Apple might share iPhone X face data with developers

Despite Apple claiming it securely stores your encrypted face info on theiPhone X, Reuters is reporting that the company permits developers to access “certain facial data” with user permission. This includes a visual representation of your face, and over 50 facial expressions.

Face ID was always going to be the iPhone X’s most talked about feature. With it, the days of fingerprint authentication could be numbered, replaced by face biometrics. But, there’s something about your mugshot being stored with Apple that’s (understandably) got people shook up.Senator Al Franken already pressed the firm on the security concerns the tech raises — prompting a response. Now, it’s the turn of privacy advocates. In the report, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Democracy and Technology warn that the info could fall into the hands of marketers.

We know Apple’s Face ID tech works by using a mixture of camera sensors and neural networks to grab a mathematical model of your face. And, like Touch ID before it, Apple is granting developers access to its Face ID API, enabling them to use the unlock mechanism on all your fave apps — including secure banking and payment apps. But, the latest revelations suggest Apple is allowing devs to make off with more data than it is letting on. The same data reportedly cannot unlock the phone, because that functionality is limited to the overarching mathematical model. Reutersadds that Apple’s developer agreement forbids app makers from sharing the info with marketers. And, that those who break the rules risk getting kicked from the App Store.

But, privacy groups fear the company won’t be able to adequately police how devs use the info, which could lead to it finding its way to marketers. That, in turn, would result in more targeted ads, but these would use the tech to track your facial reactions (like a smile, or a raise of an eyebrow). Naturally, that kind of tracking data would be a goldmine for advertisers. But, it’s also important to note that Apple’s app review policy makes it extremely difficult for bad actors to get away with violations. Yet, with more than 2 million apps in the App Store, privacy experts warn that some may slip through the cracks. We reached out to Apple for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.

Review: Samsung Gear IconX (2018)

FULLY WIRELESS EARBUDS are the closest thing you’ll get to piping music directly into your brain. While there are a number of options out there, Samsung’s latest IconX (2018) headphones are the company’s second bite of the apple. They’re far from perfect, but these buds get a lot of things right.

They have acceptable sound quality, for one. The bass won’t thump as loud as a great pair of (cheaper) wired headphones, and tracks will occasionally sound shallow and synthetic, like your music is being run through a few filters, but it didn’t keep me from enjoying my favorite songs.

They also come with more than two times the battery life of their 2016 predecessors—a little more than 4 hours of battery life most days I used them.

Like last year, the IconX are still discrete and subdued in appearance (unless you buy them in neon pink) with a plain plastic exterior and swappable silicone eartips and wingtips. The wingtips help the top of the buds snap into the upper portion of your outer ear. The default tips fit well in my ear, but depending on the shape of your ear’s antihelix (there’s a new word for you), you may have to dip into the alternate wingtip sizes to get a solid fit.

There are no buttons on the IconX, but oh how I wish there were. Instead of buttons, the earbuds have dinky touchpads on the sides, and they’re fickle as heck. After a week of use, it still takes me two or three tries to successfully swipe up or down to change the volume. I’ve finally developed the muscle memory to get to the next track (two taps) and the previous track (three taps), but I don’t think I’ll ever successfully pull off more complex gestures. I feel like I deserve a graduate certificate in Morse code after using these.

SAMSUNG GEAR ICONX (2018)

6/10

LEARN HOW WE RATE
WIRED

Small and light enough that you forget you’re wearing them. Fully wireless with decent sound quality. Battery life hovers around 4 hours while streaming. Charging clamshell case provides an extra two charges. Includes a voice coach with fitness tracking and motivation

TIRED

Touch control is too touchy. Charging case is bulky and you’ll need to carry it around. $200 is a lot to spend on earbuds, wireless or not

BUY IT NOW

The most useful gesture is Tap and Hold, which lets you cycle through the menu options: Voice Command, Ambient Sound and Start a Workout. Voice Command leverages Bixby or Google Assistant to give you answers, though the assistant’s voice often seems muffled.

Ambient Sound amplifies the noises around you, so you can still hear things while wearing the buds. Like any snug-fit earbuds, the IconX tend to hush the sounds of say, incoming traffic. Look both ways, and enable this feature when you need it.

