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Customer Review

1,376 of 1,430 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb Tablet with some minor annoyances, July 17, 2014
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This review is from: Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5-Inch Tablet (16 GB, Titanium Bronze) (Personal Computers)
Android is a very capable operating system. With it, Google accomplished the unthinkable -- widespread Linux use by average home users. Linus Torvalds popularized his kernel with nerds and the enterprise, but the search giant made it accessible for all. Here's the thing though -- the fact that Android is powered by Linux doesn't matter. No, to the average consumer, all that matters is the experience. What lies beneath is inconsequential.

Samsung recently released the Galaxy Tab S 10.5, its newest flagship tablet. The device's closest competitor is the iPad Air -- which is a tablet I love. Besides Apple's tablet, there is really no other product to consider at the $500 price point. So, if you are considering a $500 general-use tablet, the only question that must be asked is -- is it better than the iPad Air?

Boy, what a tough question to answer -- tough, but not impossible. I've been using them both, side by side, for some time now and I have some definitive thoughts.

Galaxy Tab S 10.5 Specs

Network -- Wi-Fi Only
Processor -- Exynos 5 Octa (1.9 GHz QuadCore + 1.3 GHz QuadCore)
Display -- 10.5-inch WQXGA (2560x1600) Super AMOLED, 287ppi
OS -- Android 4.4 (KitKat)
Camera -- Rear: 8.0 Megapixel Auto Focus Camera with LED Flash, Front: 2.1 Megapixel
Connectivity -- Dual-Band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac MIMO, BT v4.0, USB 2.0
Memory 3GB RAM, 16GB Internal Memory, microSD (Up to 128GB)
Battery -- Li-ion 7,900mAh (10.5)

Analysis

The first thing you notice upon taking the Tab S from the box is just how thin and light it is. Shockingly, at 6.6mm and 465 grams, it is even thinner and lighter than the iPad Air. This makes it very easy to hold and reduces arm-fatigue. Of course, at this point, we are splitting hairs -- both tablets are really thin and light.

If you are in the market for a 10 inch tablet, the screen should be a huge factor in your decision. For a while, the iPad Air display was one of the best, if not the best. The retina display, while partly marketing-speak, produced beautiful and vivid images. While the display on Apple's tablet is still great, it can no longer be called the best.

The Galaxy Tab S 10.5 offers a 2560 x 1600 resolution, but that is only part of the allure. The real news is the Super AMOLED technology, that recreates the most beautiful colors and imagery. Some may argue that this technology over-saturates the colors -- I must disagree. True, colors are more vivid, but not to the point of creating a mockery by any means. No, it instead treats the user to a more life-like experience.
Where it really shines is in the sun (pun intended). In my backyard on a sunny day, the iPad Air is unusable. It is impossible to decipher what is on the screen, so I must head for shade. The display on the Galaxy Tab S, is a totally different story. Samsung's technologies allow the user to have a better experience under sunlight. This is achieved using sensors that adjust the display to your surroundings.

Much like its smartphones, Samsung has implemented its TouchWiz improvements to the otherwise boring Android interface. When compared to the stock experience of something like a Nexus 10, TouchWiz makes the user experience much more colorful and lively. Things get taken to a new level with this tablet though, as it takes advantage of a tablet-optimized "magazine" mode, which I rather like. Don't like it? Install Nova Launcher. It's not a big deal, guys. Android gives you the option to choose.

The iPad does not allow you to easily add additional memory. While you can jailbreak and access SD cards and flash drives, under normal usage that is not allowed outside of photo importing. Samsung's tablet offers a microSD slot, so you can add up to 128GB of additional storage on the cheap. While newer versions of Android are making it problematic for apps to use the card, it will work wonderfully for storing media, docs and any other file you want.

The rear camera on the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is actually not bad. Should it become your dedicated camera? No. Still, for a tablet, it is quite capable. There is very little noise and shutter is quick. However, the front-facing camera is pretty bad. Pictures come out very grainy, but it serves its purpose as a video-chat camera for services like Hangouts and Skype.

Sound on the tablet is remarkable. While not front-facing like the class-leading Surface Pro 3, there are at least stereo speakers located on the sides, that lend to solid stereo separation. The user can actually make out right and left channels, something that can be lost when the speakers are positioned on the bottom or rear. Watching a movie on this tablet is a dream -- the combination of speakers and display make it the perfect Android-powered media tablet.

