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Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 Review
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Date: Mar 21, 2014
Section:Mobile
Author: Jennifer Johnson
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Introduction and Specifications

Samsung introduced its PRO line of Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Note tablets at CES in January. We had a brief chance to check out these new tablets while at CES and now we have the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 in house for a full hands-on review. As you may recall, this tablet features a 10.1-inch WQXGA display that supports a resolution of 2560 x 1600.

On paper, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 has the hardware specifications we’d expect to see from a tablet that targets professionals who are looking for the “best of the best” including an impressive display, Samsung Exynos 5 Octa processor, Android 4.4 (KitKat), 2GB RAM, and 16GB of Flash storage. Samsung also claims the Tab Pro 10.1 can last for up to nine hours on a single charge.

At quick glance, it’s hard to tell the difference between the Tab Pro 10.1 and one of the company’s other 10-inch tablets, like the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition. In fact, these two tablets look identical from the front and have a similar white-leather backing. While Samsung’s Note series includes the S Pen and corresponding functionality, the Tab series doesn’t have this functionality. In exchange for giving up the S Pen the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 has a slightly lower price tag. For some users, the S Pen and price difference may be key differentiating factors that helps sway your preference one way or another.

Before we dive in to the full hands-on review, let’s take a closer look at the specifications of the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1:

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1
Specifications & Features
OS
Android KitKat 4.4
CPU
Exynos 5 Octa (1.9GHz Quadcore + 1.3 GHz Quadcore)
Display
10.1-inch WQXGA (2560 x 1600) Super clear LCD
Memory
2GB RAM
16GB Flash storage

microSD up to 64 GB
Size
16.54 ounces
9.57 x 6.74 x 0.287 inches
Camera
2.0 Megapixel Front Camera
8.0 Megapixel Rear Camera with Flash and 4x Digital Optical Zoom
Camera Features
Auto Focus; Dual-Camera; Dual-Recording; Geo-Tagging; HD Playback; HD Recording; LED Flash; Online Image Editing; Photo Editing; Sharing Capabilities: Bluetooth, Dropbox, E-Meeting, Flip Board, Email, Gmail, Google+, Drive, Hangouts, Wi-Fi-Direct, Picasa, Photos, Memo; Shot Modes: Beauty Face, Panorama, Best Face, Best Photo, Drama Shot, Rich Tone (HDR), Eraser, Auto, Sound & Shot, Sports; TV/Video-Out: HDMI, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi; Video; Video Editing; Zero Shutter Lag
Battery
8220mAh Lithium Ion, 3.8 Volt
Music Play Time Up to 147 Hours
Video Play Time Up to 10 Hours                 
Internet Use Time Up to 10 Hours
Connectivity
Bluetooth 4.0 LE
GPS
+ GLONASS
IrLED

Dual-Band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
USB 2.0
Price
$499.99 current retail price

 

In addition to powerful hardware, Samsung includes a number of unique software features with the Tab Pro 10.1 that bring additional functionality to the tablet. Let's have a closer look...

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Design

The Wi-Fi version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is available in black or white. We have the white model in house for testing. This tablet has a glossy pearl white finish covering the front of the tablet. A small, silver band runs around the edges and can be seen from the front. The back of the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 has the look of leather but the cover is actually made from plastic. The back cover feels soft to the touch and features stitching around the edges.  The corners of the tablet are rounded.

The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is nice and thin, measuring just 0.287 inches thick. The footprint is in line with other 10-inch tablets we’ve seen, measuring 9.57 x 6.74 inches. The side bezels measure about 0.5 inches while the top and bottom bezels measure about 0.75 inches. The bezel gives you just enough room to hold the tablet in both landscape and portrait mode with one hand without accidentally tapping the screen. The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 weighs 16.54 ounces.

Once you turn on the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1, you’ll immediately appreciate its gorgeous 10.1-Inch 2560x1600 WQXGA display. Colors pop, viewing angles are superb, and the display is responsive to touch.


When held in landscape mode you’ll find a light sensor, front-facing camera, and Samsung logo above the display. Below the display, you’ll find touch-sensitive Recent Apps and Back soft keys. In the middle of these two buttons is a physical Home button.

Speakers are located on both edges of the tablet. On the left edge, you’ll also find a 3.5mm headset jack. The right edge of the tablet houses the microSD card slot that’s accessible once you open the swinging cover. A microUSB charger/accessory port is located on the bottom edge centered below the Home button. If you look closely, you’ll notice the microphone to the left of the microUSB port.

On the top edge of the Galaxy Tab Pro10.1, you’ll find the power/lock key, volume rocker, and an infrared blaster. The rear-facing 8 megapixel camera and flash are located near the top center of the back of the table.

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Software and User Experience

The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 runs on Android 4.4 aka KitKat along with Samsung’s TouchWiz customizations. Out of the box, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 has two default home screens with the ability to add two additional screens for a total of four. If you swipe your finger in either direction beyond the Home screens, you’ll open the Magazine Home screen which is designed to give you access to the apps and feeds you use most. An additional swipe will reveal the second Magazine Home screen which is also customizable.

