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Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star
Carrier: WiFi only
Manufacturer: Samsung
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What's Hot: Fast, high resolution display, excellent bundled Office suite.

What's Not: No pen option, not cheap (but you get what you pay for).

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Reviewed March 4, 2014 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Good things don't come cheap. In fact with the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4, just about the only thing we can find to complain about is the $399 price tag for the base WiFi-only 16 gig model. Even then, it's hard to complain because you get what you pay for; the Tab Pro 8.4 is chock full of high end specs and features. In fact, as 8" tablets become the new 7" in terms of popularity, the only thing missing was a high end model running Android. The $349 LG G Pad 8.3 was the first mid to high end model to hit the streets, but now it has serious competition from the Tab Pro 8.4. For $50 more, you get a better display and a faster CPU, though you won't get the G Pad's nice metal back. The 8.4" Pro model runs Android 4.4 KitKat on the Snapdragon 800 quad core CPU that tops the performance charts and it has an incredibly high resolution display for a small tablet: 2560 x 1600. Dual band WiFi 802.11ac, an 8MP rear camera, a full-featured AV remote, GPS and more are on board. Those specs put to shame the once high end but now aged Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0. One thing the Note 8.0 bests the Tab Pro 8.4 on is pen input: sadly this is a "Tab" rather than "Note" tablet, so there's no pen.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4

Hardware Design

Honey, who shrunk the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition? Samsung's new Pro Android tablets (Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2, Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 and the Tab Pro 8.4) all look like stretched or shrunken 2014 Note 10.1 tablets. From the crazy thin design with faux aluminum edges (improved from the more plasticky looking chromed finish on the 2014 Note 10.1) to the faux leather plastic back that's available in your choice of black or white, the design is the same. What has changed is the back: it's more grippy and organic feeling. The Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 is a good looking tablet, and it doesn't come across as cheap in the least, though I'm sure many of you may prefer the iPad mini's cleanly designed aluminum back or the LG G Pad 8.3's classy metal backside. Plastic as ever allows Samsung to make their tablets and smartphones as thin and light as possible, and the 0.28" thick Tab Pro 8.4 weighs in at just 11.67 ounces. The iPad mini with Retina display weighs the same but it has a half inch smaller display. The tablet's angled sides and width make it a little less comfortable in hand than the curvy LG G Pad 8.3.

The tablet has a micro USB 2.0 port, 3.5mm combo audio jack and an SDXC microSD card slot. As per usual for Samsung, the power button is on the upper right side and the volume rocker is just below it.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4

Display

The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 has an 8.4", 2560 x 1600 Super Clear LCD. That's the same resolution as the top 10.1" Android tablet displays, and that translates into super high pixel density and text and graphics that are razor sharp. It's one of the best tablet displays I've ever seen. Google Play Magazines and Zinio magazines are a pleasure to view and even the typically tiny text in magazine articles is readable without zooming, which is quite a feat on a small screen. Whites are bold without obvious color bias and colors are saturated yet natural. It's a bright display too, with good contrast and decent, though not Super AMOLED, black levels. Samsung offers three color mode settings or you can leave it on the default dynamic setting that adjusts the image based on what's currently being displayed.

 

Deals and Shopping:

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Video Review

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 vs. iPad Mini with Retina Display Comparison Smackdown

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Performance and Horsepower

The processor is top of the line too. The Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU with Adreno 330 graphics. That 2.3GHz quad core CPU is the same used on the newest Android flagship phones, and currently few Android tablets are running on such fast CPUs (the LG G Pad 8.3 has a Snapdragon 600). Yes, it feels fast thanks to the top-notch processor, but also because Samsung's new Magazine UX is more streamlined than the TouchWiz of old. The tablet has 2 gigs of RAM and your choice of 16 or 32 gigs internal storage plus a micro SDXC card slot. Our 16 gig model had 11.4 gigs available out of the box (the OS reserves space and pre-installed programs use some of that 16 gigs). The tablet supports USB host if you buy an optional micro USB OTG adapter cable. We tested the tablet with USB flash drives, a Logitech PS3 style game controller and a keyboard and they worked fine. Note that the tablet doesn't support NTFS, so high capacity external hard drives formatted NTFS won't work.

Benchmarks

  Quadrant AnTuTu 3D Mark Ice Storm Sunspider JavaScript Test
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 23,355 34,890 13,785 (unlimited) 396
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 21,513 32,927 13,475 468
LG G Pad 8.3 11,913 22,644 6480 (extreme) 982
Google Nexus 7 (2013) 5339 19,981 7304 (Extreme test) 1058
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7" 20,382 n/a 16,657 (Extreme test) 572
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 7054 16,214 3299 1024
Sony Xperia Tablet Z 7450 20,517 10,101 (Extreme test) 1501
Google Nexus 10 4959 13,658 n/a 1308
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 14,515 33,947 13,458 (unlimited) 472
Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 9181 17,239 4615 (unlimited) 920

Geekbench 3: 908 single core, 2807 multi-core

Magazine UX and Pro Software Bundle

We've seen Samsung's multitasking before, and it really shines on bigger screens. On an 8.4" screen, it's somewhat less captivating, but there's enough room to make some apps workable stacked in split window view. On the 12.2" Note Pro you can have up to 4 windows running in multi-window view, while on the Tab Pro 8.4 it's 2 windows due to the smaller screen size. As always with this Samsung feature, not every installed app gets the multi-tasking green light, but there are enough important apps that you won't be lacking for ways to fill up your screen: both Internet (webkit) and Chrome web browsers, YouTube, Video, Maps, Hancom Office, Calculator, Calendar, Play Music, Play Store, Twitter, Play Books, Play Movies & TV, Evernote, BSPlayer, Adobe Reader, Contacts, e-Meeting, Samsung's music player, My Files (file manager), Gallery, Email and more are supported. You can save window pairings if you often use two apps together--say the web browser and the video player. And then there's Samsung's floating app feature where you can run the video player in a floating window.

