exist to create an ecosystem that spans a Samsung smartphone and this PC. And that some Samsung fans and customers may actually enjoy the synergies they provide and might even take advantage of some of them on a regular basis. But I’m just guessing here, since I don’t have a modern Samsung smartphone to test with. And really, even if I did, the sheer volume of crapware on this PC is still offensive.

Pricing and configurations

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 15 is priced reasonably given its specifications: the only version I see on Samsung’s website features a Core i7 processor, 16 of RAM, and 1 TB of storage, and it costs just $1160. It’s available in Mystic Navy or Mystic Bronze and your choice of Windows 10 Home or Windows 11 Home.

Recommendations and conclusions

I wanted to love the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro x360 15, and I do, for the most part. But the keyboard and touchpad quirks detract from the experience—as I was writing this sentence, literally, my right palm caused the mouse cursor to spastically vibrate on-screen—and the bundled application situation requires UN intervention. But if you can get past those things, there’s a lot to love here, from the gorgeous display to the excellent build quality, the powerful and silent performance, and the epic battery life. You won’t find a lighter or more svelte 15-inch convertible PC anywhere, and you can’t beat the price.

At-a-glance

Pros

  • Gorgeous display
  • Stunning industrial design
  • Sleek, thin, and light
  • Excellent performance
  • Terrific battery life

Cons

  • More crapware than I’ve ever seen on a PC
  • Keyboard experience isn’t great and is made worse by the numeric keypad
  • Touchpad is unreliable
  • Body is a smudge magnet
  • 16:9 display with no higher resolution options

Tagged with ,



Source link