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Samsung Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 Review

Posted: , by Nick T.

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Interface

Magazine UX is an almost ideal solution for tablets because of its good use of screen space. Multi Window lets us enjoy proper multitasking on a tablet.

A non-Nexus Android device launching with the most recent version of the platform is a rare occurrence. That's why Samsung deserves a thumbs up – the Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 ships with Android 4.4.2 KitKat out of the box. But to no surprise, the UI of the operating system has been heavily modified on many levels. Layered on top we find a fresh new interface named Magazine UX, which basically builds upon the well-known TouchWiz by extending its already rich array of features.

The great thing about Magazine UX is that it is built from the ground up with tablets in mind. It takes full advantage of the available screen space by filling it with tiles of all kinds. Yes, we're calling them “tiles” since they remind us of the way Microsoft's Modern UI is laid out. These can behave as shortcuts to apps, as widgets, or as aggregated news feeds on topics of your choice, powered by Flipboard. And you can rearrange them to your liking, which is also nice. All in all, we're pleased with Samsung's new approach to UI design, as similar as it may look to the Modern UI found on Windows 8 tablets. It does a good job at giving quick access to up-to-date news and our frequently used software, all the while being simple enough for both novice and experienced users to get the hang of it.

Traditional home screens, where app shortcuts and third-party widgets can be placed, are still available, should you prefer using these instead of Magazine UX. But if that's the case, you might be a bit disappointed to learn that at least one Magazine screen has to remain enabled.

As we mentioned above, many features found in previous TouchWiz versions – Smart Stay, Blocking Mode, S Voice, and KNOX – haven't been omitted. Multi Window, which lets us use two active apps side by side, is also present, allowing us to enjoy a true multitasking experience instead of having to switch back and forth between opened apps.

Functionality


While Magazine UX feels different as a whole, Samsung has chosen to not modify some of the core applications in its interface. The Contacts app, for example, has a very familiar look, with people listed on the left side of the screen and info for the highlighted contact listed on the right. We have a search bar at our disposal, and the options to sort contacts in groups, so all in all, there's nothing about the Contacts app that we find lacking.

We're delighted by the on-screen keyboard offered by the Samsung Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4. It offers large, well-spaced keys, accurate word prediction and correcting, and quick access to items placed on our clipboard. Furthermore, we appreciate having three different keyboard layouts – classic, floating, and split. When it comes to speed, we have not experienced a single case of lag with Samsung's keyboard.

Hancom Office is what comes on the Samsung Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 for all your professional needs. Basically, it is an office solution compatible with Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. And it is a capable one indeed. Seriously, the software is very suitable for creating both basic and complex documents while on the go, especially with its intuitive, touch-screen optimized user interface. If you've ever used Microsoft's Office, than you should be feeling right at home with Hancom's alternative.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 is compable with WebEx, which is professional-grade solution for video conferencing. In a nutshell, the software enables two or more people to attend an online meeting in order to collaborate on projects, exchange files, provide help or instructions through the built-in desktop sharing feature, and more. This is a feature that might come in handy if you're a business professional.

Remote PC is also on the list of software pre-loaded on the Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4. As the name implies, it is an app allowing one with a Samsung account to access and control their computer over the internet.

Processor and memory

There's plenty of raw processing power under the hood. Games and heavy applications run perfectly fine.

Looking at raw data alone, the Samsung Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 is one very capable tablet. In fact, it ranks among the most powerful slates on the market thanks to its top-notch hardware setup – quad-core, 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 SoC with Krait 400 CPUs and Adreno 330 graphics. But when it comes to real-life performance, we still see lags and choppy transitions every once in a while, which is disappointing. Don't get us wrong as the tablet is still pretty fast overall. It is just that the occasional stuttering can be a tad annoying. The 2GB of RAM present on board are definitely sufficient to ensure a smooth multitasking experience, although tablets with 3GB of RAM are already on the market. Games, including demanding ones like Real Racing 3, run well on the device, so you should have no troubles running any game on the Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4.

The base Samsung Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 model comes with 16GB of storage, out of which a little over 10 gigs are user-available, the rest being occupied by non-removable system files. For a tablet that's intended to be used as a professional device, that's not a whole lot, yet thankfully, there's a microSD card slot available, supporting cards of up to 64 gigabytes. Alternatively, a 32GB model should be launched as well. Or if you don't mind relying on cloud storage, Samsung is treating Galaxy Tab PRO buyers to 50GB of free Dropbox storage for 2 years.

