Sleek and stylish

The ad­di­tion of an S Pen makes a good tablet even bet­ter.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Technology - By DONO­VAN QUEK bytz@thes­tar.coml.my

WITH smart­phone screens get­ting big­ger ev­ery year, man­u­fac­tur­ers have been slow to an­nounce new tablets. Thank­fully, Samsung has ended the drought with the Galaxy Tab S3, the suc­ces­sor to the Tab S2 which was an­nounced in 2015.

In­ter­est­ingly, Samsung has re­leased the Tab S3 in only one size in­stead of two (like with the Tab S2). So the Tab S3 is only avail­able with a 9.7in screen which is bet­ter suited for me­dia con­sump­tion and work.

One of Samsung’s strengths is the screen and it shows on the Tab S3. The screen is stun­ning and great for watch­ing videos and view­ing images, and it now even supports HDR (high dy­namic range).

How­ever, some may find the colours too punchy but there is an op­tion to tone it down un­der dis­play set­tings.

Mainly made of glass, the Tab S3 de­serves the pre­mium la­bel. It’s com­fort­able to hold, as it has curved edges and an am­ple bezel. At just 6mm thick and weigh­ing 429g, you will not have prob­lems hold­ing the tablet for ex­tended pe­ri­ods.

The re­view unit came with Samsung’s Book Cover which is sold sep­a­rately for RM199. The flip case at­taches to the back of the de­vice with mag­nets, so it is has­sle-free to use. Even with the cas­ing on, the de­vice does not gain much in terms of weight or thick­ness.

There is also an optional key­board cover for those who are think­ing of us­ing the de­vice for pro­duc­tiv­ity pur­poses.

In typ­i­cal Samsung fash­ion, the Tab S3 has a phys­i­cal home but­ton that dou­bles as a finger­print sen­sor for se­cu­rity pur­poses. With the move away from the phys­i­cal but­ton in the re­cently launched Galaxy S8 smart­phone, this could pos­si­bly be Samsung’s last flag­ship tablet with a phys­i­cal Home but­ton.

In the au­dio de­part­ment, the Tab S3 is equipped with “quad stereo” AKG speak­ers tuned by Har­man. When held in landscape mode, you’ll have two speak­ers on each side – I had no is­sues with the vol­ume and clar­ity, but I would have pre­ferred the speak­ers to be front fac­ing.

The Tab S3 comes with 32GB of in­ter­nal stor­age which is de­cent. If that isn’t enough, you can al­ways add a mi­croSD card (up to 256GB sup­ported) for more space.

Un­der the hood

The Tab S3 comes with a quad­core Snap­dragon 820 pro­ces­sor and 4GB RAM, and runs on An­droid 7.0 (Nougat). Samsung has, of course, in­cluded its TouchWiz user in­ter­face, which has steadily im­proved over the years and is now user friendly and use­ful.

Samsung has also cut down on the num­ber of pre-in­stalled apps to re­duce the bloat. Aside from a few essen­tials and cus­tom­ary Google apps, you will only find some Mi­crosoft apps and a hand­ful of Samsung apps upon first boot­ing up the de­vice.

We tested the Tab S3’s gam­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties with a va­ri­ety of pop­u­lar games, in­clud­ing Su­per Mario Run, Sub­way Surfers and Tem­ple Run 2. It han­dled all the games with ease and did not ex­hibit any slow­downs at all, not even when I tried the graph­ics-in­ten­sive War Machines Tank Shooter Game.

The de­vice heated up slightly after ex­tended game­play, but never to the point where it be­came a cause for con­cern.

Samsung has a float­ing gam­ing tool that ap­pears when play­ing games that can, among other things, si­lence all no­ti­fi­ca­tions, dis­able the soft keys and record a video of the game. It will also com­pile all your games in one folder for easy ac­cess.

With a 6,000mAh bat­tery, the Tab S3 should be able to give you a full day’s worth of us­age with ease. I man­aged to get about 20 hours of standby time with six hours of ac­tively us­ing the tablet, in­clud­ing over four hours of heavy gam­ing. The Tab S3 has a USB Type C port that supports fast charg­ing – the Tab S3 reached full charge from 15% be­fore two hours.

Note-wor­thy

The S Pen sty­lus that comes in the box with the Tab S3 is big­ger and thicker than the past ver­sions found on the Galaxy Note se­ries. It’s about the size of a reg­u­lar pen so it feels nat­u­ral to hold and is com­fort­able to use for pro­longed pe­ri­ods.

The only draw­back is that you can’t at­tach the sty­lus to the tablet, so you need to carry it around sep­a­rately. This should not be a prob­lem for those who use Samsung’s of­fi­cial cas­ings, as they have a holder for the sty­lus.

It may not look pretty and it does take away some of the cas­ing’s flex­i­bil­ity, but it does a com­mend­able job of keep­ing the sty­lus safe as you move about.

The tip of the S Pen is only 0.7mm thick which makes it more pre­cise for writ­ing. The pre-in­stalled Samsung Notes app is a great way to show off the S Pen’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

I was par­tic­u­larly im­pressed with the op­tion to use a brush as the in­put method. I felt like a kid who has just dis­cov­ered water­colour paint­ing again, as over­lap­ping dif­fer­ent colours in the app will cause them to mix, just like the ac­tual thing.

For some­one like me who has not touched a brush ever since art class in secondary school, this was fun, but in the hands of a more artis­tic per­son, the S Pen could prove to be a valu­able tool.

Also, as the tablet is ca­pa­ble of recog­nis­ing 4,096 lev­els of pres­sure from the S Pen, dif­fer­ent strokes will give dif­fer­ent re­sults.

Mul­ti­task­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties is usu­ally an im­por­tant fac­tor for those who pur­chase a tablet, es­pe­cially if it is for pro­duc­tiv­ity pur­poses. The Tab S3 achieves this us­ing the multi-window fea­ture that has been a tra­di­tion with Samsung de­vices ever since the Note 2.

The Tab S3 boasts a 13-megapixel main cam­era. How­ever, as with most tablets, the pic­tures didn’t turn out too great as they were a bit soft. The 5-megapixel front-fac­ing cam­era, on the other hand, is good for video calls and the oc­ca­sional selfie.

Con­clu­sion

Like its pre­de­ces­sors, the Tab S3 is a great op­tion for those who want an An­droid tablet with a lot of fire­power. It’s great for leisure and work, and is more ver­sa­tile than ever as it comes with an S Pen.

If you are get­ting the tablet, we also rec­om­mend buy­ing the Book Case for keep­ing the S Pen safe.

— Pho­tos: Samsung

The tip on the S Pen is only 0.7mm thick for a more nat­u­ral writ­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The AKG speak­ers on the back will re­di­rect sound based on the ori­en­ta­tion of the tablet.

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