Lately manufacturers of Android tablets have been scrambling to capture the low end of the pricing spectrum leaving the premium marketplace to the Apple iPad. Well, with the Galaxy Tab S series Samsung has set out to compete pixel to pixel with Apple for the high ground of the tablet marketplace.
Well for starters Samsung hasn’t broken any new design ground. The tab s (there are two of them 10.5” and 8.4”) look a lot like every other device Samsung has put out lately, with a metal-look band surrounding the entire device, and a faux-leather back panel. That back panel looks less like a band-aid that the others and it does feel nice in the hand.
Classic Samsung in some ways but impressive in others. The 2560 x 1600 pixels Super Amoled screen simply blew me away.
The next pleasant surprise comes when you pick the tablet up. Razer thin at 6.6mm and featherweight at 465 grams for the 10.5” model and a mere 294 grams for the 8.4” version. Thin and as light as they are these tablets feel solid and well built lacking that plasticky feel of too many Samsung products.
Samsung hasn’t skimped on the power either. the Tab s features a 1.9GHz Quad Core/1.3GHz Quad Core Octacore processor with 3GB RAM the faster cores for when you need the power and the slower one for easy jobs and less drain on the battery. I couldn’t tell which cores it was using but found both models to perform well with fast app loading and smooth operation in every mode I tried. I didn’t see any stuttering even with a bunch of apps running in the background. Internal memory is 16Gb but you can add up to 128Gb via a micro SD slot.
Both models come with somewhat small batteries, the price for a very thin device. The 10.5-inch model gets a 30Wh battery while the 8.4-inch model only has an 18.6Wh battery so you could expect less than the 10 hour gold standard for tablets. I haven’t tested the battery life but anecdotally I have managed three days of general use, testing and a lot of reading with the Kindle app on a single charge of the 8.4” model. Some tech sites are reporting spectacular results of up to 15 hours of video viewing on a single charge.
The Tab s comes loaded with neat features such as Samsung’s Multi-Window feature for basic multi tasking with a limited number of apps. You access the multi-window function by swiping from right to left starting at the right bezel. The menu that appears is easily customizable and you can even make your own shortcuts to your favorite combination of apps to use. I found it worked really well with no stuttering or lag.
And if you own a Galaxy S5 phone you will love the latest version of SideSync.
The Tab S also features a fingerprint scanner for unlocking the device or authenticating with PayPal. It seems to me the same module as the Galaxy S5 but in my experience it is much more reliable than I found the scanner on the phone. There is also the IRblaster so you can use the Tablet as a remote control. The Watch On app makes configuration easy.
Both Galaxy Tab S’s have an 8-megapixel rear camera and LED flash, along with a lower-res, 2.1-megapixel shooter around front, both lenses are f2.4. The front camera is fine for video chats and the rear camera takes pretty good pictures under good lighting conditions
Both cameras shoot 1080p video but the rear shooter offers a few options including video stabilization. Again results are good under good lighting.
You will notice two little circles on the back. They are magnetic attachment pointe for the new cases Samsung is offering. They are pretty cool and I recommend buying one.
Samsung is also offering a really sturdy keyboard case for the 10.5” model that makes it look and feel like a small laptop for those of you who want to use it as a productivity tool.
The Galaxy Tab S in both sizes is a skinny well built tablet with a stunning screen It will become your go to device for watching videos. It is certainly the best tablet Samsung has ever built and .is my choice for an Android Tablet. For those not committed to the Apple ecosystem these tablets could be serious competition for the iPad.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S is available beginning today for $420 for the 8.4” model (my choice by the way) and $520 for the 10.5” model. Close from Dazzling White or Titanium Bronze (My choice) wherever Samsung products are sold. Some stores are offering a free case, so I would shop around.