Performance benchmarks

Quadrant
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 20948
LG G Pad 8.3 11789
Google Nexus 7 (2013) 5854
AnTuTu
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 32806
LG G Pad 8.3 25254
Google Nexus 7 (2013) 19786
GFXBench Egypt HD 2.5 onscreen (fps)
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 45
LG G Pad 8.3 39
Google Nexus 7 (2013) 40
Apple iPad mini 2 49
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 945
LG G Pad 8.3 743
Google Nexus 7 (2013) 692
Vellamo HTML 5
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 1168
LG G Pad 8.3 2519
Google Nexus 7 (2013) 1571
Sunspider
Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 612.6
Apple iPad mini 2 430.3
View all

Internet browser and connectivity


No complaints here. We find the excellent Internet browser on the Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 with support for tabbed browsing and built-in Reader Mode, which comes in handy when reading large articles. In plain words, this mode increases font size and removes non-essential content from the page, leaving only the body of the article. Oh, and did we say that the default browser is super-fast too? Even heavy pages like ours take little time to load. Navigation is smooth and rendering while zooming takes only a fraction of a second.

The base Samsung Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 tablet connects to the internet only over Wi-Fi, but a 3G/4G LTE model is also in the works. What's more, this variant of the device will sport a built-in earpiece for making phone calls, although we can't guarantee that a carrier-specific model won't have this feature blocked. Naturally, you get GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, and Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac with this tablet. NFC and FM radio connectivity, however, aren't supported.

27 Comments
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posted on 20 Feb 2014, 04:37 7

1. Väliaikainen (unregistered)


I just somehow don't like Magazine UX. It's somehow disturbing to my eyes. They just tell me to look away from it lol... I really hope the S5 will have a more mature UI

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 19:00 1

16. Bioload25 (Posts: 211; Member since: 12 Nov 2012)


Cant expect that from Samsung bro --'

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 20:25 1

17. Nexus4lifes (Posts: 76; Member since: 13 Feb 2014)


Ever heard of the term launcher?

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 22:49 1

18. Taters (Posts: 3285; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)


Aren't you just a hater?

posted on 21 Feb 2014, 03:50 1

20. Väliaikainen (unregistered)


If I was a hater I would hope Samsung to keep making ugly UI on their products

posted on 01 Apr 2014, 21:11

26. JohnZimmerman (Posts: 12; Member since: 17 Sep 2012)


To expand on Nexus4lifes response, you can quickly and easily remove the Magazine UX by installing a "launcher" (basically, an app that gives you a home screen, dock, and app drawer). Nova is a popular choice.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 04:41 1

2. X.E.R.O. (unregistered)


Looks like an enlarged Note 3. A stylus would probably give this an extra .5 in the final score.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 04:41 16

3. tech2 (Posts: 2212; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


If there's one thing that the display on the Samsung Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 lacks, that would be drawbacks. - Nick T.

You sir, deserve a cookie !

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 05:08 1

4. _Bone_ (Posts: 2135; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


Tablets just grown up. Thin and light like they should be, but laptop-like functions and multitasking. Although I do miss the pen here, and I'm among those who's say what the hell, go for the 12", waiting for that review.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 05:23 1

5. hboy857 (Posts: 223; Member since: 03 Jun 2013)


Best tablet Samsung ever created, congrats but it is disappointing to hear that their tablet still occasionally lags and stutters. Hopefully next time they will optimize their Magazine UX properly (or they could use more powerful intel bay trail processor) and bring us a new design for tablet.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 06:03 7

8. _Bone_ (Posts: 2135; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


Movies always had a stroboscopic effect cause frames get lit, go dark and roll on, 24 times a second, and you can condition yourself to see the flickering 99.9% doesn't realize.

But may I ask what's the point?

Cause the geek world effectively conditioned itself to spot the lag I can confirm NONE of my non-geek relatives recognize or care about, cause they are busy using the phone and not hunting occasional stutters that happen on every OS and every device.

I bet you can spot something ugly on your girlfriend, but should you really focus on those things?

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 06:26 1

9. X.E.R.O. (unregistered)


The point is, that's what geeks do and I see no problem with that.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 07:04 2

10. _Bone_ (Posts: 2135; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


Well they see a problem where there isn't really one, films have stroboscopic effect yes, gadgets have input lag & occasional stutter yes, but it's only there if you spend time nitpicking instead of using the product for... you know, productivity.

