Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S – 8.4-inch and 10.5-inch tablet computers (video)

29 Jul 20142 Shares

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Tablet computers are like buses, you spend ages waiting for a good one to come along and then suddenly two of them arrive at once.

There are the two variations of the new Galaxy Tab S tablet computer from Samsung, which claims the devices lend themselves to an unrivalled entertainment experience. The devices come in two sizes a large 10.5-inch version and a dainty little 8.4-inch version.

The first impression each device makes on you is that they are stylish in the extreme. While I won’t say they are the most visually attractive tablet computers in the market, they are probably the most visually unique – wrapped in a copper coloured band.

 The white and bronze 8.4-inch one makes me thing of First Holy Communion decorations for some reason.

Anyway, the first thing you will actually notice about the devices is truly their screens, which are Super AMOLED that Samsung claims express more colours than ever before and which have a hundred thousand to one contrast ratio.

All I can say is that they are extremely bright and vivid and catch your attention.

Another thing worth noting in terms of look and feel is just how light each device is: the small 8.4-inch tablet weighs just 300 grams while its bigger brother weights marginally below 500 grams. To give some perspective, the Galaxy S5 smartphone weights just over 145 grams.

Another nice feature is the bezel on each device is tiny which at times makes you think information is floating on air. Quite a nice effect actually.

Samsung is peddling these as entertainment hubs and while there is plenty of entertainment options, few of them are actually available yet in Ireland.

The hardware

Review – Samsung Galaxy Tab S

In terms of wireless there are two variations of each device – a Wi-Fi only version and a version with Wi-Fi and cellular (2G, 3G and 4G.

The devices come with some clever new features that are going to be standard on future computer/phone combinations such as the ability to take and receive calls from your phone directly onto the tablet’s screen.

Unfortunatley this feature known as Sidesync only works on Samsung devices and since I don’t have access Galaxy smartphone I wasn’t able to put it through its paces.

One nifty new feature is Samsung S Voice which allows you to control the machine with your voice. Okay so this is Samsung’s answer to Apple’s Siri and in terms of recognising my Irish accent I found it similarly shambolic. In fact the only real voice technology that has any merit is, in my opinion, Google’s voice search which works on any current smartphone or tablet.

Both the 10.5 and the 8.4 inch devices come with a full HD 8 megapixel camera on the rear with an LED flash while the front facing camera is 2.1 megapixels HD.

Both devices were brilliant for taking pictures on and the vivid screen made each the perfect lightbox. However, there is a bit of a stigma associated with using tablet devices to take pictures but maybe people will just grow out of that.

While the position of the rear camera on the larger device at the middle can mean you’re likely to cover the lens with your fingers at times (if holding it in portrait position) taking pictures on a tablet device has its benefits – I particularly like the zoom feature on the Tab S devices.

In terms of storage the machines each boast 3GB of RAM plus 16GB of internal memory.

Each machine comes with a Qualcomm 2.3GHz Quadcore processor

Selling points

I suspect the main selling points of the devices will be their screens and their potential as entertainment hubs. Watching video and playing games on the devices with the rich colours was definitely exciting.

Samsung says that what’s unique about the new tablet family is that their screens are ideal for reading and interacting with content while outside in the direct sunlight. And with the weather the way it had been recently in Ireland it was a good time to check it out.

Each device comes with Adaptive Display whereby sensors automatically adjust settings like gamma, saturation and sharpness based on the app you are using, the colour temperature of the environment you are in and the lighting.

You can also pre-set the device to two professional modes – AMOLED Cinema and AMOLED photo based on whether you are using the device to snap pictures or capture video.

Both devices have different battery capacity because of their size and screen dimensions but on the whole I found them to be quite rugged and only had to charge each device at least once over about two to three days.

Verdict

So these are the Samsung Galaxy S Tab computers. Overall they are sleek, powerful and meet most of the needs of today’s hectic digital lifestyle.

The devices are quite versatile and light and ultimately for me the winner is the screen quality which at 100,000:1 contrast ratio provides a nice competitor to Apple’s competing iPad range with Retina.

However, where I fear the devices may stumble is in terms of price – the 8.4-inch version is available from €399 while the 10.5 inch version is priced from €499.

Where this may go against Samsung is the fact that competing devices like the Asus Nexus 7-inch device costs just €250 while most people today could buy a decent personal computer for around €500. That said, Apple’s competing 7.9-inch device iPad Mini with Retina display starts at €399 while the 9.7-inch iPad Air starts at €489 – so you really are comparing Apples with Samsungs and getting pretty much the same thing.

So, that was the Samsung Tab S family. Beautifully designed tablet computers with a vivid and beautiful screen quality. I gave them four Silicon Republic stars out of five.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com