Samsung makes two models of its new Galaxy Tab S, and here we are looking at the larger of the pair. The name of this tablet will tell you that it has a 10.5-inch screen and the smaller version has an 8.4-inch screen.
What the name won’t tell you is how thin the Galaxy Tab S is. Just 6.6mm. One of the most popular tablets around, the iPad Air is 7.5mm thick. Look further afield and tablets tend to be more than 8mm thick. This thinness has a real effect on usability. It seems like almost nothing to hold. And that’s a feeling augmented by the light weight of 465g (the iPad Air weights slightly more at 469g for the non SIM toting model).
Samsung doesn’t always get design right and here there are a couple of problems. The back has a stippled finish which looks OK, but the colour on our white version was most peculiar. It’s supposed to be creamy white, but to us it looks like that kind of plastic you’ve left in the sun for too long so it has gone off colour. Worse, all round the rim is a strip of gold plastic that just looks naff.
The short edge screen bezel is very thin. This helps keep the overall size of the Galaxy Tab S down, but it does mean you risk tapping the screen when you work in widescreen mode.
The physical Home button that sits along one of the long edges of the Galaxy Tab S has a built in fingerprint scanner. Samsung has borrowed the operation from its flagship handset the Galaxy S5. You may or may not want to use it, but you’d never know it was there at all.
The screen is a stunner. 2,560 x 1,600 pixels based around the AMOLED display technology simply shouts out at you to be looked at. The colours are sharp and clear, – a key feature of AMOLED is how totally vibrant all the colours are. A utility in the Settings area lets you select different preset modes, and for some applications you can choose a reading mode too. Even without using that, text is easy to read. Needless to say, games are a delight to play and video a pleasure to watch.
The specifications are top class. The octa-core processor is stunningly fast, and it has 3GB of RAM helping it along. We didn’t experience stutters or slow downs at all. There’s 16GB of built in memory, and 10.99GB is free for you to use. This is not a huge amount for people who like to carry lots and lots of media around, but the microSD card slot lets you add more storage easily enough.
Android 4.4 and Samsung’s own TouchWiz user interface are in combination here, and so this tablet has a range of what have now become staple Samsung goodies. For example multi window lets you open two apps at once, and the screen size can just about cope well with this. Not all apps are supported, but plenty are. You can, for example, have a web page open while checking your email.
Then there’s the Samsung style notifications area, crammed with shortcuts to settings that means you can quickly turn on and off things like Smart pause (which uses the camera to pause video when you look away) and reading mode (the screen tweak that makes it more comfortable to read text).
Meanwhile, a home screen is occupied by Samsung’s Magazine UX – a combination of information sourced from the web and the device. Imagine having your diary and the day’s news on one screen, for example along with lots of other information. We are not huge fans, and would like to be able to disable this feature, but some people will love it.
The Samsung Galaxy S 10.5 even delivers well on battery life, with very good performance. This might just be the best Android tablet around at the moment.
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