Samsung tablets go high-end with more colorful displays

The Korean-based electronics maker, chasing Apple's iPad in the tablet market, adds new devices that promise a more vibrant, colorful viewing experience.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
3 min read

Samsung unveiled tablets with high-end displays during an event in New York. Sarah Tew/CNET

For Samsung's new tablets, image is everything.

The Korean electronics giant on Thursday took the wraps off its two new Galaxy Tab S tablets , both with high-end displays capable of color-rich pictures. The company introduced the devices -- available with 8.4-inch and 10.5-inch displays -- during an event in New York at the Madison Square Garden theater.

The new devices double down on how a lot of people are using tablets: for watching online videos and reading magazines. Samsung called the gadgets -- which it touts as its new flagship tablets -- "personal visual devices." To pump up the picture quality, the company brought a wider color range to the screen than its previous devices, and announced HD quality for Netflix and YouTube.

"It portrays the true colors that content creators intended," Michael Abary, a senior vice president at Samsung Electronics America, said at the event.

In the US, both tablets will be available in July, and will cost $399 for the smaller screen and $499 for the larger one. In other regions, the prices and launch dates will vary.

While Samsung has demonstrated its might in the smartphone arena -- it's the No. 1 smartphone manufacturer in the world -- the company hasn't enjoyed the same success with tablets. Samsung's tablets, along with nearly two-thirds of those on the market, run Google's Android mobile operating system, according to IDC. Still, Apple remains the top tablet vendor in the world with its line of iPads.

But while Samsung hasn't been able to wrest the top spot from Apple, Samsung has narrowed the gap. The company's global tablet market share rose to 22 percent in the first quarter, from 18 percent the year before. Apple's lead, meanwhile, has dwindled from 40 percent to 33 percent during the same period.

Other features in the new tablets include displays that adapt to the user's environment -- whether indoors or out -- and adjust the colors for the light. The tablets will have a fingerprint scanner, so different users of the same device can customize their home screens.

Samsung also announced partnerships with Marvel comics and magazine stalwarts Conde Nast and National Geographic, touting that their content will be customized for the Galaxy Tab S -- for example, the magazines will feature rich colors on the tablets.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S: Hands-on with Samsung's newest tablet (pictures)

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If Samsung is able to up its tablet game, the company could take advantage of an Apple vulnerability. The most visible dark spot for the Cupertino, Calif.-based company in the most recently ended quarter was iPad sales that lagged behind analysts' expectations. Apple sold 16.4 million tablets while Wall Street anticipated 19 million.

But even as the two tech giants jostle for mobile supremacy, the tablet category overall has been hurt by consumers opting to buy larger-screen phones, or choosing to hold onto tablets longer before replacing them with new ones, according to IDC.

The two devices announced Thursday join Samsung's growing line of tablets, including the 8.4-inch Galaxy Tab Pro and the 12.2-inch Galaxy Note Pro.

"This truly draws the line between the tablets currently available and what comes next," said DJ Lee, head of sales and marketing communications division at Samsung.

Check out CNET's First Take of the new Galaxy Tab S tablets.