Tablets are still a thing: Samsung launches Tab S3 and Galaxy Book

The South Korean tech titan also talked up its role in 5G

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
Tablet that does it all? The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

Last things first. Samsung closed its press event with a teaser video for the company’s next flagship device that many have been eagerly waiting for — the Galaxy S8. It will be officially unveiled on March 29 at a special Unpacked gathering. But for starters, we got a look at its Tab S3 and Galaxy Book devices.

Samsung kicked off the event with an apology for not living up to the high standards it had set for itself, and one that consumers have come to expect. Yes, the Note 7 fiasco has cast a long shadow, and Samsung used the press meet to reassure everyone that it will regain consumer trust through actions instead of mere words.

David Lowes, SVP and CMO of Samsung Electronics, Europe, then turned his attention to the next big thing for mobile networks — 5G, which promises blistering speeds and instant connectivity. You could download 4K movies in mere seconds — assuming, of course, you get a stable signal.

Samsung aspires to play a big role in the global 5G roll-out, and talked about its commercial 5G network portfolio of products targeted at operators as well as home users. Commercial deployment will begin early next year and the “future is going to be fast”. 

Tablets that do it all

The Galaxy Tab S3: for work and play

5G gave way to the main announcement for the evening — the tablet that Samsung had teased in its invite. There are two of these. Or rather, three — the Android-powered Galaxy Tab S3 with a 9.7-inch display, and two Windows hybrids sporting 10.6 and 12-inch screens.

Samsung claims the Tab S3 marks a turning point in the history of tablets, and has been designed as a versatile product that can do it all. It has been specifically created for consumers who don’t want to feel restricted by what they do on a tablet, whether it’s work or play.

So for video buffs, Samsung has packed in a 9.7-inch QXGA (2,048×1,536) resolution panel that supports HDR, delivering a deeper contrast and wider colour gamut. There is even a blue-light filter for late-night viewing — this feature was first introduced on the Note 7, and later ported to the S7. For gamers, the tablet supports Vulkan APIs and the result should be smoother gameplay.

Immersion is further enhanced by four speakers plus support for Dolby Atmos — Samsung calls the tablet a home theatre in a portable form factor. The speakers have been tuned by AKG, a company renowned for its audiophile-grade headphones, and are apparently loud enough to eliminate the need for external speakers. Another neat idea is audio rotate — similar to the screen switching from portrait to landscape, the audio automatically rotates depending on the orientation.

The Tab S3 is packed in glass panels and an aluminium frame. It weights only 429g and will be available in silver or black options. The 6,000mAh battery is good enough for 12 hours of video playback. AKG-branded headphones will be included in the box. Also included will be the latest iteration of the S-Pen, which has evolved over the years and now promises to deliver “realistic writing”. Samsung has partnered with Staedtler on a special digital stylus that mimic its iconic Noris pencil. We’ll resist the temptation to drag in a certain fruity company that also sells a digital pencil for its tablets.

PC on the go

The Samsung Galaxy Book can give Microsoft Surface hybrids a run for their money

Moving to the Windows side of tablets, Samsung launched two Galaxy Book models “for people always on the go”. Apparently, these are devices that can do everything a PC does — and does not. Samsung has added in S-Pen features that should, in theory, make the device more versatile than a regular hybrid. In fact, the integration has even reached Adobe PhotoShop.

The 12-inch device is powered by an Intel Gen 7 Core i5 processor and up to 8GB of RAM, while the 10.5-incher runs off Gen 7 Core m3 processor and 4GB RAM. Meanwhile, the Tab S3 ticks by on an older Snapdragon 820 and 4GB RAM. Detailed specs and comparison available here.

Samsung’s last announcement was the Gear VR Controller, a hand remote with a touchpad. It can be used by current and new users of the Gear VR headset, supposedly making gaming and navigation in VR “more immersive, more enjoyable”. A big caveat — support for it needs to be coded in by VR game and app developers.