Samsung unveils lucrative ‘Fan Edition’ Galaxy S23, Galaxy Buds and Tab S9

 Samsung Electronics has just announced the ‘Fan Edition’ series for this year and that should attract the attention of prospective buyers. Those who want to experience the flagship Galaxy devices with small compromises but at a lower price tag should be elated. After some speculations that the series is gone for good, and the South Korean giant gave it a miss last year, this is more than welcome news.

The value flagship theme combined with the lower price tag has been more sensibly balanced out this time around after the shenanigans of the S21 FE which was a bit overpriced at $699. This time around the line-up of Galaxy S23 FE smartphone, Galaxy Tab S9 FE/FE+ and Galaxy Buds FE make much more sense.

Designer: Samsung

All these gadgets have been designed keeping in mind the environment. Longevity of use is also insured with four years of OS and five years of security updates. The mobile devices will all be available from tomorrow onwards in select markets and the Galaxy Buds FE will be available from October 6.

Galaxy S23 FE

Galaxy S23 FE adapts the big brother’s 6.4-inch 120Hz OLED display and the IP68 rating for water and dust resistance which is impressive. Of course having this Fan Edition device in peppy color options like mint, cream and purple does make the buying decision. Understandably the phone has the Snapdragon Gen 1 SoC which is not known for its battery efficiency, but then, trade-offs are expected. A minimum of 8GB of RAM and a maximum of 256GB internal storage, should make sure you can play AAA mobile gaming titles.

Samsung has included the wireless charging option for this phone which is another big plus. For camera fanatics, the S23 FE has a 50MP primary sensor paired with an 8MP Telephoto lens and a 12MP ultrawide shooter. That keeps it well above the mid-range devices out there. The front-facing camera however disappoints with a 10MP sensor, knowing that the previous generation had a 32MP sensor. The Galaxy S23 FE smartphone is priced at $599.

Galaxy Buds FE

The most affordable wireless earbuds in Samsung’s line-up, the Galaxy Buds FE have a design similar to the Buds Plus and come in two color options – graphite and white. The IPX2-rated buds have a standalone playback time of six hours with ANC on and 21 hours with the charging case. They come with AAC and SBC audio codec support, and each one of them has 3 microphones for better calling and ANC. Multi-device connectivity with Bluetooth 5.2 is another noticeable feature. The only downside is the lack of wireless charging capability.

The comfy earbuds carry a price tag of around $115 which should be a good choice for fans looking to experience the balanced sound signature of the brand.

Galaxy Tab S9 FE and S9 FE Plus

The budget tablets – Galaxy Tab S9 FE and S9 FE Plus both have LCD panels with 90Hz refresh rate, measuring 10.9-inch and 12.4-inch respectively. They are powered by the Exynos 1380 SoC compared to the Qualcomm chipset on the regular variant. Thankfully both get the IP68 rating and the S pen stylus like their big brothers.

The S9 FE comes with 8,000mAh and the Plus model has 10,000 mAh battery. In terms of cameras, both of them have 12MP ultrawide front-facing shooters with a 120-degree FOV and an 8 MP primary rear module. The Plus variant gets the extra 8MP ultrawide shooter on the rear. Both variants have 45W fast charging support and will be available in gray, mint, silver, and lavender colors.

Pricing for the Tab S9 FE starts at $550 in Europe while the Tab S9 FE+ is priced at $735. For the 5G models, you’ll have to pay $105 extra.


The post Samsung unveils lucrative ‘Fan Edition’ Galaxy S23, Galaxy Buds and Tab S9 first appeared on Yanko Design.

This multipurpose tablet orients in any direction for work and play on the go

Having a single gadget that takes care of your professional work, entertainment and gaming needs is in trend. More so when you can’t carry around multiple gadgets all the time. A tablet solves most of the purposes but then you must buy additional accessories too, thereby adding to the overall cost.

iScream Homelearn Book gets over this catch-22 situation with a mindfully designed gadget that’s well-tailored for any member of your family. Whether you love to binge-watch, do long gaming sessions, or get down to prepping your next big presentation; this versatile next-gen tablet is for you.

Designer: Found Founded

The mobile device is a combination of a large screen, tablet stand and a keyboard for setting up in any orientation. With the pedestals, detachable magnets and the robust build this gadget can be maneuvered in any direction without the fear of toppling over. In that sense, it’s your mini PC on the go.

The makers have kept the design and the color schema to be ultra-simple to avoid any visual distractions while working. It comes with a stylus pen to scribe down text, make digital art, or jot down any other details, much like the Galaxy S23 Ultra smartphone. Of course, other options on the market from players like Apple, Samsung, Amazon and Microsoft are there, but having the ecosystem of all accessories finely tuned with the main gadget is an advantage.

