Samsung Galaxy View Review: Last week we went hands-on with one of the most unusual devices in Samsung’s 2015 portfolio; the sizeable Samsung Galaxy View.
Samsung’s billing the View as the stopgap in entertainment between the humble tablet and your television. As such it’s a semi-portable, super-sized slate with a massive screen, solid speakers and a UI geared towards consuming content.
We say ‘semi-portable’ as the View weighs in at a hefty 2.65kgs and Samsung’s even planning on launching a dedicated protective carry case should you wish to travel with it for around £99 (pricing unconfirmed). The body of the View also measures 451.8mm wide, 275.8mm tall and 11.9mm thick.
Size aside however, the aesthetic falls inline with the rest of Samsung’s product family, namely through the finely chamfered edge skirting the display’s bezel and its general silhouette. There are basic hardware controls for volume and a sleep/wake key, but this is one of the few Android-powered Samsung devices that doesn’t pack the company’s signature physical home button.
Partly as a result of the use cases marked out for the View and partly for ergonomic reasons, the device exclusively uses on-screen keys for its task switching, home and back controls instead.
The most distinctive element beyond the tablet’s scale is its kickstand. A curved, textured piece of plastic reminiscent of Sammy’s older design tropes, the stand hinges into two positions, letting the tablet stand upright or lower and flatter to the surface it’s on for more comfortable top-down viewing.
Behind the kickstand lives a pair of 2 watt speakers, impressively powerful for a tablet (highlighting its multimedia focus) and a slide-out panel concealing a microSD card slot. During our first encounter with the View we were told that it would launch in a WiFi-only skew, however the aforementioned panel will also accommodate a nanoSIM card in the LTE version due to arrive at a later date.
If your intention is to slot in between a tablet and a TV, you’re going to need a pretty big screen and the View delivers with an expansive 18.4-inch Full HD panel.
The screen employed by Samsung doesn’t appear to use the company’s favoured Super AMOLED technology either – adding to the unorthodox approach the View takes, and yet the visual experience actually looks pretty good.
You might have worked out that Full HD on such a large panel produces a measly sub-120ppi, but in practice you won’t feel like you’ve been short changed if you’re using the View as intended, as you’ll be far enough back from the screen that individual pixels aren’t remotely visible.
The basic software seems pretty par for the course, with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop on board and potential (although no official word) for the device to hit version 6.0 Marshmallow soon enough.
There’s a big ‘but’ however, as in order to capitalise on the extra-large screen real estate and ensure a wide selection of content is on-hand, Samsung developed a new user interface specifically for this device. A tap on the home button brings you to Samsung’s conventional tablet home screen, but tapping the icon in the bottom right corner launches a separate hub that collates media from a myriad of services, with everything from Netflix to Hulu, Twitch to YouTube.
Available services will no doubt vary depending on market, but based on the experience the Views we encountered were running, we wouldn’t be surprised if Sammy is betting big of market success Stateside.
Beyond the video streaming hub, Samsung presented us with other examples highlighting where the Galaxy View’s talents might be worthwhile. Its form lends itself to becoming a digital chalkboard of sorts, serving as an educational tool as well as an entertainment device.
The View accommodates a myriad of Bluetooth controllers too, so gamers can pair up a hardware control for greater dexterity during gameplay.
At this early stage in the game Samsung was only willing to reveal of few key pieces of hardware information formally, but when the View does eventually launch, we’ll be sure to fill in the blanks.
Inside the View is a 1.6GHz octa-core chip based on Sammy’s own Exynos architecture and twinned with 2GB of RAM. We suspect a very similar chipset to the one used by this year’s Tab S2 and in practice the interface felt fluid and responsive, but we’ll have a clearer picture of how it fairs come full review time.
Those aforementioned rear speakers pack a punch too (for a tablet) and battery life places the View at around 8.5 hours of continuous use on a charge thanks to its sizeable 5700mAh battery, which seems pretty solid; allowing enough time to stream a couple of HD movies and pull off some gaming, for which the View can also accommodate multiple wireless gamepads.
Speaking of streaming, the Galaxy View lacks a rear camera altogether, so you’re only left with a lowly 2.1-megapixel front-facer for video calling and perhaps more complex apps provided the support is there and the hardware willing. Whilst Samsung made no mention of this, simple gesture-based controls might help as wiedling and having to constantly get up close to swipe around the View could become a hassle.
At launch the View will arrive in a single storage option, a 32GB skew with microSD expandability up to 128GB which seems a little light for a media-focused device. If Samsung wants the View to be taken seriously, making it a nexus for multimedia in the home would require far larger internal storage and greater option for expandability, but that’s just our opinion.
We’re not sure whether the team responsible for the Samsung Galaxy View are geniuses or mad. They’ve either created the most awkward tablet ever or carved out a new market segment, just as the Note family did; serving as the catalyst for the phablet scene we know now.
We’re still trying to figure out who’ll be buying the Samsung Galaxy View, but that’s an answer we won’t likely be able to pin down until review time. Stay tuned.