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Samsung’s Pro tablets go big, leave home, have consumer relevance

Last updated on February 10, 2014

Mobile World Congress will soon be upon us and will surely bring with it news of tablets that was mostly missing from CES despite such products continuing to be among the hottest categories in consumer electronics. One exception to the dearth of CES announcements was the Samsung 12″ Galaxy Tab Pro and Galaxy Note Pro. The Pro” sub-subbrand takes over from the “Note” subbrand as Samsung’s most premium denotation, leaving Note to just represent pen input. To contrast, pen input is part of what differentiates Microsoft’s Surface Pro, but of course has nothing to do with the MacBook Pro.

The Pro line will also mark the debut of Samsung’s first Android tablets to break the 12″ barrier. In 2012, Toshiba reached well beyond that barrier with the 13.3″ Excite, but the pricey product vanished soon after it was released. The Samsung device is not only smaller, but thinner and lighter — a key advantage when dealing with a larger tablet.

The big Pro tablets are Samsung’s Android play to eat into a bit of the market for Windows and Chrome notebooks for on-the-go productivity. The company highlights the extended comfortable soft keyboard on the big screen. It also seeks to position the big tablet as supporting multiple open Android applications, a multitasking feature that allows Android tablets to better answer the functions of Windows. Paradoxically, this occurs as Windows is moving toward reducing the number of apps that can be on the screen at one time, at least in its Modern interface.

But the larger screen should yield content consumption benefits as well, particularly for applications such as playing games and movies, reading magazines and sheet music. It’s doubtful it will do much to stem the glut of 7″ devices that have democratized the Android tablet. But it could help push Android into a screen size where there have been few altenratives for those valuing screen size over portability.