First Look: Hands on review Rating 4.5 Stars (Excellent Tablet but not a perfect 5 star). Unfortunately there is no half rating with Amazon so I went with a 4 There is no question that Samsung has flooded the market with tablets in the past year. From low range to upper range. When the Tab Pro 8.4 came out a few months ago I knew that was the Android I have been waiting for. Of course had I known the Tab S was coming out I would have waited for this tablet. That takes nothing away from the Pro because it is an excellent tablet and I assume there will be further discounting. I broke up my review into sections so you can jump to a section faster.
Design The Tablet S comes from same design as the S5. The corners and edges are rounded. The back cover has the same dimple pattern and is plastic. Samsung has been criticized for the plastic; however, I like the design and believe the tablet will stand the test of time.
Screen The screen is stunning. I love the screen on my Pro 8.4; however, with Samsung using the AMOLED screen with the same 2560x1600 resolution as the Tab Pro the colors just pop. The blacks are deep. Watching HD video on the Tablet S is a joy. Everything you may have read on the Internet about how beautiful the screen is true. Of course there is the downside, there are not many applications finely tuned to take advantage of the whole display. My assumption is this will change in the coming year or two as the better resolution is the norm on Android hardware. Looking forward to when you can watch Netflix in HD on this tablet, which should be coming soon according the launch Samsung did.
CPU/Video The Tab S Wifi comes with the 5420 octo-core Exynos 5 Octa chipset (quad-core 1.9 GHz Cortex A15 + quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex A7 CPU). The Tab Pro 8.4 has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800. The Tab S or Tab Pro have not had any issues with any app or video I have thrown at them.
Storage and Memory While Samsung did announce that there will a 32GB version of the Tabs S, they have the 16GB at the writing of this review. While 16GB keeps the entry price of high end tablet lower it does leave you with a little over 10GB space, which is somewhat disappointing. The bloatware is typical with most manufacturers. Yes you can add up to a 128GB microsd card but unfortunately many applications do not allow you transfer to SD. The microSD is perfect for pictures, videos, and large documents. The Tab S gained 1GB of ram over the Tab Pro. 3GB vs 2GB. The TAB S has no issue running the most demanding games or if you multitasking in split windows.
Boot up and restart times. If you have any of the older Android tablet, you know how long it can take before you can start using the tablet. These are times I recorded for the Tab S to get to the login screen. - Power on from a powered off state. 22 Seconds - Restart - 28 seconds - My Tab Pro recorded 24 seconds and 40 Seconds. To be fair on the restart, my Tab Pro already has more apps installed on it which may have impacted the restart time
Connections: The Tab S is stocked for the future. The Wifi card supports Gigabit Wifi. I do not have ac router so I cannot test the throughput. I will eventually upgrade my router once I do, I will test the throughput.
The Bluetooth is 4.0.
The Micro USB connector is only 2.0. USB 3.0 would have been nice and would have added to the premium tablet. I do not believe I will using the USB connection other than some bigger transfer from time to time. Normally I do wifi transfers.
GPS, The Tab S has GPS. if you plan to use the tablet as a navigation you will need to use an app that allows to have offline map capabilities. Of course if you have a mobile hotspot then you could get away with the need of offline maps
Wifi Direct - Allows to connect to other wifi direct devices. I have not tried printing or sending a video to the TV but I connected to my computer to transfer files
Color The bronze color of the tablet S is nice. I am not completely in love with the color but I know others will love the accent colors on the tablet
Thickness This tablet is thin. To give and idea on how thin the tablet is, I put the tablet on the table and stacked quarters next to the tablet. The thickness is equal to four quarters. There are two connectors on the back of the tablet that for the Samsung case to attach to. They look out of place if you do not have case on the tablet.
Size and Weight The 8.4 S I believe is the perfect size for portability and usability. I can easily hold the tablet S with one hand and because it less than 1 pound you can hold it for a great length and not have fatigue.
Cameras Do not expect to replace your normal camera or even your phone camera with the camera on this tablet. While the back camera is 8MP, it does not perform well unless you have a large amount light. Yes you can use the built flash but it is too harsh and washes out the picture some. When you have the light the pictures come out good enough. The front camera is 2.1MP. I ran a Skype session between my Tab Pro and Tab S. The video was smooth and clear with a good amount of light. In lower light the video is grainier but still smooth. Of course the network you are on will impact on how smooth the video will be.
