With the launch of its latest Galaxy Tab S, Samsung has fired a clear shot over Apple’s bow in the tablet race.
The Tab S is a premium device aimed for the masses, and with its familiar interface and look and feel, the Tab S is designed to appeal to existing Samsung Galaxy phone owners, giving them a competitive, non-Apple tablet option. Samsung also believes that the Tab S is it’s best tablet ever.
Thin, stylish and light, the Galaxy Tab S has a svelt 6.6mm profile, and comes in 10.5 and 8.4 inch screen sizes. (The iPad Air is 7.5mm thick). The former weighs 465 grams, while the smaller model is just 294 grams.
The jewel in the Tab S’s crown is its Super AMOLED screen, which has a ‘beyond HD’ resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels. This means 287 pixels per inch (ppi) on the 10.5 inch screen and an incredibly fine 360ppi on the 8.4inch model.
Leveraging Samsung’s display expertise, the units we viewed were very bright, with amazing colour depth and image clarity. The colour gamut is very wide, which helps display even more detail in colourful scenes.
There was plenty of contrast in dark images too, and viewing angles were impressively wide. Super AMOLED is also better technology for outdoor visibility than conventional ‘filtered’ light from LED/LCD displays. This is certainly a screen you’d be happy to watch lengthly videos and movies on, or read a novel, wherever you are. It has set a new standard in tablet screen quality.
Super AMOLED technology uses less energy than conventional displays too, meaning that the Tab S can handle 11 hours of battery life while playing back a 1080p video.
The Tab S’s AMOLED display is adaptive, meaning that it will sense the environment you’re viewing the tablet in, and adjust gamma, saturation, sharpness and colour temperatures to provide a more optimised viewing experience. It can also optimise based on what you’re doing, so, for example, it will sharpen the text and reduce the background brightness when it senses that you’re reading an ebook under incandescent light to help reduce eyestrain.
There are also preset modes including AMOLED Cinema and AMOLED Photo for watching movies and previewing pics.
If you’re familiar with Samsung’s Galaxy S5 phones, you’ll certainly spot the resemblance with the Tab S. The styling is similar, including the ‘perforated’ rear textured design, and bevelled edges. There are two colour choices including titanium bronze and dazzling white, with rose gold accents in the metallic finish on the tablet’s edges.
Samsung has also created two small ‘dimples’, or ‘simple-clickers’ the back of the Tab S, which provide mounting points for the two different click-in cases.
These can be affixed by simply pressing the connecting parts together, and once locked, they are strong enough to support the tablet’s weight without separating.
The Tab S comes with plenty of innovative features that will likely appear on the next iPad.
First, there’s the same fingerprint scanner found on the Galaxy S5 phone, which stores up to 3 fingers, and also works with PayPal for fingerprint-only purchase approvals.
The SideSync 3.0 app is quite clever, and enables easy drag-and-drop wireless file sharing between Galaxy devices, however what really shines is how you can view and run all of your phone’s apps, as well as make and receive calls on your tablet.
So if you have your Galaxy S5 phone in the other room, you can see a ‘virtual’ version of it on your tablet, and answer a call that might have come through from the other room. Even play a game straight from your phone’s desktop. All you need is for both devices to be on the same Wi-Fi network.
The Remote PC feature lets you transfer information to and from your desktop computer as well.
The Tab S comes with a child-friendly kids mode that lets kids play games and doodle in a restricted environment.
It’s good to see that Samsung has adopted the Ultra-low Power mode from the Galaxy S 5 Smartphone. This shuts down all but the most essential services to provide maximum battery life.
You can choose to have access to up to 6 apps, and when we tested it, the battery charge was predicted to last 26 days.
The Tab S includes Family Sharing, meaning that you can have up to eight different user profiles, all with unique passwords, fingerprints, apps and home screens for different members of your family.
Sadly, in Australia, we won’t be able to enjoy the fact that the Tab S will play Netflix in 1080P, but it also provides 1080P YouTube playback.
Paper Garden is Samsung’s new content publishing platform, which debuts with the Tab S.
Essentially, this delivers magazines optimised for tablet screen sizes, directly to the device.
Currently, Samsung is working with publishers such as Conde Nast and the New York Times, and is in talks with Australian publishers, though no titles have been confirmed for the Australian market (Paper Garden will be available in the US, UK, Brazil and Korea at launch).
The Tablet S’s hardware specifications include 16 and 32GB of storage, both of which are expandable via microSD cards to 128GB.
Processing is powered by either an Exynos 5 Octa (1.9 GHz QuadCore ＋ 1.3 GHz Quadcore) CPU or a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.3 GHz Quadcore, depending on the region sold, with no confirmation yet for Australia.
Other internal hardware bits include an accelerometer, gyro Sensor, geomagnetic Sensor, hall Sensor and RGB Sensor.
There are both Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi plus LTE models, with the Wi-Fi including support for 802.11ac and MIMO for ultra quick data transfers, while the 4G LTE version runs Category 4 connectivity, which is rated for as much as 150Mbps downloads on some networks.
There are two cameras – a 2.1 megapixel one on the front, plus an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera with an LED flash.
There’s plenty of software to get you started, most of which you’ll be familiar with if you have another Galaxy device, including Samsung’s latest Gear Fit and Gear Manager for synching with its smart watches.
On the accessory front, there are three case options.
The first, called the Book Cover protects both the screen and rear casing, and provides three viewing angles, ideal for watching videos, reading or typing. Then there’s the Simple Cover, which only protects the screen, and is very thin and lightweight. There’s also a bluetooth keyboard, where the tablet fits into a groove near its top edge, and provides a decent typing action.
Pricing and availability have not yet been set for Australia, but announcements are expected soon. In the US, the 8.4 inch model with 16GB costs $399 while the 10.5in 16GB model is priced at $499.
Valens Quinn travelled to New York to attend The Samsung Unpacked Event as a guest of Samsung.