The buds don’t track heart rate like last year’s model, but they will give you a rough (very rough) approximation of the distance you traveled and steps you took during a workout. Samsung’s Bixby woman-like voice talks to you while you run, encouraging you to speed up and updating you on your distance. To get a better idea of your workout in progress, I recommend bringing along a phone or Gear Sport watch.

The downside to the fitness coaching feature is that one of your earbuds will drain a lot faster than the other. The choice of which Samsung leaves up to you, but expect a half hour less juice from one of your buds.

The complex gestures and 4-hour battery life would be more forgivable if the Gear IconX had a power button. Annoyingly, you can’t power either earbud up or shut them off without carrying an accessory: the included clamshell charging case. It’s about the size of a fat, short pill bottle that pops open and snaps closed. The buds only turn off once they’re inside it, and on when they are pulled out. That’s also the only way to re-pair them with your phone via Bluetooth.

The case provides about two full charges before you need to plug it into the wall and juice it up, which is nice. My hangup with this included accessory is that it’s just a little too big to slip into a pocket with my usual accoutrements. And it’s less of an accessory than a necessity.

My buds didn’t last long outside of their box. It’s strange that even though the buds know when they’re out of my ears thanks to a sensor, they aren’t intelligent enough to automatically shut off, too. They seem to keep getting notifications, and if I start a workout and they’re within distance, they pretend they’re my running buddy, knowing full-well I’m not wearing them. Shouldn’t they be smarter than that? Just sitting on my coffee table, unused with a 75% charge, both drained in under a work day’s time.

The best advice I can give you to conserve battery is to load up the 4GB of onboard storage on the IconX with MP3s instead of streaming music and turn off all notifications. That’ll give you an extra couple hours of juice, according to Samsung.

These buds also worked best when I used them with a Galaxy S8. On another Android phone, the connection was less reliable, cutting out for a second whenever I pocketed my phone. They’re also compatible with iPhones, but you’ll have access to fewer features.

At $200, the Gear IconX (2018) are $40 more than Apple’s now-famous AirPods, but overall aren’t wildly expensive, given their capabilities. They offer some solid fitness features and 4+ hours of battery life per charge. I just wish I didn’t feel the need to lug the bulky clamshell with me every time I use them.

Bitcoin tops £5,000 in value

Bitcoin and a pile of gold

The price of Bitcoin has surpassed £5,000 per coin – a new record.

While it is a historic moment of sorts, Bitcoin is usually compared to the dollar.

The virtual currency peaked at $6,649.33 (£5,015) at about 16:34 GMT on Wednesday, according to Bloomberg.

The total value of Bitcoin in circulation is currently $110bn (£83bn) and the cryptocurrency has risen more than seven-fold against the dollar over the past year.

The reason for the latest jump in value was in part driven by an announcement by US-based derivatives marketplace operator CME Group about a plan to launch a Bitcoin futures product before the end of the year.

Bitcoin was launched in January 2009. Its value was lower than $100 in June 2013, and below $1,000 as recently as January.

But in August, the virtual currency soared to $3,451 after a spin-off – Bitcoin Cash – failed to prove as disruptive as had been feared.

And in September, Bitcoin crossed the $5,000 threshold for the first time.

“It’s been a very innovative year – there have been a lot of new technology platforms for cryptocurrencies, which have lifted Bitcoin,” Garrick Hileman a research fellow at University of Cambridge told the BBC.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if the price were to go even higher.”

Coinbase – a business that lets the public trade and store digital currencies – reports that it is now signing up between 35,000 to 50,000 new users per day.

Mr Hileman said that many people had recently been attracted to invest in Bitcoin because when a “fork” happened in August, investors received an equivalent amount of new Bitcoin Cash coins for free.

Another “fork”, SegWit2x, is due to happen on 18 November.

“Rising geopolitical tensions on the Korean Peninsula are also driving interest in Bitcoin in the surrounding countries, because people are wary of investing in the yen or the dollar,” Mr Hileman added.

However, he continued, government regulators may crack down on cryptocurrencies, which could drive prices back down.

Facebook ad revenue tops $10bn

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard in 2017

Facebook profits soared in the third quarter as it brought in more than $10bn from advertising.

The firm said profits were $4.7bn (£3.5bn) in the three months to the end of September, up 80% year-on-year.

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg told investors the firm’s investments in security would “impact” profitability.

US lawmakers are examining the possible use of the platform for Russian propaganda activities during the 2016 US presidential election.

