Google Books PDF Test: Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0


With my camera still MIA, this post lacks photos and video. What it has instead are screensnaps from the Tab A 8.0 itself that I uploaded to WordPress from Best Buy.

I went to the same Best Buy as yesterday. Only to find they wiped their demo Tab A 8.0 overnight and Foxit Mobile PDF and the test PDFs were gone. Plus, the salesman recognized me and said, “Welcome back” (translation: “Oh, fuck. Not you again!”).

So I decided to try another Best Buy.

The one yesterday had a black Tab A 8.0. Today’s new Best Buy had the Tab A 8.0 in white. And it’s bloody gorgeous! The front looks like any other premium Samsung tablet, with that glossy white surface and silver trim. The back is a matte white. The entire thing is just lustworthy.

Having had my fill of Foxit Mobile PDF yesterday, I decided to try three different PDF apps. Since this Tab A 8.0 also wasn’t set up with a Google Play Store demo account, I had to resort to using the APK Downloader site (see the Google Books PDF Test page).

As can be seen from this screensnap, downloading did not go smoothly …


… having duplicates was maddening. In the Notification view, I couldn’t find any way to stop a duplicate download.


Trying to swipe away a duplicate didn’t work. Tapping and hold changed the listing to “Download Manager” — but then tapping or swiping on that did nothing. Something’s not right with that. It used to be possible to kill a duplicate download in my past tests. Not this time.

Also, that damn Samsung demo app kept churning in the background. There was no way to kill it at all. I tried. I’m not sure how much this affected the testing, though. Having it in the background didn’t seem to affect the speed of the browser, downloads, apps launching, or anything else.

Anabrang in Comments earlier today recommended Xodo Docs to me. So I grabbed it:


It did not go well at all …


… Blur-O-Vision of Surface Japan as it brought Xodo to its knees trying to render the page.

And it got even worse with the full 290MB version of The American Magazine:


The app would freeze mid-page turn as it tried to render something.

And too often the rendering time was so damn slow:


But when I gave it time to work — a very irritating delay — the text was rendered in high-resolution, unlike Foxit Mobile PDF:


All in all, Xodo was worthless on the Tab A 8.0.

An experiment revealed that there is some sort of PDF viewer built into the Tab A 8.0:


But I couldn’t figure out what it was. I couldn’t get to Settings or any About. If I recall correctly, the sole menu selector (at top) had two options: Print and Share.

Next up was PDF Reader, which really needs to ditch the iBooks 1.0 look:





No matter what I tried in the various Settings, I couldn’t get it to do horizontal paging. Not that it mattered anyway. It was also unacceptably slow.

The last test app was ezPDF Reader Free Trial:




Um, yeah:



It too was very, very slow.

But when it rendered, it was high-resolution all the way.


Oh, I fully realize how unfair a test this was. Asking a Snapdragon 410 to render Google Books PDFs at any sort of acceptable speed is a fool’s quest. But I wanted to satisfy my curiosity and see if anything had advanced in terms of hardware and software. Nope, nothing has.

Everything now depends on the upcoming Tab S2 series.

A final note: All of this took well over an hour to do. My neck had been craned over the demo tablet for so long that I needed to get away. So I forgot to do an AnTuTu test for the score! We’ll have to see that from someone else. I also forgot to try it with the PubMed site.

I still like the tablet but I wouldn’t use it for Google Books PDFs at all.

Previously here:

Google Books PDFs category

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Filed under Google Books PDFs, iPad Mini Clones

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