tablets

Samsung Galaxy Tab S (8.4-inch) Tablet Review

Marking rise of OLED tablets, Samsung debuts a fine featherweight

October 15, 2014
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Science Introduction

By the numbers this is an impressive tablet, but it's imperfect. That's okay—no tablet is. However, there are a couple performance hiccups that merit discussion.

Screen Performance

The final word on the screen is that it's amazing. However, OLED displays have a long way to go before they reach their performance peak, and that's very obvious with issues like green cast and gamma problems.

However, the news isn't all bad. For starters, the PenTile AMOLED screen with 2560x1600 pixels is quite good. Despite the RGBG diamond layout reducing res by up to 50% in single primary colors, the pixel density is so high that each dot is still under 1 arcminute on your retinas—provided the screen is at least 15 inches from your pupil. So that takes care of all the issues introduced by PenTile displays.

But this is an AMOLED display, so there's more to talk about here. Because the contrast ratio is theoretically infinite, we cap the black levels at the human-perceptible limit to get the math right. Boasting a peak brightness of 355.67cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 118557:1, by the numbers this is an insanely good performance. However, gamma is a huge sore spot.

Boasting a peak brightness of 355.67cd/m^2 and a contrast ratio of 118,557:1, by the numbers this is an insanely good performance. Tweet It

Normally, screens will shoot for a gamma slope of 2.1-2.2, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab S has a slope of 2.44. While that doesn't sound like a huge issue, you'll notice some really wonky greyscale issues in the lower half of luminance values. Like I mentioned in the main page of the review, even the best OLED screens have this problem, so it's just something you'll have to deal with for the time being. OLEDs have a long way to go to mature, so cheer up, yeah?

Color performance is exemplary—and there are many modes to choose from. Though the "Basic" mode is the most accurate to the Rec. 709 standard, the default settings and variations thereof are all somewhere closer to the UHD Rec. 2020 standard, with different degrees of saturation. My advice is to play around with it to see what you like best, because the newer standards are somewhat a more wild-west type deal, and we can't score it quite yet until the dust settles.

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Battery Life

Circling back to the PenTile display again, I need to point out that it's a match made in heaven for AMOLED. Because there's no backlight to constantly drain power, turning black pixels off saves a bunch of juice, and it shows in our tests.

Video playback is crazy-good, with 12 hours, 4 minutes of on-screen time. It's easy to attribute that one to the pixels turning off in dark scenes. So it stands to reason that your mileage will vary based on the video files you watch.

Because reading eBooks will also mean lots of white space on your screen, we were only able to squeeze 5 hours, 58 minutes in continuous read time with the screen at normal black/white orientation. However, here too the screen is important. You will almost definitely get more time out of your device if you invert the colors in your reader app—typically the "night reading" mode—leaving most of the screen off instead of on.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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