- Beautiful, High-Res Screen
- Excellent Performance
- Solidly Built
- Premium Price
Quick TakeIf you can get over the premium price, the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 has one of the best displays available on any tablet, and beyond that is a very well-rounded Android model that functions flawlessly.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 recently hit store shelves, and is one of the first 8-inch tablets with a 1600 x 2560 (WQXGA) display. Even better, this is an AMOLED screen, a type known for looking beautiful. But is this tablet more than eye candy in a mid-size form factor? We picked up the new Tab S to find out if it’s all flash and no substance.
Build and Design
As with most Samsung products, the design and build of the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is excellent. The tablet comes in two colors, Dazzling White and Titanium Bronze. Our test model featured the latter, and it looks and feels luxurious. The surrounding edge of the device has a satin bronze finish, while the back is rubberized titanium bronze with the Samsung logo in a golden bronze.
All in all, this is a product you want to hold or even better to be seen with. The silky-smooth finish on the back feels great in your hands, and there is just enough bezel around the screen to help avoid accidental inputs without interfering with viewing.
I cannot stress enough the importance of the screen in any mobile device. As the main interface it can really make or break your experience and desire to use. The Galaxy Tab S not only has a huge resolution at 1600 x 2560, but also the brightest, most vibrant, and sharpest display of any device I have used to date. I highly suggest you go see one in person because it’s without a doubt the biggest selling point of the new Tab S 8.4.
This is an AMOLED display, not the usual LED. This type of screen is more expensive but offers better performance. It gives Samsung’s latest midsize model outstandingly vivid colors, great viewability in bright ambient light, and very little reflectance.
At 1600 x 2560, what you get is the ability to consume content like never before. Gone are the squished webpages, huge icons, overly large fonts, and watching movies in small formats. You can now browse full websites on a single screen without scrolling, watch movies in better than Full HD (a sample of which is included with the device), and play games at resolutions and details you have previously never seen.
At 360ppi, it has one of the highest pixel densities of any mobile device in its class. It is this high pixel density that leads to very smooth fonts, menus, crisp and clear graphics, and of course excellent video playback from HD sources.
The built-in fingerprint scanner/Home button is a feature I honestly didn’t think I would use, but I was wrong. Samsung includes custom software that allows you to scan in up to three fingerprints. The software is easy to use, accurate, and works in both portrait and landscape modes.
The scanner quickly recognizes fingerprints and even locks a user out for 30 seconds after five incorrect scans. The software also includes an alternative password so you can unlock the device if you can’t use your fingerprint.
Buttons and Ports
Samsung has included an array of ports and buttons to accommodate almost all of your needs.
Along the right side/top edge we have the power button, volume up/down, IR emitter, and microSD slot. The USB port, headphone jack, and a speaker are on the bottom. Finally, there’s a microphone sensor and another speaker on the other side.
On the front of the Tab S 8.4 Samsung has positioned the home/fingerprint/on button, sensors for multiple window mode and back, as well as the light sensor and the 2.1MP front camera. On the back of the device, you will find the two secure points for the Samsung book cover, as well as the rear 8MP camera and flash. The left side of the device doesn’t have any ports.
It is worth noting that many other tablets I have tried suffered from power buttons that were too small, inaccessible, or blended in too close to the device to find. All of the ports and buttons on the Galaxy Tab S are appropriately sized and placed for easy location.
One last point worth mentioning is that, having worked with many different Android tablets over the last few years, I have found fewer and fewer that integrate an actual home button. In the case of the Tab S 8.4, the Home button pulls triple duty as the Home/Fingerprint reader/On button. This is great, as it is convenient to have a physical button for these functions, but it takes a bit of getting used to if you are familiar and comfortable with the software interface for them.
Built into the back of the Tab S are two button-like round secure points that are meant to be used in conjunction with Samsung’s Book cover ($59.99). This smart cover protects the device, automatically turns it on and off, and does indeed blend in seamlessly with the device. The book cover secures in several different viewing angles and works very, very well. The book cover even allows for use of the rear camera and flash via a bronze gilded port hole on the back.
Page 2 covers the performance of the mid-size Tab S model.