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The Galaxy Book 2 Pro made Samsung's ecosystem worth my time
When you hear the name Samsung, you don’t typically think of laptops; you think of foldables, smartphones, or even their watches and TVs. Samsung as a brand has a strong legacy, so much so that a college of mine recently made a case for why it deserves to be the “face of Android.” As the company has grown in popularity, so has its portfolio of devices and the interconnectivity between them. The Galaxy ecosystem is growing.
I have owned Samsung phones since the Galaxy S8 and only bought my first pair of Galaxy Buds last year, but I never expected to use a Galaxy laptop. The Galaxy name carries the weight of high expectations, but the promise of a portable PC that could double as a central hub for my Samsung products was appealing. At the end of my experience, I found the Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro to be a reliable work machine that has quickly become the central orbit of my Galaxy devices.
Welcome to the Galaxy ecosystem
From foldable to watches and household appliances, Samsung’s Galaxy of products and services is flourishing. But for people to go all in on the Samsung brand, cross-integration between those devices must be seamless and offer a comprehensive experience across multiple third-party software platforms and product types. So far, Apple has been leading the way with such an interconnected ecosystem with its walled-in garden, but Samsung is quickly catching up as an enticing alternative — something exemplified by the addition of the Galaxy Book 2 Pro.
Samsung's Galaxy of products and services is ever-expanding.
Let’s start with looking at seamless connectivity. Setting up the Galaxy Book 2 Pro was quick and easy, and as soon as I signed in with my Samsung account, all my linked devices popped up immediately. After granting permission for them to communicate via Quick Connect, I soon saw notifications from my Samsung phone — a Galaxy S21 Ultra — pop up in the corner of the laptop screen. Saved data such as pictures taken on my phone or the last song I listened to on my earbuds was also available to access right away.
To put these start-up features into perspective, I could begin writing an email on the Galaxy Book 2 Pro within the Samsung Email app and finish typing the email on my phone while listening to the same song through my Galaxy Buds Pro. Likewise, if I started watching a YouTube video on my Galaxy Book 2 Pro, my Galaxy S21 would pause the music, and my earbuds were recognized by the Galaxy Book 2 Pro so I could hear the video.
Gone are the days of scrolling through Bluetooth menus to pair devices, too; simply flip open the Galaxy Buds case and click connect. Because Samsung knows which devices I am using, it will switch pairing accordingly, saving me a ton of time and troubleshooting. And with Auto Switch, you can seamlessly switch device connections between Galaxy devices running the same Samsung account. It’s pretty much the same as Apple’s AirPods ecosystem, which automatically switches between devices based on what you’re doing.
To be fair, I can sync my Galaxy Buds Pro with any PC running Windows 10 or newer by downloading the Galaxy Wearable app. However, you won’t get Gaming Mode audio on non-Samsung devices and will have to pair via Bluetooth. Additionally, newer versions of Galaxy Buds, such as the second-generation Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, offer exclusive features such as seamless codec, high-bitrate audio, spatial audio, and more, which are only compatible with Samsung products. We expect this trend of brand-only benefits to continue.
While you can connect the Galaxy Buds to any device, you won’t be able to find them easily if you lose them. This is where Samsung’s SmartThings Find comes in handy. If you misplace your Galaxy phone or earbuds, you can use your Galaxy Book 2 Pro (or a compatible Galaxy phone or tablet) to pinpoint where the device was last seen on a map. You can even ping it to emit audio to help track down where it is when you are close. If you want to track personal items other than Samsung electronics, you can invest in getting a few SmartTags, which are tracked the same way using Samsungs SmartThings Find.
How ‘exclusive’ are Samsung’s features?
Samsung and Microsoft have a long-running partnership which means they share certain features and create apps tailored to Galaxy devices. At its core, the Galaxy Book 2 Pro is still a Windows 11 laptop, meaning you do get some annoying bloatware at the beginning, such as Meta and McAfee, but they can be easily uninstalled. What interested me was the Galaxy Book Experience app which includes multiple tiles and tutorials introducing everything you can do within the Galaxy ecosystem.
At first glance, it looks like an impressive library of functions, but digging a little deeper, I found that as with the auto-connect of the Galaxy Buds, not everything here is exclusive to Samsung products. For instance, Samsung apps such as Notes, Gallery, and Flow are great for syncing and sending my files back and forth between devices to the Galaxy Book 2 Pro, but they are downloadable on any Windows PC and work just as well with a Galaxy phone. The only real benefit here is that they come pre-installed.
