Samsung's Galaxy Book laptops are impressive as far as Windows laptops go — credit where credit is due. But as powerful as they may be, the larger models fail in one design area: keyboard format and, inherently, touchpad placement.
There's a reason why even Apple's biggest 16-inch MacBook Pro doesn't have a numeric keyboard. And that's because those extra keys force the rest of the keyboard toward the left, compromising the user's comfort and typing experience.
Although a keyboard numpad isn't an issue for desktop setups, an offset keyboard is a problem for laptops. Desktop keyboards aren't stuck to monitors with a hinge. They can be moved around the desk in whatever position users want.
On the other hand, numpads on fixed laptop keyboards force users to keep their hands oriented toward the left when typing — and thus twist their backs a little, which is far from ergonomic — all the while forcing an offset display viewing angle.
When will Samsung learn that keyboard numpads are bad for laptops?
The numpad is also why larger Samsung laptops don't have a centered touchpad. Touchpads are usually centered relative to the main typing area, below the space bar. And if the main typing area (along with the space bar) is pushed to the left because of a numpad, so is the touchpad.
All in all, this arguably flawed design forces the laptop user to type in an awkward position, whether by pushing their hands slightly to the left and keeping the display centered or pushing the whole laptop (including its display) slightly to the right in favor of a more comfortable typing experience — at the cost of possible neck strain.
And the touchpad situation is even worse. If you can't have a centered touchpad, you'd at least want it closer to the right hand, not the left. But, again, a touchpad is traditionally centered below the typing area for a good reason. So, again, it's the numpad that throws everything off balance.
Story continues after our Galaxy Book 3 Ultra review video
Designing a laptop is somewhat of an exercise in finding the best compromise, and Apple is the master of finding just the right compromises while propping up the most important features of a laptop.
Apple wants users to keep their hands comfortably in the middle of their MacBooks when typing and the display in the center of the user's field of view. To achieve this, MacBooks found an easy solution: do away with numpads. And, in the end, it's a trade-off worth having.
Yet, for whatever reason, this rather fundamental design characteristic of a good laptop continues to elude Samsung — at least for its larger, most powerful models. The company seemingly believes that a numpad is worth having, even at the cost of the typing, touchpad, and viewing experiences. And unfortunately, seeing that the Galaxy Book 4 hasn't fixed this design issue, I can't get fully behind it.
Nevertheless, if you believe an off-centered keyboard and touchpad is a non-issue, and if you're looking for a powerful Windows laptop, you can hardly do any better than the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra, especially now around Black Friday. Check out our review video above and hit the “Buy” button below.