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

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.

Performance

The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 performs like a champ -- as long as many apps aren't open in the background. Every time the tablet acted more like an amateur than a professional, closing the running apps significantly improved performance. Keep in mind this caveat during the rest of this portion, because it's a relevant factor to the pros and cons of the tablet's performance.

The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1's speedy processor shines when opening and running large apps without a hitch, but, performance consistently and significantly lags if many apps are open in the background. Though the tablet has the ability to multi-task -- the multi-window function is one of my favorites -- its capacity to perform at a level worthy of a professional title falters.

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The super-sharp screen is one of the tablet's best features. James Martin/CNET

During mass auto-updates, updates would freeze mid-download like frozen apps mid-download. Even though it has a zippy quad-core CPU and 2GB of RAM, it is easily overwhelmed when pushing its performance to maximum.

The speaker quality is surprisingly bad for such a high-end tablet. Audio sounds flat and tinny -- especially when loud -- and I found some sounds so offensively bad, I often opted for headphones. Also, the function of the volume rocker disappointingly doesn't switch according to how you're holding the tablet.

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The speakers are unobtrusively located, but sound weak. James Martin/CNET

To give the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 some audiophile-credit, it includes a feature that adapts sound for headphone use and -- though the improvement isn't grand -- those who often listen to music will find the adjustment to produce a more pleasurable experience.

There's no Micro-HDMI port on the slate -- an adapter is required, but it does offer an HDMI sound option of surround or stereo output, which I found to be a considerate addition for those looking to use the tablet with their home theater set-up.

Tested spec Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 Google Nexus 10 Apple iPad (fourth generation) Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9
Maximum brightness 375 cd/m2 368 cd/m2 455 cd/m2 472 cd/m2
Maximum black level 0.37cd/m2 0.44 cd/m2 0.49 cd/m2 0.40 cd/m2
Maximum contrast ratio 1013:1 836:1 939:1 1180:1

The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1's 2,560x1,600-pixel resolution screen is a stone cold stunner that demands your attention and adds hypnotizing dimension to the slate's melt-in-your-hand experience. Like a modern pop-up book, the richly saturated colors and super-sharp resolution make for a visually immersive experience that's enhanced by the interactive nature of the touchscreen.

The graphics heavy and tile-based Magazine UX takes advantage of every pixel the Tab Pro 10.1 packs and whether you're looking at the app drawer or an HD video, the screen manages to impress with its sharpness.

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The screen's display is impressive no matter what you're watching. James Martin/CNET

Amazon, Apple, and Google have comparable large tablets with similar super-HD screens, however the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 rocks a richer range of colors that lean towards the over-saturated side. This worked to the advantage of the tablet when it came to watching HD video -- razor-sharp images looked more like looking out of a window.

As long as I kept background apps to a minimum, gaming performance was fast and smooth. Large games like N.O.V.A 3 opened quickly and levels loaded within a few seconds. While playing Riptide, the tablet reacted quickly, making tight turns and sharp movements in realtime.

The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 packs an 8-megapixel rear camera with flash, and a 2-megapixel front-facing shooter. Both boast decent photo quality for a tablet, but typically suffer from graininess in low-lighting conditions and soft focus. Samsung's native camera app offers a bevy of camera features that should appease any artsy amateur tablet-photographers.

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The camera quality isn't impressive, but the camera features are. Screenshot by Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Conclusion

The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is one of Samsung's best 10-inch tablets yet, and, though there's still room for improving its multi-tasking abilities, once you understand how to avoid the lagging and random crashing by limiting the amount of open apps, it's a great slate with solid specs and an impressive -- and sometimes overwhelming -- amount of software features and perks.

It rocks an innovative OS with a ton of features, a comfy in-house design, and speedy performance for basic needs, but it's all at your expense -- literally. If trying to save a few pennies, comparable options cost at least $100 less.

Shoppers looking to get the most bang for their buck should consider the Google Nexus 10 or Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 instead. These two slates also offer similar speedy performance, comfy yet thin designs, and super-sharp screens, but they cost significantly less.

If you're a big baller with no budget and looking for a premium slate for casual use, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 tablet is a divine device with swift performance, a sleek design, and a stunningly sharp and saturated screen. Just keep in mind that under pressure, it's no pro.

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    Where to Buy

    Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1

    Part Number: SM-T520NZWAXAR
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    Quick Specifications See All

    • Regional specs shown for US. UK specs are unavailable.

    • Wireless Connectivity IrDA
    • Type Android 4.4 (KitKat)
    • Weight 16.5 oz
    • Operating System Android 4.4 (KitKat)
    • Storage 16 GB
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