There are certain things an iPad Air 2 isn’t designed to do. For example: you wouldn’t want to submerge it in three-feet of water for 30 minutes (it will die in any water). You wouldn’t want to expose it to -4-degree or 140-degree temperatures (it can survive 32- to 95-degree temperatures), and you wouldn’t want to drop it from up to four feet (it’s been known to shatter at this height).
The iPad Air 2 is definitely the best tablet on the market. However, it’s not ideal for extremely energetic people or employees with outdoor jobs.
In comes the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active ($699.99, £450, AU$850.00). The recently-released tablet from the Seoul, South Korea-based manufacturer can not only survive the tests I described above, it also provides a thoroughly enjoyable user experience.
Similar to the awesome but expensive Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1 ($2,099 AUD $2,358), the Galaxy Tab Active is built for people who are likely to come face-to-face with the elements. Unlike the Toughpad, the Tab Active is much more affordable and built to function for longer than six hours.
The 8-inch tablet is Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n-enabled with 16GB of storage (compared to 82gb on the Toughpad). Built on the Android 4.4 (KitKat) operating system, the Galaxy Tab Active features a 1.2 GHz, Quad-Core and Qualcomm APQ 8026 processor that’s backed by Samsung Exynos.
Like the incredible Samsung Galaxy Tab S ($399.99, £319, AU$479.00), the Active Tab features a gorgeous form factor and lightweight design (0.88 pounds without the recommended ruggedized case). However, the Tab Active is built with different requirements in mind – so some of the more impressive Galaxy Tab S features didn’t find their way onto the Tab Active, while some of the less impressive Tab S specs have been upgraded to suit the business user’s needs.
For example: unlike the Galaxy Tab S and its ridiculous 2560×1600 resolution screen, the Galaxy Tab Active is only 1280×800. It also doesn’t come in the larger 10.5-inch format (because enterprise users prefer a one-handed working approach, says Samsung). Camera resolution pales in comparison to the Tab S, which features 8 and 2.1 megapixel front and rear-facing cameras, respectively. On the Tab Active you get 3.1 and 1.2 megapixels on each side, respectively.
The Tab Active does improve upon the Tab S’s 12-hour battery life with a built-in 10-hour battery, as well as an easily removable back cover into which you can insert a replacement 10-hour battery. Of course, you’ll have to buy the extra battery, but it’s worth it, especially if this is part of your enterprise fleet.
The Tab Active is IP67 dust and water resistant certified, so you’ll be able to handle the device on construction sites, or if you’re standing next to a bunch of dudes dirt-bike racing. This isn’t an unusual feature for enterprise-grade devices. However, the Tab Active has coverless microphone and micro-USB ports that are designed to keep out dust, debris and water, which means you don’t need to worry about flimsy plastic ripping off and decertifying your device.
Enterprise users will enjoy using the C-Pen, which is a sister device to the more popular S-Pen. Unlike the S-Pen, which requires electrical charges and is designed for signing documents and design-work, the C-Pen doesn’t need to be charged and is meant to provide all-purpose directional navigation – meaning you should use it to do everything on this tablet if you’re wearing gloves. It is also compatible with all other Samsung touchscreen devices.
For gloved workers, the Tab Active features physical Home, Back and Forward keys beneath the Gorilla Glass touchscreen.
Underneath the hood
The Tab Active’s strengths aren’t only skin-deep. The device supports NFC connectivity, POGO charging and Samsung Knox security. It’s also Certified Citrix-Ready and SAP-Certified for SAP Work Manager and SAP CRM Service Manager.
All you klutzes out there will appreciate the 3-year warranty it comes with, especially if you’re prone to dropping things from more than four feet.
The processing speed, lightweight design and killer speakers make this device a joy to use. I was able to zip between applications and rotate between horizontal and vertical formats with only one hand.
Although the screen resolution and camera specs didn’t wow me, I don’t expect many people to purchase this device for Netflix binging or selfie snapping. That’s what the iPad Air 2 and Galaxy Tab S are designed for.
I absolutely hate the keyboard on the Android 4.4 operating system, so you’ll likely want to download another keyboard app, which could be problematic for enterprise deployments. I admit this is a taste preference and not applicable to all my readers. Some people love the KitKat keyboard.
Unfortunately, the device doesn’t offer some of the bells and whistles of consumer-friendly devices. The cameras don’t pack much pop and the screen resolution isn’t on-par with the Galaxy Tab S. The Galaxy Tab Active doesn’t offer much storage, so you won’t want to use this as a two-in-one device for heavier computing.
If you need to withstand the rigors of harsh weather or field environments, you won’t find a more equipped tablet. The flapless ports and lightweight build offer you a long-lasting weather-proof tablet that you won’t get tired of using. The 10-hour battery life and easily maneuverable replaceable battery compartment will enable you to work all day and all night. For only ($699.99, £450, AU$850.00), the Galaxy Tab Active is a wise choice for business users and outdoor enthusiasts alike.