Samsung Galaxy Tab S: I’m No Longer a Kindle Fire User

See how GeekMom Cathé, dedicated Kindle user, liked the new Samsung Galaxy S tablet.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S. Image Samsung.com used with permission.

When it comes to tablets, my family has always gone with Amazon’s Kindle Fire. We have Android phones, but we use them for GPS, listening to music, sending texts, and taking something called a phone call on occasion. We don’t untilize our phones as tiny tablets because they are, well, tiny.

So, when given the opportunity to try the new Samsung Tab S for a few weeks, I was excited to see what it could do that my laptop and Kindle Fire couldn’t. After all, GeekMom Patricia shared her experiences with the Galaxy Note 8, so I had high hopes for this device.

We were in a cave where the only light was coming in through the water. No editing was done to this photo. You can see the fish and the kids clearly. Image: Cathe Post

Camera: The camera ended up being a surprising feature. I am constantly taking pictures with my phone to post on my blog. But with that routine, I take pictures, go home, download the photos on to my main computer, and import them into WordPress. The camera on the Samsung is actually nicer than my Droid camera. Since the Samsung has a larger screen than the phone (and is faster), I am able to do everything on one device. The action of taking pictures on a device larger than a phone was foreign to me since our Kindle is first gen (with no camera). The photos, at first glance, we’re blurred and grainy. Then, I started looking at the situations I was shooting in: dark, back-lit, and overcast conditions. Considering this, the zoo shot seen here is pretty darn good. The only light is the dreary overcast sun coming in through the water. You can still tell who the people are and you can see the fish. Also, after talking with a couple of iPad users, I am super happy with the ease of taking a simple picture. On iPads, the camera lens is located in the corner of the device where a finger would natural rest so a picture can be taken. The Samsung placement of the camera (in the center of a long side of the device) made it so I didn’t even have to think about how I was holding the device. Also, on newer Kindle models, there is only a front facing camera, so you have to guess if your subject is in frame unless you are shooting a selfie. The Samsung has both an 8 megapixel back facing camera and a 2.1 megapixel front facing camera.

Apps: Only having had experience with first generation Kindles, being on a different Android device was refreshing. I could access the Kindle apps I had previously purchased plus have access to the entire Google Play store, which offered so many more options than Amazon. Storage has been upgraded from the Galaxy Tab Pro model. Where you could add 64GB to the existing 16 in the Pro model, the Galaxy Tab S starts with 16 or 32GB, and an additional 128 can be added.

Keyboard: The integrated keyboard with the Android 4.4 Kit Kat OS responds like a normal keyed keyboard. The keyboard responds to commands whether you type like you are on your phone or if you treat it like a standard keyboard. This means you can either hold a key for the other options to come up in a drop down menu, or you can hold the shift key for standard keyboard options.

Specs:

Display: 10.5″ (267.2mm) 2560×1600(WQXGA) Super AMOLED

  •  LTE : 800/900/1800/2600+850/2100
  •  3G : HSPA+42.2 850/900/1900/2100
  • 2G : GSM/EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900

Memory: 3GB RAM, 16/32GB Memory, MicroSD (up to 128GB)
Camera: Flash 8M w/ Flash LED + 2.1M
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, MIMO WiFi Direct, BT4.0
GPS: GPS, GLONASS, Beidou (Not supported in USA, Canada)
Dimension, Weight:

  • Wi-Fi Model : 247.3 x 177.3 x 6.6mm , 465g
  • LTE Model : 247.3 x 177.3 x 6.6mm , 467g

Battery Capacity: 7,900mAh
OS / Upgrade: Android 4.4 (Kit Kat)
Other Services & Applications:

  • SideSync 3.0
  • Paper Garden
  • Multi-user mode
  • Kids Mode
  • WebEX
  • Remote PC
  • Hancom Office
  • PC Applications
  • Samsung Kies
  • UI / Web Browser
  • Samsung UI / Android
  • Chrome Browser

Audio: MP3, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, Vorbis, FLAC
Video: H.263, H.264(AVC), MPEG4, VC-1, Sorenson Spark, MP43, WMV7, WMV8, VP8
Recording : FHD (1920 x 1080) @30fps
Playback : WQHD (2560 x 1440) @30fps
Connectors: USB 2.0, 3.5mm Ear jack

Battery Life: I turned the brightness up to full and played the Avengers movie on Netflix. The battery was at 93% when the movie started. At the end of the movie, the battery was at 73%. Keeping the brightness up all of the way does drain the battery faster, but it still has a decent battery life.

Kids Mode (and other on board services): The device comes with a Kids Mode to which you can add videos, pictures, and apps. I didn’t have an opportunity to fully test this, but in general poking around, it seemed easy to use but may be a little time consuming to fully personalize.

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Other services are included on the device. Most of them were not something I had any reason to use, so I didn’t get into them.

IMG_8123
A comparison between the Galaxy Tab S (left) and the Galaxy Tab Pro (right), Tab S has a slightly larger screen. Both devices are at full brightness so you can see the difference an Amoled display makes. Image: Cathe Post

Amoled Display: The full brightness level of the display is almost blinding when reading, but is very useful when dealing with photographs. It is noticeably brighter than the previous model of Samsung. The screen itself is also slightly larger than the previous model measuring at 10.5 inches instead of 10.1.

How much more did I like the Samsung than the Kindle Fire? So much so that I purchased the Galaxy Pro (a model that came out earlier this year). The $500 price tag on the new Tab S was a little steep for me to swallow when the differences between it and the previous model were a brighter screen, more storage, a different personal magazine program, a .4 inch larger screen, and Kids Mode. I paid $100 less for the Galaxy Pro that came out earlier this year.

That doesn’t mean the Amoled screen isn’t worth it. My mom was so impressed by the screen she purchased the new Samsung Galaxy S. She wanted to have the option of having a brighter screen if the situation called for it. She also was a first generation Kindle Fire owner. So, the Samsung was a huge advancement.

Overall, who am I kidding? I’m sorry we ever bought a Kindle. We’ll look at Samsungs first when buying future tablets. For me, having the ability to play a game, listen to music, do a blog post from start to finish on one device (pictures and all), or write a simple Word document all on a device that fits easily in my purse is one of the most useful investments I have made in a long time.

A case is also a must for a device like this. If you are looking for an actual keyboard, I recommend the $30 Moko Case. It has a detachable Bluetooth keyboard so you can have a keyboard, or leave it behind. It is also low fuss when trying to take pictures. If you just need a case to help protect the device, the IVSO Case is an affordable way to go. For $10 it will protect against scratches, auto wake/sleep when opening or closing the cover, and if you use your device as a camera, you won’t have to fight with the back cover being in the way of the viewfinder.

If you are in the market for a new tablet I highly recommend the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S. It is available in most electronics retailers including Amazon for $499(ish).

GeekMom was loaned a review copy for the purposes of this review.