There is no word if the iScream is going to get past the concept and prototype stage or is it going to be released someday as a buyable option. If it does, the software-hardware integration has to be spot-on if the makers want to enter the closely contested market space!

The post This multipurpose tablet orients in any direction for work and play on the go first appeared on Yanko Design.

Special Edition Asus tablet designed by ACRONYM is functional and striking work of art

Asus likes to experiment with unique collaborations with creative outfits, and more often than not, the results are excellent. Back in 2020, they joined forces with Berlin-based ACRONYM to create the ROG ZEPHYRUS G14-ACRNM laptop and now the two camps have again collaborated for a limited-edition tablet.

ACRONYM co-founded in 1994 by Errolson Hugh, a pioneer in the technical-apparel industry, has struck partnerships with the likes of Nike in the past, and now they developed the functional and stylish ROG Flow Z13 ACRNM RMT02 tablet for Asus.

Designer: ACRONYM and Asus

The gaming tablet’s industrial chassis is very artistic, which is obvious since Hugh leveraged the design prowess of Phil Saunders who designed the Iron Man suit. Ideation for this cool-looking machine propped up to go with the existing line-up of ACRONYM jackets, and project head, Rod Chong (LA-based creative director) delivered exactly what was needed. Both camps worked for almost a year on this design and the results are stunning. The package comes with an integrated strap in the body, rubber holds for improved grip and reinforced corners for protection from bump damage. The keyboard and screensaver on this edition have been visually ramped up for that extra flair. All of this while being ultra-functional and looking stunning with any modern outfit.

According to Hugh, Republic of Gamers was the perfect partner for their next big creation since ROG has a very open-minded approach. “Its engineers were willing to go into unknown territory, and they had the know-how and the competence to deliver those ideas.” For Shawn Yen, ROG Vice President of the Gaming Business Unit, their collaboration with ACRONYM opened their perspective towards looking at things “from a different angle.”

Based on the Asus ROG Flow Z13, the one designed by ACRONYM also gets a bump up in specifications for ultimate performance. While the vanilla version has an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 graphics card, the special edition gets an RTX 4070 instead. The same goes for LPDDR5 RAM as well, there’s 16GB on the normal one and 32GB on the ACRONYM edition. Other than that, the 13.4-inch IPS QHD+ (16:10) screen having 165Hz refresh rate, the 13th-gen Intel Core i9-13900H processor, 1TB of M.2 SSD storage and the 56Wh battery with 130W charging are identical.

According to Asus, only 14 limited edition versions of the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 ACRONYM will be available to purchase. The price for all the added perks and exclusivity will be a mind-numbing $2,500, so one should better stick to the Surface Pro, iPad Pro, or Galaxy Tab S6!

The post Special Edition Asus tablet designed by ACRONYM is functional and striking work of art first appeared on Yanko Design.

Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium Bundle SE Review: Every Little Bit Counts


  • Premium build quality and packaging

  • Includes plenty of extras, such as a glove, pen case, and two pens

  • Bundles versatile Quick Keys remote

  • Good performance and accuracy


  • Expensive compared to other pen tablets (except Wacom)

  • A few driver quirks with Quick Keys remote

  • Tablet has too few shortcut keys without extra remote




A formidable rival to the Wacom Intuos, the Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium Bundle SE offers impressive performance, premium aesthetics, value-add extras, and a rather daunting price tag.

Plenty of designers love the simple joys and liberating functionality of pen and paper, but it gets harder and harder to escape the call of the digital realm. When it comes to tools for turning ideas and designs into digital artifacts, Wacom’s drawing tablets have long held the lion’s share of the market and continue to do so, at least on the high end. Plenty of alternatives have popped up in the past years, each trying to nibble at that large pie, especially with exponentially more affordable offerings. Almost out of nowhere, a new competitor jumps into the fray, loudly challenging the long-time champion on its own turf. The Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium makes quite a few promises, especially with its special Bundle, but are they just empty words or something that can truly stand the test of real-world problems? We put our creative hats on and give the pen a twirl to find out if this is a tool that designers and creatives can learn to love.

Designer: Xencelabs


Even before you open the box, you already get the impression that this is no mere challenger. Granted, it goes back to the age of packaging that is more elaborate and sometimes wasteful than necessary, but it’s hard to deny that the quality of the Xencelabs Pen Tablet’s presentation definitely makes a good first impression. Fortunately, it isn’t just skin deep, and this high-quality trait continues to other parts of the product.

