Last week, I attended the first-ever entirely virtual CES. It was an exhilarating week where some of the world's biggest companies launched a plethora of new products from TVs to Smartphones to PCs and everything in between. Samsung is no stranger to launching products at CES and took last year as an opportunity to dig its heels into the PC market. I expected a good showing from Samsung at this year's CES as well.
Let's dig into what the company announced.
Galaxy Chromebook 2
First up to bat is the new Galaxy Chromebook 2. The Galaxy Chromebook 2 isn't an entirely new device but rather a follow up to a massively popular 2 in 1 Chromebook, the Galaxy Chromebook. At last year's CES, Samsung launched the original Galaxy Chromebook. The system that launched last year stuck out as an ultra-premium device. That 2020 system came with a 4K AMOLED display, Intel 10th Gen Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD. I found the same system configuration for $799 on BestBuy today, but it was a $1000+ system at launch, if I remember correctly. I understand the natural progression of putting more powerful hardware into systems, but Samsung came hard out of the gate with a top tier system with a premium price tag to go with it.
The new Galaxy Chromebook 2 is a bit of a different approach. Samsung has scaled back the hardware while keeping the excellent chassis design attributes of the first Galaxy Chromebook. The system will be much more affordable this go around, starting with a $549.99 price tag. At that price, I suspect Samsung will have no issues putting this 2-in-1 Chromebook in the hands of plenty of educational and consumer users. The device's hardware features an Intel 10th Gen Core i3-10110U on the high end and a Celeron 5205 at the entry-level. I don't typically view Chromebooks as CPU hungry systems, but the intensity of workloads like video conferencing, running collaboration apps, and maybe even some light photo or video editing. With that said, I think the i3-10110U configuration will be plenty performant on typical Chrome workloads. The system also supports Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, which is a great touch. Google applications like Google Meet, Google Drive, and even Google Assistant should run great in addition to the plethora of Android apps available for download.
The Galaxy Chromebook 2 has a 13.3" QLED display at 1920 x 1080P resolution. Samsung made sure to call out that this is the first Chromebook to feature Samsung's signature QLED display. The QLED displays became popular within Samsung's smart TV lineup. I have one of the TVs myself, and I recommend them without hesitation. With that said, I expect the Galaxy Chromebook 2 display to be very vibrant. I can't speak to the system's battery life, but I assume that it should improve with a lower resolution display versus the last generation with a lower resolution display. Samsung is claiming up to 14 hours of uptime on a single charge.
The Galaxy Chromebook 2 is a sleek aluminum notebook weighing in below the 3lb mark. It also has a backlit keyboard, two USB-C ports, a headphone jack, and a microSD slot. Samsung had to keep its touch of flair with the Mercury Gray and Fiesta Red color options.
I haven't been a big Chromebook guy in the past, but it is hard to deny the Chromebook ecosystem's growth in education and consumer and enterprise. One thing is for sure: Samsung and Google are committed to Chrome.
Galaxy Tab Active3
The second device that was new to the Galaxy lineup is the Galaxy Tab Active3. When Samsung first released the Galaxy Tab Active Pro, I was impressed with the device. You can read about it here. The Galaxy Tab Active3 targets the mobile and frontline workforce, which often works in harsh environments in the field or the office. This tablet will withstand whatever beating a mobile worker can throw at it.
Samsung sent me one of these devices, and I have been using it for the last couple of days. I enjoyed my time with the tablet and used it primarily to check email, watch YouTube, and snap a few photos on my sleeping French bulldog. The system felt performant from the time I have spent with it so far. I will follow up with a full review soon.
The Galaxy Tab Active3 is a rugged machine and has the certifications to show for it. It is IP68 certified for water and dust resistance and MIL-STD-810H certified, which currently is the highest military-grade standard for ruggedness. The case the comes with the devices adds to the rugged feel, and it has an S Pen and the slot place conveniently at the top of the case for easy access. The display is 8" at 1920 x 1080P resolution. It isn't a large display, even in the land of tablets, but it does give the devices a sleek and lightweight profile. In terms of hardware, the Galaxy Tab Active3 comes with a Samsung Exynos 9810 octa-core CPU, 4GB of RAM, Wi-Fi 6 with MIMO connectivity, and up to 128GB of storage. As always, you can upgrade to up to 1TB of additional storage via microSD.
The device also powers some tremendous new experiences like Samsung wireless DeX, allowing users to broadcast the tablet's display onto larger monitors or smart displays. There is also a programable key on the device that a user can bound to any practical action for their use case. Knox Capture allows the tablet to become an enterprise-grade barcode scanner as well.
I believe Samsung the Galaxy Tab Active3 is a great addition to Samsung's rugged lineup. While I am not the intended user, I can see how a robust, reliable tablet solution could benefit users in industries spanning retail to transportation. The tablet can also be tailored to fit enterprise use cases, which is a big plus.
I was happy to see Samsung dig deeper into the Chromebook and tablets at CES 2021. With all the momentum we have seen in Chromebook is the last year, it's an excellent time for Samsung to lower the barrier to entry on its Galaxy Chromebook. I am excited to get my hands on the new Galaxy Chromebook 2 soon and give my take on the system. The Galaxy Tab Active3 was another great addition to Samsung's rugged lineup. I have already spent a few days with the tablet, and I will provide a deeper dive into the system soon. All in all, I think we can call CES 2021 a success for Samsung.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.