Samsung has announced a new tablet family that presents a marked departure from the parade of mostly forgettable slates that the company has been pumping out the past few years. The company unveiled the Galaxy Tab S line of devices at a special event in NYC today. Available in July, the Tab S comes in both 8.4 ($399) and 10.5-inch ($499) flavors in white and titanium bronze finishes with LTE-equipped models in the pipeline.
The new Tab S boasts a Super AMOLED screen that’s really the star of the show. It has adaptive settings that change based on what kind of activity you’re doing on the tablet, much like many modern TVs, and will offer richer color rendering, better contrast and viewing angles, deeper blacks and more pure whites overall. Screen resolution is a whopping 2560×1600, which means that it can output better-than-HD-quality content, and it’ll do things like soften the intensity of the screen for reading while pumping it back up for blockbuster movies.
Along with the stunning new screen, Samsung’s other marquee features with the Galaxy Tab S are its physical specifications. The device is only 6.6mm thick (the iPad mini is 7.5mm for comparison) and the 8.4-inch version weighs only 10 ounces, while the 10.5-inch version doesn’t tip the scales too much more at 11 ounces total.
Other new hardware features include a built-in fingerprint scanner that can support up to three fingerprints per user and PayPal-facilitated mobile payments, as well as an 8 megapixel camera on the back and a 2.1 megapixel front-facing shooter for video chats. The processor is a 1.9GHz quad + 1.3GHz quad octa-core Samsung Exynos 5 processor, and there are 3GB of RAM on board. The tablets have 16GB of built-in storage, and boast up to 128GB of additional capacity via micro SD cards. Special accessories include the new Simple and Book Covers, which click into new button-style clicker fasteners on the tabs themselves.
Software features unique to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S include a specially designed version of Milk Music, the streaming service Samsung originally introduced for Galaxy smartphones; Quick Connect, a feature that lets it easily detect and share files with nearby devices like the Gear 2 smartwatch or Galaxy S5 smartphone; and SideSync 3.0 , which can share screens, windows, call forwarding and other options between Galaxy devices and PCs.
These look like a decent upgrade for Samsung’s tablet line, which hasn’t really had much in the way of dramatic design changes in recent memory. It’s still an Android tablet, with all that entails, and the ecosystem for Google-powered slates just isn’t up to snuff with iOS and the mature iPad software space.