For one, you are immediately greeted by a tablet and accessories that are predominantly white with mixes of gray, a color scheme that is almost unheard of and unseen in the pen tablet industry. It’s definitely a nice touch that sets Xencelabs apart from its peers. Of course, not everyone will find this color appealing, and there’s a non-SE bundle that has the traditional black motif.

Although the Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium is your typical plastic affair, you can definitely feel in your hand that it isn’t the cheap and flimsy kind of plastic. It has a solid build quality that will be important if you plan on bringing this along with you a lot. The white surfaces are smooth and shiny, while the grays have different textures, depending on their purpose. The drawing area, of course, has a frosted texture that produces a more realistic drawing experience, while the rubber grip on the pens makes them more comfortable to hold.

The package also comes with a pen case that fits the two bundled pens, replacement nibs, a USB cable, and dongles for wireless connection. A pen case is already a rare treat on other tablets, but one that looks stylish inside and out is an even bigger deal. All in all, both the tablet and its bundled accessories look as premium as Wacom’s high-end offering, which shouldn’t really be surprising considering how much this bundle costs.


As a tool that you’ll be using as much as pen and paper, it is critically important that this tablet and its pen are comfortable to use, especially for long periods of time. Despite the “tablet” being the main part of the product, it is actually the pen’s ergonomics that is even more important. Fortunately, Xencelabs doesn’t disappoint in this area either, with not one but two pens to fit your preference and style. One is the typical Wacom-style pen that swells near the bottom before tapering at the tip, creating a bulbous shape that is something uncommon with normal ink pens. The other pen is the regular barrel, which is more common among laptops and mobile devices that support a stylus.

While both pens are comfortable to hold, the choice won’t simply be a matter of preference. The larger pen has three buttons, while the smaller rod only has two, forcing you to decide between functionality and form. Fortunately, missing a button isn’t as devastating as it sounds since there’s a remote that comes with the bundle. Both pens also have erasers on the opposite end that you can map to other functions, a feature that, so far, only Wacom has been offering.

The ergonomics of the drawing slate itself boils down to two things. First is how light or heavy it is to carry around, which, in this case, is more on the heavier side, which adds to the weight of the laptop you already have in your bag. The other aspect is how well it supports your hand and your wrist while you draw on it. Unlike any other pen tablet, the Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium has a gently sloping bottom edge supposedly designed to be an ergonomic wrist rest. For those starting out with this tablet, that might indeed be comfortable, but those switching over from existing brands might find the curve a bit unfamiliar.


Xencelabs entered the drawing tablet scene with guns blazing, claiming to challenge Wacom on multiple fronts, especially the price. Of course, a lot of other brands have already been shouting the same thing, and their focus on the price tag produced less than impressive results. Admittedly, they have improved significantly over the years, but there’s still a gap between them and Wacom, a gap that the former Wacom employees that have formed Xencelabs are now trying to fill.

The good news is that Xencelabs isn’t all talk. Whichever of the two pens you choose, you’ll be able to get smooth, crisp lines with no jitter. You can definitely feel that 8,192 levels of sensitivity to the point that you might even want to dial it down a bit to suit your style and hand strength. The tablet’s surface has enough resistance that it doesn’t feel like you’re gliding plastic on glass, especially if you switch to the felt nibs that offer more traction. It’s definitely close to what you would expect from Wacom, but other more affordable tablets from XP-PEN, Huion, and the like are already catching up anyway, making this advantage less significant as time goes by.

The tablet’s value, however, goes beyond its raw drawing performance. For example, driver installation and software management has always been a bane of these computer peripherals, including Wacom. Xencelabs’ software, however, is almost perfect, except for a few glitches involving the included Quick Keys remote. The drivers work without problems, and the software to configure the tablet, pens, and remote is clearly labeled and easy to use. There are definitely a lot of features, almost too many for beginners.

One small but nice feature is the lights on the corners of the tablet’s active area, whose colors you can set on a per-app basis. It might sound inconsequential, but having very visible cues on the boundaries of the drawing area, as well as which app you’re focused on, can help a lot in staying sane during a crunch. That same light-changing feat can be seen on the remote’s dial, which can also change its hue depending on the mode it’s in.

If the tablet and the pen are the stars of the show, the bundled Quick Keys remote plays the supporting role. An accessory that comes as an expensive add-on on other brands, the remote offers 8 keys that can be assigned to different functions and 5 modes that bump up the total to 40 configurable shortcuts. That’s not counting the LED-lit dial that can be used to, for example, zoom in and out or change the brush size with a simple twist. Unlike other similar remotes, it has an OLED display that doesn’t force users to memorize which button does which action. The remote definitely works great and is one of the highlights of this package. Although it’s technically an extra, it actually becomes a necessity because the tablet, unlike others of its kind, only has three buttons that are awkwardly placed at the top. That might be far too few for the professionals that Xencelabs is targeting, making this $99.99 remote an essential part of its proposition.

