Inside CES: Going Pro with Samsung Tablets

It feels as though I’ve been talking a lot about Samsung this year at CES. They’ve really brought a little bit of everything to the table this year and managed to do it all well enough to generate a significant amount of buzz. I guess you can be all things to all people, after all!

So here goes, more on Samsung. This time, I’ll focus on their tablets.

In a year where I didn’t see anything too exciting in the tablet world, Samsung’s two Pro lines managed to capture my attention. These lines are premium tablets designed with productivity in mind and of course, their names reflect it. The Samsung GALAXY TabPro and the Samsung GALAXY NotePro are premium tablets that will be released sometime this quarter. The TabPro comes in 8.4, 10.1, and 12.2-inch sizes while the NotePro will only come in the 12.2-inch size. The NotePro will come with the familiar Note stylus. Aside from the different size configurations and the presence of the styles on the NotePro, the two lines are identical.

The cool thing about these new lines is that Samsung has done something completely new with the operating system. The two lines will both be sold with Android’s Kit Kat operating system but Samsung has given the user interface a bit of a makeover, introducing their new Magazine UX. Magazine UX has customizable tiles for apps instead of the app icons we’re used to seeing on Android screens to date. The tiles are interactive so you can get some of the information you’re after right from your homescreen. The look of the homescreen with these tiles on it is almost reminiscent of the live tiles on a Microsoft Windows 8.1 device. If you don’t love this layout, Samsung has ensured that the option to go back to the icon view is still available to you.

Both the 12.2-inch NotePro and TabPro come with 3GB of RAM, allowing you to run a few apps simultaneously without any issues. The smaller 8.4 and 10.1-inch TabPro models come with a reduced 2GB of RAM, which limits their multitasking abilities a bit more. Both lines boast a resolution of 2,560 by 1,600 pixels, making the displays crystal clear and a pleasure to look at. The tablets come in 32GB and 64GB configurations with an microSD card slot, allowing the power user to expand their capacity. Of course, the tablets come with both a front-facing 2 megapixel camera and a rear-facing 8 megapixel camera with LED flash.

Much like the Galaxy Note 3 we saw earlier this year, the TabPro and NotePro lines have faux leather backs and silver trim around the edges. The 12-2-inch model is definitely pushing the limits in terms of size, but that seems to be a common thread in both smartphones and tablets these days. I guess those of us who need reading glasses should be thankful for this development but I’m not sure that the size increase is in the best interest of portability.

In a year where CES didn’t have too much to offer in terms of tablets, I’m glad Samsung brought something new to the table. I’m very interested to see how well users will adapt to the new Magazine UX. Personally, I enjoyed it and would definitely welcome a change from the icons I’ve grown so used to looking at.

By Mike Agerbo

January 10, 2014