The Galaxy Tab S
The Samsung tablets in the market now would undoubtedly confuse anyone who is not techie. The current line-up involves the Galaxy Tab 4, Galaxy Tab 7, Galaxy Tab 8, Galaxy Tab 10.1, Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1/12.2, Galaxy Note 10.1, Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, and the Galaxy Tab S.
Many have probably thought that it would be a lot better if Samsung produced less tablets and focus its energy more on creating a tablet that unifies everything that its current line-up can do. But the creation of the Galaxy Tab S is something that’s easy to understand. This newest product is available in a 10.5-inch and an 8.4-inch model.
The specifications include:
- a 2560×1600 Super AMOLED Panel display;
- an Exynos 5 Octa / Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor;
- 3gb RAM;
- 7900mAh battery for the 10.5-inch model and 4900mAh battery for the 8.4-inch model;
- Android 4.4.2 operating system;
- an 8mp rear camera and a 2.1mp front camera;
- 16gb or 32gb storage;
- a microUSB 2.0 port and a microSD card slot;
- 11 a/b/g/n/ac MIMO, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, IrLED wireless capabilities.
The 10.4-inch Tab S has dimensions of 247.3mm x 177.3mm x 6.6mm and weighs 465 grams for the Wi-Fi model and 467 grams for the LTE model. Meanwhile, the 8-inch Tab S has dimensions of 125.6mm x 212.8mm x 6.6mm and weighs 294 grams for the Wi-Fi model and 298 grams for the LTE model. The 16gb 10.4-inch Tab S can be bought for $499, and the 32gb variant costs $549, while the 16gb 8.4-inch Tab S can be bought for $399 but the prize of the 32gb variant is not yet announced.
Build Quality and Design
The Galaxy Tab S looks like a larger version of the Galaxy S5, even the soft-touch back which is one of its best features. It’s more preferable than the faux leather used by the Galaxy Note 10.1 and the Galaxy Note / Galaxy Tab Pro line.
The Galaxy Tab S has so-called “simple clickers” which are small circular indentations that allow its cases to be attached to the tablet. This is actually a great design idea because the cases or covers can be attached to the device without adding a lot of thickness. If you don’t use cases, the indentations won’t be a problem at all because it blends at the back, so when you hold the tablet it doesn’t feel like it’s there at all.
The 8.4-inch model is designed in such a way that the power and volume buttons, microSD card slot, and IR blaster are placed on the right side, while the microUSB port and headphone jack can be found at the bottom. When in portrait mode, the speakers of the Tablet S flank the top and the bottom, while in landscape mode its placing is problematic. The issue in landscape mode is that flipping the device to the left brings the speakers to the bottom, right at the area where you grip the device; and flipping it to the right brings the volume rockers at the bottom. It’s a no-win situation.
The 10.5-inch model is a better fit for landscape use. The microSD card slot and microUSB port are both at the right side, the headphone jack is placed on the left, the speakers are placed on both sides near the top, and the power and volume buttons and the IR blaster are at the top.
The two models have narrow bezels, but it’s even more noticeable on the 8.4-inch tablet. The effect is that you feel like you are holding a bigger display in a smaller form. The build quality of both is excellent. It feels solid, tight, and meticulously constructed. It’s definitely one of the best-built tablets of Samsung.
The Galaxy Tab S has the best display among Samsung’s line of tablets. The 2560×1600 resolution and Super AMOLED panel together brings vibrant colors and a sharp display. The tablet display is well-balanced; it doesn’t even hurt your eyes unlike the earlier models. This is mostly because of the adaptive display settings which automatically determine the ambient lighting and the type of content on your screen, so it is able to adjust the color projected. For instance, when you’re using Play Books, the whites are slightly dampened so the display looks softer. The change can be instantly seen as soon as you exit the app. Other apps that receive color tweaks include the camera, gallery, and Samsung’s browser called Internet.
Brightness of the Galaxy Tab S is also great. Its brightness is sufficient even when you’re using the tablet in broad daylight. The Tab S easily tops the other tablets offered by Samsung, making them look inferior by comparison.