Another thing that sets the Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium apart is that it can work both with a USB cable and the included wireless dongle. The latter offers more flexibility in setting up your workspace or when working away from your desk without having to deal with the instability of Bluetooth. It does mean you’d be giving up a USB slot even when going wireless, which can become even more problematic when you use up another slot for the Quick Keys remote.


As a device that needs to be thin and lightweight, it’s really no surprise that the Xencelabs Pen Tablet and its accessories use plenty of plastic, although the packaging thankfully doesn’t have that much. If that weren’t bad enough, the track record of these kinds of devices being repaired and recycled isn’t that good, and most consumers opt to throw away and replace broken products instead of getting them repaired, especially when repair costs far outweigh new purchases. In that sense, there is very little that Xencelabs does differently from its peers, at least nothing that it has proudly revealed yet.

As an extremely young brand, it’s probably not that surprising that Xencelabs is laser-focused on actually cementing its place in the market. It has pit itself against a giant, and its survival and success is currently the most critical aspect of its business. At the same time, however, it is a young brand that could have made a difference right from the start with a stronger and more visible sustainability commitment. Only time will tell if it can get up to speed in this aspect, presuming it actually makes it through its first products.


From a design and performance perspective, the Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium is already quite a heavy hitter. It performs just as well as an equivalent Wacom Intuos Pro but also goes even beyond that with features like wireless connectivity, configurable LED indicators, and two pens right off the bat. The bundled Quick Keys remote definitely adds to the value, something that you’d have to buy separately with other brands.

Things get a little less clear-cut, however, when you start talking about the price. At $380 for the white Bundle SE or $370 for the standard Black version, it isn’t exactly the most affordable kit outside of Wacom. If you remove the remote, you’re still left at $280, easily three times the price of a medium-sized pen tablet from XP-PEN or Huion. Of course, compared to Wacom, you’re actually saving quite a lot, especially if you consider all the extras you’re getting. Needless to say, the Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium is in a middle ground of sorts, muddling its overall value when compared against more affordable options, with or without an extra remote.


Although it is still the household name among drawing tablets, both with displays or without, Wacom is no longer the only player in the field. A lot of rivals have risen up and have eaten away at its bottom line. There might still be a discernible difference between Wacom and other players when it comes to performance, but that gap is closing after years of improvement and development. Suffice it to say, there isn’t any lack of “Wacom alternatives,” which is what makes Xencelabs’ arrival both surprising and a little bit questionable.

Make no mistake, the Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium Bundle SE is impressive in almost all aspects. It looks and feels premium, especially with its uncommon white design, and its accuracy and responsiveness demonstrate its pedigree that can be traced back to Wacom itself. The bundle throws in plenty of nice extras, not least of which is the Quick Keys remote, which is still a great deal, even considering the price. It’s that price, however, that will cause many creatives to pause for thought when there are exactly many alternatives that can do just as well for a lot less. Xencelabs’ pricing makes a clear statement that it is aiming for Wacom’s throne, launching a premium device that puts it closer to the titleholder than other rivals. It remains to be seen, however, if this strategy will pay off or if the Xencelabs Pen Tablet will be a one-hit-wonder.

The post Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium Bundle SE Review: Every Little Bit Counts first appeared on Yanko Design.

Lenovo’s latest ‘ThinkBook Plus Twist’ takes the dual-screen laptop format and gives it 180° dynamism

Remember the ThinkPad Twist from 2012? It’s back in a bigger, badder, and better avatar.

Lenovo announced yet another addition to its ThinkBook Plus series that builds on the innovative line by introducing the ThinkBook Plus Twist, a dual-display hybrid laptop designed for SMB users. The ThinkBook Plus Twist comes with a traditional OLED display and a not-so-traditional color e-ink display on its back. The displays are connected to the base of the laptop by a 180° swivel hinge that lets you flip things over based on your need. The e-ink display also comes with tablet functionality and a stylus input, making it perhaps the most bizarrely beautiful versatile laptop from Lenovo in a decade!

