Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2
30th Jun 2014 | 16:24
A big tablet with a big price tag
Samsung has been known in the smartphone and tablet market for its larger screens, and the South Korean giant has not disappointed this time around by releasing the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2.
As the name suggests it boasts a whopping 12.2-inch screen, although it's missing the S Pen stylus of the very similar Galaxy Note Pro 12.2.
Other tablets of this screen size are few and far between, although the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 will give Samsung a run for its money in the 12-inch market.
Samsung's continued ethos that 'bigger is better', has now reached a point where it is almost in a league of its own.
Retailing at £549, $545 (around AU$995) the Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 is unlikely to be an impulse buy.
However, if you were weighing up the pros and cons of splashing this much of your hard earned money on a device, you will be pleasantly surprised to find out that retailers are currently slashing the price of the tablet by almost £100. Which I personally think makes this a much better purchase.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro series were all announced during the 2014 CES and are aimed to be the premium model line of Samsung Galaxy tablets, along with the Samsung Galaxy Note tablets.
The Tab Pro 12.2 and Note Pro 12.2 stole the spotlight as the biggest and most powerful devices, but the smaller Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 and Tab Pro 8.4 compete well against devices like the iPad Air or Google Nexus 10 - so what can we expect from the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2?
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 comes in a choice of either black or white, and is powered by a whopping eight-core processor running 1.9GHz Quad and 1.3GHz Quad cores.
When this is combined with the 3GB of RAM also on board tasks like Multi Window are certainly a smooth experience on the tablet.
As expected all the usual connectivity is built in, but there are a few extra features that you may not find on all other tablets.
The Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 ships with Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, USB 3.0, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, Infrared, a MicroSD slot (up to 64GB), 8MP Rear facing camera with flash, and a 2MP front camera.
Samsung has managed to fit all this into a device which is 7.95mm thick and weighs 734g. Oh, I forgot to mention the huge 12.2 inch TFT display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600. The 4 million pixel picture with 16M colour depth provides a high resolution viewing experience.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 has been well designed, it is appealing to the eye, but by no means will it break into new territory.
There is a brushed metal effect steal band that wrapped around the edge of the tablet accommodating two speaker grills, the lock and volume controls, a microSD port and a microUSB connection for charging and connectivity.
Next to the home button on the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 is an icon to show all open apps, along with the back button.
The rear of the device is made of plastic, but has been shaped to imitate leather. Personally, it is not to my taste, however I was impressed at the lengths Samsung has gone to imitate a more organic shell.
Imitation stitching surrounds the edge of the rear, and the first time I picked up the device I needed to take a second glance to confirm it is all formed from one piece of plastic.
The Tab Pro 12.2 is light enough to be able to use with one hand, although this means the tablet does not feel overly sturdy, and even regularly produces tiny creaking noises.
This is not the best sign that the device has been built to a high standard - only time will tell if the Tab Pro 12.2 has been built to last.
Interface, performance, and battery life.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 comes running Android KitKat 4.4.2 and should be compatible with future updates from Google. Samsung has heavily customised the software, to the point where it is almost overbearing.
All aspects of the operating system have been tweaked with, however some of the additions are really quite useful. The Magazine UX has recently replaced TouchWiz, which was Samsung's previous software attempt.
Magazine UX appears as if it would be a drain on the tablets processing resources and battery life, however this does not seem to be the case. Power saving features, like 'tap to refresh' ensure the service is not running when you do not need it to.
Samsung's powerful Multi Window feature (where you can open up mini versions of some apps in separate windows on screen) is one of the company's current strengths over Apple's iOS operating system.
With the eight-core processor and 3GB RAM, the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 makes light work of the tasks. The 12-inch screen size also aids the Multi Window experience as the screen can accommodate so much more, and it is easy to view and interact with two or more apps at once.
I was impressed that the Tab Pro 12.2 rarely showed any signs of stuttering under the amount of information it had to process. Currently, not all apps work with the Multi View feature, but I can imagine the list of compatible apps growing extremely quickly in the near future.
The e-meeting app is provided by Samsung and is pre-installed on the Tab Pro 12.2. The idea behind the app is to eliminate the need for paper handouts in meetings or lectures. Just login and join a session to collaborate, share, and work on a project or document.
The fact that the app is preinstalled confirms the suggestion that the Tab Pro 12.2 is firmly targeting business users. I welcome the availability of e-meeting, but using it in a practical environment may not be to everyone's tastes or requirements.
Magazine UX is not necessarily the newest feature on the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2, although it does come into its own on a device with a screen this large.
Swipe from the home screen to reveal a fully tiled page packed with top stories separated into categories.
This is all editable, you have to option to switch the widgets and resize them and can decide what information you want to appear in the tiles and refresh them when you want a quick update.
I found that the email widget was really practical, even when reshaped into the smaller size, it was a nice addition which did not feel too compact.
I ran an Anututu test on the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 to establish the exact performance capabilities of the device. The results came back positive, but not as well as expected.
The Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 received an overall score of 33,820, which is lower than some phones like the HTC One M8 or the new flagship Samsung Galaxy S5, but only by a marginal 1,226 points. This is not a bad score by any means as the device came 4th in the app's ranking.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 's battery life is not exactly a game changer either, but it will perform as expected, and did last two full days with light to medium use before requiring charging.
I ran the standard TechRadar battery test file on the Tab Pro 12.2 and discovered that after one and a half hours of streaming video on the tablet, the 9500mAh battery fell to 76%.