Larger tablets, especially those with a high-resolution display such as the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 are well equipped to handle more than one application at the same time and still provide a useful view of both apps. Samsung recognizes this and has included Multi Window and pop-up view functionality with the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1. With Multi Window, you can use two applications at the same time. To open the Multi Window tray, swipe the screen from the right edge of the tablet or press and hold the back key.

 

When the Multi Window tray is open, you can tap an app to open it in a pop-up window. You can have up to three pop-up applications open at a time. Alternatively, you can also drag the app to the main window and drag another app to the left or right half of the screen, giving you two open apps in a split-screen view. Not all apps support Multi-Window, but many of the most used tablet apps are compatible including Contacts, e-Meeting, email, Gallery, Internet, Music, My Files, S Finder, Video, Chrome, Gmail, Hangouts, Maps, and YouTube.

In addition to multitasking capabilities, Samsung includes a number of business-friendly features with the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 including e-Meeting, SideSync, KNOX, and Remote PC. With e-Meeting, you’ll be able to share your screen with coworkers, provided they have a mobile device that also has e-Meeting installed.

A link to download SideSync 3.0 and KNOX can be found in the Samsung folder of the Apps listing. After downloading and installing SideSync 3.0, you can use this application to share screens, windows and data with other connected devices. This app also makes it possible for you to use the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 as an extra monitor and control it with your PC's mouse and keyboard. As you may recall from other Samsung devices, KNOX is Samsung’s security feature that lets you create a KNOX container which can secure business data and keep it separate from personal data.

   

Using Remote PC, you’ll be able to remotely access and control your computer using the Internet. You’ll need a Samsung account to use this service. Once we installed the Remote PC app on a PC, we had no problem connecting to the PC and controlling it using the tablet. This functionality is particularly helpful if you need to transfer files from your PC to your tablet and want to do so wirelessly or if you want to display a file or application from your PC that wouldn’t otherwise be compatible with your tablet. You can also turn off the PC using Remote PC.

Other preloaded applications and functionality include Samsung's WatchON, multi user mode with different profiles, Hancom Office Viewer, WebEx, wireless printing capabilities, and an optional keyboard dock. Samsung is also offering Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 owners a $25 Google Play credit, three months of Hulu Plus, 50GB of Dropbox space,  1 year of GoGo In-Flight internet access, and lots more through its Galaxy Perks program. There are some restrictions to these offerings however. For example, you must be a new customer to qualify for the Hulu Plus offer. Similar criteria apply to other perks as well.

   

During our time with the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1, we noticed occasional stutters and hesitations when opening or switching apps and using the tablet. As you’ll see in the pages ahead, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 has the ability to perform very well and can earn some excellent benchmark scores, but during real-world use we experienced some hiccups.

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Camera and Battery Life

You’ll find a 2.0 megapixel front-facing camera and an 8.0 megapixel rear camera on the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1. The rear camera has a flash and supports a digital optical zoom up to 4x. The camera features many of the standard features you’d expect including auto focus, geo-tagging, dual recording capabilities, and HD recording capabilities. Shot Modes include Auto, Beauty Face, Best Photo, Best Face, Sound and Shot, Drama, Rich Tone (HDR), Eraser, Panorama, and Sports. You can also select various effects such as Faded color, Sepia, Fisheye, and more to apply to pictures.

Although holding a 10.1-inch tablet up to take photos feels a bit awkward, it is possible to capture some excellent images with the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1. Keeping in mind these images are not going to compete with those from a standalone digital camera, we were satisfied with the images we were able to capture with this tablet. The camera focused quickly and images were sharp and crisp. Here’s a look at a few sample pictures:

       

Battery Life

You’ll find an 8220mAh Lithium Ion embedded Li-polymer battery inside the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1. Samsung claims this battery can deliver up to 147 hours of music playback, up to 10 hours of video play time, or up to 10 hours of internet use.

In an attempt to quantitatively measure the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1's battery life in a controlled benchmark environment, we ran the AnTuTu Battery Test which is available from the Google Play Store. For this test, we set the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1's display to 50% brightness, which is still plenty bright and easy on the eyes. The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 scored 701, which is impressive for sure. As you can see in the chart above, Samsung devices have put up some impressive scores in the past, but the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 beats them all with plenty of room to spare.

During our real-world testing, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 had no problem making it through a day while checking emails, surfing the web, taking pictures, and playing a few games. We would expect an average user should have no problem making it through an entire day with moderate use as well. Of course, battery life will vary depending on how the tablet is used.

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Performance: CPU and General Compute

Next, we'll take a look at how the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 compares to other tablets by examining a few benchmarks that are currently available in the Android Marketplace. 

CPU testing
Android CPU testing

AnTuTu benchmark – click to enlarge

AnTuTu’s benchmark returns a number of scores. Since there are too many scores to graph, we’re including a look at all the numbers in a table. The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 earns second place in the GPU (2D) and CPU Int. categories. It returned its worst score in the UX Runtime test, coming in eighth.  