Designer: Lenovo

Before we talk about the laptop’s specs, it’s important to realize who this laptop was designed for, and what it hopes to achieve. The laptop is a culmination of a lot of work on Lenovo’s part, following user feedback from prior ThinkBook Plus models. The e-ink display in the Plus Gen 2 was a great idea, and was therefore revived with the Twist, albeit with its own twist. The new e-ink display now measures 12 inches and comes with a 12Hz refresh rate and touch-glass. Right behind it sits a slightly larger 13.3-inch 2.8K OLED with touch capabilities too, although both displays have their own sets of merits. The OLED display serves as your primary monitor, allowing you to work, watch content, and browse the web. The e-ink display on the back, however, is for more relaxed viewing. It offers much less glare than the backlit OLED, giving you a comfortable experience that’s perfect for reading and even editing, thanks to stylus compatibility. The e-ink display also has a whopping 18-month battery life, so content displayed on it can be left intact for literal years.

What really unlocks the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Twist’s true potential is its ‘twist’ – the innovative hinge that connects the body and display units. The hinge lets you open and close your laptop, as well as swivel the screens up to 180°. This format lets you use both the OLED and e-ink display with the Plus Twist’s built-in keyboard or as a tablet when the laptop’s shut with the display of your choice facing outwards. Lenovo mentions that power users can toggle the e-ink display in either “typewriter” laptop mode or “e-paper” tablet mode
allowing them to easily draft, edit and proofread documents via the keyboard or the pen.

To finally address the ThinkBook Plus Twist’s specs, the laptop has Intel’s 13th Gen Core processors on the inside. You’ve got up to 16Gb of DDR5X RAM, and up to 1Tb of SSD storage on the device. The laptop sports 2 Thunderbolt USB-C ports along with a 3.5mm jack, and has Wi-Fi6 and Bluetooth 5.1 built-in along with fingerprint-unlock. There’s a 56Wh battery on the inside, although Lenovo hasn’t mentioned how much use time it gives the ThinkBook Twist Plus. You can rest assured knowing that the e-ink display has virtually negligible energy consumption, and will run for weeks and months even when your laptop battery’s on low power, giving you the ability to be productive even when the going gets tough. That’s the gist of the Twist! The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Twist will start at $1649 and is expected to be available starting June 2023.

The post Lenovo’s latest ‘ThinkBook Plus Twist’ takes the dual-screen laptop format and gives it 180° dynamism first appeared on Yanko Design.

Apple patents next-gen Pencil with an Optical Sensor that can pick colors and textures from real life

Apple just took the eyedropper tool and made it real.

Ever seen a beautiful mural on a wall and felt like being able to capture those colors for your own art? Sure, you could carry a Pantone shade book everywhere you go… or if Apple has its way, you could just touch your Apple Pencil on the mural and capture its color like an eyedropper tool in real life. Apple just recently filed a patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a next-gen Apple Pencil with built-in optical sensors that don’t just capture colors, they capture textures too. A complicated array of tech built into the Apple Pencil’s nib would help turn it into more than just a stylus. Instead of being merely a note-keeping and art-creating device, the Pencil would also now help gather inspiration, letting you build your own bank of hues and textures to use in your projects as reference material.

Designer/Visualizer: Sarang Sheth

The way the new Apple Pencil works is theoretically simple – as per the patent drawings, a light sensor and a light emitter sit within the stylus tip. The emitter and sensor work together to help sample colors and textures as you tap the Pencil on any surface. The way it works is no different from your mouse, which uses a light emitter and optical sensor to track movement. The only key difference is that the Pencil does that WHILE also being able to function as a stylus for your iPad.

The patent was discovered by the fine folks at Patently Apple, who also reported that this technology could be used to even detect measurements, aside from hue and texture. How this would work seems a little sketchy at best – would you need to have the iPad handy while using the Apple Pencil’s sampling feature? Where would all the data get saved? How would one toggle the feature, because you need to tap the Pencil on the iPad’s touchscreen to use it as a stylus.

For now, this next-gen feature exists only as a patent and it’s pretty unclear if Apple plans on radically redesigning the pencil, although it’s been over 4 years since Apple announced the Pencil Gen 2. Apple has patented various Pencil-adjacent technologies in the past, including an early 2021 patent for detachable custom nibs that give your Pencil a more artistic approach, and a recent patent for a Pencil with a rotary element on top and multiple touch-sensitive areas on its body. Which new feature do you want in the next-gen Apple Pencil??

Patent Images via Patently Apple
Stylus Concept visualizations via Sarang Sheth

The post Apple patents next-gen Pencil with an Optical Sensor that can pick colors and textures from real life first appeared on Yanko Design.

The Lenovo Tab M9 is a handy 9-inch tablet designed for streaming movies with Dolby Atmos audio

Your screen away from the screen.