Fingerprint reader The fingerprint reader is new to the tablet line. The Tab Pro 8.4 does not have a finger print reader, I realize how much I would like the fingerprint reader. I thought using a pattern was excellent for not having to type in a password / pin. Setup was easy, with 8 swipes of my finger my print was registered. You also need to setup a password for that just in case scenario. A major plus for me is that finger print reader integrates with Lastpass. If you are Lastpass Premium user you will appreciate being able to use your fingerprint for accessing websites. You still need to use your master password.
Battery. The battery in the Tab S is slightly bigger that the one in the Tab Pro. With the switch to the AMOLED screen Samsung was able to gain ~2 hours of battery life. My estimation is you will get ~8 hours of gaming time and ~10 hours of video time. With the Tab Pro I would get about ~8 hours of video time. If you set the brightness yourself and have it set too high the battery life will decrease The auto-brightness is annoying at times because it dims for no reason. During the idle state the battery barely even moves. The Tab S battery lost 1% after sitting in an idle state for 7 hours overnight. This will vary greatly based on how many applications were loaded into memory prior to the tablet going into the idle state. I loaded multiple applications be putting it into the idle state after 5 hours it lost 8%.
Other features SideSync / IR Blaster If you already a Samsung Phone S4 / S5 etc then you can setup the Sidesync between the Tab S and your phone. It is a nice feature if you want leave your phone in another room and answer calls on the tablet. It is little odd seeing a simulation of your phone on the tablet but the feature does work. Not sure how much I will use it. I do use the IR for change channels on the set top box. I can quickly go through the guide on the tablet and send the signal to change the channel. It always nice to have the extra remote when other remote decides to go missing.
Samsung Extras Most of the extras are worthless because they are no more than a 3 month trial of the premium services that are offered by the companies. For example, you get 1TB bitcasa for 3 months after that you are on the hook for $10 a month. Some require you to give your credit card to activate the trial
When you install the Samsung Kindle app (not the regular kindle app) you get to choose a free book every month. The book selection is small (4 for June). The regular price of the books is 3 to 4 dollars
You get an addition 48GB of storage space from Dropbox once you have completed a few steps. The extra storage is for two years so have to be aware on how much space you are using. You have the option to automatically back up your photos to drop box.
Enterprise ready. I have already been using my Tab Pro to read email and do calendaring. The tablet also comes with the option to install Samsung Knox so you have sandbox area for work related activities separate from your personal area. If the rumor is true about Microsoft bring MS Office to the Android tablet then the Tab S will be perfect with high resolution.
Final thoughts Samsung has a clear winner with the Tabs S. I absolutely recommend this tablet anyore who waiting for a high end Android Tablet with expandable memory. The screen is worth premium price
Who this tablet may not be for. - If you are heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem. - Diehard Samsung Note users. If you are in love with the S pen and the capabilities it brings then you may want to wait to see what Samsung has up it sleeves for the future of the Note line - Casual Internet surfer and video watcher. No need to spend the extra money when a lower price, lower end model will fill your needs. - Always connected user. The LTE model will be out shortly after the release of the wifi models so wait little longer. The price will be higher and there is the data cost but that is exactly what you are looking for - Users who want the 32GB model. - Users who dislike bloatware. I would like to see Samsung bring out a Google Play edition of the Tab S. I do not see that happening anytime soon.
If you have any questions please ask in the comments I will try to answer them to the best of my ability.
My tablet experience This has nothing to do directly with the Tab S other than my tablet history, so you can ignore this part if you have no interest but it may help if you have questions for comparison with what I own.
My first tablet was the 1st generation iPad. I have to give Apple credit for the innovation and to help drive industry to where it is today. I still own the iPad but it collects dust now. That is my only IOS product. (My wife did have the 1st gen iPhone) My first Android was an Acer A500, which I still own and use. I bought a Lenovo K1 for my daughter but it did not last. (I will never buy another Lenovo Tablet) Had a Samsung S2 phone which is now my oldest daughter's phone. My wife and I both have Galaxy S4 phones. We bought our daughters Kindle Fire 8.9 HD tablets (Kindles are great for kids) I really wanted a higher end tablet but passed on the Nexus 7 2013 because I wanted the option to expand the memory and a bigger screen. When the Tab Pro 8.4 was released I knew the Tab Pro was the tablet I was waiting for. As I mentioned earlier it is a bit disappointing that Samsung has basically replaced the Tab Pro 8.4 model the Tab S after a few months. I will get plenty of usage out both the Tab Pro 8.4 and Tab S 8.4