Anton D. Nagy contributed to this Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 review.
I’ve fallen into this crazy rabbit hole trying to find the best Windows computer for most people. It sort of spun off by your comments on our MacBook Air review, because I get it, not all of you want a Mac. Not all of you edit video, and you also want another good alternative to a functional ecosystem.
The problem is that the Windows world is complicated, mainly because there’s so much variety, and each company has a different approach to value. They’re either really cheap and compromised, or the premium sector is split between gaming computers and Ultrabooks. Once you pick that, you realize that starting price that got you to click is BS because the computer is only worth it if you spend MacBook kind of money.
Now, the reason why I did the research is that after my hands-on experience with Samsung’s Galaxy Book 360, what struck me most was just how balanced the offer was for the price. Aside from one example, I found from HP which I could review later, I looked at Microsoft, Dell, and others, only to realize that in almost everything, this might just be the best bang for the buck Windows computer you can buy. It’s not perfect, of course, but the tricks that make it unique might just be enough to win you over. This is our full Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 review, in both video and text format.
Design and build
Samsung’s approach to laptops is almost as daring as it is for smartphones. While most companies are doing the bare minimum to keep the cost down, it’s crazy just how much Sammy is able to cram on a computer for that same price tag. Last year’s Galaxy Book Flex had a far better QLED display than most, brought an S Pen, threw in some thunderbolt love, and even a trackpad that could reverse charge your Qi-enabled devices. Its only problem was that it was launched before the pandemic really hit, so the price wasn’t as sensitive a topic as it is today. For this year, even if this Book Pro 360 is a bit more conservative, it follows on a couple of fan favorites.
To start, the design and build of this computer is kind of crazy. 6000 series aluminum and a very sharp footprint allow this 15-inch model to be almost as light as a MacBook Air and making the 13-inch MacBook Pro look bad with far less footprint. It’s one of those products you have to hold to believe.
Selections are also made simple. Two size options for each of the two variants, with colors depending on your choice, with me, clearly being a Mystic Bronze kind of guy. The Pro is for those who care more about price than features, but it’s interesting that no matter how high you configure this Pro 360, the price is still lower than most. For context, if I compared this higher-tier review unit with similar specs on MacBook Air, the Galaxy is less expensive.
And yet, there’s still more in this package. Three USB-C ports, with one being Thunderbolt 4. microSD expansion, which is better than none, and these new 11th-Gen Intel chips already have me believing I can trust that company again. My buddy David Cogen spent some of his real-world tests even proving that you can edit a video with this machine, which says a lot about these Intel XE Graphics and the whole Evo certification. I wouldn’t say you’ll get the 20 hours of advertised endurance, but a solid workday of moderate to heavy use in my testing. My use of Windows computers is based mostly on productivity software, which I feel this computer handled great. No lag or stutter in a week of testing, and I can’t say I heard the fans much, even with multiple Chrome tabs open, though more on software in a bit.
This is also one of my favorite keyboards, like ever. It’s backlit, has all the shortcuts I care about including a Privacy key to disable the camera and microphone, and a pretty accurate fingerprint scanner baked into the power button. What makes it special is that even if Samsung didn’t really mention anything special about these scissor switches, they’re kind of surreal because they’re so silent that they feel more responsive than they sound. At first, I was a tad reluctant in grabbing the larger model because I always get confused with numeric keypads, but this trackpad saves the day. See, Samsung placed it asymmetrically in order to match the text keys and avoid accidental touches. Match this its significant size and accuracy in gestures, and the combo just feels right.
Then there’s this display. At this price, there’s just no way to get an AMOLED panel with this amount of color and contrast ratio. Samsung also adopted some of the techs of the Z Fold lineup to avoid the wobble we got with previous iterations. It follows on last year’s design language where bezels are minimal in three of the four corners, with the 720p webcam where it’s supposed to be.
Honoring its 360 name, yes, you can morph this form factor into a tent for movies, or as a tablet in order to take advantage of its S Pen support. Sure a lot of laptops in this price have some sort of stylus support, but the WACOM digitizer on this panel is second to none, with a Microsoft Surface only getting close to its feel and accuracy. It’s included in the box, and now larger for added ergonomics. Sure you lose the silo to tuck it away, and I wouldn’t recommend the magnets built into the lid, but I’ll take that over the added grip.
Now, another reason this computer is special is that it truly is a Galaxy Book, meaning, if you’re already in the Samsung Ecosystem, this is the computer you should get. Windows 10 is jam-packed with Samsung software that helps this laptop talk to your Galaxy Phone or even accessories like the Galaxy Buds. From a desktop version of Samsung Notes to DEX on a more logical screen, think of this as the larger Galaxy Note you always wanted, but with the advantage that you can even extend the display if you own a compatible Galaxy Tablet. It’s not free of bloat, sadly, with some unwanted titles like McAfee and Booking.com, but that’s an easy problem to uninstall.
The not so good
Not all is good in this Galaxy Book Pro 360 review, and, don’t worry, as much as there’s a lot to love, this is not a fanboy piece. By now you know I’ll point out what things could improve about this product, and there are a few.
The size dilemma
The first is that I would recommend you pick the 13-inch model, mainly because of the resolution on the panel. Both sizes are 1080p, but at 15-inches, this is already borderline too little. I forgive Full HD because it’s AMOLED at this price, but on a large panel, pixel density is key if you’d like to reduce the scale of the operating system and multi-task better. I know some have complained about the brightness, but at 370 nits it’s pretty much MacBook Air territory, which I found good enough. If anything I’d complain more about the bottom bezel than that.
Second is that all the punch this display can provide is marred by the speakers. They’ve got certifications galore like AKG tuning and Dolby Atmos, but lack the depth I’ve come to expect from Samsung. I would’ve given up on that numeric keypad if they made the speakers front firing.
Last but not least is that I wish Palm rejection was better. This is not like Wacom so it could just be a problem specific to my unit, cause the Book Flex didn’t really struggle with this at all.
To conclude our Galaxy Book Pro 360 review, yes, I know, there’s a lot of choices when it comes to a good Windows computer. Yes, I know most have a touch screen and support some sort of a stylus, and might cost a bit less money than this machine.
The question is how many of these have an AMOLED panel? How many of these include WACOM support, which is best in class. How many offer a design that’s hard to compete with. Best of all, how many can say they support your smartphone ecosystem and help you get more out of combining them together? I’d even say Apple struggles when trying to compete with this package, at least from a feature for the price perspective.
Because of all the above, the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 is our recommendation for the best bang for the buck premium laptop running Microsoft Windows.
It’s definitely not a perfect machine, and I’m sure some of you will argue with my assessment, but I seriously feel this is one of the best Windows laptops you can buy in the premium bracket. Even if others get pretty close once you spec them up, I think the ecosystem alone is something those other machines still can’t compete with.