Unfortunately, and strangely, the tablet uses USB 2.0 for connectivity. I understand that many people are moving towards the cloud and connecting to a PC is becoming a rarer occurrence. However, why implement USB 3.0 on the Galaxy S5 smartphone, but not on this flagship tablet? What is good for the goose, should be good for the gander, I say.

The Tab S 10.5 uses a mixture of capacitive buttons and a hardware button on the long end of the rectangular bezel. Capacitive buttons are OK on a smartphone, but fail on a tablet. In other words, the hardware home button is fine -- the capacitive ones are the hindrance.

When holding the Tab S vertically, my thumb is constantly hitting these touch-sensitive buttons. It ruins the experience when doing something like reading, as you want to be immersed in the story. Very often, when I relax and get comfortable, my thumb wanders to those buttons and ruins it all. Could this just be a learning curve? Sure, maybe I can train myself not to hit those buttons, but that should not be necessary. You can see what I am talking about in the above photo.

For internet activity, it is a Wi-Fi only affair. This is fine, as I mostly use tablets in my home. If it does leave the house, I simply tether using my phone. The wireless chip in the Tab S is top-notch though, offering 802.11AC. When connecting to my Apple Airport Extreme, the 5GHz band was visible, it connected quickly and was super-fast. Nice!

The iPad Air is a class-leader in battery life, but the Tab S is no slouch. While I did have to charge it more often than the iPad with equal usage, it still outperformed any other Android tablet I have used. On average, I would say it achieved about 10 hours of use between recharges, which for my usage, meant it would be charged about every three days. It would be in standby when not in use.

My favorite aspect of the Samsung Galaxy S5 is the fingerprint reader. I am happy to say that it is equally accurate on the Tab S. However, I find it a bit awkward to use on a 10 inch tablet, when located on the middle of the bottom-horizontal bezel. I would prefer it to be located on the top right of the face, so I can easily slide my finger. This means the fingerprint reader and the button should be separated on tablets. Do I appreciate having it? Yes. Do I use it often? Yes. Is it ideally located? No.

All in all, this tablet is incredible and should be bought although there are some things that holds it back from beating the iPad

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Showing 1-10 of 43 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 18, 2014 12:55:37 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jul 18, 2014 1:12:52 PM PDT]

Posted on Jul 18, 2014 1:12:38 PM PDT
SG says:
Excellent review.

I'll probably get one, but I'm lil disappointed they put everything on it but USB 3.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 18, 2014 7:47:53 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 18, 2014 7:48:40 PM PDT
D. Snow says:
>I'll probably get one, but I'm lil disappointed they put everything on it but USB 3.

I have an easy work-around: Just pull the microSD card out and put it in a USB 3.0 card reader. Attach the card reader to the USB 3.0 port on your PC, then use super-speed USB 3 to copy all your files to the card, then pop it back in the Galaxy tablet!

Posted on Jul 19, 2014 8:01:10 AM PDT
I'm surprised you did not focus on fact that the Samsung has 3gb ram vs. only 1 gb on iPad Air. I am shopping for new tablet since my first gen ipad crashes all the time due to lack of ram relative to upgraded os memory requirements and have decided against the ipad air because it only has 1gb ram and I have read about some users having problems with crashing apps and reloading of browser tabs due to insufficient ram. I don't want to end up in same situation aftwr buying iPad air and then upgrading os.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 19, 2014 11:09:34 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 19, 2014 11:11:10 AM PDT
SG says:
Thanks for suggestion and consideration, but I'll be using USB3 to extend and project display of tablet onto multiple 27" monitors and also use pocket projector that can display tablets screen on any surface. It doesn't work with usb 2

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 19, 2014 4:21:27 PM PDT
MB says:
I suggest you buy a USB otg cabe which allows you to connect USB devices to the tablet . I usually connect a 1 tb drive to my tab s to watch movies

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 20, 2014 4:41:52 AM PDT
SG says:
Is USB drive powered solely by tablet or some form of additional power is required?.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 20, 2014 7:18:58 PM PDT
MB says:
For me it depends on the device. My phone doesnt supply enough power for a 1 tb drive but my tab s supplies enough power

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 22, 2014 5:03:40 AM PDT
SG says:
Thanks.

As mentioned earlier. I'm really surprised they didn't put USB 3 on the device, since they put best of practically everything else.

USB 2 simply doesn't have speed for many operations, especially video.

Thanks again.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 22, 2014 12:45:09 PM PDT
D. Snow says:
>USB 2 simply doesn't have speed for many operations, especially video.

Explain. That statement doesn't make a bit of sense.
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