No I am not ‘singing for my supper’ although it was very good at the quirky, retro, QT Hotel in Sydney. No I am not on Samsung’s payroll nor under duress to write nice things. This is genuinely a masterpiece of design and engineering - leading edge in every respect packed into a super thin tablet.
There are two sizes – 8.4” and 10.5” with Wi-Fi, optional 4G connectivity and keyboard (image shown at left). Both share the Galaxy S5 design cues with slim bezels, dimpled soft feel back, and the increasingly mandatory finger print scanner that recognises up to eight different users – all with their own profile and secure storage space.
A tablet has two parts – the hardware which is drop dead gorgeous and the operating system and software which is Android KitKat 4.4.x.
Samsung has designed the Tab S for the premium end of the market – managing directors and C-Level executives or those who want to buy the best tablet device. This presents a conundrum. Can Android do what iOS or Windows can do? Is this an alternative to the iPad or the Microsoft Surface 3 Pro running full fat Windows 8.1?
As this is not a formal review – more a first looks article – I will reserve judgement until I use it for a few weeks. But I can categorically state it is a serious contender to knock off the iPad as a premium entertainment and personal assistant style of computing device. To be blunt, it is aimed squarely at potential iPad buyers – its prices are marginally lower yet it offers larger and better screens, a real (optional) keyboard that makes it a mini-notebook, and don’t under-estimate Samsung’s marketing might.
Although iOS and Android are different operating systems they reasonably mirror each other for number and scope of apps, and functionality – mostly whatever you do on iOS you can do on Android – and vice versa.
Why is it such a good device?
The screen is a Super AMOLED, 2560x1600, 16:10 ratio, 100,000:1 contrast. It has slightly higher resolution than the iPad Retina screen but visually it is so much better. Crisp images, real blacks, and saturated colours are delivered by an adaptive display technology that automatically changes gamma, hue and colour temperature to suit the ambient light conditions. It is easy to see in direct sunlight to a darkened bedroom.
It is light and thin – 294g for the 8.4” and 465g for the 10.5” and both 6.6mm thin – just under the iPad.
It has fingerprint recognition which is amazingly useful and up to 8 users can share the device – each with their own profile, desktop and secure storage. The iPad does not do this but the next generation probably will.
It has 3GB of RAM and either 16 or 32GB of storage – plus a microSD slot to add up to 128GB for under $100. The iPad does not have SD support and this makes the Samsung a bargain if you want to compare the 128GB models.
It has an 8MP rear camera with flash and a 2MP front selfie camera. The iPad has a 5MP and 1.2MP camera respectively. It supports Wi-Fi AC, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0 and has an IrLED remote control feature. The current iPad does not do all this.
A$ Pricing - Titanium Bronze or Dazzling White
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S (8.4-inch Wi-Fi 16GB) –$479.00
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S (8.4-inch Wi-Fi + 4G 16GB) –$629.00
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S (8.4-inch Wi-Fi 32GB) –$579.00
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S (10.5-inch Wi-Fi 16GB) –$599.00
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S (10.5-inch Wi-Fi 32GB) –$699.00
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S (10.5-inch Wi-Fi + 4G 16GB) –$749.00
Samsung has made an iPad killer – slaughtered it in fact. It has used Apple’s premium pricing against it to build a better device and still keep its profit margins.
Consumers should eschew the iPad – at least the current model – for this device. Business users will have to wait for my review comparing it to a Windows tablet to see if it does all that they need – and I suspect that with its optional keyboard it may not be too far behind.