Meet the M9, a perfectly portable and affordable little tab that’s made to escape the other screen in your life – your work laptop. The Tab M9 is a tiny, capable device with a 9-inch display and a MediaTek® Helio G80 Octa-Core processor running Android 12 (with the ability to upgrade to Android 13). It also has up to 128 GB of built-in storage, a 5100mAh battery capable of 13 hours on a full charge, and dual stereo speakers enhanced by Dolby Atmos. “When looking for some downtime away from the stressors of work and school, the Lenovo Tab M9 offers the entertainment essentials for a satisfying multi-media experience”, the company says.

Designer: Lenovo

The Tab M9 comes in Arctic Grey and Frost Blue, with a dual-textured metal back for a comfortable holding experience regardless of the tab’s orientation. The tablet weighs under a pound and is 7.99mm thick (making it lighter but 0.49mm thicker than the iPad Air) and comes wit the ability to be used as a standalone tab or paired with a clear folio case with a built-in kickstand.

You’ve got an 8MP camera on the back and a 2MP front-facing camera capable of face-unlock. The tablet has a USB-C port on the base which supports 15W fast charging. It also has Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.1 for better connectivity.

Although touted primarily as an entertainment device, the Tab M9 is well suited for reading too. It offers an immersive ‘Reading Mode’ that
simulates the color of actual book pages, allows users to soften the tone for their eyes, and even offers a selection of various ambient background sounds to choose from. “If the story gets to be too good, TÜV Rheinland eye care certification gives users the peace of mind that their eyes are protected so they can read the night away,” Lenovo says.

The post The Lenovo Tab M9 is a handy 9-inch tablet designed for streaming movies with Dolby Atmos audio first appeared on Yanko Design.

The best 2-in-1 laptops for 2023

The perfect hybrid machine that’s just as good a tablet as it is a laptop still doesn’t exist. But throughout last year, companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google continued to improve their operating systems for machines that do double duty. Windows 11 has features that make it friendlier for multi-screen devices, while Android has been better optimized for larger displays. Plus, with the rise of ARM-based chips for laptops, especially Apple’s impressive M series, prospects for a powerful 2-in-1 with a vast touch-friendly app ecosystem is at an all-time high.

Even the best 2-in-1 laptops still have their limits, of course. Since they’re smaller than proper laptops, they tend to have less-powerful processors. Keyboards are often less sturdy, with condensed layouts and shallower travel. Plus, they’re almost always tablets first, leaving you to buy a keyboard case separately. (And those ain’t cheap!) So, you can’t always assume the advertised price is what you’ll actually spend on the 2-in-1 you want.

Sometimes, getting a third-party keyboard might be just as good, and they’re often cheaper than first-party offerings. If you’re looking to save some money, Logitech’s Slim Folio is an affordable option, and if you don’t need your keyboard to attach to your tablet, Logitech’s K780 Multi-Device wireless keyboard is also a good pick.

While we’ve typically made sure to include a budget 2-in-1 laptop in previous years, this time there isn’t a great choice. We would usually pick a Surface Go, but the latest model is still too expensive. Other alternatives, like cheaper Android tablets, are underpowered and don’t offer a great multitasking interface. If you want something around $500 that’s thin, lightweight and long-lasting, you’re better off this year looking at a conventional laptop (like those on our best budget PCs list).

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 2020
Chris Velazco / Engadget

When you’re shopping for a 2-in-1, there are some basic criteria to keep in mind. First, look at the spec sheet to see how heavy the tablet is (alone, and with the keyboard). Most modern hybrids weigh less than 2 pounds, with the 1.94-pound Surface Pro 9 being one of the heaviest around. The iPad Pro 12.9 (2022) and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S8+ are both slightly lighter. If the overall weight of the tablet and its keyboard come close to 3 pounds, you’ll be better off just getting an ultraportable laptop.

You’ll also want to opt for an 11-inch or 12-inch screen instead of a smaller 10-inch model. The bigger displays will make multitasking easier, plus their companion keyboards will be much better spaced. Also, try to get 6GB of RAM if you can for better performance — you’ll find this in the base model of the Galaxy Tab S7+, while this year’s iPad Pro and the Surface Pro 8 start with 8GB of RAM.

Finally, while some 2-in-1s offer built-in LTE or 5G connectivity, not everyone will want to pay the premium for it. An integrated cellular radio makes checking emails or replying to messages on the go far more convenient. But it also often costs more, and that’s not counting what you’ll pay for data. And, as for 5G — you can hold off on it unless you live within range of a mmWave beacon. Coverage is still spotty and existing nationwide networks use the slower sub-6 technology that’s barely faster than LTE.

