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[Review] Go Big or Go Home: The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra


Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra

RM5,899

Pros

Cons

+ Stunning display

- No charger included

+ Very powerful

- Very expensive

+ Book cover keyboard and S Pen included

- May be too big for some

+ Great for multitasking

Were the peeps at Samsung listening to the 2016 "Go Big or Go Home" when they were making the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra? Because it seems so. The 14.6" monster is the biggest tablet I've seen and reviewed. Laptops manufacturers seem to be challenging on cramming everything in a compact form factor but Samsung decides it should be the other way around for its tablets. Let's check out the review to see if it's worth all the money.

 

Design


Is this a tablet or a laptop? This is one HUGE tablet but very slim, measuring dimensions of 326 x 208 x 5.5mm. If you already have a laptop on your desk and there's no room for something this big, maybe consider another smaller device, like the 11" Tab S8.


Justifiable by its size, the Tab S8 Ultra is fairly heavy at 726g. But when you attach it with the magnetic stand and book cover keyboard that come along with the tablet, you get a total of 1.39kg, which makes it heavier than some laptops. Anyway, it comes in only one Graphite color option.

In landscape orientation, an array of quad-speaker system is divided on both the left and right edge. There's a microphone on the left and the USB-C charging port is on the right. You'll see the power button, volume rocker, a second microphone, and a SIM tray on the top. The three-pin connecter at the bottom can be used to connect to the keyboard. There's no headphone jack here, which means you need to connect your headphone via the USB-C port or wirelessly via Bluetooth.

The aluminum rear is clean with the Graphite matte finish, resisting fingerprints (if you actually hold it a lot). Adorned on the back are a small Samsung logo, a "Sound by AKG" branding, antennae lines, and a black strip meeting the dual rear camera module for charging the S Pen. On the front display, the equally slim bezels drop a notch to house two front-facing cameras. The chassis is made out of Samsung's armor aluminum and the display is protected by Gorilla Glass 5, but unfortunately, there's no IP rating for dust and water-resistant protection.

Although it's called a tablet, the S8 Ultra is heavy for one, especially when you want to hold it in one hand and the S Pen in another. It's actually pretty awkward to use as a laptop - people with small hands might find it hard to hold it and you'd feel fatigued after some time even if you have big hands. In Samsung's defense, it has put in efforts to keep the S8 Ultra as light as possible as it's slimmer than the S8 and S8+, despite weighing a lot more.

 

Display, Audio, and Cameras


The massive display of the S8 Ultra measures 14.6", beating out several laptops let alone tablets. The huge size may be bulky but it also means that you get to enjoy binge-watching Netflix dramas on a big screen and you have more screen space when working on multiple windows.

The AMOLED display has a super smooth 120Hz refresh rate, an 1848 x 2960 resolution, and HDR10+ support. I have to say that this tablet is really suitable for watching dramas or movies because the colors are vibrant and rich and the contrast is so on point. The 120Hz refresh rate also makes scrolling smooth and apps launching quick, though you can choose to lock it at 60Hz to conserve battery. Colors are also very accurate so if you're a creative, you'd love to work using the tablet, especially paired with the S Pen.


Samsung has integrated an in-display fingerprint scanner at the bottom of the screen in portrait orientation or at the right side in landscape orientation. It's sensitive and responds fast.

While the screen doesn't have Dolby Vision support, the four speakers spread on both edges support Dolby Atmos. The audio quality is impressive - clear and crisp - whether you're watching videos or listening to music.

On top of the display, horizontally, there's a notch that houses two front-facing cameras - a 12MP wide camera and a 12MP ultrawide camera. The two units are certainly good enough for video calls even though they don't perform as well as the rear cameras. You'll use the wide camera for taking selfies and the ultrawide for video calls to get multiple people in your field of view and the camera will intelligently follow you around a selected area when you're in the frame.

The 13MP main and 6MP ultrawide cameras at the back are pretty good (for tablets) when taking photos under bright light. The Camera app offers a few features such as Portrait mode, Night mode, Single Take, and more. In many cases, you wouldn't use the rear cameras on this one because the quality isn't as good as what you have on even budget phones and it's too bulky to carry around to capture photos.

