Samsung hurls SuperAMOLED missile at iPad

Moves into double figures in terms of 2014 tablet launches, with video-optimized Galaxy Tab S devices

By Caroline Gabriel

Samsung's biggest weapon in the mobile device war is its screen technology, and it has deployed that aggressively with its latest tablet, the Galaxy Tab S, which features a SuperAMOLED display, sporting resolution of 2560x1600.

The latest additions to Samsung's confusingly broad tablets portfolio comes in two sizes, 10-4-inch and 8.4-inch, and are seen as important devices for the Korean firm, as it tries to increase its 22% share of the tablet space, recorded in the first quarter, and squeeze Apple's 33%. It has high hopes - iPad sales were a low point in the US giant's most recent quarterly results, and its share has slipped from around 40% a year ago.

This is the first time Samsung has deployed SuperAMOLED for larger-screened products rather than smartphones. In other respects, it is matching or bettering iPad specs - the Tab S models are slimmer than the latest iPads, at 6.6mm rather than 7.5mm, and have slightly higher pixel density, at 287ppi for the larger model and 359ppi for the smaller. The iPad Air has 264ppi and the iPad Mini sports 326ppi.

The Tab S also features Samsung's Adaptive Display technology, which changes the screen's saturation and brightness while certain apps are being used, and adjusts white balance on the fly depending on ambient light. The model is heavily geared to video, promising 11 hours of 1080p video playback, an increased color range and HD quality.

The Samsung devices come with 16Gbytes of capacity and WiFi-only. They run Android 4.4 KitKat and the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa CPU with 3Gbytes of RAM. The eight-core processor switches between a 1.9GHz quad-core element, and a lower power 1.3GHz quad-core option, depending on the task, to extend battery life. The products are priced from $500 and $400 respectively.

Device success is about content and storage as well as local specs these days, and Samsung announced a limited-time offer of 50Gbytes of free Box cloud storage plus HD videos from its Netflix partnership.

Samsung has released 11 tablet models so far this year, adopting its habitual scattergun approach and trying to provide a slate for every user profile, rather than relying on just one or two flagship offerings. 2014 has seen the launch of three new Galaxy Tab models (Tab 4), a new Tab 3 Lite, three Tab Pro models, the Galaxy Note Pro, and the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook (in partnership with Barnes & Noble). This does not take account of different storage options and other variations, and in addition, Samsung is still actively selling older devices such as the Note and Tab 3 families.

There will always be debate over whether Samsung confuses the market by having so many variations, as well as increasing its own R&D and marketing burdens - though of course, the opposite criticism is usually levelled at Apple, which despite the Mini and the bifurcated iPhone range, has been slow to design new devices, especially for lower cost markets.X

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