It took a while for hardware manufacturers to squeeze high-resolution screens into smaller tablets, but those floodgates are now wide open. Let's take the features and specs of one of the first razor-sharp mini-tablets, the 2013 Nexus 7, and compare them to those of the new Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4.
We're looking at two different classes of "mini" here. The Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 is 10 percent longer and 13 percent wider than the Nexus 7. Samsung's tablet is, however, 17 percent thinner.
The Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 is 14 percent heavier than the Nexus 7, but considering the size difference, it's still going to feel very light in hand.
Samsung is putting all of its chips in the pleather pot, as the new Galaxy Pro tablets all have the same faux leather (plastic) backing that we first saw in the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition.
Screen size is one of the biggest areas you'll want to look at before making this decision. The Nexus 7 only gives you 69 percent as much screen area as the new Galaxy tablet does. The Tab Pro 8.4 also packs in many more pixels, but the Nexus 7's 323 PPI is nothing to sneeze at either.
Both tablets sell in 16 GB and 32 GB models, though Samsung's slate also complements that with a microSD card slot.
You can also pick up both tablets in Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi with cellular data models.
The Galaxy Tab's cameras win on megapixels, but that isn't always the best measure. We'll have to wait for some extended hands-on time to have much to say about its front and rear shooters.
Battery life isn't amazing on the Nexus 7, but we also wouldn't brand it as a major concern either. Though it holds a bit more juice, we'll also need to wait for our review to draw any conclusions about the Tab Pro 8.4's uptimes.
Most versions of the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 will ship with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800, one of the fastest mobile CPUs around. The Nexus 7's Snapdragon S4 Pro is a generation behind and, in terms of benchmarks, can't keep up. But performance is past the point of concern in most high-end mobile devices, so we don't think this should be a big factor in your decision.
We're looking at the same 2 GB of RAM in both devices.
If you want to use your tablet as a remote control for your TV and cable/satellite box, then the Galaxy Tab has you covered.
Software joins display size as another big area to look closely at before making a decision here. Samsung's tablet runs Android 4.4 KitKat, but it's a heavily-skinned version. Samsung's TouchWiz UI, already one of the thickest custom skins from Android OEMs, now has an extra layer of Galaxy glitz. The Magazine UX is Samsung's new launcher, which adds Windows 8-like live-updating widgets to your home screen.
The Nexus 7, meanwhile, sits at the opposite end of the Android spectrum. Like all Nexus devices, it runs "pure Android," just as Google intended. While you might miss out on a few features, you get a cleaner, leaner, and more focused UI. You can probably tell that I prefer stock Android, but to be fair, many customers seem to be perfectly content with Samsung's feature-rich (or bloated and gimmicky?) TouchWiz.
The Galaxy Tab Pro tablets are all set to launch this month, while the Nexus 7 has been around since mid-2013.
Samsung didn't boost the Galaxy Tab Pro's price quite as high as we'd feared, but it's still in a different bracket than the Nexus 7. If you can live with the Nexus' much smaller screen, then you can save US$170.
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