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.
||3D Mark Ice Storm
|Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
|LG G Pad 8.3
|Google Nexus 7 (2013)
||7304 (Extreme test)
|Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7"
||16,657 (Extreme test)
|Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0
|Sony Xperia Tablet Z
||10,101 (Extreme test)
|Google Nexus 10
|Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1
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.
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.
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.
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
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