Samsung’s new ‘age of enlightenment’

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Galaxy Tab S ‘raises the bar’ of the tablet viewing experience – for other manufacturers to follow

Samsung this month officially launched the Galaxy Tab S as it looks to continue to erode Apple’s dominance in the market in a move it says “raises the bar” on tablet experience.

The Samsung Galaxy Premiere 2014 event at Madison Square Garden in New York was on June 12 – and Mobile News was there.

According to Samsung president and head of sales and marketing for the group’s IT and mobile communications division DJ Lee, who kicked off the event, tablet sales are set to top 290 million this year – and Samsung’s market share in the space has now more than doubled from 10 per cent in 2011 to 22 per cent as of Q1 this year.

The growth adds further strain to Apple’s iPad share, which has dominated the tablet space since its first iteration was launched in April 2010 – five months before Samsung debuted its Galaxy Tab.

Whilst Samsung’s share continues to rise, Apple’s has fallen from 33.9 per cent globally at the end of last year to 28.9 per cent in the first three months of this year. Shipments in Q1 2014 also fell 16 per cent year-on-year to 16.4 million units.

Analysts eMarketer predicted in May (see table) that Apple’s iPad growth began to slow two years ago and will continue for the next four years, with the overall percentage of tablet users with an iPad almost halving by 2018, providing huge opportunities to the chasing pack.

“For Samsung, our successful growth in tablets is well aligned with the overall expansion of the market. The growth has been rapid year-on-year and is expected to continue. According to analysts, tablet shipments could reach 290 million worldwide by 2014, and eventually tablets will surpass sales of laptop and desktop computers.

“In 2011 our market share was less than 10 per cent – in the three years since we have doubled that share to more than 22 per cent. Our new product will continue this momentum.

“Understanding market trend is important, but that’s nothing without commitment and execution. “We have made a commitment to tablet as we strongly believe in its market potential and have devoted substantial resources not only to hardware but also content and service. That commitment has generated the results.”

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Clear vision
The Galaxy Tab S, which will come in two sizes – 8.4-inches and 10.5-inches – is just 6.6mm thick. It is thinner than all iPad models produced by Apple and only beaten by the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet, which is 6.4mm thick.

However, the main feature Samsung pushed, and the one that will no doubt lead its marketing drive throughout the summer, is the Super AMOLED screen – the first to feature on a tablet.

Lee referred to internal research Samsung had undertaken as one of the reasons behind focusing on screen quality. Of those questioned, 67 per cent said the most important use for a tablet would be web browsing, while 66 per cent opted for watching videos.

“The Galaxy Tab S truly draws a line between the tablets available and what comes next. This raises the bar for the viewing experience on a tablet with the Super AMOLED display,” he said.

“The launch of the Galaxy Tab S brings our customers the experience they have asked for in a tablet. This is a culmination of tireless innovation in visual display.”

Samsung Electronics America senior vice president IT product marketing Michael Abary also took to the stage to discuss the decision to include the Super AMOLED screen on the Galaxy Tab S, which produces 2560 x 1600 pixels that Samsung claimed is twice the quality of an HD screen.

It has a 100,000:1 contrast ratio, which is 100 times more than that found on an LCD screen, which Samsung said makes images more realistic by making blacks darker and whites brighter. The Super AMOLED screen is 40 per cent less reflective than its LCD equivalent when placed in bright light, it claimed.

Eye for detail
Samsung has also incorporated its “Adaptive Display” technology, which adjusts to the content being viewed. For example, when users are reading an e-book on the Galaxy Tab S, it sharpens the text and makes background tone softer in an attempt to reduce eye strain.

Abary also said the Super AMOLED screen uses less energy than other tablet displays, with the 4,900mAh battery on the 8.4-inch model and the 7,900mAh battery on the 10.5-inch variant producing 11 hours of continuous power.

“The key is that Super AMOLED and LCD screens produce colours differently. The latter can’t admit light on their own – they need a backlight, colour filters, a light diffuser and other layers to create the image. All these layers blank out some of the light that would otherwise reach your eye and also add to the thickness of the display.

“While LCDs give you filtered colours, Super AMOLED gives you direct and unimpeded colours in detail. The sensor detects and analyses ambient light and then adjusts the white balance of the screen to improve overall visibility.

“For tablets, it is imperative that indoor and outdoor use are on a level playing field but until the Galaxy Tab S, that has not been the case. We have put so much effort into improving this.

“First, contrast enhancement automatically breaks down brightness into ‘bright’, ‘medium bright’ and ‘dark’, then applies different contrast values to each so the content is clearer and more visible in sunlight. Secondly, it is 40 per cent less reflective than an LCD screen. The experience is more enjoyable because you can actually see the Galaxy Tab S screen clearly.”

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Hardware
In terms of specific hardware features, the Galaxy Tab S will be powered by either a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.3GHz quad-core processor or combines 1.9GHz quad-core and 1.3GHz quad-core processor (depending on region). It will run the Android KitKat 4.4 operating system.

The tablet also features an eight-megapixel rear camera with LED flash and 2.1-megapixel full HD front camera. It has 3GB of RAM and either 16GB or 32GB of internal memory that can be expanded by 128GB with a microSD card.

The Galaxy Tab S will also be the first tablet from Samsung to feature fingerprint recognition. Up to eight people can have their own home screen and applications, with up to three fingerprints per person registered on the device.

Like the Galaxy S5 smartphone, the tablet features “Kids Mode”, a parental control application from Samsung that limits the functions children can access on the device.

Content
A range of pre-loaded content also comes on the Galaxy Tab S. Galaxy Gifts has seen the manufacturer partner with more than 30 global mobile content and service providers to offer services across a range of industries. Abary claimed Samsung will have an offer tailored for everyone through this service.

Services include “Kindle for Samsung”, which is exclusive to customers of the manufacturer, offering a free e-book every month through “Samsung Book Deals”, as well as access to a selection of e-books in the Kindle Store.

Others include Dropbox offering 50GB of free cloud storage for two years, a one-year free subscription with Evernote, three months of LinkedIn Premium membership and a six-month free subscription to the Wall Street Journal.

Samsung’s magazine service Papergarden debuts on the Galaxy Tab S, and offers users a range of digital magazines. Included in this is a collaboration between the manufacturer and New York-based mass media company Conde Nast, which publishes popular global magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Glamour and GQ.

The Galaxy Tab S also features SideSync 3.0, which discovers and connects to the Galaxy S5. This is achieved through “Quick Connect”, which searches and connects to compatible nearby devices. Actions are performed using Wi-Fi Direct, which connects devices to each other without the need for a wireless access point.

When the connection is activated, call forwarding enables the user to receive calls on the tablet, also enabling them to send texts or images to the person they are speaking to via SMS.

For example, if a person is in the living room but their phone is in the bedroom charging and begins ringing, users will be able to take the call without having to return to the bedroom, with their Galaxy S5 screen showing up on the Tab S .

Samsung Telecommunications senior director Ryan Biden summed up: “The Galaxy Tab S takes us from the dark ages of display technology to the enlightenment, and the incredibly interesting content partnerships make for a very exciting future. We are proudly putting our flag in the ground.”

Full article in Mobile News issue 567 (June 30, 2014).

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