Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 review: A premium slate in all but performance

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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

5 stars 1 user review

The Good The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is lightweight and comfortable to use, with a stylishly thin design that provides sufficient grip support. Performance is fast for simple tasks and it includes a ton of software perks.

The Bad $499 is an expensive starting price for any tablet. When multi-tasking, performance significantly lags with random freezes and unexplainable app crashes.

The Bottom Line The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 delivers everything casual tablet users will need, but it's all tied down to an inflated price tag that makes comparable options more attractive to budget-conscious shoppers.

7.7 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 8.0

One of Samsung's best 10-inch slates yet, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1, delivers a packed feature set and a trim design, but its variable performance, particularly when multitasking, makes it more like a rookie than a pro.

It's razor-sharp resolution and richly saturated colors are stunning from first glance, and the melt-in-your-hands design almost justifies its lofty starting price. However, its performance under pressure falls short of its professional title and premium pricing.

Samsung is known to price tablets as if they're imported from another galaxy and the 10-inch Tab Pro is yet another victim of the company's unfortunate practice. The comfortable design, top-of-the-line screen, and special software perks are the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1's most impressive features, but the Google Nexus 10 and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 offer a better value for similar specs.

Design

For a 10-incher, the tablet is surprisingly and impressively lightweight and compact. It's one of the thinnest 10-inch tablets to-date, but it's girthy enough for a solid feel. The thick top and bottom bezels and reflection caused by the silver trim's rounded edges gives the slate the illusion of being thicker than it is, but the slate feels more compact than it looks.

Tested spec Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 Google Nexus 10 Apple iPad (fourth generation) Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9
Weight in pounds 1 1.33 1.44 0.82
Width in inches (landscape) 9.6 10.4 7.3 9.1
Height in inches 6.7 6.9 9.5 6.2
Depth in inches 0.29 0.35 0.37 0.31
Side bezel width in inches (landscape) 0.5 0.9 0.8 0.7

Without sacrificing many cool-points, the tablet's design is very tactilely comfortable. It sports the faux-leather back and fake stitching that's seen on other Samsung Galaxy devices, and it provides a sufficiently grippy surface. The left and right bezels barely provide enough space to rest your thumbs, but I like their thinness.

For a large tablet, it's effortless and easy to hold in either one or both hands. The rounded corners are barely noticeable in your palms and, during elongated periods of use, my wrists only started to feel fatigued after about an hour, which -- for me -- is a long time to go without noticing I'm holding a screen to my face. I found typing on it to be awkward, if gripping with both hands -- like texting with a smartphone-- but those with larger hands should find it easier.

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The capacitive buttons on the bottom bezel don't get in the way when holding the tablet. James Martin/CNET

The location of the home and capacitive buttons on the bottom bezel of the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 work better than on its 8.4-inch counterpart. They don't interfere while holding the tablet in either landscape or portrait orientation and they respond quickly to touch.

The microSD card slot on the left edge -- expandable up to 64GB -- sleekly camouflages into the tablet's silver trim, like the power button and volume rocker on the top edge of the tablet. They both stick-out enough to be easily found, but are flush enough to the tablet's edge to maintain its good looks.

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The IR blaster allows you to use the tablet as a remote control. James Martin/CNET

The IR blaster is located in the center of the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1's top edge and the headphone jack is around the corner on the left edge, which conveniently keeps any cords out of your way. The dual stereo speakers are located on the top left and right edges, ensuring they won't be blocked when listening to audio -- if held in its native landscape orientation.

Features

The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 ships with Samsung's Android-based Touch Wiz interface and a spiffy new Magazine UX, which feature a separate home screen that sports a tile-based look, similar to Windows 8. It offers quick access to email and favorite content aggregators -- like a specially tailored Flipboard home screen.

Instead of having one or two big, pretty widgets at the top of the screen with normal app icons under them, here Samsung covers the whole screen with them. You can choose from a predetermined set of widgets or Flipboard channels to add to these pages, and can have up to five Magazine UX pages in all. Unfortunately, there's no way to completely be rid of Magazine UX if you're not sweet on Flipboard or screen-covering widgets, as the interface requires at least one Magazine UX page to exist.

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The Magazine UX may be overwhelming to new users, but Samsung makes it easy to set-up. James Martin/CNET

Samsung's TouchWiz interface has only gotten better with each iteration and this latest version is the best yet, surpassing stock Android 4.4 KitKat in the options it offers. All the shortcuts and customization options return, with quite a few added to the mix. The number of settings available is staggering, but Samsung keeps them all well-organized, while including useful tutorials for some of its more unusual features.

With the Pro line of tablets, Samsung doubles down on free apps that should appeal to business users. For a more in-depth look, check out Eric Franklin's review of the 12-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro.

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The faux-leather back provides a comfortable, yet grippy, surface. James Martin/CNET

Hardware

The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 houses a Exynos 5 Octa SoC, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage (with a microSD card slot expandable up to 64GB). The tablet also offers Bluetooth 4.0 LE, an accelerometer, and a gyroscope.

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