TechSummit Rewind 158: Samsung at MWC 2017

Samsung shows off productivity-minded tablets, a Gear VR update, and teases its next flagship smartphone

This is a special edition of the TechSummit Rewind, focusing on Samsung at MWC 2017.

Galaxy Book

Samsung Galaxy Book

Samsung has launched two new tablets that feature more improvements on the productivity tablet genre.

The new Galaxy Book 10 and Galaxy Book 12 both run Windows 10 and come with a S Pen and keyboard case. They both have slim, aluminum designs and will be available in both WiFi and LTE models. The Book 10 has a 10.6-inch 1920×1080 LCD display and an Intel Core m3 processor, while the higher-end Book 12 is equipped with a 12-inch Super AMOLED HDR display and Intel’s fanless Core i5 processor.

Both tablets have two USB Type-C ports, up to 10 hours of battery life, and fast charging features.

The keyboard case has been improved from last year’s Galaxy TabPro S with improved key travel, island-style keycaps, and backlighting. The trackpad is also 50 percent larger than the one included with the TabPro S.

The S Pen supports over 4,000 levels of pressure sensitivity, has a rubber 0.7mm tip, and never needs to be charged. It can be used to take notes, draw, or capture screen shots. Unfortunately, there isn’t a place to put the S Pen when it’s not in use so it can be easily lost.

Galaxy Tab S3

samsung galaxy tab s3

The most mainstream of these productivity-minded tables is the Android-toting Galaxy Tab S3. The 9.7-inch model is a direct substitute for 2015’s Tab S2 and features a similar design with an all-glass back and updated specs.

The 9.7-inch 2048×1536 Super AMOLED display now supports HDR video, and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. A microSD card slot also supports memory expansion up to 256GB. The tablet now has four AKG-tuned speakers and measures 6mm in thickness. Android 7.0 Nougat with Samsung tweaks provides the software experience.

Included in the box is Samsung’s signature S Pen, which is larger and thicker than the S Pens on prior iterations. It has a new 0.7mm tip and over 4,000 levels of pressure sensitivity, and supports all the features you’d expect: taking notes, capturing screen shots, and even recording GIFs from video.

However, there’s no place to actually put the S Pen like the Note line. Fortunately, the S Pen is flat on two sides, so it won’t easily roll away.

Further bolstering the productivity-minded approach ie s the optional keyboard case that attaches to the bottom of the tablet with a pogo pin. Because of this, it doesn’t need to pair to the tablet or be charged. The keyboard is made of plastic and doesn’t provide backlighting.

Gear VR controller

samsung-gear-vr-with-controller

Samsung’s Gear VR virtual reality headset has been refreshed with a physical controller accessory that provides “quicker selection and interaction,” according to Samsung. It still has a 101-degree field of view, but it’s emphasized by the Oculus-designed controller made for one-handed use, and features a touchpad for in-app gestures and a trigger that lets you “select, grab, take aim, and fire.”

According to Oculus, over 70 titles optimized for the new Gear VR controller are in development, and all existing content should also work fine since the accessory is essentially a souped-up version of the touchpad built into the headset. The one hardware difference for the headset is a strap that can hold the controller when you’re not using VR.

Galaxy S8 event

Usually, I’d be leading this recap with the Galaxy S8. However, the Galaxy Note 7 debacle has forced Samsung to rethink its approach and regain consumers’ trust. However, Samsung did close out its keynote by announcing its next one that’ll announce the Galaxy S8 on Mar. 29 in New York.

We’ll have full coverage of that event when it comes.