 

Performance


The Tab S8 Ultra features the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, coupled with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. You'd know that this combination will give you top-notch performance and it does! It always keeps up with whatever task we throw at it, from the most basic social media and browsing to image and video editing as well as games, showing no sign of slowing down. Running multiple apps in split-screen mode for work is also a breeze for this beast. In any case, you can insert a microSD card to get up to 1TB of storage for your working files.

It's also a monster when it comes to gaming, easily handling even graphics-intensive games like Genshin Impact. I was expecting some overheating issues after playing because of the slim form factor but to my surprise, there's no such problem here. Despite the incredible performance, you can't deny that it's pretty hard to use the touch controls in-game because of the huge display. Admittedly, I enjoy playing Genshin with this device but navigating can get confusing sometimes, especially when I was in some panic situations.



At its helm is a big 11,200mAh battery with 45W fast charging support. For a display this huge and its top-tier specs, battery consumption is high. That said, it can still last for a full working day of use but you'd have to make sure to fill up the bar at the end of the day. Samsung claims that a full charge will take 82 minutes, and in our test, it took us 73 minutes to fully top up from 8%. Note that this figure isn't taken with a Samsung adapter because there simply isn't one included.

 

Software


The tablet runs Android 12 with Samsung's OneUI 4.1, which provides a seamless pairing, sharing, and transferring with other Samsung devices like the S22 Ultra, or S22+, or a pair of Galaxy Buds.

One of the major features that I love about Samsung tablets is the Samsung DeX, a desktop-like interface that is designed for work and productivity. When you pair the tablet with the keyboard case (which has a touchpad), it works just like a tablet. Samsung DeX works just nicely for me even though it will send out warnings of possible inconsistencies when I open certain apps. But I haven't faced any problems so far. Just like a desktop interface, I can launch as many windows as I need on the screen, at the same time.

Samsung DeX mode

Tablet mode

In the usual tablet mode, I think it's best that you open two apps simultaneously in the split-screen mode for the most comfortable viewing experience. If you need to look at some quick and short social media, you can drag the app to the middle to open as a pop-up window with the

 

Accessories

Included in the Tab S8 Ultra packaging are Samsung's book cover keyboard and S Pen. The S Pen stylus is a convenient tool, and it's bigger and feels sturdier than the S Pen working with the Galaxy phones. It feels like you're actually holding a real pen and it works well with the tablet.

Personally, I find it a great replacement for a mouse as I work faster with it instead of the touchpad. While I don't have an artist's hand, I enjoy scribbling notes using the S Pen but creatives would definitely love to use it for sketching on the large canvas.

The 2-in-1 book cover keyboard is important if you're using the tablet for work as it makes the Tab S8 Ultra function like a laptop. The top part acts as a stand for you to adjust the tablet according to your comfortable viewing angle, while the bottom part is the keyboard with a touchpad. Because of the huge display, the big keyboard provides enough space for me to rest my palm while typing.

I enjoy typing on the keyboard and it gives a very similar feel to when I was typing on a laptop. I like how the back cover has a dedicated compartment for the S Pen, protecting it all together with the tablet while it's charging. Since the book cover keyboard is included in the box, it's wise that you put it on the tablet because it sure feels like a protection on the back and the screen of the beast.

 

Buy or no buy


The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the best Android tablet that I've ever reviewed, from its display to its performance. It's certainly impressive for watching films and dramas, and it's great for work when you complete it with the keyboard and S Pen. The big-size display can be a huge plus for some but may also be a minus for others.

While I love the Tab S8 Ultra and its premium features, it's very expensive for a tablet. For RM5,899, you can get a laptop even cheaper than this. If you're considering purchasing it, I'd suggest that you make full use of its form factor in the laptop mode. But if you need a more affordable choice, you can simply go for the regular Tab S8.


#Samsung #GalaxyTabS8Ultra #review

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