Samsung's Galaxy Tab S: My Opinion

By Eric Mazariegos

Samsung’s Latest Tablet, the Galaxy Tab S, May Finally Be the Android Tablet Everyone Has Been Waiting For

Samsung is no stranger to the mobile industry. Having essentially invented the quintessential Android experience that we know and love today, some might say that Samsung has even become synonymous with Android. With their release of the Galaxy S3 smartphone two years ago, the South Korean manufacturing giant took charge of the mobile sector and spearheaded the revolution of Android; reinventing it to great extents and popularizing a once stale ecosystem.
Now again, Samsung seems to be taking hold of the reigns and tackling a new section of mobile tech head on - tablets. Bear in mind, Samsung has been very comfortably holding a lead in Android tablet sales since they first released their Tab series. Offering a very budget-friendly tablet with reasonable specifications, these are, to some, even better deals than Google's own Nexus branded devices, which are known to be very pervasive and extremely budget friendly.
Up until this point though, given all of these aforementioned options, Android as a brand has not offered any worthy competition to Apple's iPad, which has essentially remained the undisputed tablet king since its inception. LG, Asus, Sony, and Motorola have offered tablet experiences in the past, but none of them have captured critical acclaim, or mainstream acclaim for that matter, in any way. Some might say that the only devices that have even come close to that are the Nexus 10, or perhaps the Note Pro or Tab Pro series of tablets - all, in fact, manufactured by none other than Samsung themselves. In a way, Samsung has definitely been the only Android OEM that has even tried to dethrone the iPad. With its past efforts, it came close. Offering good screens, great internals, and of course, the Android OS with TouchWiz. But despite these valiant efforts, sales have been somewhat tepid, coming nowhere near the revenue Apple enjoys with their tablet experience. Now though, Samsung seems to be taking notice and may have finally released the worthy iPad competitor Android, and the world, have been waiting for - the Galaxy Tab S.
Previous efforts by Samsung have offered good specs, but something seems to be missing from all of them. What makes these tablets indispensable? What makes the public want this experience over other manufacturers like LG's G Pad, or Asus' staple Nexus 7? What makes these tablets shine? It seems Samsung has been asking themselves these questions and has formulated something that really checks all the right boxes. The Galaxy Tab S provides users with something none of the aforementioned tablet experiences do; something that no other high end tablet in the world has provided as of yet - a high resolution Super AMOLED display. Most people never previously acquainted to high end Galaxy phones have probably never even come into contact with this next generation screen technology, but those who own a Galaxy need only look in their very own pockets.
The screens most of us have in our living rooms, in our bedrooms, and perhaps even in our hands right now are more than likely some form of LCD technology. There are many differences between this and the technology Samsung uses in many of their portable devices. LCD, or liquid crystal display, screens are constructed in essentially three layers; a backlight, which carries the duty of illuminating the digitizer which rests on top of it. The digitizer houses the actual display, or pixels, within the screen, and on top of this lies the glass we like to smudge up with our fingers. AMOLED, or active matrix organic light emitting diode, displays work in one importantly different way; these screens require no backlight panel to illuminate the pixels. In an AMOLED display, each pixel illuminates itself and can therefore forgo the necessity for a backlight. This has many repercussions but perhaps the two most important are: 1) The absence of an illuminating back panel allows manufacturers to make a display significantly thinner than non-AMOLED displays, and 2) Because of the fact that LCD displays intrinsically necessitate a back light, none can accurately ever display true black. The specification of Contrast Ratio illustrates this in a numerical value; the higher the contrast ratio, the better a display is equipped to display deeper, inkier blacks. Pixels on an AMOLED panel do not illuminate when they emit the color black, instead staying completely unlit, and therefore provide a black color equivalent to a screen being turned off. There are certain advantages that come with owning a device built with an AMOLED display. As just mentioned, black colors do not need illumination, and therefore do not turn on. This equates to longer battery life for users who perhaps may have predominantly black backgrounds as their phone or tablet wallpaper, and it has even allowed Samsung to implement their Ultra Power Saving mode, which debuted with the Galaxy S5 and now finds its way onto the Tab S. The power saving mode turns the screen into an AMOLED-friendly black and white. Another advantage that ultimately benefits the end user is the fact that AMOLED displays are able to display a wider color gamut, therefore making everything on a display more saturated. In days when AMOLED technology was not up to the standard that it is now, this