Samsung is beefing up its portfolio of tablets with the Galaxy Tab Active, a rugged slate made to take its share of lumps, but still offer the productivity of a standard Android device. We went hands-on with the 8-inch tablet, available now for $699, to see how it stacks up.
While it's not a fully rugged tablet along the likes of a Panasonic Toughpad, the Galaxy Tab Active is more durable than a standard slate. With its protective cover, it can withstand drops from 4 feet. The tablet can also be submerged in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes, and, unlike other water-resistant devices such as the Galaxy S5, the Tab Active doesn't require any annoying port covers.
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The cover, which ships with the tablet, also has a slot for the included C-Pen. It isn't as robust, feature-wise, as the S Pen found on the Galaxy Note 10.1, but it will let you use the display when you're wearing gloves.
Crucially for enterprise-class customers, the Tab Active has been Citrix- and SAP-certified, and Samsung says it's working to get the tablet certified on other ISV platforms. It also comes with Samsung's Knox 2.0 security platform, as well as a 3-year warranty.
Aesthetically, the Tab Active looks like a larger version of the Galaxy S5 Active: It has three physical buttons below the display, and a texture back panel that can be removed to access the battery and microSD card slot.
Specs-wise, the Tab Active is middle-of-the-road. Its 8-inch display has a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, which is good, but well below the full-HD panels now available on sub-$200 consumer tablets. It's powered by an Exynos processor, 1.5GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, which can be expanded via the microSD card slot.
On the back is a 3.1MP camera, and the front has a 1.2-MP shooter. In addition to its microUSB port, the Tab Active can be recharged using its Pogo port, three metal contacts on the left side.
Unfortunately, the Tab Active lacks a microSIM card slot, which will limit its connectivity options outside the office -- precisely where it's intended to be used.
Samsung says the 4,500-mAh battery in the Tab Active will last up to 10 hours on a charge, and, conveniently, can be swapped out for a replacement.
From our initial impressions, the Galaxy Tab Active looks like it could fit a niche for those who need something more robust, both physically and software-wise, than a consumer-style tablet, but don't need a fully rugged slate that cost upward of $1,000.