Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2'' Tablet Review
Samsung's flagship tablet tries to fix what isn't broken.
Because many of our tests take software out of the equation, we found that—unsurprisingly—the hardware of the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 is quite impressive. It has a huge battery, passable screen, and accurate colors. Much of what we find fault with on this tablet has nothing to do with its performance numbers, and more to do with its software.
Decent numbers, in spite of itself
Leaving aside the issues introduced by a PenTile display—effective resolution vs. actual resolution—this screen posts great color accuracy scores, and very respectable contrast. You can take solace in the fact that if you want to watch movies on your work slate, they'll look as good as they would on your laptop.
Reds, greens, and blues are all kept to roughly where they should be, and there are only a handful of tablets that have really mastered this so far. Even the iPad Air shifts blues a bit, so the ceiling isn't as high as it is for televisions. Kudos, Samsung!
Contrast is a little on the crummy side, but honestly, it's good enough for most. With a black level of 0.34 cd/m2 and a middling peak brightness of 344.9 cd/m2, the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro's contrast ratio sits at a respectable-but-unenthralling 1009:1. If you turn down the max brightness, you may notice some some fine details lost in shadows here and there, but on the whole your eyes should find no fault with the color or contrast performance of the screen—but you will see something else.
On paper, that 2560x1600 TFT LCD seems like a high-res option, even at 12.2 inches. Doing the math with those figures would lead you to believe that the pixel density is about 247 pixels per inch. However, because sub-pixels are shared from pixel to pixel, this isn't always the case based on the colors displayed. In actuality, the maximum resolution is somewhere closer to 2090x1309. Which, on its face isn't exactly a horrible thing. If "print quality" images are to be considered 200 DPI or higher, this clears the bar—most of the time.
Unfortunately, when the pixels don't render with all subpixels in use, you'll notice visible areas of "off" screen. This only happens with areas of only blue, green, or red—and even then, because of the way your eye sees color, the worst problems are pretty much visible only when you're looking at white or green areas of the screen. When this happens, effective resolution drops to half of the listed specs, making it just above 100 PPI.
If you're wondering what the benefits of this are, you're not alone. When this display type first came on the market, high pixel density screens were unheard of, and the problems introduced by PenTile technology made enthusiasts groan whenever they saw it—and rightfully so. Though battery life is improved by using fewer pixels, the tradeoff of severely reduced effective resolution made images gross to look at. PenTile displays used to be horrible: Used to be.
Now that Samsung is able to cram in a huge number of pixels, this problem is far less pronounced than it was. Even half of 250 PPI is about where the best tablets were two years ago, so this is more of a sign of moved goalposts than an objectively terrible resolution. However, you will notice it every now and again, and I don't want you to think that your tablet is broken—it's meant to work that way.
It's going the distance
I had to re-run the battery tests a couple times to make sure, but the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro has an impressive battery—and power handling. Able to play video back to 9 hours and 22 minutes, you'll be able to ride the battery pretty hard without paying mind to it. That's a huge boon to your use of the device, and a very large check in the "Pro" column.
Reading eBooks was a little worse, but otherwise respectable. Clocking in at 7 hours and 53 minutes with a mostly-white screen is tough for any tablet to do, so this score ranks among the best on the market.
I should point out that our battery tests are performed with the backlight maxed and all wireless connections disabled. Your mileage may vary based on your preferred settings, but you might be able to get away with turning down the backlight for increased battery life.
Little else to note
This is normally the time where I'd tell you about nerdy things like benchmark scores, tablet heat, and other stats that mean more on paper than they do in the real world. Because the software gets in the way of the tablet more often than not, benchmarks aren't really going to give you a full picture of how the tablet performs when you use it. We don't score them for tablets anyway, so it's not reflected in the scores quite yet to begin with.
Moving on, many of the other quirky problem areas like heat aren't really an issue. Though Samsung's flagship tablet has its issues, many of the commonly harped-on problems are gone. Except for one: Reflectivity.
Tablets are very commonly poor choices to take with you to the beach, but this one will be nigh-unusable. For whatever reason, the screen's coating will send 7.1% of all light shone on the exterior in every which way, but direct reflections are bounced back at a 20.6% intensity. That's enormous if you have the sun to your back; sharp reflections are super distracting, and if they're lit by the sun, they'll easily overpower the backlight of the Galaxy Note Pro.
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