But one thing that stood out to me was actually the port selection. Despite the incredibly thin design of these laptops, Samsung included what I would consider a good port setup, including Thunderbolt 4, USB Type-A, HDMI, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
That may not seem like anything special, but most laptops in this price range, which include some of the best laptops on the market, only seem to have USB Type-C these days, and I’m getting a bit tired of it. If Samsung can fit all these ports in a laptop that’s just 11.3mm thin, why are others so limited?
USB-C is the future, not the present (yet)
Before I go any deeper, I want to make it clear that I’m absolutely aware that USB Type-C is the future, and I’m glad that it is. A unified connector for almost all of our peripherals is a good thing, especially with it being as small as it is. I’m sure my complaints will become increasingly obsolete in the coming years — but we aren’t there yet.
In my desk setup, I have two external monitors, a capture card, a mouse, a keyboard, and a webcam. Out of all of these peripherals, the only one I have that includes a USB Type-C-to-C cable is the Insta360 Link webcam I reviewed last year (yes, that is a review unit). There’s always an extra cost with peripherals that connect via USB-C. And if you want to convert your USB Type-A connectors to USB-C without buying new peripherals, that’s an added cost, and it makes the setup all the more clunky. More peripherals are starting to come out with USB Type-C, and I feel like that’s where the transformation has to happen before laptops completely do away with things like USB Type-A and HDMI.
And let’s not forget that even though there are some monitors that use USB-C now (though they’re often significantly more expensive), TVs aren’t getting that treatment, and you’re almost guaranteed to need an adapter. It sucks. Even Apple, which basically started the trend of removing old ports, eventually realized its mistake and added HDMI back in with the 2021 MacBook Pro. I find it baffling that this seems to be the first port to go, with laptops like the HP Spectre x360 13.5 or Lenovo Yoga 9i opting to include USB Type-A but not HDMI.
On top of that, if USB-C is meant to be the future, why do so many premium laptops only give you two of them? Even if all accessories switch to USB Type-C, the number of accessories wouldn’t be reduced. Laptops like the Dell XPS 17 have four Thunderbolt 4 ports, and that’s more reasonable, but the entire XPS 13 family has just two. So do the MacBook Air and the HP Spectre x360 13.5, too (though that one does have a USB Type-A port).
Of course, the solution most would recommend is a docking station, and yes, I do have one thanks to another review unit from Plugable. But frankly, my experience with external displays connected through docking stations has been far from consistent. And again, these docking stations with a lot of ports cost a lot of money. The one I use from Plugable costs $279, and it’s not even a Thunderbolt dock. Those often cost even more, some even going into the $400 range.
Shouldn’t expensive laptops make things easier?
That’s a lot of money to spend on top of an expensive laptop, and that brings me to another point: Why is it that the most expensive laptops are the ones that expect you to spend the most money after buying them?
Consider this: You can buy the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 for just $730 at the time of this writing, which is a decently affordable price. Sure, it’s running ChromeOS, which is limiting in its own right, but that laptop offers two Thunderbolt 4 ports (so you can still use those docking stations) plus HDMI, USB Type-A, and a headphone jack, in addition to very respectable specs in terms of performance.
However, if you choose to spend $1,199 on the base model of the Dell XPS 13 Plus, which has very similar specs, you only get two Thunderbolt 4 ports. No USB Type-A, no HDMI, not even a headphone jack, at least not without adapters. And yes, Dell does include some in the box, but that adds complexity, and again, you only have two ports in total, one of which you might need for charging.
The more money you spend on a laptop to get a premium experience, the more you need to spend later on to use everything else around it, and that just doesn’t make sense to me. Realistically, that’s just the way companies operate. The more money you have to spend on a computer, the more money you can realistically spend on accessories, and companies will squeeze as much money out of you as they can.
But to me, premium laptops should make things more convenient, yet they don’t. This strategy just makes it harder for someone who isn’t swimming in money to upgrade to a higher tier of laptop. If they try to, they have an even higher barrier to clear after they buy the laptop.
All of that makes me appreciate the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro that much more. This is an expensive, high-end laptop, but it includes all the ports someone could realistically ask for on a laptop. You don’t have to spend a lot more cash to use your existing mouse or monitor. It’s actually a big upgrade from Samsung’s 2022 models, too, most of which missed out on some of these ports.
With that being said, it’s not perfect, since the HDMI port used here only supports HDMI 1.4, so 4K displays are only supported at 30Hz. The Galaxy Book 3 Ultra does support HDMI 2.0, but that’s not great for a laptop as expensive as these are. Still, that’s a preferable limitation to not having HDMI at all. I can only hope other manufacturers will learn the same lesson.
Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro
The Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro is a premium clamshell laptop with high-end specs and a decent range of ports, both in its 14-inch and 16-inch variants.
Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360
The convertible version of the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 has all the same specs and ports, but now with a touchscreen and S Pen support.
Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra
On top of more powerful performance thanks to 45W Intel processors and Nvidia graphics, the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra has all the same ports, but with HDMI 2.0 support.