NEW YORK — How could you not notice how many tablets Samsung has unleashed these last couple of years? And while Samsung has very definite ideas about how to segment the market among Galaxy Tab, Note Pros and all the other tablets it has introduced, it is sometimes hard to keep the machines straight.
Such is the environment in which Samsung unveils its latest tablet line, the Galaxy Tab S. These are Samsung's thinnest and lightest tablets models yet, and they're clearly aimed at the kind of people who want to watch lots and lots of video, and not just short clips but full TV shows and movies.
The Tab S machines run Android KitKat 4.4 software, and will be available in 8.4-inch and 10.5-inch versions, starting at $399.99 and $499.99, respectively. These will be Wi-Fi only models when they first arrive next month, though models with LTE wireless connectivity are promised too. Samsung starts taking preorders on the Wi-Fi slates on Friday. Machines come in white or titanium bronze.
A couple of things struck me during my brief hands-on demo time: First is how thin and light the these tablets are. The 10.5-inch model weighs just over a pound and is about as thin as five credit cards stacked on top of one another. The smaller model is equally thin and weighs about 10.4 ounces.
The most eye-popping feature on both models, though, is their gorgeous Super AMOLED (2560 by 1600 resolution) displays. Colors are vivid, rich, true to life. Samsung claims the "contrast ratio"— in simple terms the ratio measures the difference between the brightest and darkest image on the screen — is 100 times better than that of an LCD tablet. Viewing angles are superb.
Samsung has also incorporated a proprietary adaptive display technology that can automatically adjust the color and saturation on the screen depending on which key app is in use: eBook, Video, Gallery, Camera, Video calls, Web browsing or the general user interface.
For example, if you were reading an eBook via the third party Kindle app, the display is meant to soften the white background and sharpen the text to help reduce eye strain.
Users will also be able to adjust viewing modes for watching movies as opposed to viewing pictures.
Samsung says it has produced such a glorious display without sacrificing battery life. That's because Super AMOLED displays don't require a backlight. Samsung claims 11 hours of video.
Among the other features on the new tablets is a fingerprint scanner similar to the one on Samsung's Galaxy S5 flagship smartphone, with the ability to capture multiple fingerprints for multiple users. I do hope I have a better experience with it on the tablet than I have had employing the fingerprint scanner on the S5 phone.
On the content side, Amazon is debuting a magazine service called Papergarden, which also makes beautiful use of the display. Cosmopolitan, Elle and Vogue are among the participating magazines.
Via a partnership with Marvel, Galaxy Tab S users will be able to access over 15,000 Marvel Comics through three months of unlimited free membership to Marvel's Marvel Unlimited app.
The new tablets will also provide special kids-only areas where mom and dad can control the content Junior sees and limit the time in which he is allowed to play.
The latest tablets are also compatible with Samsung's nascent Milk Music service, with a fresh interface designed for the slates.
Using Wi-Fi Direct technology, you can view and control content from your phone screen on the tablet, even handling calls.
Galaxy Tab S isn't meant to be the type of machine you use for work or creative pursuits, as you might with the Galaxy Note Pro tablets. Tab S is not compatible, for example, with Samsung's proprietary S-Pen digital pen.
I'm also not the biggest fan of Android tablets generally, which boast fewer dedicated tablet apps than the iPad and have been in my opinion less easy to use then iPads and for that matter Windows tablets.
I haven't been able to test the new tablet, of course, and do have some reservations. But with such a beautiful display the Galaxy Tab S certainly leaves a very favorable first impression.
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