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Picking up the Tab

Picking up the Tab 

But if this is to work properly, people need devices that not only are simple to use, but can help them connect from anywhere. Samsung tackles that challenge head-on with the new Galaxy Tab A tablet.

The skinny

The majority of today’s mobile devices are designed to help employees of companies maintain productivity while working abroad. Although the Galaxy Tab A could, in theory, be used by working professionals, the device was actually created to be used by families as a communication tool.

The Tab A’s convenient Multi-User feature allows for up to six individual profiles to be created on the device. Each user can then customize the tablet with apps, programs and other functions to create a personalized experience. Younger users can benefit from a special Kids Mode that provides access to child-friendly content while ensuring that parents’ documents and files remain safe.

For parents, the Tab A serves as a productivity device that permits work to be done on the go. Compatibility with Microsoft Office and Outlook, along with Multi-Window view allow for seamless multitasking. The device also has an Ultra Power-Saving mode that extends battery life by automatically closing any apps running in the background.

The Tab A delivers a high-quality visual experience available in two distinct formats. The Tab A 8.0 is equipped with a 8-inch TFT screen, while the Tab A 9.7’s screen measures 9.7 inches. Unlike its smaller counterpart, the 9.7 comes with the Samsung S-Pen stylus, which slides out of the back of the device. Both devices have a maximum screen resolution of 1,024 x 768, a 4:3 screen ratio, 1.2GHz Quad-Core processors, and also run version 5.0 of Android’s Lollipop operating system.

Weighing in at only 314 grams – 450 for the 9.7 – the Tab A is lightweight and portable. As a result, it fits easily into the majority of bags and cases.


For the purpose of this review, I will focus on the Tab A 9.7.

One of the things I enjoyed about the Galaxy Tab A was the S-Pen. Not only does it help to replace a traditional mouse with its point and select functions, it also can be used within programs like Microsoft Word to take notes or make corrections on the fly. I was able to compose short articles and take notes with the S-Pen, which can transform even the most unintelligible handwriting into text.

Also useful was the Multi-Window function. While doing research for some of my articles, I was easily able to make notes in a Word document while using a web browser to read content online. Despite being a shade under 10 inches, the screen was very easy to read from and work off of. The Reading Mode function allowed me to adjust the brightness and colour of the screen to make certain types of text easier to edit or read.

The Ultra Power-Saving mode kicked in after repeated usage of the device, and allowed me to continue working despite low battery power. It closed some of the apps and programs that had been running in the background, and kept the device alive until I plugged it in to charge.


Marketed as both a family- and work-oriented device, I couldn’t help but notice that the Galaxy Tab A lacked one key feature – USB ports. As many people rely on flash drives to store and save their work, it seems strange that this tablet does not have these ports. It does, however, have an SD card slot on the side. Adding one or two ports might serve future tablets in the Galaxy Tab series well, especially if it continues to be billed as hybrid work-and-play device.

The verdict

Multi-function devices are gaining traction amongst users, and the Galaxy Tab A’s ability to shift from a device that can be enjoyed by the entire family to one that can used for work purposes will likely endear it to many. On long car rides, parents can give it to their children to enjoy in the back seat with the Kids Mode activated, and once they arrive at their destination, they can easily switch back to work mode.

As a work device, elements such as the inclusion of Microsoft Office and the Multi-Window function allows users to multitask and complete tasks, while the S-Pen helps to make note-taking a breeze. The smaller screen doesn’t hinder the functionality of the Tab A, and the Reading Mode helps to make all kinds of text easier on the eyes.

For future releases, I hope that Samsung can add one or two USB 2.0 or 3.0 ports to the device. Doing so would further increase the Tab A’s capacity as a work or productivity device. All things considered, I believe it would be a welcome addition for any family-oriented professional.

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