Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hands-on review: Updated: Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro review

Hands-on review: Updated: Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro review

Hands-on review: Updated: Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro review

The largest Samsung Galaxy Tab to date made its official debut at CES 2014, coming in a range of sizes to suit all manner of 'professional' user. However, the top dog was the Tab Pro 12.2, physically overshadowing its smaller brethren thanks to its massive 12.2-inch screen.

We went all ten fingers on the Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2's spacious WQXGA LCD with a 2560x1600 resolution and found that the dimensions aren't as ridiculous as they seem at first. That's because this foot-long display was immediately made useful when we ran Google Docs, a Spreadsheet, a YouTube video and the Chrome browser in four Multi Windows.

That's right - you can see four things running at once on the large and expansive screen. This became progressively more cramped as you went down to 10.1- or 8.4-inch displays, but even at the 12.2 iteration having four things open at once smelled suspiciously of gimmick over genuinely useful feature.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro review

At least it was easy to change the window sizes, with the central button allowing you to move the size around with a quick flick of the finger.

The Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 ends up being a business-appropriate tablet that happens to have a consumer-friendly new TouchWiz interface called Magazine UX. It's overlaid on top of Android KitKat and presented the widgets in the grid style of Flipboard.

The screen size makes all of these boxed-off widgets readily visible even when split into the smallest subsets. We certainly didn't face the cramped quarters problem we've seen on some 7-inch tablets.

While we liked the new UI (change is always good, and the TouchWiz version was getting a little tired) there was still a lot of noise going on with each window, thanks to each being crammed up against the next.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro review

The benefit of Windows is that each application gets its own distinct space; while that wasn't a massive problem here, the amount of stuff going on in front of your eyes did get a little dizzying at times.

There was also a big worry in that, despite each of these Tab Pro tablets running at least a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU with a huge 3GB of RAM there was sig nificant lag when slipping between home screens and using the internet.

Samsung is often plagued by these prototype bugs on its devices at trade shows, but we weren't expecting to see it quite so severely on show at CES.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 vs Note Pro 12.2

The difference between the Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 and Note Pro 12.2 comes down to one very fine point - a pointy stylus S pen.

Whereas Samsung's newest and largest Note includes the plastic-feeling S Pen and handy Air Command functionality, the Tab Pro sticks with a touch-based interface.

That actually makes the 12.2-inch screen all the more important, especially for someone who intends to focus on productivity and doesn't want their fingers to wander into bezel territory all of the time.

The remaining specs are exactly the same between the two new 12-inch tablets. It real ly comes down to whether or not you're a touch person or a touch and pen person.

Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro specs

While the large screen is the highlight of this Samsung tablet, the remaining specs are impressive too.

The Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 packs an Exynos 5 Octa for the WiFi and 3G models. This chip runs a combo of quadcore processor of 1.9GHz and 1.3 GHz.

Opting for the faster speeds of the LTE model leaves you with the less exciting Samsung 800 2.3GHz quadcore processor configuration. And here's the good news: as you go down in screen size, the spec list doesn't diminish.

While this is an impressive feat of engineering at the 8.4-inch level, it's even more breath-taking when you watch video or browse the web. It's 'o nly' 359PPI, but on a tablet it looks similar to how we feel when stuffed in front of a fancy 4K TV.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro review

Like a lot of Samsung devices, the Pro range is going to be region-specific, so the choice unfortunately isn't yours to make. Luckily, all regions receive the healthy 3GB of data that allows Multi Window to keep up to four apps running all at once.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro review

The back of the Galaxy Tab Pro is either white or black depending on your color choice and is sports a rear camera that snaps 8-megapixel photos. Auto-focus, an LED flash and zero shutter lag are all part o f the Samsung's camera software. In the front, a 2-megapixel camera brings video conferencing to these business-friendly tablets.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro review

Sadly, that white or black is still the same faux-leather-and-stitching effect that we first saw on the Note 3. This does make it more grippable, but looking at it makes us still cringe. It's a feature that we can understand to a degree, but come on Samsung - you can do better than this.

The three tablets are actually quite distinct thanks to their varying screen sizes - the same specs inside means consumers finally have a genuine choice to work with.

We were taken with the Tab Pro 8.4, as it works really well in both p ortrait and landscape modes and is pretty easy to hold in the hand. The 10.1 feels a little lackluster in some ways, thanks to being neither the whopping device of the 12.2 nor the compact 8.4.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro review

It's hard to say truly what makes this a pro range though - without a keyboard, it's just a set of impressive specs, some security software and a bunch of subscriptions to ripple through.

The stylus-compatible Note 12.2 has some great drawing capabilities and the same specs, but it's likely to cost more than the touchscreen-only Tab 12.2 as a result.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro review

T hat being said, the official Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro prices haven't been announced, even though we were able to play around with the hardware of both tablets. Samsung should divulge pricing information soon. It plans to start rolling out its new tablets within the next three months.

Early verdict

The Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 is large and in charge but it's ably backed up by the 10.1- and 8.4-inch versions.

We like the look of all three, with the smallest and largest really offering something different, and the raw power under the hood is going to impress a lot of people.

However, we're not sure what makes these tablets truly 'pro', nor why there's such a lag in the interface at this stage of the product design.

We're just hoping Samsung prices these things sensibly - it's a long shot, given the brand's usual method of trying to match the iPad (and the fact that largest screen isn't going to be cheap) but should these undercut the competition enough we can see them turning at least one or two heads.


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