Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 – Best in Class – For Now

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What is It? – The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is, for the moment, the best Android tablet money can buy.  That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but it certainly is impressive.  The design is beautiful, to begin with – a glass back panel, an almost breathtaking display, all surrounded by a sleek aluminum frame. It is almost paper thin, only 2/10 of an inch thick.

It has a 9.7″ screen, the same size as the comparable iPad Pro.  The AMOLED display is perhaps the best we’ve seen on any tablet, showing movies with a clarity and depth of color that’s simply terrific.  It actually makes watching a movie on a tablet something I can look forward to.  It is HDR ready, which means that as HDR content becomes available, you’ll be able to see it in its full glory. Unfortunately, there’s almost none of it yet.  But at least, if you have the Tab S3 you’ll be ready when it shows.

We ran our Netflix streaming test and found little buffering.  Watching downloaded video was pure bliss. It also comes with four AKG speakers by Harman Kardon, one in each corner.  So whether you’re watching a movie in landscape mode, or listening to music in portrait mode, you’ll have solid sound.  We tested it with Amazon music and found the sound can fill a room. The sound quality is quite good, though when it goes loud, it does get tinny. Then again, I think most folks watching a movie on this screen will probably plug in a decent set of headphones that will resolve that issue.  For casual listening, these speakers are better than most.

The S3 comes with Samsung’s S-Pen, made famous by its Note series.  The pen never needs charging, and it’s oblong so it won’t roll off the desk, but still feels good in your hand.  It’s very sensitive and will let you draw with fine lines.  At the same time, the S-Pen software suite will let you take notes, something the 50+ audience may still like to do since you can do it more quickly than activating the virtual keyboard.

Speaking of keyboards, you can get a real Bluetooth one for the Tab S3.  But it will cost you another $129. It is not backlit, and when you pop in the tablet, the viewing angle is not adjustable.  When you take it out the Tab S3 goes dark, so you cannot smoothly transition from keyboard back to tablet.  While the keys are big enough, I felt like this lashup was a little flimsy.

It uses a peppy Qualcomm Snapdragon processor so you won’t have performance problems. It has a 13MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera.  It’s available in either silver or black and comes with 32GB of memory standard.  Battery life is quite good, rated at about 12 hours, so you can do a lot of binge watching.

Is It 50+ Friendly? – The Galaxy S3 sets up quite easily, going through the usual Android checklist. It took me a few minutes to find the accessibility settings and create a font size and screen options with which I was comfortable.  It has Google Voice Assistant and text-to-speech options.

Frustration Factor? –  I found it somewhat challenging to get the pinch and zoom function to work to my liking.  And I find that in general accessibility on Apple’s iOS devices is easier to use than on Android.  I’m also a bit frustrated about having HDR capability but almost no HDR content.  Obviously, that’s not Samsung’s fault.

Is It Worth the Money? –  This is one pricey little package.  The base model comes in at just under $600.  Add the keyboard for $129 and you’re at just under $730 for the whole enchilada.  If you’re looking for a tablet that focuses on productivity, it may not be worth it. If, however, you really want the ultimate entertainment experience in a sleek, sharp, lightweight tablet, you’re just not going to do better at any price.

 

 

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Gary is an award-winning journalist who has been covering technology since IBM introduced its first personal computer in 1981. Beginning at NBC News, then at ABC News, Ziff Davis, CNN, and Fox Business Network. Kaye has a history of “firsts”. He was the first to bring a network television crew to the Comdex Computer Show, the first technology producer on ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, the first to produce live coverage of the Solar Power International Conference, and the creator of the Fox Business Network signature series, “Three Days In The Valley”. Along the way he created the History Channel Multimedia Classroom. He has been a contributor to both AARP’s website and to AARP radio, as well as to a handful of other print and web-based publications where he specializes in issues involving boomers/seniors and technology. He has been a featured speaker and moderator at industry events such as the Silvers Summit and Lifelong Tech Conferences at CES, the M-Enabling Health Summit, and the What’s Next Baby Boomer Business Summit. His column, “Technology Through Our Eyes” appears in half a dozen newspapers and websites across the country.

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