Mobile XPRT Benchmark Tests - Click to enlarge

The MobileXPRT benchmark runs through a variety of tests to evaluate the responsiveness of a device along with its ability to handle many everyday workloads. The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 earned second place overall in this test. What’s interesting is that in the individual components of this test, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 earned scores that were lower than many of the comparison systems. In the User Experience overall score, it earned a respectable third place.

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Performance: Browsing and JavaScript

Next up, we have some numbers from the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark. According to the SunSpider website:

This benchmark tests the core JavaScript language only, not the DOM or other browser APIs. It is designed to compare different versions of the same browser, and different browsers to each other. Unlike many widely available JavaScript benchmarks, this test is:

Real World - This test mostly avoids microbenchmarks, and tries to focus on the kinds of actual problems developers solve with JavaScript today, and the problems they may want to tackle in the future as the language gets faster. This includes tests to generate a tagcloud from JSON input, a 3D raytracer, cryptography tests, code decompression, and many more examples. There are a few microbenchmarkish things, but they mostly represent real performance problems that developers have encountered.

Balanced - This test is balanced between different areas of the language and different types of code. It's not all math, all string processing, or all timing simple loops. In addition to having tests in many categories, the individual tests were balanced to take similar amounts of time on currently shipping versions of popular browsers.

Statistically Sound - One of the challenges of benchmarking is knowing how much noise you have in your measurements. This benchmark runs each test multiple times and determines an error range (technically, a 95% confidence interval). In addition, in comparison mode it tells you if you have enough data to determine if the difference is statistically significant.

JavaScript testing
JavaScript Android and iPhone testing

We ran the SunSpider and BrowserMark tests in both the standard Internet browser and in Chrome, both of which come preloaded on the tablet. The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 earned the best scores using the standard browser. The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 comes in just behind the NVIDIA SHIELD in this test, earning fourth place.

Rightware Browsermark
Web Browsing Performance

In Rightware’s Browsermark test we see very similar results as we did with the SunSpider test where the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 earns a very solid score that’s in the top 4 results.

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Performance: Graphics and Gaming

Graphics testing
Android graphics testing

GFXBench has been one of our standard graphics performance benchmarks for a while. Recently, the company updated its software to version 3.0. With this new version, the old tests are no longer available to run for comparison. Still, we were able to round up a handful of devices to give you a feel for how the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 stacks up. In order to ensure Vsynch and resolution isn’t a limiting factor, we will compare offscreen test results.

As you can see in the T Rex 1080p test, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 earns a midrange score. Keep in mind that the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is the only tablet in this comparison chart. In the fill offscreen test, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 comes in last. Again, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is the only tablet in this comparison chart.

BaseMarkX was recently updated. As a result, we have fewer numbers for comparison than we'd like but we were able to round up a few scores for comparison. The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 earns a respectable score in this test, neck and neck with the Galaxy Note 10.1 but not quite able to catch the iPad Air.

Using the Extreme version of 3DMark Ice Storm, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 earned fifth place in the Graphics, Ice Storm, and Physics tests. The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 also supports the unlimited version of this test. It earned scores over 13,000 in the Graphics, Ice Storm, and Physics tests in this mode.

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Conclusion

The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 has the look and feel of a premium tablet. We like Samsung’s implementation of a leather-like look with stitching and a soft finish on the back cover of this tablet. The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is also very thin and has rounded corners that make it very easy to slip in and out of a briefcase or backpack.

The hardware specifications of the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 are also in line with what we’d expect to see from today’s high-end tablets. The 2560 x 1600 WQXGA Super clear LCD is absolutely gorgeous and gives you plenty of room to multitask on this tablet. Speaking of multitasking, we really like both the pop-up view and Multi Window functionality Samsung has added to the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 and other Galaxy tablets. When you have a high-resolution 10.1-inch display, you can do a lot with this tablet thanks to this additional functionality.

Although we really liked many of the additional features and offerings Samsung includes with the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1, we were a bit disappointed to see the tablet stutter on more than one occasion. This tablet has a fast processor and adequate RAM, so we suspect these stutters stem from a software issue. Still, if you’re willing to have a bit of patience every now and then, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 offers excellent performance the vast majority of the time.

A key difference between the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 and a similar Samsung product, the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition is the S Pen and corresponding software functionality. The Note 10.1 also costs more ($549 currently on Amazon). At the time of this writing, the MSRP difference between these tablets is about $50 as the Tab Pro 10.1 retails for $499. Our benchmark tests show small differences in performance between these tablets as well, the most notable of which is the battery test. Given these differences, each buyer will have to decide for himself which tablet is the better option but the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is an interesting choice in a full-featured Android slate.


     
  • Gorgeous and vibrant display
  • Excellent battery life
  • Great multitasking capabilities and bundled software
  • Occasional stutters
  • Somewhat pricey



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