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Personally, I think having a tablet that can replace a laptop — at least for office work — is a fantastic idea. I found the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra very appealing because of its dual identity, especially since I’ve become an exclusive Samsung DeX user.
However, as much as I love the concept, the reality is very different. I found that laptop replacement tablets have one big issue that could prevent many more people from switching and adopting this new way of thinking and leaving traditional laptops behind. At the very least, it has certainly kept me away from switching to the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra.
Laptop replacement keyboard covers are so expensive that they’re borderline insulting
The biggest issue with these large-screen tablets that have the potential of replacing your laptop is that they don’t come ready for the task out of the box. The keyboard accessory is essential for any worthwhile office work, but it’s sold separately.
And herein lies the problem. Despite all the marketing blurb that tries to paint these high-end tablets as laptop alternatives, manufacturers like Samsung and Apple make it very difficult for customers to give these tablets a chance as laptop replacements. The reason? Keyboard covers are expensive, to the point where they feel insulting.
To put things into perspective, Apple is selling the iPad Pro Magic Keyboard for $299, and Samsung is selling its Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra Book Cover Keyboard (pictured above) for an even higher $350 price.
This arguably unjustified price is the very reason why Samsung is making it impossible for me to buy into the idea that the Tab S8 Ultra can be a worthy laptop replacement. Not when factoring in prices.
I could buy a Chromebook for $350, or I could save myself the trouble of experimenting with the “tablet as a laptop” idea altogether and buy a powerful laptop instead of a Tab S8 Ultra + Keyboard.
Holding laptop capabilities for ransom
You might be thinking that there must be something special about the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra Keyboard attachment to cost as much as it does, but there isn’t. The keyboard has backlit keys, and that’s about it.
Even worse is that Samsung doesn’t seem to have paid any attention to the kickstand design. It sticks out and doesn’t allow anyone to hold the Tab S8 Ultra in their laps comfortably like they would a regular *ahem* laptop . The kickstand design, alone, is arguably defeating the whole purpose of buying an accessory that turns your tablet into a laptop replacement.
It doesn’t help that Apple’s keyboard accessory called Magic Keyboard is cheaper. It too has backlit keys, but features an additional USB-C connector for charging the iPad Pro while keeping its port free for data transfer. More importantly, it has a clever cantilever kickstand design that doesn’t get in the way. Even so, Apple’s keyboard is $50 cheaper than Samsung’s.
So, in comparison, Samsung is quite literally offering a poorly-designed keyboard attachment for the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra at Chromebook prices. To be perfectly frank, it feels insulting and perplexing at the same time. This $350 price tag is the reason why I’ve decided against buying the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra and turning it into my main workstation, even though I grew to appreciate DeX.
As far as I’m concerned, Samsung is holding the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra’s full potential and laptop-replacing capabilities for ransom. I can’t justify paying $350 for a tablet keyboard cover, and I especially can’t justify how Samsung thinks it can charge more for its clunky keyboard than Apple does for its Magic Keyboard. At least the latter can be used in one’s lap, and Apple could argue that it had to spend some time and resources on designing the cantilever kickstand to function as well as it does.
All in all, Samsung appears to have borrowed the very worst ideas from Apple when designing a laptop replacement and left other good ideas behind. And until Samsung stops and rethinks its approach, I won’t be buying into its tablet-as-laptop idea, even though I would love to.
Samsung’s accessory is way too expensive for my taste, and even for Apple fans, as crazy as that sounds. I don’t think I could live with myself knowing that I paid $350 for a keyboard accessory that fails to turn my tablet into a laptop half the time because of a poorly designed kickstand.
As far as I’m concerned, the only thing Samsung achieved by holding its keyboard accessory ransom for $350 was making me consider the iPad Pro 12.9 as a Tab S8 Ultra alternative. So, my search for an all-in-one portable computer for office work continues because, sadly, the Tab S8 Ultra + Keyboard isn’t it due to unreasonable pricing decisions.
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