Samsung Galaxy TabPRO 12.2 hands-on
As far as its tablet arm is concerned, 2014 is shaping up to be quite the year for South Korean Samsung. With a bunch of new tablets slated for release as soon as Q1 2014, no one should doubt just how serious Sammy is about getting ahead and cementing its leadership in the space. And what better way to enforce its dominance than an enormous 12.2-inch slate? The new Samsung Galaxy TabPRO 12.2 is a giant of a tablet, and not just on the outside. Within, the electronics giant has seen fit to pack some truly high-end hardware, one that should prove sufficient for even those of us who demand the very best. We had a chance to play around with the TabPRO 12.2 over at CES2014 in Las Vegas, and we already have a few pointers for you.
Samsung may very well be gearing up for war, and yet design sure isn't something the company considers vital to succeed. That's not to say that the TabPRO 12.2 is unattractive -- it's actually very easy on the eyes, and it certainly feels refined in the hands. Moreover, that massive 12.2-inch screen pretty much encaptures your entire field of vision, forcing you to appreciate the punchy colors and crisp image. That being said, we do feel obligated to point out that the TabPRO line is near completely identical to the NotePRO 12.2, both of which, in turn, are near identical to the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition and the Galaxy Note 3. This means that the same design elements and ornamentation has been used, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, though it may prove a tad too much for those among us who are looking for something a tad more unique. Either way, it seems that the faux-leather back rear is here to stay, and that seems to be the story for just about every other piece of ornamentation on the TabPRO 12.2 -- a choice of more premium materials is, once again, absent, though this does mean that the slate is also more affordable.
Little can be said when you're faced with a 12.2-inch display. On a tablet. This is, hands down, one of the biggest tablets that are likely to see mass-productions, and we actually don't mind. The display is of the LCD type (no AMOLEDs this big), which is actually a welcome change of pace -- colors are lifelike, but still punchy enough, offering a right feast for our eyes. Last, but certainly not least, the resolution sits at the respectable 1600x2560 pixels. This surely isn't the most pixel-dense screen we've gazed upon, and yet we found no reason to complain whatsoever. We'll risk repeating ourselves -- the panel on the Samsung Galaxy TabPro 12.2 is a feast for the eyes.
Samsung's meddling with Android has divided the community in half -- some love Sammy's proprietary TouchWiz skin, while others can't stand it. We'd say we usually find ourselves inbetween, as we both see the reason for complain, but also -- the extent of functionality it offers. Well, for better or worse, TouchWiz is gone. Okay, not really -- you can still go to the time-tested ol' homescreen of Samsung's, but you're given a sweet-looking alternative. Dubbed Magazine UX, Samsung's new tablet looks and feels like... well, a magazine! Featuring a very Flipboard-y type of experience, the new UI lets you aggregate an amazing amount of information throughout several screens. You obviously don't lose access to your apps, but they've been granted a tad subtler role, which could prove a welcome change. In all honesty, we sure would like some more time to really sink our teeth into the new software, and we'll do so as soon as possible. Until then, we'd also have to point out that despite our generally positive impression, the UI still exhibited the typical TouchWiz-y stutters of old, which is just sad, considering the amazing hardware within.
Processor and memory
Ah, speaking of the devil. Hardware is where it's at with this tablet, and it really is offering some of the very best internals there are on the market. There are actually two versions of the TabPRO 12.2 -- one for the international market, with an octa-core Exynos 5420 chipset and no 4G LTE, and another, with Qualcomm's 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 with 4G LTE capabilities for the US, and likely any other LTE-enabled market. And while we're pretty familiar with the latter's performance, we find ourselves a little curious as to just how well the latest Exynos chip will handle itself. That one runs ARM's big.LITTLE configuration that manages two clusters of cores: one with four Cortex-A15 for the more intensive tasks, and another four Cortex-A7 taking care of the mundane, everyday chores. Unfortunately, at least as of right now, the two clusters can't work in unison, though Samsung did promise that an upcoming software update will remove this limitation. Either way, we'll reserve a judgment on the all-new silicon for once we have some quality one-on-one time.
An 8-megapixel shooter has taken a liking to the rear of the Samsung Galaxy TabPRO 12.2, and it feels perfectly adequate, all things considered. We've not had enough time to really push the unit, so we can't really tell just how well it stacks against the competition. In any case, it's capable of 1080p video capture at 60fps, which is more than adequate. Up at the front is a 2-megapixel snapper, good for some HD video calls, but really nothing more than that.
We expect the Samsung Galaxy TabPRO 12.2 to appeal to a pretty niche public, considering it's giant proportions. Whether the South Korean company manages to move a significant amount of the 12.2-incher remains to be seen, though we're not exactly holding our breath. Further still, we still have no clue exactly how Samsung is planning to price these, so that's another consideration to keep in mind.