Samsung’s latest offering is a mid-range tablet aimed at families. The Galaxy Tab A comes in two sizes 8” and 9.7 Both are 4:3 format as opposed to the usual 10:16 form of the other Samsung Tablets. Both sizes have identical specs and features with one major exception; the 9.7” model I am testing comes with an S Pen, the first time we have seen it on a device other than the Galaxy Note.It is a typical Samsung tablet, all plastic with rounded corners and at 15.84 oz (449 g) it is heavier than average and while I found it to be comfortable to hold, it is a bit top heavy. The specs aren’t anything to write home about, a 1.2GHz Snapdragon 410 processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage, you can add up to 128GB with a microSD card. The screen resolution is decidedly low rent at 1024×768.
It also runs Android Lollipop 5.0 and like all Samsung devices it is loaded with features such as split-screen multitasking and a kid-friendly mode to give your children access to a safe and more appropriate content. You can create up to 6 kids’ profiles which will allow your children to explore the Kids Camera, Kids Music and Kids Drawing confident that your personal data is protected. and wrapping up the family friendly productivity features, Microsoft Office Suite comes free of charge and pre-installed, and you’ll also get 100GB of free cloud storage on Microsoft OneDrive.
The S-Pen is a nice feature especially if your kids like to draw but, I was disappointed to see that the feature set was limited compared to the Note…no handwriting recognition for example. However it is great for annotating images, websites or other screens and you can also clip random shapes and of course handwritten notes using the Samsung notepad or Microsoft OneNote. A handy feature but, because of its limitations I’m not sure it is worth the $60 it adds to the price.
The cameras are OK not that I recommend choosing a tablet for its camera. The 2MP front shooter takes average pictures..OK for video calls..under good lighting conditions. The 5MP rear shooter is a bit better with extra features…Face detection, Digital zoom, Autofocus, Geo tagging..but still only of use under good lighting conditions.
The Galaxy Tab 4 9.7″ w/S-Pen is a decent mid range tablet that becomes expensive ($429) because of the S-Pen feature. If you need/want the S-Pen then it becomes a better buy. Personally, I would spend the extra 9o bucks for the Galaxy Tab S with its spectacular screen. On the other hand if the 9.7″ Tab A were to become available without the S-Pen at say $359 it would be a more interesting prospect. By the way, if you are looking for a smaller tablet, the 8″ Galaxy Tab A at $279 would be a pretty good buy.