The new Galaxy Tab S is something of a conundrum: on the one hand, it represents a big shift from Samsung, one that promises to finally give it something that can be considered a rival to the iPad, on the other, an over-reliance of familiarity.

The Galaxy Tab S range packs one major advantage over the competition: one of the best screens on the market to be plugged into a tablet.

At 8.4- and 10.5-inch it uses Samsung's Super AMOLED technology make colours hyper-vibrant, contrast really deep and rich and the resolution, at 2560 x 1600, is pin sharp at all screen sizes.

It's hard to overstate how beautiful the screen is – for some people, the Super AMOLED technology used in the Samsung Galaxy smartphone range is too much, too over-saturated in colour, but on these tablets I think it's just right; and if you're that bothered, there are settings to tweak the colour up and down to a more LCD-like setting.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review
The 8.4- and 10.5-inch Galaxy Tab S range.

However, while it's ace that Samsung has made this feature more accessible (a simple tap to make the screen more or less colour saturated) it's only available in video. To me, that's fine as it's the main place I feel I want a little less colour power, but it would be good to see the same trick in photos too.

At 10.5 inches, the Tab S is a real rival to the iPad Air in terms of sharpness and screen quality – and that's saying something impressive, as the Air has one of the better displays on the market.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review
The screen looks sharper on the Tab S

As the size scales down, the sharpness of the screen goes up for the Tab S range, with the 8.4-inch version looking as sharp as a smartphone display (when held a little further from the face) but with the benefits of a larger screen.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review
A brilliantly vibrant screen

Viewing the web or video on these tablets is something of a dream – it's hard to explain just how nicely nearly everything looks on these displays.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review
Samsung oddly chose to use the Tab Pro to show a 'poorer' LCD screen

I will say this: if you're someone that hates the way Super AMOLED looks on phones then you're going to hate the Galaxy Tab S screens as well. Samsung took great pains to point out how much better the new display was side by side with an LCD (oddly choosing to lament the colour performance of its very own Galaxy Tab Pro) but it just looked different, not better - it depends on your preference.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review
The reading mode

The reading mode, which seems to mostly just enhance the brightness to a more acceptable level - good, but nothing major. The same can be said for the adaptive display, which can moderate the screen's output depending on the lighting type - it was probably too subtle to test, but the demonstration didn't blow me away.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review
Full colour mode

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review
'Normal' mode

Design

If Samsung has stayed true to its ability with the screen technology, the same thing can be said for the design too. Sadly, while the former is a massive plus I'm still not sold on the way these tablets look.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review
The Galaxy Tab S 10.5

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review
The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 - designed for use in portrait mode

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review

The Tab S range still relies too heavily on plastic – while we were told in immense detail how the new devices were inspired by 'modern architecture' and 'the sunrise on crisp white snow', they've still got the same dimpled and rubberised back as seen on the Galaxy S5.

I've said this time and again with the smartphones and, to a degree, it hasn't mattered so much as they've sold in their droves.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review
The same dimpled effect is back - but no waterproofing here

But Samsung tablets haven't enjoyed the same level of market dominance, and that's partly because they don't ooze the same premium quality that the likes of the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet and iPad Air manage so easily.

Combine that with the dimpled back (the same seen on the Samsung Galaxy S5 and K Zoom) and I just don't feel like I'm holding something that's as well put together as the competition.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review
The 'Titanium Bronze'

Even the Google Nexus 7, which is likely to cost a fair bit less than the Tab S, feels better-packaged in my opinion, and is something Samsung needs to get right, and quickly.

The tablets aren't even waterproof, which was one major part of the Galaxy S5 and went some way to explaining the decision to go with a rubberised back.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review

However, the materials used aside, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S range does make some clever choices in terms of design. For instance, both are 6.6mm thin at the narrowest point, which is hugely impressive and allows for extended holding without causing wrist strain (helped in part by the 294g / 465g weight).

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review
The fingerprint scanner

The biometric technology is back again, as it was with the Galaxy S5, and is situated in the same place, the home key. It's not as simple to swipe the finger down, especially on the larger screens in the range, as it requires balancing it in one hand and can be a little awkward.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review

It's accuracy is a little off as a result too, although that's something that requires day in, day out testing to properly assess - it worked for the most part, but that balance (especially on the larger 10.5-inch slate) is something of a slight concern).