Another day, another Samsung tablet. The South Korean company sure does make a lot of them, in a variety of shapes and sizes. This particular tablet is chunkier than you’d expect, though not excessively so for a rugged 8-inch tablet. The Galaxy Tab Active has been designed to appeal to users who regularly put their stuff in harm’s way but who still want to stream videos and browse Facebook while they’re doing it. Oh all right, they can use it to work as well.
In fact the workplace is the main target in the Galaxy Tab Active’s sights, as Samsung have outfitted the tablet with WiFi, data SIM capabilities, that rugged exterior and their own KNOX security suite make abundantly clear. If further proof is needed for Samsung’s intentions, the Tab Active also ships with a protective cover and a C-stylus, as they call it, as part of the whole package.
Built Like A Brick…
The Galaxy Tab Active, as I’ve already mentioned, is pretty rugged. Outside of the protective casing that doubles as a stylus holder, the edges of the tablet look a bit more rugged than your average slate would boast The removeable back panel, beneath which the 4,450mAh battery, SIM and microSD card slots live, is a textures plastic that would help prevent slippage on a dashboard or similar surface.
For all that, this is still a tablet and it’s about as breakable as your average unit without the advantage of extra padding. Even with the protective case in place, it’ll only really survive edge landings and survivability will depend on the length of the fall. If it’s from the roof, kiss this thing goodbye. The plastic sleeve is softer plastic, with the same textured feel to it that you’ll find on the removeable plastic back plate.
The tablet itself is rated IP67, so it’ll survive a drowning without having to have the microUSB charge port blocked up. Samsung have made sure of that, at least. But Samsung also claim that this tab is water-resistant, so dunking it in the bath shouldn’t happen as a party trick. If the back cover isn’t clipped in place, and the Galaxy Tab Active will warn you to check, you’re going to soak everything inside. Still, it’s tougher than your average tablet when it’s fully kitted out.
But how does it run? That’s the important question and the answer is: not very impressively. The Galaxy Tab Active is sporting a Snapdragon 400 CPU running at 1.2GHz – 1.19GHz in this test unit – and features 1.32GB of system RAM. In terms of performance, GeekBench puts the Galaxy Tab Active just above the Nexus 7 from ASUS with a score of 344 for single-core performance. All four cores in unison produce a result of 1173, meaning that even Samsung’s own Galaxy S III outshines this tablet.
And this is noticeable, there’s definitely some lag when switching between or launching apps. Samsung’s only really powering the WiFi and the 1,280 x 800 display but even so, Android 4.4.4 proves to be too hefty resource-wise for completely smooth operation.
Samsung hasn’t gone above and beyond with the camera either, there’s a mere 3.15MP shooter on the back that captures images. That’s about the best I can say about it, even with good lighting the Galaxy Tab Active isn’t going to be winning any photography competitions.
But one area, besides the rugged design, where the Galaxy Tab Active performs is the battery. 4,450mAh is more than enough to push this tablet through an entire day of usage, further reinforcing the idea that Samsung wants this thing on a construction site somewhere doing… things… for builders. Buildery things. I’m not sure what those are. Closer to home, you can bang out a lot of streaming media use before the Lithium-Ion craps out on you.
If I was going to opt for an 8-inch tablet for general use, this isn’t one that would be high up on the list. If I was planning to take a tablet to the beach, this would be one of the contenders. I wouldn’t bring sea-sand anywhere an iPad, for example, but the Galaxy Tab Active? It looks like it can take it and still keep going for a while.