“We’re serious about preventing abuse on our platforms,” Mr Zuckerberg said. “Protecting our community is more important than maximising our profits.”

Washington hearings

Mr Zuckerberg last year said the idea that fake news on Facebook influenced the election was “pretty crazy”.

On Wednesday, the firm said almost 150 million people may have seen Russian propaganda efforts.

Facebook shared the figure during two days of tense questioning in Washington.

Lawmakers, who are eyeing increased regulation of internet companies, pressed for increased disclosure around political ads, as well as information about how the firm polices false content.

Mr Zuckerberg did not attend the hearing, but he discussed the matter on a conference call with financial analysts.

“What [Russia] did is wrong and we are not going to stand for it,” he said.

“People do not want false news or hate speech or bullying… To the extent that we can eradicate that from the platform, we will create a better product.”

The firm’s general counsel told lawmakers the company was focused on protecting the “authenticity” of activity. But he conceded that it would be a tough task.

Facebook had 2.07bn monthly active users at the end of September, up 16% year-on-year.

Duplicate accounts represent about 10% of those – higher than previous estimates, executives said.

It also had more than six million active advertisers, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said on a call with investors.

Looking forward

Those advertisers, many of them small and medium-sized businesses, helped lift total Facebook revenue 47% year-on-year to $10.3bn. That included $10.1bn from ads.

The firm said it expected ad prices to increase, driving future growth. But it warned that the pace of expansion had been slowing.

The firm also said it expected expenses to increase between 45% and 60% in 2018.

Facebook said it was investing in security initiatives, new technology and video.

In the Washington hearings, Facebook said 10,000 people were working on the platform’s safety and security and it expected that number to double by the end of 2018.

Many of those people work for “partners”, the firm told analysts. Facebook employed about 23,165 people at the end of September.

The firm said it was also tightening it standards for ads, including those focused on charged political issues.

“We believe that ads are important to free expression… but we will also do our part to elevate the quality of that discourse,” Ms Sandberg said,

Shares in the firm fell about 1.5% in after-hours trade.

Verso Group data hoarder fined by UK watchdog

Phone call

A company that specialises in asking the public to take part in “surveys” in which the answers are then used to target respondents with unsolicited marketing calls has been fined.

An investigation found Verso Group had not been clear about what it was doing.

The Hertfordshire-based company came to regulators’ attention after it was involved in one campaign that resulted in 46 million “nuisance calls” about payment protection insurance (PPI).

It has been ordered to pay £80,000.

The Information Commissioner’s Office said it was the first such penalty following a wider investigation into the so-called data broking industry.

“This type of unlawful data directly fuels the nuisance call and spam text industry and creates misery for millions of UK citizens,” said the ICO’s deputy commissioner, James Dipple-Johnstone.

“Businesses need to understand they don’t own personal data – people do.”

Although the ICO has the power to issue fines of up to £500,000, the sum is still likely to be significant to Verso.

According to accounts filed in May, the Hertfordshire-based company’s net assets totalled just £12,386.

A spokesman for Verso declined to comment.

Personal details

Verso has been in business since 2011 and describes itself as the “largest lead-generation business in the UK by some distance”.

According to its website, it uses call centres in India, the Philippines and North America to carry out surveys with the public, with the stated aim of helping consumers cut their utility bills.

These are branded as being carried out by the UK Savers Club and I Love My Offers among other names. Verso says it carries out more than 115,000 such surveys each month.

The business then offers other companies the ability to target consumers via email, phone, postal mail and text, based on the lifestyle, financial and demographic information gathered from respondents.

In addition to PPI insurance, Verso says its clients have used the information to sell loans, legal advice about accidents, extended warranties and beauty products.

Two of the companies Verso has sold data to – Pro Dial and Emacs – have previously been fined by the ICO over the way they had conducted their cold-call businesses.

A follow-up investigation into Verso concluded it was not providing survey respondents with specific enough information about to whom it planned to pass their data, and thus had failed to obtain the necessary consent to sell it on.

Moreover, the ICO said it had found Verso to be “unhelpful and obstructive” when it had tried to look into the matter.

“Verso’s contraventions were systemic – they were not isolated, one-off or occasional errors,” the report said, “[and] were of a kind likely to cause substantial damage or substantial distress.”

