For the last few years, Samsung's tablets have been aimed squarely at the mid-range. But at CES 2014, the company pulled back the curtain on four new Galaxy tablets that finally put the high-end in their crosshairs. Let's see how one of those new slates, the Galaxy TabPRO 10.1, compares to Apple's iPad Air.
Whether it was intentional or not, the new Tab Pro's size is extremely close to that of the iPad Air. So if you've held an iPad Air, you already have a rough idea of how the new Galaxy Tab Pro will feel in hand.
The striking similarities don't end with size, as the Wi-Fi versions of each tablet weigh exactly the same. The LTE versions are also only a gram apart.
Remember that faux leather backing on the Galaxy Note 3? Apparently Samsung was happy with the fruits of its labor, because that "pleather" finish is found on all of the new mobile devices the company unveiled at CES.
When you look at each screen's total size (based on area), it's basically a wash: the iPad gives you 99 percent as much. Both displays are extremely sharp, but the Galaxy Tab's is especially striking, packing a whopping 299 pixels into each inch. We've seen it in person, and we can vouch that text, images, and colors really pop.
Samsung obviously sees the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 as a landscape-orientation tablet, with its navigation buttons positioned accordingly.
The iPad Air offers a couple more storage options, though the Galaxy Tab Pro helps to balance that out by supporting microSD cards.
On paper the Tab Pro looks like the clear winner here, but Apple's 64-bit A7 chip is a beast. We'll have to wait for some extended hands-on time with the Tab Pro to make any claims about performance, but we didn't see anything to worry about during our brief hands-on at CES.
Samsung's tablet doubles the iPad Air's 1 GB of RAM.
Both slates are sold in both Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi with cellular data versions.
Battery capacities are similar, but we'll have to put the Galaxy Tab through the paces before drawing any conclusions about its battery life. The iPad Air's uptimes are terrific: it lasted an insane eight hours and 40 minutes in our standard battery test (streaming video with brightness set at 75 percent).
Cameras probably aren't your biggest priority in choosing a tablet, but we're looking at 8-megapixel and 5-megapixel rear shooters here.
Like most of Samsung's other high-end devices from the last year, the Tab Pro includes an IR blaster. It lets you control your TV and cable/satellite box from your tablet.
A couple of years ago, you could count on Samsung devices shipping with outdated versions of Android. No more. Within the last year, the company has made a big push to launch with the latest version, and the Tab Pro is no exception. It ships with Android 4.4 KitKat.
In addition to Samsung's polarizing (is it feature-rich or bloated and gimmicky?) TouchWiz UI, the Korean company has added a new element to its home screen, dubbed Magazine UX. It's basically a series of permanent home screen widgets that bear more than a passing resemblance to Microsoft's tiled Windows 8 UI.
Samsung is also throwing in lots of free apps and services with its new Pro series of tablets. Buy the Tab Pro 10.1 and you'll get bundled content from providers like Dropbox, Bitcasa, Bloomberg Businessweek, and LinkedIn.
We still don't know the exact release dates for the new Galaxy tablets, but Samsung has said that they'll launch in Q1. Following patterns from other Samsung devices, we'd expect a gradual, region-by-region global rollout.
Samsung ended up matching the iPad Air's US$500 starting price.