“Wow. Look at that screen!”
I was tickled when Samsung sent me a Galaxy Tab S (8.4″ 16GB) to “test-drive” right before the holiday season. The kids are getting older, and quite frankly, I am always completely clueless what to get them for Christmas. Long gone are the days of toddler toys that come in huge boxes for a small price-tag. Now I want to be sure I’m getting them quality items that won’t be obsolete by the New Year. Spoiler alert: the Samsung Galaxy Tab S hits most of the marks.
In full disclosure, I’m an iPhone user, and a Mac owner — but, I have also had Android products in the past, so I’m not too biased one way or another.
THE NERDY DETAILS
Upon opening the package, I found that the review sample was “Titanium Bronze,” but the device also comes in “Dazzling White.” I spun it around in my hands a few times (it’s so light!), taking note of the port locations and buttons. The speakers are on the top and bottom left of the device (more on that later), the charging port (mini USB) is on the bottom directly in the middle as well as the headphone jack, and the right side (from top to bottom) is where you’ll find the power button, volume button, infrared, and micro SD card slot. The front of the device has a physical home button and fingerprint scanner, as well as two soft keys, for recent apps and back. There are also two small buttons on the back of the device for connecting one of the specially designed snap-in covers. A front camera (2.1MP) and a rear camera (8.0MP) complete the device.
The tablet is very thin, at 0.26”, and light, at just over 10 oz. It was comfortable to hold for an extended period of time. I did find the speaker placement a bit awkward when trying to watch Netflix, as I tend to flip the tablet to the left for watching video, and my hands covered them up. When I made a conscious effort to spin to the right, my left palm tended to hit the back soft key fairly often. It’s more an issue of getting used to a new device, as the problem seems to have all but disappeared after a week of heavy usage.
The device comes with 16GB of storage space, with approximately 11.5GB available to the user. According to the device, the system takes up 4.5GB. The micro SD card slot is capable of handling 128GB cards, so additional storage isn’t a huge issue, but the fact remains that more than 1/4th of the space you think you have for apps, documents, photos, etc. is unavailable before you start making yourself comfortable. There is also a free 50GB dropbox promotion (for two years) offered during setup. It is available to each account, not just the device owner.
I pushed the power button and forgot about everything except that beautiful screen. It was like magic. The 8.4”, 1600 x 2560 pixel Super AMOLED display was absolutely breathtaking. After a few seconds of staring, it was time to put the device through it’s paces.
Setup was easy enough. Login with a Google Account, or create one if you don’t already have one. The second step, which is optional, caused a bit of frustration, signing up for a Samsung account. As this is a Samsung device, it seemed like a good idea to set that up. First I tried to set up the account using my Google account. I’m still not 100% clear on what method for signing up worked. I tried Google, Facebook, regular email address. One of them worked, but by that point I had forgotten the password I tried to use, which was required to be between nine and fifteen characters. I hit the “forgot password” button, received an email, selected a new password, and all was well.
The Galaxy Tab S is very responsive. I didn’t notice any lag while scrolling, and app load times were short. Starting a movie from the Google Play store began almost instantly. Magazines loaded quickly, with no lag between page turns. Opening the contacts app on the home screen showed me all the contacts I had from my old Android phone, and started populating itself with my previously downloaded apps. Doodle Jump, right there, no effort! Win! Samsung also has an app available called Smart Switch which will import settings from your current smart phone or tablet (iOS or Android). A very nice touch.
One of my favorite things about this tablet is that it is very easy to set up multiple user profiles. My husband, each of my sons, and myself each have our own profile, with our own apps. It’s nice to have my own space, uncluttered by the kids games, where I can work and browse without distraction. I don’t have to worry about them getting into my apps or messing up my account because the profiles can also be password protected.
I know, I know, it’s not a camera, it’s a tablet. However, with the cell-phone cousin of this tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, coming equipped with a 3.7MP front facing camera and a 16MP rear camera… well, it probably wouldn’t have been that hard to upgrade the quality on this one. I will say, it has a clever mode when taking selfies called “beauty face” which is supposed to clear up any imperfections in your skin. Unfortunately, it erased all my freckles. When I was 10 or so, I would have loved that. Now I’m a proud freckle face, and found my overly airbrushed mug a little disconcerting to see.
However, the rear facing camera made the boss-man look like the poster child for cat adorableness, even with the picture stabilizing option turned off. Of course, he doesn’t move too much anyway. Except when I throw him off my desk chair, then he has a speedy mode getting right back up there. But, I digress. Galaxy Tab S, not annoying cat talk…
This will vary wildly with what kind of printer your household uses. For me, it’s a Brother Business Smart inkjet printer, which prints effortlessly from all the devices in the house. Except the Galaxy Tab. It couldn’t locate the printer natively, so I downloaded the special Brother printing app, and still no dice.
Part of the allure of a Samsung device is the cool little S-Pen that allows handwriting on-screen, and the ability to transcribe the handwritten snippets into text. While there is a limited ability to do this in the S-Note app, you have to use your finger for writing, and then draw a somewhat cumbersome box around what you drew, and select “convert to text.” The S-Pen simply isn’t recognized, nor is there any setting to utilize it. Sad panda.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I love this tablet, with the above caveats, which may or may not be important to you and your family. At a reasonable MSRP of $399, it allowed me to do just about anything I would use my 15″ MacBook Pro for. From Facebook to Pinterest, Google Hangouts to Skype, and all the beautiful games in between, it’s a great little bang for the buck. Connecting to my cellular personal hotspot made it easy to get work done on the fly, and it was the perfect size to throw into my Handbag of Holding. Anyone would be thrilled to find a bow on this package this holiday season.
Connect with Samsung on Twitter and tell them you’re part of the #GalaxyFamily this season!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."