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Monster-sized tablet with impressive display

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra

€1,179

How big is too big when it comes to a tablet? Apple stretched to the 12.9 inch iPad Pro some years back, and that had people thinking it might be pushing it beyond the bounds of portable tablet.

But anything Apple can do, Samsung can have a bash at too. You’d be forgiven for looking at the Samsung Galaxy S8 Ultra and thinking that this one might have finally crossed the line. It’s a monster-sized tablet.

Its screen space rivals my large laptop, with a 14.8 inch Super Amoled display. In fact, when you take it out of the box, it’s a little intimidating. Super thin, but very big, the S8 Ultra is a slab and a half.

It’s a slab with 128GB of space and 8GB of RAM. The wifi-enabled tablet is billed as the perfect device for work, entertainment and multitasking.

And it is to a point. That screen looks fantastic, and there is certainly a lot of space to move things around. You can have up to three apps side-by-side in split screen view, allowing you to work across calendar apps, documents and email.

There are some ways it doesn’t work out as well though. For one, a laptop has a built-in stand for that screen; the tablet does not. You’ll need some form of keyboard case to make this device mimic the convenience of a laptop, but that’s an optional extra you’ll need to spend a couple of hundred euro on.

Still, that display is impressive, with plenty of space for you to multitask and work across. It’s a shame that there aren’t more apps out there to take full advantage of what the S8 Ultra has to offer in terms of screen space. It works fine for Samsung created apps, but even full screen in YouTube gets the black bar treatment.

There is no denying that the Tab S8 Ultra looks good. It has thin bezels, rounded corners and a front facing camera that is positioned so you can make and take video calls without having to position your tablet at an awkward angle.

It sounds good too, with the speakers tuned by Samsung’s AKG brand.

Inside the box you get the tablet and charging cable but, despite dropping over €1,000 on this tablet, there is no mains plug included. It’s not entirely unexpected; companies have dropped the charging plug from the smartphone packages, ostensibly to cut down on electronic waste. But given that it is a tablet, and it costs over €1,000, they could have included a higher capacity charger in the box.

As it was, it was mildly inconvenient when the battery dropped so low it needed longer than usual to charge before it would even turn on. I was lucky to have a high capacity laptop charger that was compatible with it, because I lost patience waiting for the regular USB plug to get the job done.

What Samsung does include, though, is the S Pen stylus. That was a nice surprise; usually it’s an extra you have to buy, pushing up the cost another €100 or so. So points to Samsung for that one. The pen itself is nice to use, and although its not quite like paper, you can easily take notes on the device, switching between your preferred writing implement, whether that is fountain pen, pencil or regular biro style.

It all seems a bit niche though, and nothing you can’t do just as well on the smaller Tab S8 devices.

While the screen is impressive, and the device itself looks great, it’s just hard to see what the use case for a device this size is. It is difficult to hold it comfortably in one hand for reading e-books, browsing websites or taking notes. It’s not that it is heavy, it’s just the sheer size of it puts it out of balance.

The good

Lots of space for multitasking, so you can comfortably use three apps side-by-side. However, this works best with Samsung-built apps. Not all apps can be used in split screen view, although the most likely culprits – email, notes, documents – usually are.

The camera setup is also good, with a wide angle and ultra wide angle dual camera on the rear, and a similar dual set up on the front for video conferencing.

The not so good

The size of the tablet is both a benefit and a drawback. You can’t hold it one handed for long, and you’ll need to invest a bit in a decent keyboard case if you plan to use it for work. The official Samsung one is almost €250. There’s no mobile data option either and the lack of a mains adapter in the box is irritating, given the price.

The rest

The Tab S8 Ultra comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage space, but you can expand the latter with a microSD card. The S Pen is included, so you can get started with your note taking straight away.

The verdict: Three stars

A niche product that looks great. However, the lower priced, regular-sized Tab S8 models will probably be more than enough for most users.

Samsung.com



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