Because of the incredible display of the Tablet S, it’s a great device to watch videos. Hence it’s necessary for it to have great speakers to match – and that’s exactly what it is. It’s a bit small and the location is a bit questionable, but the speakers provide crisp audio, making it perfect for videos.
The only downside is that the location of the speakers on the 8.4-inch variant is really problematic, because as said earlier, no matter which way you tilt the device, there would always be some sort of hindrance.
The camera is not excellent, but it’s okay for a tablet. The colors seem washed out in outdoor shots, while indoor shots taken in low light is really bad. But it’s not that big of a problem, because it’s not really the sole purpose of your tablet – the camera is a more important feature for phones. Here are some sample shots:
The Galaxy Tab S is available in 16gb and 32gb. The 16gb model has very limited space – only 9gb left for you to use – because of Samsung’s UI and its numerous add-ons. This is sad because it easily limits what you can download on the device, especially games; and it would have been great to play games on such an excellent display. The good news is that despite this limited space, Samsung has kindly included a microSD card slot, so you can store some of your files there.
The batteries are smaller, that’s why the Tab S is as thin and light as it is, but regardless of that, the battery life is still great. This is because the Super AMOLED display of Samsung does not require backlighting, and as a result it is more energy efficient. It has 7 hours of screen-on time for average usage, including YouTube, Netflix, web surfing, Play Books, Play Magazine, and a lot of tweaking with the homescreen UI and the settings. This is below the 12 hours claimed by Samsung, but it’s not that big of a deal. You can use the Power Saving mode to increase the screen-on time if necessary.
The recent tablets produced by Samsung are thankfully provided with actual content in the launcher. My Magazine was first released in the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014), and this was later changed to Magazine UX and integrated in the Galaxy Note / Galaxy Tab Pro.
Similarly, the Tab S launcher has the “traditional” launcher pages containing various widgets and icons with the Magazine UX at the left. Swiping to the right reveals an interface that is Chameleon-like and gives you quick and easy access to the calendar, social network sites, etc. The notification bar, settings, My Files, Milk Music, and other Samsung apps are hidden at the Magazine UI. It’s frustrating that the notification bar is hidden this way. It’s an integral part of the tablet, why hide it?
The Tab S also has the multi-window feature, but it only allows up to two running apps at once rather than the four running apps for the Note and Tab Pro 12.2. It is still a bit clunky, and the apps that you can use in this feature are still limited.
One of the most notable features in the Tab S is the SideSync, which allows you to control your Samsung phone – such as replying to messages, making calls, or navigating the operating system – from your tablet using Wi-Fi direct. Making a call usig SideSync automatically puts the call on speakerphone mode. The downside of this feature when in fullscreen mode is that the buttons (home, back, and recent apps) disappear.
The performance of the Tab S is excellent, which is what you would expect of it. The only problem is that it starts to get laggy after a few weeks of use, and the performance starts to crawl when there are background tasks running. It returns to its excellent performance after a while, but the problem of occasional lags is a typical issue with Exynos processors that Samsung still apparently has not fixed.
The Tab S is also provided with some power saving modes that essentially limits the octa-core Exynos 5 processor, lowers the brightness, reduces the display frame rate, and disables the backlighting of the capacitive buttons. It maes the device’s performance choppy, but it’s still very usable for light usage. The Exynos 5 has 2 quad-core chips: 1 is the low-power 1.3GHz and the other one is the high-power 1.9GHz. The Tab S also has an Ultra Power Saving Mode that sucks every last drop of battery for the user. When using this mode, the display colors become grayscale, and the usage becomes limited to a few select apps, including the clock, calculator, calendar, Facebook, G+, and Internet. Most of the functionalities such as screen capture are also disabled.
The Galaxy Tab S is undoubtedly the best not only in Samsung’s tablet line-up, but also in other tablets available in the market now. The 8.4-inch model is more recommended because of its great design, but the 10.5-inch model is also equally great. The Tab S will become the baseline for future tablets.
Have you tried using the Galaxy Tab S? What are your thoughts?