It may be pro by name, but the Samsung Galaxy TabPro 12.2 is more casual by nature, with it's 12.2-inch screen the perfect sized for laid-back sofa-surfing.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,5/8/2014 3:33:42 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Huge, gorgeous screen.
Bags of performance.
Good battery life.
Not a tablet to commute with.
Cannot be used comfortably when held aloft.
Cheap-feeling and creaky build quality.
The Samsung Galaxy TabPro 12.2 is an Android tablet with a range of software tweaks aimed at making the most out of its huge 12.2-inch display, which boasts an iPad Air-beating resolution of 2560 x 1600. Clearly not designed to read on your commute or slip into a back pocket, the TabPro’s size parachutes it into a whole new category of Android tablet, where Google’s mobile software is knocking on the door of Microsoft and Windows. Can the TabPro 12.2 deliver, or is it simply too big for its own good?
Coffee table books. That’s what the Galaxy TabPro 12.2 reminded me of the first time I picked it up. You don’t read them on the train to work, you don’t slip them into your suitcase to pass a few hours on the beach; you sit them on your table and, every so often, you pick them up, sit back on the sofa and admire them.
With the best will in the world, the TabPro 12.2 cannot be used like most other tablets - at least, most other Samsung and Apple tablets. It’s large frame is slim, however, at 7.95mm, but the footprint of 295.6 x 204mm and 732g weight (740g for the 4G model) mean you’ll want to rest the tablet on a table after anything more than a few minutes’ use.
Cast your eye away from that massive screen and the TabPro follows Samsung’s current design language to the letter. It’s white and glossy at the front with the familiar lozenge-shaped Home button and touch-sensitive back and multitasking icons; there’s the familiar chrome-covered plastic bezel around all four edges.
This bezel is broken on the right edge for a speaker and flap-covered microSD card slot (accepting cards up to 64GB), along with micro HDMI and USB ports; up top there’s an infrared blaster for controller your TV and home cinema kit, along with a volume rocker and screen lock button. Finally, there’s a headphone jack on the left edge, joined by a second speaker.
Read More - Samsuung Galaxy S5 Review
The rear of the tablet has the same mock-leather finish of the Galaxy Note 3, complete with fake stitching around the edge. I’ll admit I’m not a fan of plastic posing as something it isn’t - I prefer the slightly rubberised back of the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet - but Samsung’s efforts here shouldn’t be dismissed entirely; the back looks smart and the texture helps to make gripping it easier.
Build quality is mostly very good, but there is a degree of flex to the TabPro. It bends easily, emitting creaking and groaning noises when you take hold of it. At £550 for the 32GB W-Fi model, I’d expect a higher and more premium build than what Samsung has produced.
Few buyers are going to use the 12.2-inch tablet on their packed rush-hour commute. No, the TabPro feels much more at home actually at home, propped up by your legs as you lie on the sofa, or on that coffee table when not in use. It’s a lifestyle product, a luxury to be used for sofa-surfing or sofa-Netflixing or sofa-shopping.
But hang on - if this tablet feels so much at home on the sofa, why did Samsung call it the TabPro? Well, you can view up to four applications at once - true multitasking, in other words - and it comes with apps like the Hancom documents viewers, e-Meeting to share documents and slides with colleagues during a meeting, Remote PC to access your work computer from home, and SketchBook to take advantage of the acres of screen space.
There’s also Dropbox and Evernote for your productivity needs, plus a free one-year subscription to Bloomberg Businessweek+ (worth £20) and the New York Times app, but Samsung isn’t fooling anyone. This is not a tablet for work. Yes, it can be, in the same way you can use your iPhone, Nokia or any other Samsung product to access these apps, but adding them to a larger screen doesn’t automatically make this a professional, productive work horse.
Read More - Samsung Gear Fit Review
More puzzling still is the TabPro’s stablemate, the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 - a 12.2-inch Samsung tablet with a stylus and the ability to jot down notes, annotate presentations and more. The Pro name then is somewhat misleading, but ignore it, treat the tablet as a coffee table book and - questionable build quality aside - you’ve got an excellent product in your hands.
A tablet lives or dies on the quality of its screen, and the TabPro 12.2’s is simply excellent.