Best overall: Surface Pro 9 (Intel)

There’s no beating the Surface series when it comes to 2-in-1s. They’re powerful, sleek tablets running an OS that’s actually designed for productivity. The Surface Pro 9 is Microsoft’s latest and great tablet, and it builds upon the already excellent Pro 8. It features speedy 12th-gen Intel CPUs and all of the major upgrades from last year, including a 120Hz display and a more modern design. It’s the best implementation of Microsoft’s tablet PC vision yet.

Don’t confuse this with the similarly named Surface Pro 9 with 5G, though, which has a slower ARM processor and inferior software compatibility. Built-in cellular is nice and all, but the Intel Pro 9 is a far better PC.

Like most of the other 2-in-1s on this list, the Pro 9 doesn’t come with a keyboard cover — you’ll have to pay extra for that. That’s a shame, considering it starts at $1,000. Microsoft offers a variety of Type Covers for its Surface Pros ranging from $100 to $180, depending on whether you want a slot for a stylus. But at least they’re comfortable and well-spaced. You can also get the Surface Slim Pen 2 ($130) for sketching out your diagrams or artwork, which features haptic feedback for a more responsive experience.

Best for Apple users: 12.9-inch iPad Pro

If you’re already in the Apple ecosystem, the best option for you is obviously an iPad. The 12-inch Pro is our pick. Like older models, this iPad Pro has a stunning 12.9-inch screen with a speedy 120Hz refresh rate, as well as mini-LED backlighting. This year, it includes Apple’s incredibly fast M2 chip and more battery life than ever before.

Apple’s Magic Keyboard provides a satisfying typing experience, and its trackpad means you won’t have to reach for the screen to launch apps. But it’ll also cost you an extra $300, making it the most expensive case on this list by a lot. The iPad also lacks a headphone jack and its webcam is awkwardly positioned along the left bezel when you prop it up horizontally, so be aware that it’s still far from a perfect laptop replacement. Still, with its sleek design and respectable battery life, the iPad Pro 12.9 is a good 2-in-1 for Apple users.

Best for Android users: Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+

While Windows is better than iPadOS and Android for productivity, it lags the other two when it comes to apps specifically designed for touchscreens. If you want a tablet that has all the apps you want, and only need it to occasionally double as a laptop, the Galaxy Tab S8+ is a solid option. You’ll enjoy watching movies and playing games on its gorgeous 12.4-inch 120Hz AMOLED screen, and Samsung includes the S Pen, which is great for sketching and taking notes. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip and 8GB of RAM keep things running smoothly, too.

Last year, Samsung dramatically improved its keyboard case, making the Tab an even better laptop replacement. You could type for hours on this thing and not hate yourself (or Samsung). The battery life is also excellent, so you won’t need to worry about staying close to an outlet. The main caveat is that Android isn’t great as a desktop OS, even with the benefits of Android 12L. And while Samsung’s DeX mode offers a somewhat workable solution, it has plenty of quirks.

Cherlynn Low contributed to this report.

Wireless iPad Pro accessory for visual artists gives you total control over all your Procreate tools

By putting the most common tools and functions right under your fingertips, the PenPad hopes to make using the iPad’s most famous sketching/painting app much easier by eliminating the hassle of navigating the Procreate interface. Instead, almost like the way a Numpad makes accessing numbers easy, the PenPad gives you access to 22 different functions that you’re most likely to use while sketching on Procreate, from increasing and decreasing brush size, accessing the color wheel, switching between brush and eraser, or just bringing up the color wheel or eyedropper tool. The fact that it’s a compact hardware accessory means you can paint with one hand while intuitively pressing buttons with the other to make your workflow tonnes faster.

Designer: PenTips

Available in Black and White variants, the PenPad connects via Bluetooth to your iPad and automatically begins working with the Procreate app right out of the box. The 22 concave buttons on the PenPad are laid out in a way that makes them easy to use, and pressing buttons allows you to actively perform tasks like see your layers, toggle the selection tool, cut, copy, paste tools, etc. The buttons work rather seamlessly, almost like a wireless keyboard would, resulting in faster workflows because your mind is focused on creating rather than navigating the UI anymore.

What PenPad really does is reduce the time it takes for your eyes to wander and your hand to follow it around Procreate’s UI. More than 90% of the Procreate screen is the drawing canvas, which means the other elements (the buttons, menus, etc.) are laid out in a way that gives the canvas the main importance. Drawing on the canvas is easy, but using other features involves shifting your focus from the canvas to locate the appropriate toolbar, drop-down menu, etc. It takes a mere second, sometimes up to 10 seconds, but all this adds up rather quickly when you’re working with large files and multiple layers. To avoid this, the PenPad just puts common functions under your fingertips. This way, your dominant hand can sketch on the screen, while your non-dominant hand rests on the PenPad, away from the touchscreen display. Once your fingers get a hang of the PenPad’s layout, it becomes even more intuitive and rapid!