Stop ruining your own experience.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 07:30

21. geodude074 (Posts: 67; Member since: 05 Mar 2013)


Considering you can purchase other $400 tablets (and even tablets at half that price) that exhibit little to no lag...

Yes, focusing on the negatives is pretty important, especially if you're paying a price premium for an inferior product.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 05:52 7

6. geordie8t1 (unregistered)


Phonearena Not sure why you are saying its expensive? Its guide.price is the same $400 as apples latest ipad mini retina. The differance here though is that this has micro sd port meaning extra 64gb card for only like $40. That extra space will cost you upwards of $600 for 64gb ipad. Bear in mind also that this tablet will no dount drop to around $350 after a month or so. In my view its one of the best tablets to date, better then the competition

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 06:02 3

7. Nabil2511 (Posts: 149; Member since: 27 Jan 2014)


loving the magazine UX..

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 07:04 1

11. amozhi (Posts: 101; Member since: 23 Oct 2012)


Magazine UX exactly looks like Metro tiles. I hate metro and therefore magazine UX. It is a deal breaker. I don't buy this device. Better I would buy Chrome book for the same price

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 09:05 1

12. Sakeem (Posts: 253; Member since: 05 Sep 2012)


I had a chance to play around with a demo unit at Best Buy last night. I must say this is a well-built beast of a tablet. I think its the right size for me. Might be a birthday gift from me to me next month. Just waiting on the rumors of the Nexus 8 and refreshed Nexus 10 to see if anythng materializes with those.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 09:31 1

13. jove39 (Posts: 1308; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


"we still see lags and choppy transitions every once in a while, which is disappointing"

Samsung just can't make a smooth UI...with all the power from adreno 330...it still stutters!

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 10:44

14. grapeseed87 (Posts: 123; Member since: 13 Mar 2013)


Haha finally Samsung catching up to the tiles of WP8. :D

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 15:14

15. galanoth (Posts: 327; Member since: 26 Nov 2011)


Why are people saying this is a copy of WP8?
IIRC, Magazine UX is flipboard.

posted on 20 Feb 2014, 22:53

19. Taters (Posts: 3285; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)


Samsung used metal on the tab 7.7 but materials are overrated. It honestly made no difference at all in terms of quality feel compared to the plastic tabs. They are all well made unlike the stuff from HTC that has gaps everywhere and screens that easily allow dust in.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 18:45

24. networkdood (Posts: 6276; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


ohhh, but, it has to have the PREMIUM build, sooo, it needs such metals....jk...just making fun of iphone users and those who throw around the word PREMIUM....

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 07:34

22. geodude074 (Posts: 67; Member since: 05 Mar 2013)


Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is larger than the Tab Pro 8.4, has the same 2560x1600 resolution, has a Snapdragon 800, and only costs $379.

You can easily sideload Android apps onto the Kindle, and if you're brave enough you can install a custom ROM if you want access to the Google Play Store directly.

The Tab Pro 8.4 is several months late to the party in my opinion. It offers nothing new that I haven't seen before.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 18:44

23. networkdood (Posts: 6276; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


Wow, this looks a lot like the phablet I ordered - the Coolpad 9976A - its dimensions are 185X104X7.6mm - 7.28346 X 4.09 X 0.30 in - 7.1 inch screen ...maybe P.A. does a VS review on the two?

posted on 04 Mar 2014, 01:43

25. DerryAhmad (Posts: 245; Member since: 05 May 2012)


Best Tablet on the market. Loving my Black Tab Pro 8.4

posted on 08 May 2014, 08:44

27. ron15 (Posts: 1; Member since: 08 May 2014)


Hey I really like this tablet but before buying I just want to ask if it will be able to do these things.

1. Use excel full functionality and snappy.?
2. Connect to a projector via VGA.
3. Use presenter view for powerpoint presentations.

Assuming this is "Pro" I think it has these features.. but maybe not... so anyone can you please help me?

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Display8.4 inches, 1600 x 2560 pixels (359 ppi) Super Clear LCD
Camera8 megapixels
Hardware
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Quad core, 2300 MHz, Krait 400 processor
2048 MB RAM
Size8.62 x 5.06 x 0.28 inches
(219 x 128.5 x 7.2 mm)
11.82 oz  (335 g)

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