But of course bigger isn’t always better, and I found it almost impossible to type on the Samsung in landscape, due to being unable to reach the middle of the on-screen keyboard from either side. Things improve when held in portrait, but it’s still a bit of a stretch. As I explained above, this is a tablet to be laid down and not held aloft. Set down on a table or against your legs hen laid on the sofa, and typing two-handed on the Samsung as you would a laptop keyboard is comfortable and feels perfectly natural.
The big Samsung’s screen resolution of 2560 x 1600 is almost identical to that of the iPad Air. Add this to a bright and even backlight, great viewing angles and good saturation levels, and you’ve got a simply gorgeous screen in your hands. Only if you look very closely can you make out individual pixels, but in the real world icons are pin sharp, while text is beautifully smooth and rounded.
Crank the brightness up to full and it might not be as retina-burning as a certain fruit-based rival, but I doubt many TabPro 12.2s will ever venture outside for anything more than flicking through a magazine on the patio - again, somewhere I can see the tablet fitting in perfectly, unlike a packed London commuter train.
To take advantage of the huge screen, Samsung has included some extra tweaks along with its familiar TouchWiz interface, draped over Android 4.4 KitKat.
These include the ability to have up to four applications on screen (and active) at once, so you could be watching a YouTube video, updating your Facebook profile, checking your email and browsing Wikipedia all at the same time. A swipe from the right edge of the screen (from anywhere in the operating system) brings up a panel of all the apps which can run alongside each other. Tap one and it’ll open in its own windows, taking up a quarter of the screen. Open apps can be dragged around, resized, minimised and closed entirely, and while the experience falls some way short of Windows or Mac OS X, it’s still very impressive for a mobile OS.
To the left of the home screen sits one-and-a-half pages of tiled content provided by news aggregator Flipboard. By default, the remaining half-page serves up a calendar with events pulled from your Google account.
Otherwise, much of the OS is identical to what you would find on Samsung’s many other Android KitKat devices. This is mostly fine, but I’d like to have seen a tweaked notifications window. Swiping down reveals an enormous set of toggle switches for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane mode and more, but for me this feels like a waste of space. Samsung could have added more icons, more options and generally made the panel feel less like a smaller Galaxy Tab has been photocopied at 120%.
A glance at the specification sheet immediately reveals why this tablet has ‘Pro’ in its name; there’s an awful lot of power here, making it something altogether different from your typical Samsung Galaxy Tab.
The TabPro is driven by Samsung’s own Exynos 5 Octa processor, which is a 1.9GHz quad-core chip mated to a second quad-core unit clocked at 1.3GHz. Having the two chips gives the tablet both power and efficiency, as the faster cores are only powered up when needed, thus saving battery life.
Safe to say, with that processor and 3GB of RAM, the TabPro is an absolute cracker. Apps open near-instantly, intensive 3D games are buttery smooth and HD video is silky smooth. My only performance complaint is with the split-screen multitasking. Yes, up to four apps can be seen and used at the same time, but moving the windows around and resizing them isn’t as seamless as it should be. Still, you have to remember this is a mobile device and not a PC.
Storage is either 32GB or 64GB, depending on your budget, and a microSD card slot means this can be increased by up to 64GB.
The tablet has a large 9,500mAh battery which I found to last a substantial amount of time. I used the Samsung lightly for a couple of weeks before putting it through its paces for this review, and the battery lasted that entire time while connected to Wi-Fi and keeping on top of my Google account with email and calendar updates.
During proper use, the TabPro shrugged off a weekend of average to heavy use with no issues, while an hour of streaming BBC iPlayer over Wi-Fi saw it lose 10% of its charge.
I can’t help but be drawn to the TabPro 12.2. It’s a big chunk of sleek, shiny technology that catches my attention and makes me want to pick it up. Like a stylish coffee table book, I want to sit back on a sofa (maybe even a chaise longue) with it and waste a few hours on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
I’d never use the TabPro on my commute and I’m struggling to think of reasons for taking it out of the house, but for kicking back and binge-watching Breaking Bad, tweeting while watching TV, or swiping through a digital magazine, this Samsung makes perfect sense.
At £550 it certainly isn’t cheap - the iPad Air starts at £399, but is 2.5 inches smaller - and despite looking good, Samsung’s build quality still leaves a little to be desired.
It may not have a set use case, but you didn’t buy that coffee table book to read from front to back on the train to work. You bought it to pick up occasionally, to admire and to show friends. Although perhaps too expensive for some, considering it might not be used every day, the TabPro fits this role perfectly.