I am shocked to discover it’s not crap at all!
More later. Wish I had my damn camera for video proof.
Same-day update after the break.
I didn’t want to do a separate post, so I’m adding to this one.
I have to confess I’m a bit excited by this tablet. I know that everyone who can afford Retina-class screens has dissed the Tab A series. I can’t speak to the other tablets on the low end that Samsung has produced, but I think the new Tab A series raises the bar for what’s considered “low-end.” And yes, I know the prices are more than “low-end,” but still.
When you buy cheap, you get crap; it’s that’s simple. And crap is exemplified in spades with that Trio tablet I’ve looked at more than once. If people say the Tab A series is too expensive, well, they should see how really expensive that US$99 Trio tablet is by comparison.
US$99 will buy something that is likely to drop dead — one way or another, through substandard battery or substandard components or substandard USB port — within a month, as users have testified. Think of the per-day cost of that.
For a little more than double that price, a Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 buys peace of mind. Something isn’t going to suddenly drop dead and leave a buyer feeling like a sucker. The per-day cost would be minimal in comparison.
But it’s not just the build and component quality. It’s the speed.
Let me preface this by saying the tablet I nano-fondled was likely in demo mode all day. I cleared out everything that was running but anyone will confirm the best way to have a clean slate is with a total reboot — which I didn’t do (because if the tablet was password locked, I didn’t want to drag over a sales clerk).
So, coming out of demo mode, there was a wee bit of sluggishness to begin with. But that cleared up fast and the tablet was speedy.
Unfortunately, the Google Play app wasn’t tied to a demo account, so I had to use the APK Downloader site to snag Foxit PDF to try. I also tried the monster-sized full version of The American Magazine; Surface Japan; and The People of the Abyss (see the Google Books PDF Test page).
I again verified that Foxit has a text rendering problem. Click the image at the top of this post and see how low-res the text is. No other PDF app that I’ve tried does that. I think Foxit is being a bit coy, using a low-res proxy image to speed up page turns. That’s an unfortunate cheat because a reader must pinch-out to get cleanly-rendered text. That’s just not how a PDF reader app should do business.
As it was, I was surprised by the speed of the rendering in all three test PDFs. But again, keep in mind that I think Foxit is really cheating here.
But it got me excited.
As a point of comparison, here’s the iPad Mini 2 with Surface Japan:
The Tab A 8.0 with Foxit was a hell of a lot faster than that! But let’s keep in mind that Foxit seems to display a low-res proxy image. I need to try a PDF app that will do a full-resolution rendering of text.
I wanted to try other PDF apps, but I was pressed for time today. I downloaded FB Reader because someone mentioned in a past Comment that it did PDFs. Well, it was a pain to download. When it finally installed, it said a PDF plug-in was required and tried to fetch it via Google Play — which it couldn’t do, because no demo account was tied to the app. Thus: FAIL.
Using APK Downloader is a royal pain. It tends to pop up an ad or spawn a separate ad tab. Very, very irritating.
It didn’t help matters that all of the tabs required a Refresh if I bounced out of the browser — I was using Chrome — and popped back in. I didn’t have large tabs open, so this was disappointing given the 1.5MBs of RAM.
The camera is not as good as I was led to believe by early reports. If you don’t enlarge an image at all, it looks beautiful. The moment it’s pinched-out, all hell breaks loose with pixelation. I’m not at all sure it’s any better than the one in the Note 8.0 I tried earlier. Samsung better not pull that with the upcoming S2 tablets!
Video from the camera looks stunning, however, even when taken inside a Best Buy.
Overall, I liked what little I got to try.
And like I said, I think Samsung has raised the bar for “low-end.” I know that tablets from China have Retina-class screens for the same price Samsung is asking. But none of those brands have Samsung’s global-class quality and I really doubt they’d outlast a Samsung tablet (cue the Comments that say otherwise!).
Strangely, there doesn’t seem to be a default PDF viewer built into this tablet. When I tapped on a PDF file itself, I was given the choice to open it in Foxit or Drive PDF Viewer (what?).
Oh, there’s one big problem. And I don’t know what to do about it.
There’s no Menu button on the Tab A series! There’s a physical Home button flanked by a Multitask button on the left and a Back button on the right.
It turns out Foxit needs a Menu button!
Screensnap of the same version of Foxit via a Samsung Galaxy SIII:
I couldn’t find any way to call up that menu on the Tab A 8.0!
And that Menu leads to …
… a whole bunch of Settings that are inaccessible. (Unfortunately, none of those Settings affect text rendering!)
So… that’s a problem. Does anyone know how to get around it?
Anyway, if I needed a Triage Tablet — and so far I don’t — I’d buy it and I wouldn’t feel like I was throwing away money.