Beautiful high-resolution display; Compelling productivity apps; Engaging Magazine UX ; Expandable microSD storage
Mediocre audio; Much shorter battery life than rivals
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4's battery life falls short, but its sharp display, useful productivity apps and multitasking prowess make it a good Android tablet.
It's pretty clear what tablet Samsung is challenging with the new Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4. This $399 slate is going right after the iPad mini with Retina Display, offering a sharper and bigger screen in a design that's just as thin and light. Samsung's tablet is also packed with business-friendly apps to make you more productive on the go, as well as a new Magazine interface to deliver more information at a glance. The Tab Pro 8.4 could use more endurance, but overall this premium device is a compelling option for Android fans.
Like the Galaxy Note Pro, the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 sports a leatherlike plastic back with stitching around the outside edge. This treatment adds an air of elegance while making the slate easier to grip. Up front, you'll find a familiar white face rimmed in silver plastic. The oval home button sits below the 8.4-inch screen, while the 2-MP camera is just to the right of the Samsung logo at the top.
Despite sporting a bigger 8.4-inch screen than the 7.9-inch iPad mini, Samsung's tablet is a hair lighter (11.6 versus 11.7 ounces) and is nearly as thin (8.6 x 5.1 x 0.3 inches versus 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.29 inches). The Samsung is taller for narrower . Lenovo's 8-inch Miix 2 comes in at 8.5 x 5.2 x 0.3 inches and 12.2 ounces. The 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX is larger and heavier than all of the above, measuring 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.31 inches and weighing 13.3 ounces.
Along the flat left edge you'll find a microSD card slot capable of adding up to 64GB of additional storage to this 16GB tablet. Two speakers and a microUSB port line the bottom while a headphone jack sits on the top right edge. The power button and a volume rocker adorn the right side, just above an IR blaster, for turning this slate into a TV remote control.
While it was designed as a business-focused tablet, the Tab Pro 8.4-inch feels slightly top-heavy while thumb typing in portrait mode. We also wished Samsung had included a stylus for even more precise input and to aid in taking notes.
Display and Audio
Text was sharp and colors popped when we watched an HD trailer for "Hunger Games: Catching Fire." In fact, Jennifer Lawrence's skin tones looked remarkably better and more crisply in focus on the Galaxy Tab Pro than they did on the iPad mini with Retina display. However, the iPad's contrast was superior, with deeper blacks.
Registering 452 on our light meter, the Galaxy Tab Pro was quite bright. The iPad mini with Retina display (390 lux) and Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch (440) both scored lower, but Lenovo's own Miix 2 (534 lux) is much brighter.
Lorde's voice on "Royals" came through loud and clear on Samsung's slate, but there was a complete lack of bass coming from the dual speakers on the bottom edge of the tablet. It almost sounded as though she was singing a cappella and snapping to herself.
OS and Interface
The Tab Pro 8.4 has three home screens by default. The first is the most traditional, with a few rows for app icons and a weather widget on top. Swiping in from the left opens Samsung's new Magazine UX, which hooks into news reader app Flipboard. Each tile displays dynamic content from around the Web or your social accounts. Tapping a story opens the full Flipboard app.
If you swipe from the right you open the business center of the Magazine UX. Widgets include news headlines by topic, your calendar appointments, and email or social networking alerts from some services (but not Facebook, Pinterest or Google+). You can fit up to six tiles on each home screen, and the tiles get larger or smaller depending on how many you include.
Like other Samsung devices, the Tab Pro 8.4-inch offers several quick settings in its notification drawer, including buttons for Wi-Fi, screen rotation, Bluetooth and GPS, along with brightness and volume sliders. You'll also notice some toggles for Samsung specific features, such as Smart Pause, Smart Stay and Multi Window.
The full Settings menu has a different layout than the one on stock Android devices, providing tabs for Connections, Device, Controls and General settings, all adorned with Samsung icons.
You can also create a floating second screen by tapping, rather than dragging, an app from the bar to the right of the screen. And, unlike Windows 8 devices, you can drag content from one window to another. For example, you can drag a photo from the Gallery app into an outgoing email as an attachment.
MORE: 25 Best Android Apps
With the Remote PC app you can control your Windows machine from the Tab Pro 8.4-inch. That means you can copy files to and from its hard drive over the Internet. The setup requires a software download and sign in on the computer first. Once signed in, we navigated our three monitors in the office with our finger on the touch screen. However, we observed a noticeable lag in executing commands.
E-Meeting allows you to create a digital white board and share it with other users on your local Wi-Fi network who are also using the software. Samsung also includes WebEx for digital conferencing. SideSync 3.0 lets you share data or your screen with a Samsung PC, phone or tablet. Samsung KNOX creates a separate, secure environment that company IT departments can control if they're doing device management.
When it comes to tablet apps, the Google Play store still trails the iPad by a significant margin. But Google deserves credit for
improving the selection and curating good tablet apps. For example, there's a Tablet 101 section in the Play store that highlights Pinterest, Mint, Pulse and a handful of other options.
The 2.3-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core plus 2GB of RAM inside the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4-inch gives this tablet plenty of power. We enjoyed silky smooth gameplay in the water racing game "Riptide GP2," and the camera opened in a brisk 1.6 seconds. In most cases, we also quickly returned to the home screen after closing an app.
However, we found the Tab Pro to be a bit sluggish at times. For instance, it took the Samsung tablet 14 seconds to open the N.O.V.A. 3 app, versus just 5 seconds for the iPad mini with Retina Display. And while we've seen worse, there was lag when changing screen orientations.
The Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 performed fairly well on synthetic benchmarks, however. On Geekbench 3, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall performance, the Samsung notched 2,807, which beats the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch (2,609), the Lenovo Miix 2 8-inch (2,608) and the iPad mini with Retina display (2,519). The category average is a mere 1,873.
On 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, a synthetic test that measures graphics prowess, the Tab Pro 8.4-inch scored 15,281. That's far and away better than the category average of 8,267, and it is better than the iPad mini (14,128) and the Fire HDX (12,768).
The 2-MP front camera offered good color representation on the selfies we took in our office, but we found the camera placement on the top right to be a bit awkward. The photos also lacked definition.
When it comes to shooting video, the Tab Pro 8.4-inch can hold its own. A 1080p clip we captured of cars rolling down a city street was smooth and clear, with the yellow of the cabs popping on the screen.
VerdictApple iPad mini with Retina display and is only $20 more than the cost of the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch. For the money, you get a very crisp and colorful display and access to professional grade apps for getting real work done. We wish Samsung had thrown in a stylus for this Android-powered tablet, however, and the battery life is disappointingly short compared to the competition. But if you want better multitasking than the iPad mini in a slim and light design, the Tab Pro 8.4 is a worthy investment.
|CPU||2.3-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core|
|Storage Drive Size||16GB|
|Storage Drive Type||Flash Memory|
|Display Resolution||2560 x 1600|
|Front-Facing Camera Resolution||2.0MP|
|Card Reader Size||64GB|
|Warranty / Support|
|Size||8.6 x 5.1 x 0.3 inches|