As covered in our Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 review, Hancom Office is a revelation. It has full desktop PC Office features rather than the usual stripped down mobile Office. Hword (Hancom Word) has advanced formatting, image and clip art insertion, footnotes and endnotes. The spreadsheet has pivot tables and formulas aplenty. The PowerPoint compatible app is feature-rich. If you intend to spend a lot of quality time working with MS Office documents, you'll want Hancom, which is exclusive to the Galaxy Pro line.

Since Samsung targets business users, they've included a bundle of apps like WebEx, Remote PC (RemoteView by rview), KNOX tablet security (ROM hackers take note), Bloomberg BusinessWeek+ (with a year's subscription) and Dropbox (with 50 gigs storage for a year). Remote PC can control Windows, Mac and Linux PCs remotely, albeit with some lag. Watch our video to see it in action. It can handle everything except full screen games (we tested it with Steam games like Skyrim).

Lastly, there's the new Magazine UX, which is indeed faster than previous TouchWiz versions and more attractive. Like Apple, Samsung is moving toward a flat UI with simpler icons, less window dressing and no skeuomorphism. The magazine is a cross between Flipboard, which is in fact pre-loaded, and Windows 8's Live Tiles. Unfortunately, not all the tiles we saw at CES 2014 are here at release (perhaps Samsung will add more), and I found the Magazine UX tiles to be very pretty, but just a few were useful to me. The Email tile is handy for example, but I wish there was a Gmail tile. The Hancom Office tile shows the last few documents I've worked with and the WatchOn tile shows the latest recommended movie on TV and is a shortcut to that AV remote control app (of course, the Tab Pro has an IR blaster and AV remote too). In other words, they're a prettier presentation of Android's usual widgets, but they aren't more functional. You do get standard Android home screens with widgets too, and you can add more screens as needed.

Cameras

The 2 megapixel front and 8 megapixel rear cameras are the same across Samsung's new Pro line of tablets and you'll also find them in the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition. Tablet cameras generally aren't the best, but the front camera is sharper and brighter than average among phones and tablets, and it works well for video conferencing. The rear camera likewise is capable and it can shoot 1080p video. The rear camera has an LED flash and Samsung's usual array of photo modes and settings with an intuitive user interface. As with other recent Samsung Galaxy products, you can simultaneously use the front and rear cameras. While overall rear camera quality isn't noticeably better than the capable iPad mini with Retina display, the software features are much more extensive.

Battery Life

The Tab Pro 8.4 has a 4800 mAh Lithium Ion Polymer battery that's sealed inside. It ships with a compact smartphone style 5.3v charger rather than the more common 5v mobile charger, but our Galaxy S4 charger worked to top up the battery. Samsung claims up to 10 hours of Internet use time, and that's a bit optimistic. With brightness set to 50% and WiFi on, we averaged 8 hours of actual use time in a mix of working in Hancom Office, streaming an hour of Netflix video, browsing the web, using the Twitter app and doing email. That's not far from other 7 to 8 inch Android runtimes, but it falls short of the iPad mini with Retina display. For a tablet with a very high resolution display that's a bit larger than the competition and a very fast CPU, battery life is reasonable.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 is the best 8" Android tablet currently on the market. Yes, it has a price tag to match, but that's fair enough when you're getting the fastest CPU and graphics, an amazingly high resolution display that looks great, an AV remote, dual band WiFi 802.11ac, GPS, the latest version of Android and a stellar Office suite. Granted, some folks don't need this much power or a serious Office suite on an 8" tablet and would prefer the classy metal back of the LG G Pad 8.3 or iPad mini with Retina display; but for those who do want power, the best display available on an 8" Android tablet and a full set of features, it's hard to beat the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4. And for those who want an S Pen, the larger Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition or even the big Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 are your only choices unless you can live with the Galaxy Note 8.0's somewhat outdated specs.

Price: $399 for 16 gig WiFi model

Website: www.samsung.com

Related Reviews:

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 Review

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 Review

LG G Pad 8.3 Review

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 Review

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition Review

iPad mini with Retina Display Review

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4

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Specs:

Display: 8.4" RGBW display, 2560 x 1600 resolution. Has ambient light sensor, accelerometer and proximity sensor but no haptic feedback.

Battery: 4800 mAh Lithium Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable.

Performance: 2.3GHz Quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad core CPU with Adreno 330 graphics. 2 gigs RAM and 16 or 32 gigs internal storage.

Size: 8.62 x 5.05 x 0.28 inches. Weight: 11.67 ounces.

GPS: GPS with GLONASS.

Camera: 2.1MP front camera and 8 megapixel camera with LED flash, HDR and 1080p video recording.

Audio: Built in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0 LE.

Software: Android OS 4.4 KitKat with Samsung Magazine UX. Standard suite of Google Android applications including web browser, email, gmail, YouTube, Maps, Navigation, Search and the Google Play Store. Samsung's app store, video player, music player and Multi-Window multitasking included. 3rd party software: Hancom Office, WebEx, Bloomberg BusinessWeek+, NY Times, Remote PC and more.

Expansion: 1 microSDXC card slot, USB host via option USB OTG adapter cable.

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