The brand new Samsung Galaxy Tab S is playing the more-pixels-the-better game with its new 8.4-inch iPad mini competitor that bests Apple at least with those tiny dots. But do more pixels really matter? Our tests indicate they do. In a side-by-side comparison, we found it was just as good as the iPad (if not better) for crystal-clear reading books and magazines, cinema-like movie watching, and Web browsing without squinting.
Compared with the iPad mini with Retina display, the Tab S – even with a higher resolution – never felt sluggish. We put it to the test by reading the entire book Unbroken using the Google Play app. The result? No raging headache. Even movies looked better: The Liam Neeson thriller Non-Stop had more vibrant colors than an iPad mini, which we watched side-by-side with the Samsung during the same action scene. Once the movie started, the display became brighter and more saturated, maintaining its clear picture both indoors and out. You can thank the tablet’s Super AMOLED display and its adaptive features, which streamline the switch between a movie and a book without having to manually adjust the way the screen looks (brightness, colors, saturation) every time.
Like most Android tablets, you can install apps such as Angry Birds or Pandora, browse sites over Wi-Fi, and snap photos using the 8-megapixel camera (the iPad mini has 5), which successfully snapped colorful, sharp portraits of people and captured an action sequence. There’s even a built-in fingerprint scanner if you decide to use the Tab S for work or something more confidential.
Is it worth the $400? (The iPad mini with Retina display starts at $399.) Sure, especially when measured in pixels. (The iPad mini has fewer.) But forget the numbers – you’ll know it when you see it. [$400; samsung.com]