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Thread: Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 review

  1. #1
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    Jul 2018

    Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 review

    DCís latest tablet numbers tell a familiar story. Shipments are down yet again, a trend that shows no sign of abating. There is, however, one clear bright spot in all of this, bucking the trend.

    Quarter after quarter, convertibles have continued to grow, as users have demanded more productivity than is traditionally possible with slates. Itís no surprise, then, that Apple, Microsoft, Google and Samsung are all vying for mindshare. The convertible segment may still be small, but at least itís moving in the right direction.

    Samsungís shifted approaches a number of times over the years. Say what you will about the companyís approach to devices, but at least the companyís everything-and-the-kitchen-sink model has allowed them to stay limber for such a hulking hardware behemoth. The Galaxy Tab S4 simultaneously finds the company building on existing technology, while attempting to reinvent the wheel in the process.

    The Tab S4 isnít a radical departure from its predecessor, save for one key thing: DeX. The brand, which previously referred to smartphone docking stations for Galaxy handsets, is now the name of the custom desktop version of Android Samsung built. The change clearly hasnít fully taken, however ó Samsungís official DeX site has yet to reflect the move as of this writing. But, then, the companyís clearly been busy these past few weeks.

    Porting it over to the tablet means the company can offer a device thatís capable of doing double duty as both a standard slate tablet and a makeshift laptop. Itís also a roundabout of way of not relying on Windows 10 on the Galaxy line. After all, the ability to switch modes has long been the operating systemís raison díÍtre, so this really feels like a thumb in the eye of Microsoft. Given the recent well-received launch of the Surface Go, however, I suspect the companyís not really sweating the slight.

    I didnít get a great justification from Samsung as to the motivation behind the move ahead of launch. I suspect the whole thing boils down to control ó something youíre afforded a lot more of when you work with Android vs. Windows. Thereís also the fact that Windows 10 doesnít have nearly the selection of apps you get with Android ó definitely a major factor if youíre working with the more locked down/tablet-friendly 10 S.

  2. #2
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    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    DeX in effect

    The result is something of a mixed bag. I will say that the DeX layout looks better on the 10.5-inch display, rather than the big, curved DeX docking monitor, where the Android icons feel entirely out of place.

    For the most part, the DeX version of Android operates the same as the standard tablet version, allbeit with smaller icons. The desktop features three by default: My Files, Gallery and Settings. With the latter, you can adjust the DeX settings, so the OS automatically switches to the mode when you plug the tablet into the keyboard dock (though not the other way around, oddly).

    Iíd prefer it if the DeX settings were more easily accessible in the drop down menu, but one gets the impression that Samsungís still working out some of the kinks on this one. Also, while itís possible to get it to auto switch, the tablet screen always switches off when removed from the dock. A slight nuisance, but not the end of the world.

    The biggest nuisance is, predictably, the same issue you run into on ChromeOS ever since Google allowed Play Store access. There simply arenít that many apps optimized for the mode. You can access them through the Apps for Samsung Desk header located in the familiar Android apps menu. The company didnít disclose the number of compatible apps for good reason. There are like 16. On the upside, the company teamed with Microsoft for Word/PowerPoint/Excel ó all important inclusions when youíre pushing productivity on your shiny new device.

    There are some other big names here, like Amazon WorksSpaces and The New York Times. Thereís also Deezer, which seems to be eager to get on any operating system that will have them, bless their hearts. Thereís also TripAdvisor and Craigslist, neither of which I would honestly put on my list of must-need desktop apps.

    The main issue with the unoptimized apps is scalability ó and the fact that theyíre not designed to work well with the mouse input (which is, admittedly, optional). They do run, but opening them to full screen size requires restarting the app every time. One assumes, however, that more companies will get on board if the new Tab proves a hit for the company.

    Iím not really convinced that DeX was the right choice over Android here, but at the very least, it gives the company room to grow on that side of things. It also offers an important differentiator over the iPad Pro, which has introduced some desktop-like functionality, but still relies on standard iOS. Appleís been wary to blur the lines between desktop and laptop too much, relinquishing the upper hand to Samsung here.

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