SAMSUNG and Microsoft have teamed up to challenge Apple’s stranglehold on the tablet computer market in Australia and will today release a slender device designed to take on the iPad Pro.
The Samsung Galaxy TabPro S is significantly lighter and cheaper than its equivalent iPad Pro, slimmer than Microsoft’s Surface tablets and, unlike both, comes with a keyboard cover included in its purchase price.
But Samsung warns its new professional tablet is not a replacement for a desktop computer even though it could eat into laptop sales in Australia.
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First unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year, Samsung’s TabPro S is its first Galaxy-branded two-in-one tablet, and its first to run Microsoft’s Windows 10 software.
Samsung Electronics Australia mobile vice-president Prasad Gokhale said the company teamed with Microsoft to create the hybrid machine even though it would compete for customers with its popular Surface tablet.
The unlikely partnership aimed to produce a device attractive enough to challenge its Cupertino rival, as well as traditional PC makers turning their attention to hybrid devices.
“A lot of the computer companies don’t produce devices that can go up against Apple in terms of design, so Microsoft is very happy to work with Samsung to do that,” Mr Gokhale said.
The TabPro S features a 12-inch AMOLED touchscreen and a body that is slimmer than its own smartphones at just 6.3mm.
It comes with a keyboard that connects to the machine magnetically, promises a battery life of 10.5 hours, uses an Intel Core M chip with a speed of up to 2.2GHz, and a 4G version of the tablet will be launched in Australia in the coming weeks.
Unlike Microsoft’s Surface, however, it does not feature removable storage or a full-sized USB port, and unlike Apple’s iPad Pro, users can only use a fingerprint to unlock this device if they have a compatible Samsung smartphone, like the Galaxy S7.
Samsung’s two-in-one computer will also arrive late into what has become a beacon in the computer market.
Mr Gokhale said Samsung recognised the potential of hybrid tablet computers, not to replace desktop machines but to stand in for laptops, particularly while travelling.
“People will ask, are we copying? Absolutely. This is a growth segment. It’s a long game. It’s not a short game,” he said.
“Australia has one of the highest demands for two-in-one devices, and the market is definitely growing.”
Research firm Telsyte predicted Australians would buy almost 1.5 million two-in-one computers in 2017, representing one in every three computer sales.
“Windows-based tablets and 2-in-1s will benefit from an upgrade cycle that started with the arrival of Windows 10 and is expected to continue into 2017,” managing director Foad Fadaghi said.
The two-in-one tablets feature laptop-level pricing, however.
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Pro S will start at $1499 with a keyboard included, the equivalent iPad Pro 12.9-inch tablet costs the same without the keyboard, and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 128GB model costs $1249, with keyboards costing $199.
Samsung’s new professional tablet will also clash with Apple’s newly launched 9.7-inch iPad Pro on timing. Apple’s new professional tablet arrived in Australian stores yesterday, while Samsung’s model lands in Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi and Samsung Experience Stores today.