Let me preface this article by saying that the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is big. At 14.6 inches, it’s bigger than the usual 13-inch laptop I lug around.
Despite that, it’s lighter weight-wise at under 730g, but you’d still notice the weight when you carry it around in your hand or a backpack.
The tablet itself is physically a thing of beauty: thin and sleek with a matte finish. There’s only one colour available, Graphite.
In my eyes, the dark-greyish colourway is reminiscent of the duller silvery colourway of most laptops, further emphasising Samsung’s intention with the Tab S8 Ultra: to make it a laptop alternative.
But first, what’s it like as a tablet?
Your standard tablet, but better
Honestly, my experience of using the Tab S8 Ultra (assuming you’re not a digital artist) as a tablet was similar to my experience using other Samsung tablets in the past.
I’m not someone who finds much use for tablets in general, always finding them to be an odd in-between in terms of size and use when compared to phones and laptops.
Now, the huge Tab S8 Ultra leans more towards the laptop experience, which I appreciate much better, but it still has great functionality as a tablet.
Its Super AMOLED HDR10+ display is 1,848 x 2,960 pixels and is crisp by most standards, enough to satisfy your movie-binging and gaming needs (although its large size makes it a little tricky for most mobile games).
Switch between a standard 60Hz or high 120Hz rate depending on what you’re doing. It’d be nice to see an adaptive refresh rate someday in order to better preserve battery life without sacrificing user experience.
In terms of audio, the stereo speakers along the vertical (shorter) edge of the tablet produce sounds that are loud and clear, enough to easily fill a room.
Compared to my other experiences using older Samsung tablets though, I can say the Tab S8 Ultra offers a much better tablet experience, simply because it’s larger and more capable (but points might have to be docked for portability).
In my review of the Tab S7 Plus, I mentioned how it still offered a largely tablet experience, plus some productivity thanks to DeX and the book cover keyboard. Ultimately though, I concluded that it would have been unfair to compare it to an actual laptop.
This is where the Tab S8 Ultra differs.
A laptop experience, but also better (maybe?)
Meant to be used more like a laptop, Samsung even thoughtfully put the notch along the long edge of the Tab S8 Ultra, which means it doesn’t hinder your work when using the tablet horizontally.
Housed in the notch is an honestly amazing front camera that would be great for video calls. The back camera isn’t anything to scoff at either, able to zoom up to 8x with clarity.
With the book cover keyboard, the Tab S8 Ultra transforms into a versatile device, going beyond most standard tablet or laptop experiences.
Since typing using the on-screen keyboard can be tiring and slow due to the large screen size, I really liked how I could use the keyboard and touchscreen interchangeably.
This meant I could adjust a YouTube video’s settings by touching the screen and type out a comment with the book cover keyboard right after without changing settings.
In that sense, the book cover keyboard brings out the tablet’s best functionality. It has some weight of its own, but is a must-have (and must-use) if you’re bringing the Tab S8 Ultra around.
Not only is it a sleek, detachable keyboard, but it’s also both a stand for your tablet and a protective casing in one. The keyboard is comfortable enough to use for a whole day of work, while the trackpad is decent. A mouse would make for a more convenient option.
I can’t talk about productivity and a laptop experience on the Tab S8 Ultra without mentioning DeX, Samsung’s software platform that extends a Samsung tablet (or smartphone) into a desktop computing experience.
When I activate it, I get a more traditional and familiar laptop experience, such as resizable multi-window views with different apps open for easier multitasking, using Alt + Tab to quickly switch between windows, and more.
It takes next to no time to set DeX up, and there’s no learning curve to familiarise yourself with it. In fact, this article was written on the Tab S8 Ultra itself using DeX.
Once I’m done with work, I can just turn off DeX and detach the book cover keyboard, and the Tab S8 Ultra goes back to being a tablet.
Something to note if you’re using the book cover keyboard is that the Tab S8 Ultra is quite top-heavy and prone to toppling if you’re not careful, so it’s best used on a firm and stable surface.
The Tab S8 Ultra comes with an S Pen included alongside the book cover keyboard. I found myself underutilising it since I’m no digital artist, nor do I find myself needing the convert-handwriting-to-text function in my day-to-day routine.
In a creativity-focused article though, I will be reviewing the S Pen and its features more in-depth.
Back to the tablet itself, I can say with confidence that the RM5,899 Tab S8 Ultra is unlike any other tablet Samsung has released so far.
The only area where it might potentially lose points as a tablet is in its portability, but it’s an easy trade-off for the powerhouse that the Tab S8 Ultra is, especially for those who want a tablet and an on-the-go laptop experience simultaneously.
It’s a great (and large) tablet experience with capabilities that make it a viable laptop alternative, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else Samsung can add to its next generation of tablets.
|Large and clear display for work and play||Slightly heavy to carry around|
|Great functionality especially with DeX and the included book cover keyboard||Can easily topple on uneven or unstable surfaces|
|A laptop and tablet experience in one device|
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