Saturday, 19 October 2013

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 (8.0)

The latest tablet in Samsung’s Galaxy Tab series comes in an unfamiliar size.
Looking for an Android tablet can be quite a daunting task, as the market for tablets running on Google’s operating system is so crowded that you will be spoilt for choice.
Samsung is the biggest hardware manufacturer for Android smartphones, and it has a healthy tablet lineup. The Galaxy Tab series, Samsung’s main product line in the Android tablet market, has reached third ­generation. This time Samsung has added in an 8in ­version of the Galaxy Tab 3 to its current mix of 7in and 10.1in devices.
We take a look at the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 and see if the additional 1in sets it apart from the rest of the 7in tablets in the market.
Sizing it up
Samsung has made an excellent choice in including an 8in version, as 7in tablets are a little too small for comfort, while those at 10.1in are cumbersome to carry around. The Tab 3’s 8in size is the best of both worlds: Big enough yet still portable.
The Tab 3 sports a very thin bezel, unlike the first 8in tablet released by Samsung, the Galaxy Note 8.0. This makes the overall device a little easier to hold with one hand, although there is a slight setback — the narrow edges surrounding the screen makes it harder to hold the device without accidentally touching the screen.
As with other Samsung devices, the Tab 3 has a plastic build. The design is also unmistakably Samsung, with the same structure as what you would expect from any of its other devices.
A notable change from previous Galaxy tablets is that the Tab 3 comes with a physical home button accompanied by the Menu and Back capacitive buttons, just like the Galaxy smartphones. Whether the physical home button is a good thing or not is pretty subjective — we were a little annoyed because we kept accidentally pressing the Back capacitive button.
Another notable change is that the Tab 3 uses the more commonly found micro USB port. This is great news as almost every other smartphone uses the micro USB port so your wallet can heave a sigh of relief as all your cables and chargers should be compatible with this device.
The Tab 3 uses a TFT screen — while not as vibrant as the Super Amoled screens used in the high-end Galaxy smartphones, the screen has its advantages as the colours are not overly saturated.
The 5-megapixel camera is one of the best we’ve tested on a tablet but it doesn’t have an LED flash.
Feature-packed
The Tab 3 ships with Android 4.2.2 Jellybean. This puts it on par with Samsung’s flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S4.
Specs-wise, the Tab 3 is not much of a powerhouse with only dual cores. The user experience is fluid most of the time but do expect the occasional lag. Worry not as the lag is not to the extent where it will frustrate the user.
Multi windows, now a staple feature in Galaxy devices, is also present in the Tab 3. The feature allows two apps to be opened simultaneously on the screen. The list of compatible apps is also slowly growing and it is now pretty respectable, compared to when it was first introduced.
One thing that we would like to highlight is the Group Play feature which has been improved. This new version allows one Android to become the main device that blasts out its portable WiFi hotspot for other devices to connect to.
Once connected, the devices can either share music, images, documents, or even play multiplayer games. It is extra impressive when sharing music, as the different devices can be assigned to be either the left or right speakers for an entertaining surround sound experience.
This tablet works as a full-fledged phone and even has a earpiece for you to put up to your ear to talk like on a normal phone.
The Tab 3 that we reviewed is the LTE-enabled version, making it one of the few Samsung devices released here thus far to offer LTE connectivity. There is also a cheaper WiFi-only version available.
Final note
Samsung has been flooding the market with way more products compared to their competitors and ultimately it gives consumers a broad range of options to choose from.
We feel that at 8in, this version of the Tab 3 is an interesting option for those who find the size of 7in tablets a little too cramped, while not willing to sacrifice mobility with a 10.1in device.
In addition to that, the size is also more optimised for reading as it is shaped very similarly to the size of a regular notebook.
In terms of usability, the device is still fluid despite only having dual cores. This can be attributed to the stability that comes with Android Jellybean 4.2.2.
All in all, it is a device meant for those who felt that 7in devices were too small while not wanting to be burdened by a huge 10.1in tablet.
Pros: 8in is a good size for a tablet; light; not too wide, making it easy to hold with one hand; runs on Android 4.2.2 Jellybean.
Cons: Bezels too thin to hold the device comfortably without accidentally touching the screen; no NFC.

GALAXY TAB 3 (8.0)
(Samsung)
Android tablet
NETWORK: GSM 850/900/1800/ 1900, HSDPA 850/900/1900/ 2100, LTE 800/850/900/1800/2100/2600
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
PROCESSOR: 1.5GHz Exynos 4212 dual-core
DISPLAY: 8.0in TFT display (1,280 x 800-pixels)
CAMERA: 5-megapixels with autofocus; 1.3-megapixels (front facing)
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth 4.0, Wireless 802.11 abgn, dual-band, DLNA, WiFi Direct, WiFi hotspot, microUSB 2.0
MEMORY: 16GB internal memory, 1.5GB RAM
EXPANSION SLOT: MicroSD (up to 64GB)
FEATURES: GPS, stereo speakers, multiscreen, Group Play
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 209.8 x 123.8 x 7.4mm
WEIGHT: 314g
WEBSITE: www.samsung.com.my
PRICE: RM1,499
RATING: 3.5 stars
Review unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia Electronics (SME) Sdn Bhd, 1-800-88-9999
- Donovan Quek, The Star