The watchdog has ordered Verso to pay the fine by mid-November, although it could also try to appeal against the ruling.

Citizens’ rights over their personal information are set to be strengthened next yearunder the UK’s Data Protection Bill.

The law – which implements the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation – makes it possible for a person to oblige a company to delete information held about them.

It also raises the cap on the size of penalties the ICO can demand.

SEC warns famous crypto-currency backers

Floyd Mayweather

Celebrities, sports figures and social media stars have been warned by US regulators about endorsing crypto-currencies.

Paris Hilton, boxer Floyd Mayweather and others have all publicly backed digital currency funding drives.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said the endorsements could break laws on selling securities.

Those promoting crypto-currencies must say if they are being paid for the endorsement, it said.

Cash caution

In its official warning, the SEC pointed to the growing numbers of public figures who have talked about the funding drives, known as Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), that crypto-currencies run to raise cash.

About 270 separate crypto-cash start-ups have sought funds via ICOs in 2017,said the New York Times. In total, the ICOs have raised more than $3bn (£2.27bn), it said.

The SEC said any virtual coins or tokens bought by investors through an ICO were subject to the same laws governing the sale of stocks and shares sold via mainstream stock markets.

These laws require anyone backing a security to disclose their relationship with the company offering the investment opportunity.

“A failure to disclose this information is a violation of the anti-touting provisions of the federal securities laws,” it said, adding that keeping quiet about any financial arrangement could be considered fraudulent.

It said it was keeping an eye on people who promote the crypto-currencies to ensure laws were not broken.

In a separate but related bulletin, the SEC cautioned against following the investment advice of any public figure.

“It is never a good idea to make an investment decision just because someone famous says a product or service is a good investment,” it said.

It encouraged investors to do their own research into potential money-making schemes and not rely on paid endorsements, it said.

Regulators in Switzerland, Britain and Malaysia have also issued warnings about the risks associated with ICOs. Financial watchdogs in China and South Korea have gone further and banned them altogether.

Art galleries targeted by cyber-thieves

Woman in an art gallery

Cyber-criminals appear to be targeting art galleries and dealers with an email scam that has already fooled some organisations.

The attackers broke into art dealer email accounts and sent buyers duplicated invoices with the bank account details changed.

Several galleries in London and the US that had been affected were identified bythe Art Newspaper.

Art dealer groups have warned people to be vigilant.

The scammers monitored outgoing messages from art gallery email accounts, then intercepted invoices and changed them.

The Rosenfeld Porcini gallery in London was one of the organisations that fell victim to the scam after agreeing the sale of an artwork.

“Around seven or eight hours after we had sent our invoice, the buyers got another email saying that the invoice we had sent out was in the wrong currency and that they should make payment to a different account,” Mr Rosenfeld told the Art Newspaper.

The gallery is in discussions with the bank to try to recover the money.

Two-step verification

Another gallery told the newspaper that some dealers had been scammed out of “hundreds of thousands of pounds”.

The Simon Lee gallery said it now sends cyber-fraud warnings with its invoices and speaks to clients on the telephone to confirm every transaction.

Enabling two-factor authentication – also known as two-step verification – on email accounts can also make it harder for criminals to break in.

The Society of London Art Dealers has previously warned its members about the dangers of email fraud.

“We are indeed very concerned about this problem,” the Director General Christopher Battiscombe said.

“As all of us are compelled to do more and more of our business online, it seems to me inevitable that criminals will focus increasingly in this area and we all need to think about the risks involved and whether we are doing enough to protect ourselves against them.”

The group said it had distributed a cyber-security presentation to its members.

Trove of ‘Russian troll’ posts exposed by Congress

Russia-linked Facebook posts

Further instances of social media posts and ads thought to be part of Russian propaganda efforts to influence the last US presidential election and divide its society have been shared with the public.

The US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released the imagery following a hearing at which Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were criticised for having underestimated the problem.

The examples are a fraction of the number of posts that have been flagged as being suspicious by the tech companies themselves.

Other cases had been displayed on Capitol Hill earlier in the week.

In addition, the senators released data about how much had been spentpromoting the material and how many people had been shown it. They have also provided a long list of Russia-linked Twitter accounts that have now been suspended.

