Samsung announces upgraded tablets, gets rid of the menu button

Today at the Consumers Electronics Show (CES) 2014, Samsung announced two new tablets continuing on its Tab and Note line – the Galaxy Tab Pro and the Galaxy Note Pro. While the Galaxy Tab Pro comes with three different real estate options (8.4, 10.1 and 12.2 inches), the Galaxy Note Pro has only one 12.2 inch option.

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“So what?” you say. “It’s just a bigger screen”. Well, that’s where you’re wrong. Samsung has graciously upped the screen resolution of the Note and Tab Pro to a Retina Macbook Pro level of 2560 x 1600 pixels. In terms of pixel density, the Retina iPad Air is well beat, and the Note Pro is a direct challenger to the Google Nexus 10 and Samsung’s own Note 10.1 (a 1080p display). However, as many of those who had a hands-on with the device said, you cannot notice any difference in clarity between the Note Pro and its competitors.

Internals are largely the same as the Galaxy Note 3, as is the faux-leather backing. There is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 clocked at 2.26 GHz, Adreno 330 GPU, 3 GB RAM, an internal storage of 32/64 GB, a micro-SD card slot, the eye-popping 12.2 inch 2560 x 1600 pixels Super LCD display, and a massive 9500 mAh battery. What’s even better, is that it will ship with Android 4.4 KitKat, and Samsung’s new Magazine User Experience (UX). The Magazine UX looks surprisingly similar to Windows 8, and functions similarly too. As far as first impressions go, the UX was generally smooth.

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The new Magazine UX is a move away for Samsung from an icon-based homescreen (though you can revert to this if you wish) to more tile-like “dynamic dashboards” that are customisable, and you can create up to five of these. Similar to the Windows 8 charms bar, swiping left from the right hand of the screen brings up a list of apps that support multi-window. The number allowed to run together has been doubled to 4, up from 2 in the Note 3. You can also open two separate windows from the same app — most useful for spreadsheet users.

Also, in a move no one saw coming, Samsung has finally got rid of the annoying capacitive menu button from both their products. As Google has been pushing manufacturers since the release of 4.0 ICS, there has been no need to include a physical menu button – it does not make it obvious if the page you’re on has a menu option, unlike a soft menu button. Still, they have placed it on the wrong side.

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In terms of the camera, the Note Pro is not very well equipped, but if you’re looking to take more than one photo a year with the Note Pro, you’re looking at the wrong place. It has an 8 MP rear camera, and a 2 MP front-facing one. It also comes with GPS/GLONASS and LTE.

As for the Galaxy Tab Pro, the specifications are the same. Same gorgeous screen, processor, GPU and storage. The only difference is the amount of RAM, which has been reduced to 2 GB for the Tab. Not only that, the Tab does not come with the S-Pen and all S-Pen accompanying features. The choice certainly makes you wonder why anyone would want the same specs without the S-Pen. Perhaps the price difference that and an extra 1 GB of RAM might clear it up once announced.

Lots of other business-focused tools come out of the box, such as extra security, a few hundred dollars worth of free applications either preloaded or free to download, a Remote PC function to access your home or work computer from afar, plus an e-Meeting app to name a few.

Samsung is also pleased with the haptic-feedback touchscreen keyboards on these new Pro tablets, which mimic a full-size keyboard showing numbers and letters and function keys all at once, so no switching between typesets is needed. As Wired.co.uk writes, they found typing on the Note Pro to be a more pleasurable experience then with some other tablets.

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Battery life is slated to be good too, with the Note Pro supposedly capable of running 1080p video for 10 hours before finally dying (look out for our full reviews for confirmation on this — we weren’t able to test this in our hands-on at CES). You also have Wi-Fi and 3G/LTE versions weighing in at 750g and 753g respectively — and they do feel surprisingly light in the hand, especially at this large screen size. The Note Pro will not be a burden to carry around. However it should be noted that this is more than a third heavier than the iPad air, which is important to Joe Public.

Price has yet to be announced, however Samsung says these will be “competitive”. Both models will be on sale later this year in the first quarter.

Source: Wired Magazine.

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