The Galaxy Book 2 Pro is a great ultraportable laptop for everyone, but Samsung users get the best experience.
Some fun cosmetic features include Live Wallpaper, which uses wallpapers and themes to match the weather and time of day. It’s more customizable than the simple rotation of desktop backgrounds you get with Windows. Think of it like Galaxy Themes, but for your laptop, where you find many dynamic themes free or available for purchase from artists for relatively cheap.
Other pre-installed Samsung apps that were exclusive didn’t entirely feel like they were serving any unmet needs. For example, Samsung’s Quick Search is just another way of doing exactly what the Windows native search function accomplishes. Likewise, Samsungs File Tracker feels redundant in light of Windows’s familiar file system. Still, I found some unique and useful ecosystem gems.
Quick Share is perhaps the feature that Samsung users will find most useful while owning a Galaxy laptop. Quick Share avoids the frustrations of Google’s Nearby Share, which requires you to approve each file transfer on both devices for security reasons. So long as you are signed into the same Samsung account, simply send something from one device and watch it appear on the other. It is similar to Apple’s AirDrop, which instantly sends files between devices within the app. AirDrop is one of Apple’s most beloved features, so it’s nice to see a solid alternative that works just as well on Galaxy devices.
Using a Galaxy Tab as an extended display with my laptop was one of the most fun productivity features. If your Galaxy Tablet runs One UI 3.1 or higher, you can run Samsung’s Second Screen function, which lets you drag applications across both screens or see any text you type on the Galaxy Book 2 Pro appear on your tablet. You can technically use Second Screen on any computer with Windows 10 or higher with a Galaxy tablet, but it will be less productive without Multi Control.
Multi Control is Samsung’s take on Apple’s Universal Control, exclusive to Galaxy devices. Among other things, it allows you to use the Galaxy Book 2 Pro’s trackpad and keyboard with your Galaxy tablets. It’s completely wireless, so you don’t need cords to connect the devices. You can also use your Galaxy phone to control your Galaxy Book should you want to pull something up to be ready on your screen.
A central orbit to your Galaxy of devices?
Samsung has made a name for itself by delivering reliable hardware paired with feature-packed software. The Galaxy Book 2 Pro does not disappoint in this regard. However, it’s easiest to recommend to anyone needing a new laptop that already owns several Samsung devices. If you are not yet a Samsung user but are thinking about becoming one, rest assured that they also make good computers. As a daily work machine, the Galaxy Book 2 Pro allowed me to focus on my tasks without constantly checking my phone for notifications (since they showed up on my laptop) and instantly share photos and files between devices.
Samsung is working on providing exclusive benefits between its devices while still staying open enough to work with other Android devices and accessories. If you haven’t been a fan of Samsung smartphones and just want an unskinned, barebones software experience on the go, then the ecosystem might not appeal to you. But I found the Galaxy Book 2 Pro to be the best of both worlds — a centerpiece to a collection of devices that work together in synergy without completely closing the door to integrations with products from other manufacturers.
This is the closest you can get to Apple's tightly tied ecosystem in the Android arena.
If you decide to get the slightly more expensive Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360, you’ll have the added benefit of an S Pen and a touchscreen display to write on, perfect for digital artists. This might be a better option if you also have the latest Galaxy S22 Ultra since it’s a nice bonus to keep using the same S Pen to continue your hand-written notes from your phone to the laptop’s touchscreen. Apple has yet to adopt touchscreen on their laptops, so Samsung interoperability with its touchscreens is a win over Apple’s ecosystem setup.
Samsung is building a cohesive ecosystem around its entire future lineup. If you’re like me and don’t want an iPhone but are looking for all the interoperability that Apple’s product portfolio provides, Samsung’s offerings scratch that itch. Apple has been the gold standard of the tech ecosystem, but it has also had the benefit of crafting its own software with iOS, macOS, iPadOS, and so on. On the other hand, Samsung must rely on its One UI platform on top of Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows, which makes it rather impressive that they’ve managed to get an ecosystem working so effectively. Integration between devices really does make life easier and will only improve with time. As far as non-Apple ecosystems go, Samsung Galaxy devices are leading the pack, pulling more products and people into its orbit.