  • Tech giants berated by senators on Russia
  • Social-media images shown as evidence of ‘Russian trolls’
  • Can democracy survive Facebook?
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionA total of 14,706 roubles ($253; £191) was spent to promote this advert to Facebook users in New York – it was shown to 15,255 people
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis ad was targeted at people who had shown interest in Christianity, the Bible and/or Andrew Breitbart, the founder of the Breitbart news site
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis post attracted 13,182 likes and 4,306 shares
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis post was liked 12,978 times and commented upon 1,032 times
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis image was uploaded in January 2017 and was shared 235,329 times
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis post was shared 55,812 times and attracted 1,477 comments
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionA total of 53,425 roubles ($818; £694) was spent promoting this page – it was shown to 201,428 users and was clicked on 12,127 times
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis post was uploaded in October 2016 and was shared 29,328 times
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis ad had 48,306 roubles ($830; £628) spent on it and was targeted at gun owners. It was shown to 301,608 people
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis ad was run in two separate campaigns and had 160,315 roubles ($2,752 £2,080) spent on its promotion, which generated 20,286 clicks
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis advert was targeted at US-based Facebook users that had shown an interest in being patriotic
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionPaid promotion of this advert caused it to be seen by 100,031 users
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis advert was promoted to US-based users that had shown interest in the Muslim scholars Zaid Shakir and Abu Eesa Niamatullah
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionA total of 3,981 roubles ($68; £52) was spent to promote this ad
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionA total of 14,607 roubles ($251; £190)was spent promoting this petition, which resulted in 6,276 clicks
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis ad was targeted at friends of people who had already liked the same account
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis promotion of an anti-bigotry rally was shown to 4,798 people and was clicked 240 times
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionOnly six roubles (10 cents; 8p) was spent advertising this post that was shown to 11 people as a result
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis Instagram advert – whose image was redacted – invited Americans to share pictures and videos of their children supporting President Trump in April 2016
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionA total of 17,307 roubles ($297; £225) was spent promoting this ad to Instagram users, and was shown to 108,433 users
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis post was promoted to Texas-based users who had shown an interest in independence and/or patriotism
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis video was promoted to African Americans but instructed to exclude Hispanics and Asian Americans
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis post was promoted to Tea Party supporters and gun owners among others, and was clicked on 85 times
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionA total of 500 roubles ($8.58; £6.50) was spent promoting this ad to Bernie Sanders supporters, which led it to be shown to 1,938 users
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis ad, which described Hillary Clinton as Hitlery, was shown to 16,168 users
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis ad – which referred to Clinton as Killary – was targeted at military veterans of the Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam wars
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis anti-Trump ad ran between September and December 2016, but only had 113 roubles ($1.94; £1.47) spent on its promotion
Suspected Russia-backed postImage copyrightUS CONGRESS
Image captionThis ad was targeted at users who had shown an interest in the black rights activists Martin Luther King and Malcolm X

Can Samsung’s Galaxy Book 2-in-1 spell the end of the traditional laptop?

BROWSING the internet, writing and watching streaming services are the only things I use my computer for, so why am I stuck believing a traditional laptop is best for me?

This is the question I had to ask myself when contemplating if I would get better value from making the switch to a 2-in-1 — a device combining the computing power, storage and software compatibility of a laptop with the flexibility and freedom of a tablet.

With Samsung’s Windows 10 Galaxy Book joining the growing list of impressive 2-in-1 products on the market, I decided to see if I was ready to say goodbye to my laptop for good.

DESIGN

The detachable 2-in-1 device has a gorgeous 12-inch Super AMOLED display that has an impressive 2,160 by 1,440 resolution.

When removed from the keyboard, the display’s curved edges, top-oriented power button and volume rocker offer an authentic tablet experience.

The plastic shell of the display gives the illusion of an aluminium finish, which gives the device the sleek and sexy appearance of other Samsung devices.

There are two speakers on the left and right edges of the device, with both offering decent sound, while the right side also houses a 3.5mm headphone jack and two USB-C connections — USB 2.0 and HDMI inputs can be connected with an adaptor.

The Galaxy Book also offers a 13MP rear camera and 5MP front-facing webcam.

The Samsung Galaxy Book can double as a 12-inch tablet.

The Samsung Galaxy Book can double as a 12-inch tablet.Source:Supplied

The full-size detachable keyboard cover is the same layout and size as most Windows 10 laptops meaning there is no adjustment period or learning curve, and the backlit keys make the device easier to use the device the dark.

