It seems that after trouncing Apple in the smartphone market, Samsung is now targeting its tablet market. Samsung Electronics, a company that is no stranger to excellent displays and gorgeous screen resolution, put on quite a show at NYC’s Madison Square Garden yesterday evening. The company that has become nothing short of a thorn in the side of Apple, Inc. did what it does best: look successful, market successfully, and talk like experts. And Samsung didn’t disappoint in this.
The company didn’t point to specific competitors, as LG did with its 5.5-inch LG G3 where it placed the G3 between a 5.1-inch (Galaxy S5) and 5.7-inch (Galaxy Note 3) smartphones; nor did the company single out a single operating system as its enemy – as did Tim Cook against Android at WWDC 2014. Instead, the company that’s shaking things up in the smartphone and tablet space decided to aim for its rivals in style: it discussed the differences between liquid crystal displays (or LCDs) and AMOLED (or active-matrix-organic-light-emitting diode) displays. For Samsung, the problem with LCD screens is that they require a backlight to operate – since they have no light coming from LCD screens themselves. This causes the battery to drain more because it must draw light from the backlight rather than emit it naturally from the display itself. Samsung’s AMOLED screens, on the other hand, have a natural light within the display (this explains the “light-emitting,” or “LE” portion of the AMOLED acronym), leaving the battery to drain due to other processes external to a light supply. The result? Batteries last longer and hold up longer.
Samsung unveiled its Galaxy Tab S last night, having just released a $200 Galaxy Tab 4 weeks ago. The new tablets come in an 8.4-inch and 10.5-inch model, with a Super AMOLED display, 2560 x 1600 (Quad HD) screen resolution, the dimpled plastic texture that is reminiscent of the Galaxy S5, and feature either 1) an Exynos 5 Octa processor (Samsung’s own) or 2) a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor (2.3Ghz). The Galaxy Tab S collection comes in two colors currently (Gold Bronze or White), although it seems that a black with gold trim model may emerge sometime later along with the Galaxy Tab S LTE models. Think of the Galaxy Tab S models as a larger version of the Galaxy S5: you still get the fingerprint scanner that has become the signature on the GS5, for example, and the back cover design matches that of the GS5. Both Galaxy Tab S tablets come with Samsung’s signature microSD card slot for additional memory storage now up to 128GB – keeping the Galaxy Tab S in step with Samsung’s newest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5. The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 will feature a 4,900mAh battery while the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 will feature a 7,900mAh battery.
As for the hand-holding experience, both devices are just 6.6mm thick – 0.9mm thinner in size than Apple’s iPad Air (7.5mm) and iPad Mini 2 (7.5mm). Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S is also the higest-resolution display in such a portable form factor, surpassing Apple’s iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 screen resolutions (Samsung’s 2560 x 1600 vs. Apple’s 2048 x 1536 screen resolution, respectively).
Along with the features and specs that we’ve come to expect from Samsung flagships and the industry at large, the Korean manufacturer took the time to acknowledge its partnerships with corporations that are helping to provide a stellar experience for Galaxy Tab S users. Netflix, for example, will stream its movies and TV shows in 1080p for new tablet users, and Galaxy Tab S customers will receive a three-month unlimited membership to Marvel Comics. This doesn’t count the Washington Post, 6-month Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg Businessweek subscriptions, or the Conde Nast subscriptions to Vogue, GQ, and others. If you’re a fan of cloud storage, congratulations: you can now get 50GB of Box storage for 6 months, 50GB of Dropbox storage for 2 years, 3 months of 1TB of cloud storage from Bitcasa, and so on.
Two additional details are worth mentioning. First, Samsung pointed to its Adaptive Display, a feature that I’ve found refreshing with the Galaxy experience. Adaptive Display adjusts your screen display based upon the content you’re reading as well as the environment you’re reading in (whether indoors or outdoors). The company went so far as to point to its revolutionary work in connectivity. Now, with Samsung’s own SideSync 3.0, you can place your Galaxy S5’s user interface (UI) on your Galaxy Tab S and even make and receive phone calls on your tablet – whether you own a Wi-Fi tablet or cellular data tablet.
The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (16GB) will cost $399 and the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 (16GB) will come in at $499. Sales will start in the US in July (next month), and head to other countries over the next few months. With DisplayMate’s claim that the GS5 is “the best display we’ve ever tested,” just imagine what Raymond Soneira will say now? And with prices as competitive as these, with a microSD card slot for storage expansion (as well as gorgeous colors, SideSync, and the numerous free subscriptions and financial credits), Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S is, as Samsung said it last night, “a multitasker’s dream come true”. Just when you think innovation has reached its end, the company known for the trademark slogan “the next big thing” returns with another big thing.