• Marc A. Brown

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

I recently purchased the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 as an upgrade from a smaller Android tablet, the AT&T Trek 2. I liked the Trek but was looking for a larger screen and a pen-based experience.

The tablet itself is hefty, almost uncomfortably so when holding it via the bezel. This is due to the length and width of the device rather than the weight -- it's just feels heavy when you're holding it by the edge. Holding it with your hand behind it on the other hand is a more comfortable experience. The S-Pen, on the other hand is extremely light -- it almost feels cheap in your hand. The OS is fast on this hardware; much faster than Android on my LG V30 phone and on the Trek tablet. It starts quickly, reboots quickly, and I haven't seen any delay in apps.

My "OOBE" wasn't all that great. I found some apps that I use on my phone that aren't compatible with the tablet (they may not be compatible with the Trek either, but I didn't check) and one app that is compatible refuses to let me log into the service associated with it even though I can do so via the service's website from my Surface Laptop and via the app on my phone. I had difficulty in getting AT&T Messages to work and had to switch back to AT&T's SMS app on my phone in order to get past that hurdle. Even then, AT&T Messages was shaky, crashing, then being unusable for extended periods after restarting it. I think the problem is that it is having difficulty keeing in sync with the online message store. Since switching back to AT&T's SMS app on the phone, I've had some issues with the backup/sync service as well, though it doesn't crash the app on the phone.

My impression of the tablet improved once I got past the initial phases. As I said, the S-Pen feels somewhat cheap; however, it works rather nicely with the tablet. One thing it does that I find really cool is allows you to write notes with the screen "off". It then saves those notes in the Samsung Notes app for you to work with later. Using it to write in apps (such as Journey, the app I use for daily journalling) requires using the handwriting section of the keyboard which is annoying but which had absolutely NO trouble figuring out my terrible handwriting as I was using it. I was truly amazed at how well it interpreted what i was putting down.

The feature that really has me wowed right now is Samsung DeX. I have a Bluetooth keyboard that I decided to attach so that I could test the feature out and I have to say I'm impressed. It's very reminiscent of Continuum on Windows Phone/Mobile, which was a feature I thought might keep that platform alive. My MS Office apps wind up looking like their Windows desktop counterparts. Multiple apps can be visible at once. It's almost enough to convince me to spring for the Book Cover Keyboard. I typed most of this post on the tablet in DeX mode. Had to finish it on my Surface Laptop because Edge on the tablet wouldn't scroll to the bottom of the editor to let me see what I was typing. Not sure if it was an Edge problem or a problem with my hosting provider's blog post editor, but the issue persisted between DeX mode and tablet mode, so not a flaw with DeX.

Is this tablet going to replace my Surface Laptop? Hardly. My SL is my baby. I use it for application development, Sunday Bible Study lesson planning and teaching, and as my "home base" for most aspects of my digital life. But I can certainly see it becoming an important part of that digital life, even replacing my phone for some things.


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