Not everyone has the money or desire for high end tablet gear. Hence Samsung, never afraid to offer products in a variety of sizes and brand lines, offers the Galaxy Tab series for entry to mid level tablet shoppers and the Note and Tab Pro lines for those who want the best the company has to offer. Some past generation Tabs like the Tab 2 and 3 didn't wow us--odd processors, just OK screens... we expect more from Samsung in that price range. But the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 gets it right: an albeit mid-range but solid quad core Snapdragon CPU, 1.5 gigs of RAM, 16 gigs of storage plus a microSD card slot, the latest Android OS and a pleasing display. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 is a 10 inch tablet that lists for $349.
Design and Ergonomics
From the front, it's difficult to distinguish the 0.31" Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 from the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1, which I suppose is a compliment to the cheaper Tab. The backs also look the same at first blush, but the faux leather textured plastic extends around to the sides on the Tab 4 rather than having faux aluminum edging like the Pro. There's no camera flash on the back of the Tab 4. Otherwise, they're both very compact tablets that are similar in size and weight to the iPad Air, and manage to be less oblong than competing widescreen Android tablets. That makes it a bit more comfy to hold in portrait mode, and at 1 1b. 1.3 ounces, it's quite light. It's not a bad looking tablet, though some might complain about the bezels that aren't super-skinny. I'm fine with moderate bezels on 10 inch tablets because you need reasonable size grip points to hold it safely. The Tab 4 10.1 is available in your choice of black or white.
The tablet's power button and volume controls are on the top left edge (when held in landscape mode) and the microSD card slot lives under a small plastic door up top. There's a 3.5mm stereo headphone/mic jack and a micro USB 2.0 port that supports USB host. The Tab 4 does not have an HDMI port, but it does have wireless display casting thanks to Android 4.4.
Two Cameras and AV Remote
The front 1.3MP camera is sufficient for video chat and the rear 3 megapixel camera takes better photos and 720p video than you might expect from such a low resolution sensor, but it's obviously not a shutterbug's delight, despite Samsung's full-featured camera app that's loaded with photo modes and effects. The tablet has an IR blaster and AV remote control for home theatre gear and it's bundled with Samsung's WatchOn that supports a huge range of TVs and other home theatre gear. It also provides TV listings, courtesy of Peel.
Deals and Shopping:
Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 Video Review
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 has a 1280 x 800 LCD, which is a basic resolution for a name brand Android tablet. Despite the non-headlining resolution, it's a sharp and colorful display that will likely entice rather than deter prospective shoppers eyeballing it in their local electronics store's tablet aisles. Want 2560 x 1600? Samsung wants you to buy the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 for $499 (on sale for less at BestBuy and Samsung.com as of this writing) or the pen-toting Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition. Of course, there are several 1920 x 1080 or 1920 x 1200 tablets on the market too, such as the Sony Xperia Z2 tablet and the aging but still capable Asus Transformer TF701, but they do cost more.
Horsepower and TouchWiz Apps
The tablet runs on a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 (MSM 8226) quad core CPU with Adreno 305 graphics. That's a midrange tablet and smartphone CPU, but it's more than capable of running apps smoothly and even some 3D gaming (we demo Real Racing 3 in our video review). If you're a serious gamer or specs maven, you'll want something faster, but the Tab 4 targets the "average"--everyday non-enthusiast tablet buyers who want a more affordable yet reliable and capable tablet from a reputable brand. The tablet has 1.5 gigs of RAM rather than the usual 1 gig for more basic tablets, and it needs that extra RAM to handle the various Samsung TouchWiz software features like split window multitasking, the floating video player and more. Smart Stay is here too; it uses the front camera to keep an eye on you so the tablet's display won't turn off if you're looking at it. In terms of software features, this doesn't act or feel like a budget tablet. If you're a Samsung phone or tablet owner who likes TouchWiz (Samsung's software user interface layer on top of Android), then the Tab 4 will appeal. If you hate TouchWiz, this isn't the tablet for you.
The Snapdragon can handle these features just fine and we demo the tablet playing a 1440p video full screen and in a floating window without bringing the tablet to its knees. Even more surprising is that the full version of Hancom Office, introduced a few months back on the Galaxy Pro tablets is here as a free download. The MS Office compatible viewers are pre-installed and the Hancom updater app can download the full versions of the Word, Excel and PowerPoint compatible apps (free of charge). As we noted in our Pro tablet reviews, nothing on Android has ever come this close to the features and UI of Office 2013 running on Windows. If you spend a lot of time working on such docs, you'll absolutely love Hancom.
The tablet's microUSB port handles the usual charging and data transfer to and from a PC/Mac. It also supports USB host for mice, keyboards, game controllers, flash drives but not self-powered portable hard drives that draw power from USB. You'll need a USB OTG adapter to use this feature, and keep in mind that Android's USB driver is much more limited than Windows, and there are no drivers for USB 3G/4G LTE modems or more exotic peripherals like music controllers.
Speaking of 3G/4G, there is currently no version of the Tab 4 with that feature, though Samsung and carriers may well introduce a model later. The tablet will work with a smartphone's mobile hotspot feature or a MiFi, and it has WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0. The tablet also has a GPS with GLONASS but it does not have NFC.
If you want a 10 inch Android tablet from a trusted brand with a solid set of features and midrange performance, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 is a good choice. This is the best of the basic Tab line we've seen from Samsung in quite some time, and the display, though not class leading by any means, is pleasing and sharp, performance is adequate for a range of casual tasks and the AV remote control and IR blaster are sure to be a hit in front of the TV. The tablet is also compact and light, making it relatively portable for a 10 inch model.
Display:10.1" TFT touch screen. Resolution:
1280 x 800. Has ambient light sensor and accelerometer.
Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable.
Performance:1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 (MSM 8226) quad core CPU with Adreno 305 graphics. 1.5 gigs RAM, 16 gigs internal storage with approx. 11.6 gigs available for your use.
x 6.94 x 0.31 inches. Weight: 1.1 pounds (0.487 kg).
Camera:1.3MP front camera and rear 3MP camera.
in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 LE.
Software:Android OS 4.4 KitKat with Samsung TouchWiz UI overlay and apps. Standard suite of Google Android applications including web browser, email, gmail, YouTube, Maps, Navigation, Gtalk, Search and the Google Play Store. Samsung's multi-window multitasking, floating video player, app store and Hancom Office (viewers with a free download for full version).
SDXC microSD card slot. Micro USB port supports USB host.
Other:GPS with GLONASS, IR blaster with AV Remote control.