Laptop envy has hit us hard recently. Everyone experiences it at some point. You attend a conference with your dependable laptop in tow only to be seated next to someone who very ostentatiously unpacks their brand new, shiny and vastly superior mobile computing device. Suddenly the laptop you have been using successfully with no problems for three years feels like a museum relic. The smudged screen, the loose space bar on the keyboard, the now-obvious lag between clicking on an app and seeing the opened app on your screen all scream at you that it is well past time for you to trade in this old clunker for the latest and greatest model. This condition is known as “laptop envy,” and we recently contracted an acute case of it.
We really haven’t been laptop shopping since before the 2020s, so we had to get up to speed on the state of the business laptop evolution. Intel, who makes processors that run in many laptops of all different brands, has developed its own classification to help consumers identify what they consider to be premium laptops. When Intel released its 11th generation “Tiger Lake” processor in the fall of 2020, they also announced the Intel Evo Platform initiative. The Evo branding initiative is a cooperation between Intel and laptop manufacturers to give consumers assurance that a laptop meets certain requirements for a premium laptop. Specifically, an Evo-branded laptop is one that has Intel’s Tiger Lake processor and has the following minimum specs:
- wakes from sleep mode in less than one second;
- has at least nine hours of battery life;
- has the ability to fast-charge the battery to at least 4 hours of capacity in 30 minutes or less;
- is Wi-Fi 6 compatible; and
- has Thunderbolt 4 connectivity.
The usefulness of the Evo branding initiative (besides garnering more support for Intel’s line of processors) is that it allows consumers to compare different laptops of varying form factors and different manufacturers against an industry standard. So, since we really like all the specifications of the Evo standard, we decided to narrow our search to laptops with the Evo brand badge on them.
In addition to the Evo standard, we had some other requirements for our new laptop:
- the display had to be at least 14 inches and had to be touch-enabled;
- the laptop weight had to be 3 pounds or lighter; and
- the device had to be either a convertible or a 2-in-1 so we could use it in laptop mode or in tablet mode.
The shopping experience was excruciating, to be honest. Possibly owing to supply-chain disruptions brought on by the pandemic, the options on retail shelves were limited and shipping times for online products were shockingly long. Nevertheless, we persisted and narrowed our search down to the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 (15-inch) and the HP Elite Dragonfly Notebook PC G2. Both laptops scratched all of our itches, but the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 won the day, simply because Samsung could ship the product within a reasonable amount of time.
Specifically, we purchased the Mystic Navy-colored Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 with a 15-inch touch display, an Intel Core i-7 Tiger Lake processor, and 16 GB of RAM. Two things we liked immediately upon unboxing our new laptop were the thinness (less than a half-inch thick when shut) and the lightness (right at three pounds) of the Galaxy Book. This laptop will travel well.
After we turned the laptop on, we were smitten with the beautiful Super AMOLED display. The Galaxy Book Pro 360 is actually the first Windows laptop from Samsung that carries an AMOLED display panel. This OLED technology has become commonplace on Samsung smartphones and is really a much more vivid display than you typically see with LED screens on traditional laptops. Watching movies—er, rather, drafting work documents—will be a pleasure on our new laptop.
Of course, one of our purchasing requirements was that the device could be used in either traditional laptop mode or in tablet mode. The Galaxy Book Pro 360 lives up to its name in that the hinge connection between the display and the keyboard allows you to rotate the keyboard 360 degrees underneath the display so that the display can be used in tablet mode. Because the laptop is so thin and the keyboard becomes disabled when rotated 360 degrees, we found no issues with using the Galaxy Book in tablet mode. Because of the flexibility in the hinged display panel, you can also rotate the keyboard to position the display in tent mode. Having used convertibles before where the keyboard simply detaches from the display for tablet mode, we much prefer this hinged approach. Another bonus for selecting the Galaxy Book Pro is the S-Pen that Samsung includes in the box. We often find it useful to have a writing device to either take hand-written notes, annotate documents or simply to sign electronic documents. The S-Pen allows us to perform all those functions in addition to creating art (if only our artistic skills allowed). The S-Pen is a great addition to the Galaxy Book. We’re just sorry that Samsung did not create a way to better secure the S-Pen on the laptop. The pen is magnetic and will attach to the back of the display, but it is very easy to lose the pen in this position. We simply just store the S-pen in another pocket of our backpacks so that it doesn’t get lost.
Operationally, the Galaxy Book Pro is everything that Samsung (and Intel) purports it to be. The laptop awakens from sleep almost instantly. The processor and RAM configuration render the laptop very responsive and quick. The battery life is advertised to be up to 20 hours. We haven’t tested it to that extreme, but we have yet to come even close to running out of battery throughout a day of normal use.
If we have one main complaint, it is that the keyboard is not awesome. The shallowness of the keys makes for a sub-optimal typing experience in our opinion. The keyboard is not a deal-breaker for us, but we would have loved for a little more depth on the keyboard. Nonetheless, we very much like having the separate numeric keypad on the keyboard (an option that is only found on the 15-inch model).
The array of ports on the laptop is adequate if not overwhelming. We understand that the thinness of the Galaxy Book Pro allows for only so many ports. It does have a Thunderbolt 4 port (EVO requirement), two USB Type-C ports, an SD card slot and even a headphone jack. There is a 720p HD web camera embedded in the display bezel and onboard stereo speakers. The A/V components are not extraordinary but do an adequate job.
So, for now, our case of “laptop envy” has receded. However, if we sidle up to you at the next conference and very conspicuously begin to unpack our sleek and fast Galaxy Book Pro 360, you may catch our now-latent case of laptop envy. We can’t promise that we’re not contagious.