The tiny wireless device comes with a format that seems rather calculator-ish. It’s relatively flat, barring a bump at the top that makes the PenPad rest on surfaces at an angle – a feature that actually helps make it more ergonomic. The accessory is still rather flat, and slides right into your backpack, tablet/laptop sleeve when you’re not using it.

The PenPad works seamlessly with iPads running iPadOS 14.4 and above, although there are a few shortcomings. For starters, it doesn’t work with any other sketching app – so you’re really limited to Procreate. It doesn’t work with Android tablets either, given that Procreate isn’t available for the OS. The buttons aren’t reprogrammable either, so you can’t quite map them to work on other software for the iPad or even the laptop. It’s strictly bound to one app for one device category. Another user also pointed out that the PenPad lacks the three most popular actions performed while digital sketching – pan, rotate, and zoom. To be able to perform them, you need to take your hand off the PenPad and pinch, tap, swipe on the iPad’s touchscreen.

That doesn’t take away from the fact that the PenPad still DOES speed up your workflow. It’s quite a must-have for most digital artists who use the software for work (or even for recreation). The PenPad comes with a 100 mAh battery built-in that gives it a 5-day battery life, but unfortunately, it charges via MicroUSB (unlike the USB-C charging on the iPad Pro), so you’ll sadly need to carry an extra cable with you wherever you go.

The post Wireless iPad Pro accessory for visual artists gives you total control over all your Procreate tools first appeared on Yanko Design.

Pixel Fold renders dream up Google’s next big thing

Google seems to be gearing up to expand its Pixel brand, starting with the shiny new Pixel Watch launched last month. The company also already confirmed that it will be launching its first Pixel-branded tablet next year, and it seems to be taking a rather different course from typical slates like the Apple iPads and the majority of Android tablets. One thing it hasn’t confirmed yet at this point is a foldable device that many are sure is happening next year as well. While nothing is official yet, these beautiful renders and bits of information do paint an almost complete picture of what is being called the Pixel Fold, suggesting that it’s going to be just as divisive as any other foldable phone in the market.

Designer: Jon Presser (Front Page Tech)

Almost everyone is expected to launch a foldable phone these days, including Apple, which is highly unlikely at this point. The reality is that, despite all the buzz and hype, foldables are still seen as an eccentric luxury, a very expensive experiment in what the future of mobile could be. Ironically, that’s exactly the perfect chance for Google to step in with its own take on a foldable Android device, only to announce its retirement a year or two later.

Whether it happens sooner rather than later, these renders, all based on leaked information, represent a close possibility of what the Pixel Fold could look like. Admittedly, it looks very classy and professional, especially with its sparkling chrome edges and reflective glass back. When folded, the external screen looks big enough to be a regular-sized “phablet” or giant phone. Unfolded, however, it means that it would be more square than a typical tablet. There is also no gap near the hinge when the phone is folded, unlike the Galaxy Z Fold series, which isn’t exactly that novel considering that the OPPO Find N and the Huawei Mate Xs 2 have already pulled it off.

While all of the above sound good and expected for such a device, there are a few details that could give would-be buyers pause for thought. The extra large camera bump on the back runs horizontally like the Pixel 7’s, but it is a discrete island rather than a visor. The Pixel 7’s camera design wouldn’t have worked anyway since it would have gotten in the way of the hinge. It’s a rather thick bump, for that matter, and it could make the device wobble when unfolded and laid on a desk. Either way, it looks a bit awkward and very unlike the Pixel 7’s signature design.

The internal screen also has quite some bezel around it, which is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s far wider than what we’re used to these days, even on foldable phones. On the other hand, it possibly leaves enough room for a front camera without resorting to cutouts and under-display gimmicks. According to the leakster, the Pixel Fold is going to be quite heavy in hand, which doesn’t really sound reassuring for this kind of device. That said, that heft could also give it a bit of a premium feel that’s associated with materials like metal rather than cheap plastic.

The biggest deal-breaker, however, might be its rumored $1,800 price tag, a very steep figure at a time when manufacturers like Samsung are trying to make the device category more palatable. Pixel phones do have that mark of being more expensive than comparable phones, so that’s not exactly surprising. It doesn’t inspire confidence, however, given how Google tends to provide or sell products with much buzz only to pull the rug from under people’s feet when they least expect it.

The post Pixel Fold renders dream up Google’s next big thing first appeared on Yanko Design.