Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 review

The Tab Pro 8.4 is one of Samsung's finest tablets.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
is this Samsung's best tablet to date?

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Samsung likes to fit its top-end tablets out with decent cameras, which might seem like a bit of a waste of effort if, like me, you treat your tablet as the last resort for taking photos.

But as last resorts go, the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4's 8MP snapper is very accomplished. Indeed, as I've already alluded to, the tablet's compact dimensions make it the most practical picture taker in the whole Tab Pro range.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Review

The Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 has an impressive 8-megapixel camera

Given the common components I've discussed up to this point, it probably won't surprise you to learn that the camera here appears to be the same as the one I encountered on the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2.

As with that camera, the default picture size is 6MP in order to get the Full HD 16:9 aspect ratio, and view your images back full-screen on the Tab Pro 8.4's screen.

You have to manually bump this setting up to 8MP, at which point things squidge up into an old-school 4:3 aspect ratio, and the camera UI gains a pair of black bars along the sides.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Review

Raise the camera setting to 8-megapixel and the UI sports this pair of black bars

Still, the images captured are generally very good for a tablet. Detail levels in strong natural lighting are uncommonly good, with accurate colours and a nice blurring effect for background details that aren't in focus - particularly with close-up shots.

Speaking of focus, the Galaxy Tab 8.4 is quick to pick up on the object in your sites and focus in, but you can always take matters into your own hands with a tap of the screen.

Shutter speeds are virtually instantaneous, and it's possible to take 20 quick-fire shots by holding the virtual shutter button down for a second or two.

Samsung hasn't skimped on camera modes and tweakable settings, either. There's a creditable HDR mode that yields appreciably natural-looking results in scenes of high-contrast.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Review

The Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 comes with a generous selection of camera modes

Then you get the more gimmicky modes, such as Beauty face mode, which gives any faces an unnaturally smoothed-out sheen, or Sound & shot, which adds a snippet of sound from the environment to provide aural context.

Best photo is a little more useful, allowing you to take multiple pictures before selecting the best for you. Best face is another clever one, allowing you to merge multiple group shots into a single 'best of' picture.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Review

Beauty face mode will improve the quality of your selfies

You can shoot video at Full HD 1080p, as has become the norm. It yields perfectly serviceable results, provided you don't shake around too much (something the size of the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 helps with).

On the front, you have a 2MP camera for video calls and selfies, which is pretty decent as tablets go.

Both of the rivals I've mentioned in this review - the LG G Pad 8.3 and the iPad mini 2 - come with inferior efforts, at 1.3MP and 1.2MP respectively.

Given the natural usage of tablets is indoors as a communication tool rather than out and about taking snaps, this is arguably a more important spec than the main camera.

Flip the camera to the front one in the camera app, and you instantly get a front-facing Beauty face mode, which again softens your features for selfies that actually make you look good. Or weird, in my case.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Review

Note the crisp detail of the rear petals against the blurred background

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Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Review

The Tab Pro 8.4 camera's focusing abiliti es are excellent

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Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Review

Note the bleached out area to the right, where the natural lighting is coming in

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Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Review

A similar shot with HDR mode on has balanced everything out

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Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Review

Generally, if you give the Pro 8.4 plenty of light, you'll get strong results

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Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Review

Colour reproduction and detail is good, but note the blown-out sky in the background

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While it lacks the large-screen majesty of the rest of the range, the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 is a superb media player.

A large part of that, of course, is down to its WQXGA display which, at 8.4 inches, is clearly better suited to playing movies and games than even the largest phone or phablet.

On movies, in particular, the colours are excellent and blacks, while not exactly inky like Samsung's AMOLED smartphones, are suitably deep.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Review

Google Play Music has a well-stocked MP3 library

Sound, on the other hand, is a bit of a weak point here. It's loud enough, if lacking in low end (a common issue with mobile devices), but the positioning of the two speakers for portrait usage makes for a disjointed sound profile for films. Get those headphones out.

When it comes to sourcing video content, the Google Play Store features a comprehensive library of TV shows and movies at decent prices. New films tend to be around £3.49 in SD or £4.49 in HD.

Samsung also has its own media store, the Samsung Hub, but it's really not worth bothering with.

You get a similar selection for a similar price, but with an uglier interface and limited prospects for any purchased content (you'll be stuck without access if you buy a non-Samsung device as your next tablet or phone).

I've touched upon the music offering here already. Essentially, Google Play Music is all you'll need, with a comprehensive MP3 library, Spotify-like subscription service, and even the ability to save your own music collection to the cloud.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Review

A lock screen widget is the sole reason to use Samsung's Music app

The only real advantage to running Samsung's own Music app is the presence of a lock screen widget for playing, pausing, and skipping tracks. Yep, that's it.

This is also an excellent gaming device. The Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4's dimensions ensure that it sits perfectly in the hands - or hand, depending on the type of game you're playing.

It's also light enough that you won't have wrist-ache after a lengthy game, and that 8.4-inch display is large enough to show off lush 3D games like Real Racing 3 but small enough to make the dual-thumb controls of Dead Rising 2 feel comfortable.

Of course, with the the same high-end Snapdragon 800 processor as Google's own Nexus 7 - Android's reference tablet - every game I threw at the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 ran like a dream, and looked beautiful to boot.

In terms of storing all this media, you get either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage here. With around 4GB required just to run the system, that can leave you a little short if you opt for the smaller capacity.

Fortunately, Samsung has included that microSD slot on the left hand side, and apps can be shunted over to this removable storage in the settings menu.