With Samsung Galaxy Tab S, No Buyer's Remorse

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2014-07-18 Print this article Print

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S is the thinnest tablet on the market, and the smaller of the two sizes—display options are 8.4 and 10.5 inches—is easy to hold in one hand and light enough, at just 1 pound, to hold at length, whether during a long subway commute or giving a business presentation. The other stand-out feature is its display. While in the past Samsung has used liquid-crystal displays, the Tab S features a Super AMOLED, like the Galaxy S5 smartphone, and the result is an incredibly rich and crisp display. But impressive critical specs alone aren't enough to sell the number of tablets Samsung intends to, and so the company has partnered with content creators and packed the Tab S with software and offers of still more software and services—such as three free months of both Audible and Sirius XM Radio, three free months of The New York Times and Marvel Unlimited, and six-month offers of The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Indeed, so much on the Tab S has been done in duplicate or triplicate, it can feel like Samsung is, by turns, offering users every option or satisfying lucrative marketing deals. Likely, the latter is a matter of individual preference—much like the styling of the Tab S, which is more flashy than the starkly modern iPad. Still, when it comes to what matters most—speed, battery life, size, weight, display—the Tab S is an undeniable winner.

  • With Samsung Galaxy Tab S, No Buyer's Remorse

    by Michelle Maisto
    1 - With Samsung Galaxy Tab S, No Buyer's Remorse
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S Tablet

    The Galaxy Tab S, a flagship device for Samsung, is now available with WiFi-only connectivity. An LTE-enabled model will arrive later this summer. The Tab S is offered with an 8.4-inch or 10.5-inch Super AMOLED display, and in Titanium Bronze or Dazzling White. Both versions are trimmed in gold-colored metal.
    2 - Samsung Galaxy Tab S Tablet
  • A Change of Materials

    Samsung continues to experiment with the materials it uses. The back of the Tab S is a molded plastic with a dimpled pattern that nods to the dimpled, pattern back material on the Galaxy S5 smartphone.
    3 - A Change of Materials
  • Cover as Expected Accessory

    An unexpected design decision was the inclusion of two magnetic circles to accommodate a magnet-based cover (sold separately) that Samsung created for the Tab S. It's one of a number of ways that Samsung departs from the more minimalist look of Apple iPads.
    4 - Cover as Expected Accessory
  • Barely There

    The 8.4-inch version measures 125.6 by 212.8 by 6.6 mm and weighs 0.65 pounds (10.5 ounces). The LTE version has the same measurements and weighs 0.66 pounds. The tablet is so thin, Samsung added a small lip to accommodate the earphone jack and microUSB slot.
    5 - Barely There
  • Gifts and Essentials

    Samsung has packed the Tab S with software and offers and "gifts." The page, the second Home screen, mirrors Galaxy Apps, the new Samsung app store filled with applications Samsung says are optimized for its devices and offers for Galaxy device users.
    6 - Gifts and Essentials
  • Paper Garden

    One new Samsung app is Paper Garden, a place to store magazines. The default setup makes Paper Garden quickly accessible from one of the home screens, though it's also in the app lineup. The Tab S makes it exceedingly easy to shop for and buy magazines, which aren't just displayed as magazine pages but have been optimized for the Tab S and to take advantage of its display.
    7 - Paper Garden
  • Freebies

    Samsung has made deals with publishers, and so lots of issues are offered free to Tab S owners.
    8 - Freebies
  • How-To's

    A lot of people may find the experience of reading on a Tab S to be superior to a standard magazine, as zooming is possible, and more can be done with photos, videos and links. But standard magazines require less explanation before getting started.
    9 - How-To's
  • Ensuring Users Are Hands-On

    The Tab S includes offers of free movies, such as Gravity—which the tablet's rich display was a complement to—as well as the offer of a free book download, from a number of options. The display can be adjusted to behave more like an e-reader (not exactly an e-reader, but certainly more reading friendly). I watched the whole movie without a thought to the battery, which lasts the promised 12 hours.
    10 - Ensuring Users Are Hands-On
  • Milk Music

    On the Tab S, Samsung debuted its new streaming music site, Milk Music, which by July 2 had been downloaded more than 2 million times. The app's layout beautifully features album covers, and the app itself is built around a so-called radio dial.
    11 - Milk Music
  • Milk Music Radio Dial

    Users can spin the dial to move between and within genres, and it's easy to set up stations based on favorite songs, or songs as you discover them. One drawback of the free app is that a user can only forward songs six times per hour. The dial gives satisfying, tactile feedback as you turn it—you feel it "bump" to each next song.
    12 - Milk Music Radio Dial
  • Something for Everyone--or the Kitchen Sink

    Don't care for Milk Music? Google Play Music also comes preloaded, along with a 90-day free trial offer of the All Access version. So much of what the Tab S offers it offers in duplicate or triplicate. I found this annoying when it interrupted my experience—such as when the tablet doesn't just open a link I want to see in the quickest, most effective way, but offers me a choice of three ways to do it. I'm happy to have those options exist on the tablet, but mid-experience, I want the tablet optimized for me.
    13 - Something for Everyone--or the Kitchen Sink
  • Enterprise Security

    Samsung intends for the Tab S to be as much for enterprise workers as consumers, and has included a number of security features, including its Knox sandbox-style solution and a fingerprint reader. The reader uses a combination of the screen and the home button (it was unclear to me whether the screen was actually part of it or just showing me where to initially place my finger), but I found it worked well enough, recognizing my finger on the first swipe probably 70 percent of the time—a better result than I've had with Apple's Touch ID.
    14 - Enterprise Security
  • Where It Matters Most

    The styling of the Galaxy Tab S may not be for everyone, and some people may find the multiple home screens, duplicate software and front-and-center third-party content to be a little much. But it's super thin, super light, has a gorgeous display and a battery that lasts for days of light use, which is what most people want, and appreciate, most in a tablet. If you're already an Android user, choosing the Tab S is an easy decision.
    15 - Where It Matters Most

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