Samsung Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 Review
Samsung started 2014 with a bang. Back in early January, the Korean company announced its new Tab PRO range of Android tablets aimed at those in need of a no-compromise Android slate, for those who just wanted the very best Android could offer. Now, we're about to take the smallest of these tablets for a spin, the Samsung Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4, and to say that we're excited about it would be a huge understatement. Why is that? Well, because the Samsung Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 is shaping as quite the beast. Its mid-size form factor and lightweight design makes Samsung's 8.4-inch highly portable, yet its specs sheet can easily make a geek drool. And it can already be bought for as low as $400, which is a high, yet a presumably justified price tag for such a high-end product. So without further ado, let's get this review started!
Familiar plastic build and faux-leather finish, but overall, the Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 is a well-made device.
Admittedly, we find nothing unique about the Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4, at least not when it comes to design. Quite the opposite – it strikes a very close visual resemblance to a number of recent Samsung devices, including the Galaxy Note 3 and the 2014-edition Galaxy Note 10.1. But you know what, we aren't complaining. After all, what's wrong with rehashing the looks of gadgets that are liked, as long as it isn't being overdone? Among the many design cues adopted by the Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 are the metal-like trim around the edge, the curvy corners, and, of course, the faux-leather finish on the otherwise plastic-made back plate with decorative stitching around the sides. The latter feature, in particular, is one we're quite fond of. It has a sophisticated look and feels nice to the touch, all the while providing plenty of friction, thus preventing accidental slip outs. All in all, even though it does not make any use of premium materials in its construction, the Samsung Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 is still a solid, elegant, well-made device with a professional appearance.
If you're like us, then you'll probably find yourself using the Samsung Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 primarily in portrait mode, holding the tablet from the bottom corner and operating it with your other hand. However, the slim side bezels don't leave much space for the user's thumb to rest, which could cause accidental taps near the edge of the touchscreen. Alternatively, folks with larger hands might try grasping the device entirely with a single hand, although we wouldn't recommend using the Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 like this for prolonged periods of time.
Below the screen of the Samsung Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 we find a slightly raised and easy to find physical “Home” key. Next to it is a couple of capacitive buttons – one for the “Back” function and another one used for listing the recent apps. No dedicated “Menu” key is present, as that has been substituted with a button in the UI.
On the right side of the tablet are located its power and volume keys. We find them sufficiently large, well exposed, and with good tactile feedback. Something you won't find on may tablets is the Tab PRO 8.4's built-in infra-red blaster, which lets it act as an intelligent remote control.
Looking at the bottom of the slate we see a microUSB port and a pair of speakers. The placement of the latter is far from ideal for the stereo effect created is minimal, not to mention that the speakers' openings can be easily obstructed by accident when the tablet is held horizontally. The 3.5-millimeter headphone jack is positioned on the device's top and the slot for microSD cards is on its left side.
One of the very best tablet displays we've come across. Its high resolution and beautiful colors are commendable.
If there's one thing that the display on the Samsung Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 lacks, that would be drawbacks. Seriously, this is one of the most beautiful tablet screens we've had the pleasure to examine in the recent past, and the extremely high pixel density is among the best things about it. Spreading a resolution of 2560 by 1600 pixels along 8.4 inches of real estate gives us a figure of 359 ppi, which is the highest we've seen on a tablet to date. Mind you, this has not been achieved using some unorthodox sub-pixel arrangement – traditional RGB sub-pixels are in play. Overkill, you say? Well, we don't think so, and we believe you'd agree with us once you see this gorgeous screen in person. Simply put, anything from graphics and texts to high-res images and video displayed on the Tab PRO 8.4 look outstanding.
But that's not all there is to like about it. The tablet's screen is of the Super Clear LCD variety and produces very accurate colors across the entire spectrum. There are some minor deviations from the ideal color values, as indicated by our measurements, but in reality, these are slight enough to go totally unnoticed by most users.
We didn't have any troubles using the Samsung Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 outdoors. That was mostly due to its above average brightness output of 410 nits, but the low reflectance of the screen's surface played its role as well. Furthermore, the minimum brightness of the display goes as low as 4 nits, which is great for using the device at night with the lights out, be it for checking your Twitter feed or reading a book.