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Samsung's new tablet is a Surface Pro 4 fighter with some serious firepower

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor

Microsoft’s (MSFT) Surface Pro 4 is an incredible device. It packs the power of a Windows 10 laptop into a 12.3-inch tablet that fits easily into your bag. So it makes sense that competitors would want to ape the Redmond, Wash., company’s design success. Which brings us to Samsung’s new Galaxy Book 12.

A powerful Windows 10-powered tablet in its own right, the Book 12 is purpose-built to lure consumers away from the Surface Pro 4. But taking on one of the best devices on the market is a tall order. And yet, after spending some time with the slate, it looks like Samsung is up to the task.

Keyboard included for once

If you’re going to use a tablet as a laptop, it needs a keyboard, and thankfully, the Book 12, and its smaller stable mate, the Book 10, comes with exactly that: a keyboard cover that’s actually comfortable to type on.

Microsoft, meanwhile, charges you an extra $130 if you want to use a keyboard cover with your tablet, which is incredibly infuriating.

Hey, a keyboard is included for once! What a novel idea.

The Book 12 and 10 also come with Samsung’s S-Pen stylus in the box, though to Microsoft’s credit, so does the Surface Pro 4.

Power on the go

The Book 12 is the geared toward consumers looking for a powerful 2-in-1. Inside it gets an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB or 8GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of storage. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 offers similar specs, but can be outfitted with an even more powerful Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage.

The Book 10, meanwhile, comes loaded with a less punchy Intel Core m processor, 4GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of storage. Still, that’s more than enough oomph for people looking for a basic web browsing machine.

Samsung’s Galaxy Book 12 is built for power, while the Book 10 is more affordable.

If you want to do photo and video editing, though, the Book 12 is the way to go.

Adding to the Book 12’s premium appeal, is its brilliant 12-inch, AMOLED display, which produces beautiful colors and inky blacks. The Surface Pro 4’s screen is no slouch, either, but its colors aren’t as vivid as Samsung’s panel.

The Book 10, on the other hand, comes with a TFT display that looks significantly more washed out than the Book 12’s panel.

Samsung’s Galaxy Book 10 might not have the horsepower of the Book 12, but it will be the more affordable option.

If there’s a downside to the Book 12, it’s that it only sports two USB type C ports. The Surface Pro 4, on the other hand, comes with a full-size USB 3 port and mini DisplayPort. Both slates, however, come with microSD card slots for expanding your storage space. The Book 10 only gets one USB C port.

Samsung has also added some slick software features to the Book 12 and Book 10, including its Samsung Flow app, which allows you to receive and send text messages sent to your phone from the slates.

Taking on the iPad

In addition to the Book 12 and 10, Samsung is rolling out its new Tab S3. The follow-up to the tech giant’s Tab S2, the S3 is Samsung’s iPad Air 2 fighter.

Samsung’s slate, though, uses a 9.7-inch AMOLED display, which offers gorgeous colors. What’s more, the S3 offers support for HDR video playback, which provides a wider array of colors compared to non-HDR videos.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is designed to take on Apple’s iPad.

The Android-powered S3, which will be available in silver and black, is relatively attractive for a tablet, though it doesn’t offer the same elegance as Samsung’s Galaxy S7 smartphone.

Like Samsung’s Book 12 and Book 10, the S3 features a small magnetic dock for a keyboard cover, though, unlike the Book 12 and 10, the keyboard doesn’t come in the box.

Tablets like the S3 and iPad Air 2 aren’t exactly the hot new kids on the block any more, and their sales reflect as much.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S3 has a gorgeous 9.7-inch AMOLED display.

In its last quarter, Apple (AAPL) reported iPad sales were down 19% year-over-year, and according to IDC Research, Samsung’s year-over-year tablet growth fell by 20.5%.

The detachable market, though, which includes the Book 12 and Book 10, is on the upswing, despite a pause in growth over the 2016 holiday season.

Samsung hasn’t released any information on how much its new slates will cost or when they’ll be available, but we’ll update you when we hear more.

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Email Daniel at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.