While Samsung could have followed the Surface Pro’s design of a rear kickstand and a detachable keyboard, the Galaxy Book includes a keyboard cover with various magnetised orientations for holding up the display.

Even though this helps avoid adding too much bulk to the device, it means the Galaxy Book tends to be flimsy when being used on anything other than a flat surface.

I did find this to be frustrating at first, but when lounging around I simply removed the display and used the on-screen keyboard built into the tablet.

After a while I actually found using the large tablet more comfortable than it would have been to use a keyboard or traditional laptop in the same position, yet it would still be nice to have the option of a reliable kickstand.

So the keyboard cover isn’t the most sturdy kickstand.

So the keyboard cover isn’t the most sturdy kickstand.Source:Supplied

In addition to the detachable keyboard, the Galaxy Book also comes standard with an S-Pen stylus that can be used for physically scribbling down notes or as a replacement for the mouse.

Both are a welcome inclusion as the Surface Pro requires users purchase the detachable keyboard and stylus separately.

The stylus is very responsive and fantastic to use, although it could be easy to lose given there is nowhere to physically store it on the device.

On the plus side, if you do happen to misplace the S-Pen you could always purchase the Staedtler Noris digital — an adaptation of a traditional pencil with the cutting-edge technology of an S Pen.

Impressively, the tablet creates an electromagnetic field that interacts with the tip of the S-Pen to ensure you always knows the exact location of the point of the pencil.

Another positive is both the keyboard and stylus don’t need to be charged for use.

The Staedtler Noris digital looks and feels exactly like your pencils from school.

The Staedtler Noris digital looks and feels exactly like your pencils from school.Source:Supplied

PERFORMANCE

The Galaxy Book comes standard with Windows 10 to help it feel like an authentic replacement for your PC, while also including a few Samsung exclusive apps to take advantage of the S-Pen.

Powering the device is a dual-core, seventh-generation Core i5 processor running at 3.1 GHz, with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB hard drive also included — more than enough to meet my aforementioned computer needs.

Samsung says the Galaxy Book offers 11 hours of battery life from a single charge, although I found it delivered closer to five to six hours life during heavy use — still more than enough for your morning commute.

The Galaxy Book has also been fitted with “fast-charging” abilities, however this doesn’t work as quickly as you would hope when using the device while plugged in.

To take advantage of the 12-inch Super AMOLED display, Samsung has made the device compatible with HDR video content — a technique allowing preservation of details otherwise lost due to limiting contrast ratios.

This alone makes the device a great choice for those wanting to watch video content on the fly.

The Galaxy Book is Samsung's latest 2-in-1.

The Galaxy Book is Samsung’s latest 2-in-1.Source:Supplied

CONCLUSION

I came into this review looking to see if Samsung’s 2-in-1 Galaxy Book could be a solid replacement for my traditional laptop and I truly believe this could be the case.

There is no denying the keyboard kickstand poses some pretty big issues with the device, but the inclusion of the stylus and ability to use as a tablet certainly offers benefits not seen with the laptop. The appeal of 2-in-1 will really just depend on what you use the device for.

I enjoyed using the Galaxy Book as a tablet when watching TV on the couch and drawing using the stylus has also been a fun, new experience.

Having to use the detachable keyboard kickstand on a flat surface does add some frustrations, although I generally found myself sitting at a desk when writing on my laptop anyway.

As someone who enjoys binge-watching when on trains and planes, the Super AMOLED display is a huge winner in my eyes.

I would put some serious thought into the uses of your device and if a 2-in-1 can better fit your needs, why not make the switch?

Or if you wanted to own both a laptop and tablet, but don’t have the money for both, this could also be a valid solution.

Five of the best new computers reviewed, from laptops with pens to desktops that move

COMPUTERS are no longer just beige boxes plonked on a desk.

They can arrive without keyboards, with digital pens, in slender bodies or hefty forms.

We’ve rounded up five of the best — and arguably most diverse — new portable computers to help you choose your next workhorse.

Microsoft Surface Laptop

4 out of 5 stars / $1499-$3299 / microsoft.com/en-au

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop is lightweight and well built.

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop is lightweight and well built.Source:Supplied

Microsoft’s most accessible computer is beautifully crafted.