hyper saturated effect was called garish and ugly by many, instead of things like resplendent and vivid. AMOLED technology has evolved to a point in which it can be calibrated to show true-to-life colors, as well as have ultra-bright whites (another previous downside to having an AMOLED screen). This evolution in screen technology for Samsung products has made itself perhaps most apparent in both the Galaxy S5 and the Galaxy Tab S. In fact, DisplayMate has dubbed both the smartphone and the tablet as having the best displays they have ever tested. This says a lot, but perhaps the true difference in sheer clarity and richness can only be appreciated in real life, holding the phone in one's hand, as opposed to just reading about it. Many consumers are simply baffled upon gazing at a Galaxy S5’s or Galaxy Tab S’ screen for the first time.
The screen is not, by any means, the only thing that one should look for in a mobile device, especially a tablet. But with that said, one would not feel remorseful in any way if one were to buy this device, the Tab S, solely for its screen. It more than makes up for any combination of hardware deficiencies, if the Tab S came with any, with its stunning display. With a total of eight cores, four allocated to high performance, four to low performance; 3 GB of RAM, an actually usable 8 MP rear camera (with flash), and an extremely svelte body, this tablet is no slouch when it comes to hardware, and actually can keep up with, and surpass, most high end Android tablets today. Design is something that is subjective and tastes differ for everyone, but generally speaking, this tablet is not the most atrocious thing in the world. Some may like the design, others may hate it. One thing is for certain however, Samsung has remained adamant in its decision to primarily use plastic in the construction of its devices. Many equate this to a less premium device; some even opine that it is cheap. However, one must keep in mind that plastic has many benefits; it is lighter than metal, less conductive than metal, which allows for more comfortable operating times in hand due to heat dispersion, and it is generally more apt at taking light falls and tumbles. Once metal is dented, it is dented forever (in the case of a smartphone anyway). Scratches on metal devices are very noticeable; not the case (pun intended) for a plastic Galaxy. The design of the Tab S is polarizing, but as a whole, the device packs a sheerly amazing screen, and houses internals to put even the latest iPad to shame.
Hardware, however, is only part of the equation. It is one thing to say that a certain device has eight cores and, in theory, should perform blazingly fast. To say it does so in practice is another thing entirely. Unfortunately for Samsung, this has indeed been the case for their past devices. Their supposedly “Pro” line of devices have shown some troubling stutters, and devices like the Note Pro series, equipped with 3 GB of RAM, show lag that should not be in any way apparent on a device with such specifications. For the most part, this issue no longer plagues Samsung. But one must remember than first impressions are often the most important, and in the Korean tech giant’s case, their first was one of lag, stutter, and general sluggishness. For this reason, popular opinion still sways to the side that Samsung devices are nothing but lag-fests. This could not be further from the truth. The Tab S flies, like it should. This is not to say, however, that it is as fluid or buttery smooth as something like the iPad. Apple generally holds that its devices are the reigning kings of user experience in fluidity and speed. This is mostly true. There are certain force closes, stutters, and general lag (albeit  very minimal) that make the Android user experience less than perfect. Nevertheless, many recent Android devices have matured enough so that this is not as severe as it once was - as is the case for the Tab S. Rest assured, no lag or stutter will hamper or hinder one’s user experience on this device. Indeed, most of these minor annoyances will equate to just that -- annoyances.
Samsung has come a long way from the company it once used to be. It used to release gadgets that were garrish, ugly, and mundane, cookie-cutter Android devices. These past few years, Samsung, and Android, have both been evolving and innovating in areas other OEMs cannot; they have both matured immensely - to a point in which they are, in tandem, the number one manufacturer of mobile devices and an operating system in the world, respectively. The Galaxy Tab S perhaps meets the two companies’ greatest efforts to date in perfect harmony. It has managed to overcome its rival Apple, but even more salient is the fact that it has surpassed efforts from its fellow Android brethren OEMs; LG, Asus, Sony, HTC, etc. In this feat, Samsung has secured its place in becoming the de facto king of Android. First, with its drive to produce one of the best Android handsets a consumer could own. And now, with its latest effort in the tablet space, it looks to become not only the most widely recognized smartphone manufacturer, but perhaps the best tablet manufacturer as well. Android has been waiting a long time for a king in the ten inch tablet space, and now, finally, Samsung has manufactured it - the quintessential Android tablet experience.


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