To be sure, Samsung is today’s most prolific—and creative—maker of Android tablets. Each year, the South Korean electronics giant loans us for review its latest Galaxy Notes and Galaxy Tabs in multiple screen sizes and price ranges, with each new version delivering a wealth of updated features and—sometimes—improved performance. And over the years, each new model has usually impressed us. The major exception was last year’s Galaxy Tab 3 series tablets, which were undistinguished performers, among them the full-size Galaxy Tab 3 10.1. (We consider slates with screens from 9 to 11 inches “full-size.”
Here in 2014, though, Samsung has hit the reboot button, with its early-year release of the Galaxy Tab Pro and Galaxy Note Pro series, which includes the giant Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 (a stylus-free version of the company’s Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, which we reviewed recently), the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 (a review’s forthcoming from us soon on that one), and the subject of this review, the $499-MSRP Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1. (Samsung announced a new-for-2014 Galaxy Tab 4 series just before we posted this review, as well.)
Unlike most of the company’s other recent Android slates, notably the Galaxy Tab 3 and the 2012 Galaxy Tab 2 series, which were positioned more as midrange products, the tablets in the Galaxy Tab Pro lineup are sleeker and premium-priced. They come with the Multi Window and multitasking features we’ve liked so well on Samsung’s latest stylus-enabled Galaxy Note slates. (To clarify: Samsung’s Galaxy Note slates make use of the company’s S Pen stylus; with the Galaxy Tabs and Tab Pros, it’s all finger input.) And the new “Pro” branding is reflected not just in the new tablets’ coolly minimalist chassis designs, but in the productivity-centric selection of apps and features.
In addition, our Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 review unit was slightly thinner than its closest existing Galaxy Tab kinsman in Samsung’s line, the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1. Thinner and lighter is always a plus, so long as the tablet doesn’t become too pliable as a result. We’re happy to report that this new Galaxy Tab Pro felt hard-bodied and durable enough.
In fact, aside from lacking Samsung’s slick S Pen stylus, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 shares a lot of traits with the company’s Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition). It has the same leather-esque coating on the back, with the same faux stitching around the edges, and its buttons, ports, and speaker locations are similar. And, like the Galaxy Note 10.1, the Tab Pro 10.1 comes in either white or black…
You’re also looking at similar screens between these two prime-time tabs. The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 comes with a gorgeous 2,560×1,600-pixel (WQXGA) display panel, the same higher-than-1080p native resolution as on the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition). Also, its relatively new Samsung Exynos 5 Octa processor performs well, right up there with the snappy Nvidia Tegra 4 and Qualcomm Snapdragon CPUs we’ve tested in some other recent slates. (We’ve got more on that Exynos chip in the Performance section later on.)
Then there’s the battery life. High performance often comes hand-in-hand with a battery-life penalty, but not so much here: We were especially impressed with the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1’s 12-hour-plus battery runtime in our video-rundown test. That was about an hour longer than the Galaxy Note 10.1’s unplugged runtime, and well over four hours more than what we got from the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1.
Pricing is the only key concern we had about this slate. The Tab Pro 10.1, which comes in just one storage-capacity flavor (16GB), lists for $100 more than last year’s 16GB version of the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1, and about $50 less than the 32GB Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition). Without question, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is an elegant, well-performing tablet with very little to dislike. But we think that the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition), with twice the onboard storage capacity and the impressive S Pen stylus for sketching and taking notes, is a better buy at just $50 more.
Of course, price adjustments happen, which could change the relative lay of the land. For instance, we saw the 16GB Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 selling from some resellers for $429.99 at this writing, although how long that lower pricing will hold is uncertain. We really like this slate, but, given the pricing of the 2014 version of the Galaxy Note 10.1, the Tab Pro 10.1 is a wee bit overpriced at its list price. Other than that concern, though, we’re confident that buyers of this classy tablet won’t be disappointed.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper.