Samsung Galaxy Book 2 vs. Pixel Slate

The Surface Pro 6 dominates, but do the Galaxy Book 2 and Pixel Slate impress?

samsung galaxy book 2 review using keyboard
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Once was a time when Microsoft had fallen behind when it came to portable computing. Today though, modern manufactures release products specifically designed to compete with the excellent range of Microsoft Surface 2-in-1s. That’s exactly what Google and Samsung have done with their new respective Pixel Slate and Galaxy Book 2 convertible tablets.

They’re distinctly different devices though, sporting different internal hardware configurations and very different operating systems. So, which is best? To find out, we pitted the Samsung Galaxy Book 2 versus the Pixel Slate and made them face off in a number of important use cases.

Design

Google Pixel Slate Hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Google is well known for its minimalist aesthetic choices, and the Pixel Slate fully embodies that ideal, but in a fashion that we found a bit drab. It’s flat, dull color scheme and heavily rounded corners make it look less exciting compared to its contemporaries. The Galaxy Book 2, on the other hand, really stands out. It has a subtle, soft aluminum finish that is truly striking, even when compared to fresh-faced devices like the Surface Pro 6.

Both suffer from overly thick bezels, which is becoming a hallmark of 2-in-1 devices. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by the ultra-thin bezels of modern laptops like the XPS 13, but we can’t help with wish these 2-in-1s adopted at least some kind of middle ground for a more up-to-date look.

Style aside, both devices are light and well balanced. During our time with the Pixel Slate, we even saw someone balance it on a single fingertip, showing how easy and comfortable it is to hold in just one hand.

Port selection on the Pixel Slate is as minimal as its aesthetic, offering just two USB-C connectors and an accessory connector for the keyboard (and no headphone jack). The Galaxy Book 2 has a slightly broader array of connection options, offering the same USB-C ports, a microSD card reader, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. It also has built-in LTE for easy internet connectivity on the go — something that is becoming more common in laptops too.

Although there is a stark disparity between the starting price of both devices, the bundled accessories (or lack thereof) close that gap significantly. The Galaxy Book 2 starts at $1,000 but comes complete with a detachable keyboard and a new S Pen, the latter of which magnetically attaches to the lid. The Pixel Slate might start at just $600, but both the keyboard and Pen are additional accessories, priced at $200 and $100 a piece. The keyboard takes some getting used to as well, with our early testing leaving us far from enamored with the rounded keycaps.

Arguably the biggest difference between the two devices’ designs though, is the software they run. The Pixel Slate runs Google’s Chrome OS which is lightweight and increasingly offers better touch support. It has its own suite of compatible applications and a broader selection of Android apps. The Galaxy Book 2 runs Windows 10 S in its default configuration, which means it is limited to Microsoft Store apps. You can opt for a full Windows 10 installation instead, however, if you so wish.

Performance

Samsung Galaxy Book 2
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Galaxy Book 2 is built around Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 850 octa-core processor and comes with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage, all for $1,000. In our review, it performed well with no real slow-downs during light multitasking or multi-tab browser usage. It shows noticeable improvements over the older Snapdragon 835 processor but it still performs poorly when compared with Intel hardware like the Core i5 CPU found in the Surface Pro 6. The onboard Adreno 630 graphics core was lacking in gaming scenarios, proving to be only really capable of rendering low-demand titles like Minecraft at comfortable frame rates.

They should look pretty though, thanks to the bright and rich AMOLED display the Galaxy Book 2 sports. It has a resolution of 2,160 x 1,440, offering a pixel density of 216 pixels per inch (PPI).

The Pixel Slate comes in a few different configurations and uses more typical laptop hardware. The $600 model comes with an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of onboard storage, with options to double both.

In our hands-on test, we used the $800 Intel Core m3 model with 8GB of RAM, which we found to be a little underpowered, feeling quite clunky during certain tasks like using the device’s new split-screen mode for multi-tab browsing at the same time.  The $1,000 model should be far more capable though. It offers an Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The $1,600 high-end variant sports an Intel Core i7 CPU from Intel’s Amber Lake generation, 16GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage space.

None of the Pixel Slate’s chips will have super-powered graphics cores, but they should be more than capable of handling the multitude of low-demand games and mobile titles that make up the bulk of the Chrome OS catalog. They’ll look crisp too, thanks to the Pixel Slate’s 3,000 x 2,000 (293 PPI) display, though odd scaling on Android apps might mean black bars are a requirement to fit the screen.

Portability

Samsung Galaxy Book 2
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The dimensions of both devices are much the same. The Galaxy Book 2 measures 11.32 x 7.89 x 0.30-inches, while the Pixel Slate measures 11.45 x 7.95 x 0.27-inches. The weight difference between the two is also negligible — 1.75 pounds and 1.6 pounds respectively. While both are small and light enough to throw in a bag for travel, the Pixel Slate has arguably better weight balancing, making it the more comfortable device to hold one-handed.

