This is not exactly a piece of content that I thought I’ll do, but I thought hey – I want to share my experience with you guys since many companies advertise their tablet as a “laptop replacement” so I want to share with you about the feasibility of that idea.
So, I’ve been using the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra as a “laptop replacement” for the past week, and here is what I have to share with you.
Okay, I think I need to explain why I am being so sarcastic about the idea of a tablet being a “laptop replacement”. It’s mostly due to the operating systems on these devices. When we say “tablet”, it’s going to be either Apple’s iPad OS or Google’s Android – and that, I think, is the biggest differentiation.
You see, the operating system that our devices use will dictate everything about the device, including the settings that we can tune, the apps we can use, and even how peripherals like keyboard and mouse will interact. Even the performance and battery life are affected too – but we won’t talk about them today.
In general, laptops running either macOS, Windows, or Linux, are much more “open” and let us install a bunch of different things, including utilities to drastically change how the operating system works. With that said, not everyone needs all of this on their devices. Maybe you just want to do emails and browse social media and watch some YouTube or Netflix, for example. Then, the idea of a tablet being a “laptop replacement” is actually possible.
Knowing the differences between a tablet and a laptop, I began my experiment using the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra as a “laptop replacement”, knowing that it is not going to 100% replace my laptop. So, I segregated my workload. I only used my main laptop to edit videos and publish them on YouTube for you to watch, but I leave the research and scripting process to the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. I also tried gaming on the tablet instead of my laptop too.
And so begins the week-long experiment. As stated in our review of the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, I’ll be using Samsung DeX throughout the entire duration as it is literally made to imitate how laptops look and feel.
I usually use Google Keep and Google Chrome for my work while having Spotify running in the background with some occasional YouTube videos, alongside Facebook Messenger and Telegram for communicating with other people. I can also use WhatsApp Web running perfectly on the tablet, but didn’t want to clutter up the experience.
I also set Google Chrome to always fetch desktop versions of the websites so that it mimics a full laptop experience as much as possible. In terms of getting my work done, I’m actually very happy with the experience.
In a way, Samsung DeX works like Windows. I can snap apps to the left and right side of the screen by holding the “CMD” key and hit the left or right arrow keys. Keyboard shortcuts also work similarly to Windows – including the usual CTRL+C and CTRL+V to copy and paste, Command+D to show the desktop, ALT+TAB to switch to the previously active application, and even CMD+period key to show emojis. You can view all the keyboard shortcuts available by hitting CMD+/ key.
Even some of the more advanced keyboard shortcuts to improve typing speed are available here too. Like hitting CTRL + arrow keys to skip between words and CTRL + SHIFT + arrow keys to highlight words.
However, I did realize that the trackpad’s palm rejection is not that good. I had a lot of accidental clicks while typing due to the palm rejection not working properly, causing me to accidentally delete few paragraphs of texts that I have typed.
And speaking of typing, I think the keyboard of the Book Cover Keyboard is still fairly decent. However, it gets a bit fatiguing since it is flat against the table and I just wish the travel distance is longer or the typing experience to be a bit more springy. Also, the entire setup requires us to use the kickstand too – which does have its own set of pros and cons.
The pro is that the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra can be used at whatever angle we want, but the con is that it takes up a lot of space – as in the depth of the table. I’ve been using the iSwift Pi while sitting on my bed a lot more often nowadays and this setup is just too big.
In terms of software, Samsung DeX is very versatile. When it comes to handling files – particularly about how it interacts between apps, Facebook Messenger actually works pretty well. I can drag and drop images from either the gallery or Samsung’s file manager app and send them to my friends. However, Telegram doesn’t support this feature. Google Chrome doesn’t support dragging and dropping too – that means my workaround for WhatsApp Web doesn’t support dragging and dropping of files.
The trackpad does feel a bit weird when I’m trying to do precise clicks because of its acceleration, so I disabled it and it felt a lot better.
All the gestures that we’ve been accustomed to on Windows laptops are also the same on the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra – like 3-finger swipe up to see all the other multitasking apps, pinching to zoom in pictures, all of those gestures.
And oh – gaming. The Google Play Store does have a lot of actually good, free games to play. I’ve been enjoying the point-and-click puzzle game called Rusty Lake Hotel and I even detached the keyboard, then took out the S Pen to use as a clicker. It worked fantastically well!
Of course, we still have a lot more games to play with the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra since it is using the latest and greatest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. We have our gaming test video too – which you can watch here.
So… is a “tablet being a laptop replacement” a feasible idea?
I think that the idea of using a tablet such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra with Samsung DeX as a “laptop replacement” is absolutely possible – but it ultimately depends on your use case.
Is this tablet feasible for me as a “laptop replacement”? Somewhat. The only thing missing for me is the lack of Google Chrome extensions because I use them a lot for my work. However, that conversation will lead me to talk about Chromebooks – which is another topic on its own. I’ll just redirect you to one of our previous videos where we talked about Chromebooks and ChromeOS.
And that is the end of this journey. I’ll be happy to visit this again when Android 12L – or as it is known as Android 12.1 right now – finally gets released for the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. However, I think it’ll mostly come when Android 13 is released – and I also think that Samsung DeX will be the same – it’s just that Android itself will change.
We’ll surely continue our journey of “tablet as a laptop replacement” journey soon – but only if there are further developments to this. Perhaps a test on Apple’s iPad Air with Magic Keyboard and the Apple Pencil.