The Surface Laptop features a slim profile, metal top, and unusual spill-resistant fabric covering around its keys. It also offers a 13.5-inch touchscreen that is easy on the eyes, at 201 pixels per inch, though it doesn’t flip over or detach like some of its other products.

This laptop also uses Windows 10 S, which is designed for use with Microsoft apps, though you can upgrade it to Windows 10 Pro for free this year and install whatever program you please. This straightforward laptop should appeal to anyone in need of a basic computing experience, and travellers in particular due its pleasingly light weight.

It does have just one USB port, however, so you might need to pack a couple of adaptors.

Samsung Galaxy Book 12-inch

3.5 out of 5 stars / $1599-$2299 / samsung.com/au

The Samsung Galaxy Book features a 12-inch touchscreen, and comes with a keyboard cover and stylus.

The Samsung Galaxy Book features a 12-inch touchscreen, and comes with a keyboard cover and stylus.Source:Supplied

Why would you buy Samsung’s Windows 10 tablet over its Microsoft Surface equivalent?

The new Galaxy Book boasts a 12-inch Super AMOLED screen that is crisp, bright, and capable of screening HDR content, it comes with a battery-free stylus capable of greater pressure sensitivity than its peers, and there’s a keyboard cover thrown into the package.

Additionally, if you buy the top package, you can get up to 256GB storage, 8GB RAM, and a built-in 4G connection to stay connected wherever you roam.

And why would you stick with Surface instead?

This 2-in-one tablet convertible peaks at a dual-core Intel Core i5 chip, is a bit smaller but a bit heavier than an iPad Pro, and the packaged keyboard is troubled, offering limited angles, connection delays, and little use on a lap.

HP Spectre X2

4 out of 5 stars / $2199 / hp.com.au

The HP Spectre X2 is a convertible tablet computer with a sophisticated design.

The HP Spectre X2 is a convertible tablet computer with a sophisticated design.Source:Supplied

This convertible tablet makes Microsoft Windows look young again.

The Spectre X2, from HP’s premium range, shows off the software on a 12-inch touchscreen surrounded by a copper-coloured kickstand and a slender keyboard with a matt black exterior. It’s not all about looks with this machine, of course.

As its price suggests, it can act as a fully functional laptop too, with Windows 10 Home, 8GB RAM, Intel Core i5 chip, and a 256GB hard drive.

It also has enough connections to appease most users, with two USB-C ports and a memory card slot. The new X2 comes with a stylus too, though it doesn’t match the Surface Pen, and a keyboard that offers surprising comfort but an occasionally finicky trackpad.

Its battery life is also not as good as that of the Surface Pro, but it should make the shortlist.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

3.5 out of 5 stars / $949-$1099 / samsung.com/au

The Samsung Tab S3 is a high-end Google Android tablet with a crisp 9.7-inch touchscreen and a packaged stylus.

The Samsung Tab S3 is a high-end Google Android tablet with a crisp 9.7-inch touchscreen and a packaged stylus.Source:Supplied

If you want a tablet free of a fruity logo, there aren’t many high-end options for you to choose. Samsung addresses this void with the Galaxy Tab S3 that is the most advanced Google Android tablet on the market and a slick device.

Its 9.7-inch Super AMOLED display is crisp and easy on the eye, it features an attractive glass back, meagre 434g weight, comes with a battery-free but efficient stylus, and decent sound thanks to four speakers and Samsung’s AKG Harman purchase.

Both its wi-fi and 4G variants come with just 32GB storage, though users can boost that by adding a memory card. On the downside, it can be sluggish to operate, its optional keyboard is poorly designed, and its screen is smaller and more reflective than the competing iPad Pro 10.5 that costs just $30 more.

HP ZBook 17 G4

No stars / $3893 / hp.com.au

HP's ZBook 17 G4 is a mobile workstation.

HP’s ZBook 17 G4 is a mobile workstation.Source:Supplied

HP calls this a “mobile workstation” rather than a laptop because it’s far too big to sit on a lap. This 3.12kg computing beast arrives in a magnesium-reinforced chassis, features a 17.3-inch touchscreen, a full-sized keyboard with number pad, several connections including four USB ports and space for an Ethernet cable, and it can be customised to your liking.

You could, for example, add up to four terabytes of storage, and the rear panel of the machine can be removed to replace the battery.