I was really impressed with this as I thought the screen would draw much more power to run the file, and it means you'll be able to watch a few movies on the slate, or send a whole lot of emails.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 comes with an 8MP rear facing camera, and a 2MP camera on the front of the tablet. I tested out the cameras, and put them through their paces to see how they stacked up against the competition.
Using the tablet outside the comfort of your own home or office is cumbersome, and you will more than likely be given strange looks from passersby - but if this does not deter you, and you have a bag big enough to transport the device with you, then there is no reason why you could not use this as your main camera on a day out.
Samsung has prioritised the rear facing camera by using the higher spec'd sensor at the back, but in reality you are more likely to use the front facing camera more often for features such as video calling.
To start with, the rear camera can produce some brilliant sharp images when used in a well-lit situation and colours are well reproduced and not overly saturated.
With that being said, when I tested the rear camera in low light situations it struggled to produce a clear image. The final product displayed a lot of grain/noise, also the picture was not clear and severely lacked definition.
Although, the Tab Pro 12.2 includes a rear flash in an attempt to increase the quality of the images taken in these low light conditions. The bright LED set into the rear case of the Tab Pro 12.2 can easily illuminate a subject in a small to medium room, but in larger rooms or open spaces the flash struggles to provide enough light to get the job done properly.
Samsung has provided the Galaxy Tab Pro with a pretty neat feature that allows you to use both cameras at the same time. This enables you to take a picture with the rear-facing camera of some friends, whilst also allowing you to take a selfie.
One of the main reasons we purchase tablets is because we want to watch media and play games on the device, and the Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 does not disappoint.
Firstly, although I am extremely impressed with the screen provided on the tablet, Samsung has touted it as High-Resolution, not High Definition has touted it. There were times whilst using the Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 where each individual pixel was noticeable when watching a film. However, this is all dependant on your eyesight, distance of the tablet from your eyes etc - so I would not want to highlight this as a major downfall, although I feel it must be mentioned.
When you touch the screen while a black or dark image is displayed it does 'that funny thing' which also happens when you touch a laptop or computer screen. A white ripple surrounds the area where you apply pressure, this is surely a sign of poor design and build quality. Quite off putting for a device that retails for over £500, $500.
Incase you missed it, the Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 tablet from Samsung has a screen of over 12 inches, which is absolutely amazing for watching films. I had no problem downloading or streaming content on the device as apps like VLC cater for almost every media file format. For content streamers, there is a good selection of apps to download that will provide hours of content at your fingertips.
The speaker grills found on both sides of the tablet pack a fairly decent punch, and sound even better when the tablet is laid on a flat surface or when you cup your hands behind the speakers. The sound bounces off these surfaces and back in your direction, enhancing your listening pleasure. Although it must be point out that the quality of the audio is not that great from the device, and I would recommend using headphones to enhance your experience.
Storage on the Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 should not be an issue. The internal storage supplied is a tasty 32GB. If this is not enough you are able to increase the storage via the MicroSD slot, which is capable of accommodating up to 64GB of extra storage, giving you a possible total of 96GB of storage space.
As far as data intensive 3D activities go, games that include intensive graphics proved to be a cause for concern when it came to the battery life. However on the plus side, I did not have any problems with stuttering or jerkiness which often irritate other mobile gamers.
Hands on gallery
So, how does the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 compare to other similarly priced tablets like the iPad Air? Or other tablets in the 12-inch category like the Microsoft Surface Pro 3? The short answer is it does a fantastic job, but not enough to be crowd champion.
The Tab Pro 12.2 tablet sits at the top of the Samsung Tab Pro tree with the Tab Pro 10.1 and Tab Pro 8.4 beneath it. The slightly high price tag of £549, $545 (around AU$995) is justifiable - for the 12-inch screen alone. However, the cheap build quality may make you think twice before purchasing.
The screen is big, and bright, and beautiful. It does not have the same pixel density that other tablets on the market have, but its still should be more than enough for casual videos and games.
The battery life on the Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 is rather impressive. With light to medium use you should be able to get two days usage from one charge, which is a massive plus for those on the move who do not necessarily have access to a power point throughout their working day.
The Multi Window feature is not exclusive to the Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2, although it definitely is one of the better devices from Samsung to use this feature on. The large 12-inch screen, along with the eight-core processor, makes Multi Screen really clear to view and easy to operate without any lag or stutter.
As fantastic as the 12-inch screen is, it is not enough to establish it as the best tablet on the market. The processing power of the device is nothing to be sniffed at, and for a device with a screen this size Samsung has admirably managed to keep the tablets weight down.
However with all these positives, the device does not feel premium enough. In my opinion, the Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 does not warrant the price tag based on the design alone.
The imitation leather exterior certainly does not tick my boxes, but there will be many people who like it. The texture of the case adds grip, but looks awful. Also, the fact the device creaks under its own weight when picked up is disconcerting.
If you're looking for a super-sized tablet your options are fairly limited, yet Samsung offers up two with the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 being joined by the incredibly similar Note Pro 12.2.
The latter has the advantage of the S Pen stylus which is useful on screens this size, yet the Tab Pro 12.2 makes do without and it fails to really excite.
Yes it has a big screen and a whole lot of power, but build quality could be better and the sheer size of the Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 makes it a little cumbersome to hold.
If you're desperate for the 12-inch slate then it's certainly worth considering, but if you just want a big tablet take a look at the 10.1-inch options, or even the iPad Air if you're willing to drop a large amount of cash.