Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5

I feel depressed when I look at my Apple iPad 3, which is only 18 months old.

Just after I bought it, I had resisted rushing out to get the iPad Air, which is 30 per cent lighter, when it launched last November.

But now, looking at the Sony Experia Z2 and the latest kid on the block - the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5, I know that my resistance will soon be futile.

At an amazing 465g, the Tab S joins the Air and the Z2 in the league of magnificent and light 10-inch tablets that l can carry around effortlessly.

If you look at the specs in detail, the Tab S beats the iPad Air. It is lighter (465g versus 469g for the Wi-Fi version, 467g versus 478g for the LTE version); thinner (6.6mm versus 7.5mm); larger (10.5-inch screen versus 9.7-inch screen); and has better resolution (2,560 x 1,600 pixels versus 2,046 x 1,508 pixels). But these improvements are just marginal and do not really make a significant difference to our enjoyment and use of the tablet.

What does matter, I feel, is in Samsung's use of the Super Amoled screen instead of the typical LCD screens used in tablets such as the iPad Air.

Amoled stands for active matrix organic light-emitting diode. Oled technology consists of an organic film with electrodes at the side. A current passing through the film lights it up. It does not need a separate backlight to light up the front layer of liquid crystals in LCD screens. This makes Oled screens more power-efficient and thinner.

An Amoled screen has an extra layer of thin film to light up the individual pixels in the Oled layer faster. This makes the Amoled screen much more responsive than an LCD one, thus reducing motion blur. This means it is great for watching video and playing games.

The Tab S screen is stunning. Text and images are incredibly sharp. The screen is very bright, yet does not strain the eyes. While most tablet screens let you see more than 70 per cent of the RGB colour spectrum, Samsung said its screen will let you see more differentiation in colours as it covers more than 90 per cent of the spectrum.

From my own tests, I found that the images viewed on the Tab S are rich, vivid but often oversaturated. Tablets using LCD, such as the iPad Air, seem to display the colours more naturally, though that also means they are often less vivid. Colour preference is a matter of personal choice, but artists and photographers who require colour accuracy should appreciate the wider colour gamut.

The use of Super Amoled also improves the contrast ratio, so you can see deeper blacks, making it exceptional for viewing movies.

The Tab S is great for viewing stuff outdoors in the daytime. Even under bright daylight, I could still make out the images on the tablet.

A pair of speakers - one on either side of the tablet - delivers crisp and loud audio with no noticeable distortion at maximum volume.

The cameras are average and will get the job done but do not expect anything spectacular.

Battery life is outstanding and on a par with the Z2's - lasting 11 hours in our video loop test with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on, and display and audio set to maximum. The iPad Air managed only eight hours. For everyday use, the Tab S will be able to last two days for an average user.

Unfortunately for Samsung, the variety of the Google Play Store still lags behind the Apple App Store, especially when it comes to games. The company realises the weakness of the Android system and has tried to sweeten the deal by adding its own apps and offering free deals of useful third-party apps.

Samsung's proprietary SideSync 3.0 app deserves special mention. I connected my Samsung Note 3 phone with the Tab S easily, making use of a direct wireless connection between the two devices instead of needing both devices to connect to the same Wi-Fi network.

With SideSync, a clone of my phone's screen appears on the tablet. I can use my tablet to view photos of my three-year-old while responding to WhatsApp messages by typing on the SideSync phone screen. I can even copy files between them. So if I want to share a photo of my daughter with my mum via WhatsApp, I simply drag it from the tablet into the virtual phone screen. Best of all, I can even make and receive calls on the tablet. So I can keep my phone in my pocket and get everything done on the tablet.

There are many other bundled apps, including a Microsoft Office-clone called Hancom Office (which is really quite awful to use), a three-month subscription to Marvel Unlimited comics, 50GB of Dropbox space for two years, Fruit Ninja and Asphalt 8, 12 weeks' subscription to The New York Times plus three free issues of any SPH magazine from a list of 60.

This tablet has a stunning screen which offers rich and vibrant colours. It also has a slim and light body plus a ton of free bundled apps including SideSync 3.0, which lets you control your phone from the tablet.

ginlee@sph.com.sg

BACKGROUND STORY

TECH SPECS

Price: $948 (LTE); $848 (Wi-Fi)

Processor: Samsung Exynos twin quad-core (A15 1.9GHz plus A7 1.3GHz) processors RAM: 3GB

Display: Super Amoled 10.5-inch 2,560 x 1,600 touchscreen

Storage: 32GB internal, microSD slot supports an extra 128GB

Cameras: 8 megapixels (rear), 2.1 megapixels (front)

Weight: 467g (LTE version); 465g (Wi-Fi)

RATING

Features: 5/5

Design: 4/5

Performance: 5/5

Value for money: 4/5

Battery life: 5/5

Overall: 5/5


This article was first published on July 30, 2014.
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