There is a starker difference in battery life, however. The Galaxy Book 2 is rated by Samsung at lasting as long as 20 hours on a single charge, while the Pixel Slate is rated for up to 10-hours of mixed usage. In our testing of the Samsung 2-in-1 managed seven and a half hours of web-browsing which isn’t bad, but it’s a little underwhelming considering the Qualcomm processor was supposed to enable far greater battery life than the Intel competition.

We have yet to run detailed battery tests on the Pixel Slate.

Pixel Slate pulls ahead by a pixel

Google Pixel Slate Hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Neither the Pixel Slate or Galaxy Book 2 have really blown us away. We’d recommend a Surface Pro 6 over either of them, but in this head-to-head there are only two combatants and we have to raise the flag of the Pixel Slate in victory. It might be dull to look at, have expensive accessories, and wonky performance at the low-end, but its overall package is more pleasing, especially at its lower price point.

The Galaxy Book 2 does have better battery life and a much nicer aesthetic, but it’s hardly affordable. The Snapdragon 850 feels underwhelming at times and the Windows 10 S operating system left us frustrated more than liberated, as was the intention with the leaner version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system.

There are certainly better 2-in-1s out there, but if you’re picking one of these, the Pixel Slate offers enough of a display upgrade and a more affordable array of hardware that it wins the day. This may change once we complete a full review of the Pixel Slate, but so far, it offers the better overall 2-in-1 experience.

Overall winner: Pixel Slate

Don’t forget to check out our laptop reviews for some other great 2-in-1 options.

Product Review

LG Gram 14 proves 2-in-1 laptops don’t need to sacrifice battery for light weight

The LG Gram 14 2-in-1 aims to be very light for a laptop that converts to a tablet. And it is. But it doesn’t skimp on the battery, and so it lasts a very long time on a charge.
Computing

The Asus ZenBook 13 offers more value and performance than Apple's MacBook Air

The Asus ZenBook 13 UX333 is the latest in that company's excellent "budget" laptop line, and it looks and feels better than ever. How does it compare to Apple's latest MacBook Air?
Mobile

Get $100 discount on the Razer Phone 2 for a limited time

The Razer Phone 2 is finally here, and it's got upgraded specs, that super-smooth 120Hz display, and an updated design. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.
Deals

From Samsung to HP, here are the best cheap Chromebook deals right now

Whether you want a compact laptop to enjoy some entertainment on the go, or you need a no-nonsense machine for school or work, we've smoked out the best cheap Chromebook deals -- from full-sized laptops to 2-in-1 convertibles -- with most…
Computing

Want a Dell laptop with an RTX 2060? Cross the new XPS 15 off your list

The next iteration of Dell's XPS 15 laptop won't come with an option for an RTX 2060, according to Alienware's Frank Azor. You could always opt for a new Alienware m15 or m17 instead.
Computing

Always have way too many tabs open? Google Chrome might finally help

Google is one step closer to bringing tab groups to its Chrome browser. The feature is now available in Google's Chrome Canady build with an early implementation that can be enabled through its flag system.
Product Review

Controversy has dogged the MacBook Pro lately. Is it still a good purchase?

The MacBook Pro is a controversial laptop these days -- and that's unfortunate. Due to some divisive changes Apple made to the functionality of the MacBook Pro, fans are more split. Does the 8th-gen refresh change that?
Mobile

Here's how to convert a Kindle book to PDF using your desktop or the web

Amazon's Kindle is one of the best ebook readers on the market, but it doesn't make viewing proprietary files on other platforms any easier. Here's how to convert a Kindle book to PDF using either desktop or web-based applications.
Computing

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Product Review

Origin's Chronos PC is no looker, but it plays games with eye-popping detail

The Chronos is Origin’s smallest PC, but while it occupies less space than most A/V receivers, it delivers the power of a much larger desktop. Its dull exterior design does the system a disservice. Once you turn it on, you won’t be…
Gaming

Can't stand keyboard gaming on PC? Here's how to use a PS3 controller instead

Properly connecting a PlayStation 3 Controller to a PC is no easy task, especially when you opt for third-party peripherals. Thankfully, our guide will help you through the process.
Computing

Zipping files on a Chromebook? Follow these four easy steps

Chromebooks support file compression, though they work a little differently than on Windows or Mac. Here's the step-by-step process to zipping files on a Chromebook, and then unzipping them again for extraction.
Computing

How good are you at spotting phishing scams? Take this quiz to find out

Are you able to discern between a legitimate email and one that's a scam designed to phish for your personal information? Google created an online quiz with tips to help you better understand phishing so you don't become a victim.
Computing

Yes, you can use Android apps on your Chromebook. Here's how

You can now get Android apps on your Chromebook! Google has enabled the Google Play Store app support on its Chrome OS and Chromebook hardware, so to get you started, here's our guide on how to get Android apps on a Chromebook.