MEGATech Reviews: Samsung Galaxy View 18.4-Inch Android Tablet
Pros
  • Big, high quality display
  • Good battery life despite size
  • Built-in stand and carrying handle
Cons
  • Can be awkward to use
  • Questionable purpose
  • Inconvenient rocker stand hinge
7.5Overall Score

Size matters.... but at what point is it just too big? Get your mind out of the gutter, because today we're talking about tablets. More specifically, we're taking a closer look at the Samsung Galaxy View, an 18.4-inch behemoth of an Android tablet that defies conventional categorization. When you're more than four times the size of a typical Android tablet (remember that doubling the diagonal results in quadruple the screen surface area), can you really call yourself a tablet anymore?

A Bigger Perspective on Smarter Screens

MEGATech Reviews: Samsung Galaxy View 18.4-Inch Android Tablet

Product categories are a funny business. You've got smartphone screens getting progressively bigger such that a "phablet" is the norm. And if you remember the "netbooks" from several years ago, most of them were quite a bit smaller than a traditional laptop. And while the grand view of other companies might produce a tablet with an 8-inch display, Samsung's bigger vision leads to this beast.

The Samsung Galaxy View boasts a huge 18.4-inch full HD (1920 x 1080 pixel) display. As it is a TFT panel, it's not going to look quite as brilliant as the exceptional Super AMOLED screens of the company's flagship smartphones, but the touchscreen display is at least as good as Samsung's entry-level monitors. Behind that screen, there's an octa-core Exynos processor clocked at 1.6GHz, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage (24GB user available), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a 5700mAh battery good for 8 hours of video playback between charges.

In practice, I was able to get about 6 hours of screen on time (primarily Netflix) with 19% battery remaining, so that 8 hour claim is pretty accurate. Rounding out the specs are Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, a 2.1MP front-facing camera, a pair of stereo speakers and a standard 3.5mm audio jack. Unlike just about all other Android tablets, this one cannot be charged with micro-USB (or USB-C); there's a more laptop or monitor-like power brick involved.

Don't Call it a Tablet

MEGATech Reviews: Samsung Galaxy View 18.4-Inch Android Tablet

When the Samsung Galaxy View was first announced late last year, it was listed as an Android tablet even though the press release was careful to avoid that language. Today, you'll still find the Galaxy View under the tablet section on the Samsung website.

But to call this a "tablet" in the traditional sense is very misleading. This is not the device that you'll toss in your messenger bag as you head out to the local Starbucks for a cup of coffee. You can't even think of this like a larger laptop, because the "curved rocker stand" on the back cannot be removed. It's stuck there permanently, meaning that it is actually impossible to fold the Galaxy View down flat. It's always on this see-saw, giving you the choice between just two angles.

Integrated into the curved rocker stand is the built-in handle. This not-really-a-tablet is light enough for you to carry around from room to room, making it easier to continue your video-binging elsewhere in the house. You just won't carry it out of the house like how you might a tablet.

MEGATech Reviews: Samsung Galaxy View 18.4-Inch Android Tablet

Given this, it's perhaps more fitting to think of this device the way you would approach an all-in-one PC. The difference being that it has an 8-hour battery for ease of mobility and it's powered by Android instead of OS X, Windows or Chrome OS. That said, it lacks the connectivity and ports you'd expect on an AIO PC. The tablet DNA comes through here, because all you get is a place to plug in the power cable, a single micro-USB port for expansion, and the standard headset jack.

The design and build philosophy, aside from the quirky rocker stand and gigantic size, is somewhat reminiscent of the Galaxy S5 and that era of Samsung mobile device. There's the familiar textured plastic back and the noticeable lack of premium materials for the exterior housing. It doesn't feel all that fancy, but I suppose it's not really meant to be.

A Video-Centric Family Hub

MEGATech Reviews: Samsung Galaxy View 18.4-Inch Android Tablet

Maybe it's not exactly accurate to think of the Galaxy View as an all-in-one PC either. The way it's being positioned, you get the impression that it should act as a central, video-focused hub for the household. It's for the kids to watch Paw Patrol and for you to sneak off somewhere for some Game of Thrones. It's more like a portable TV, but that's only part of the equation too.

It feels like Samsung also wants to position this device as a virtual corkboard for family. The pre-installed Family Square app takes on the appearance of a corkboard and family members can share content through it, synchronizing with their accounts. You can also leave notes there. This focus is further driven home by the fact that a shortcut to Family Square is permanently integrated into the lower-left corner of the taskbar.

MEGATech Reviews: Samsung Galaxy View 18.4-Inch Android Tablet

Even so, streaming video is very much the raison d'tre for the Samsung Galaxy View. When you swipe in from the left on the main homescreen, you are presented with a large grid populated with shortcuts to popular streaming services. This gives you the impression that these apps are all pre-installed... except they're not. You still need to download them individually.

MEGATech Reviews: Samsung Galaxy View 18.4-Inch Android Tablet

As the Galaxy View is a Bell exclusive in Canada, it's not surprising that the CraveTV is featured prominently on this grid, but you also get shortcuts to Netflix, the Movie Network, Discovery Go, CTV Go, Treehouse Go, and so on. You can also set yourself up with the Bell Vibe TV app for quick access to live television too.

The video watching experience is enjoyable, as a portable TV might be, though I found the on-screen controls of apps like Netflix to be poorly optimized for a display this large. The pause/play button is too small and the app doesn't support tapping the middle of the video for that function, unlike YouTube. This isn't the fault of Samsung as much as it is the fault of certain apps.

Galaxy View Performance Benchmarks

MEGATech Reviews: Samsung Galaxy View 18.4-Inch Android Tablet

Performance on the Samsung Grand View is more than adequate for the purpose it's supposed to serve in the home. You're not going to be doing a ton of multi-tasking and it could become a little too awkward to play games that were originally designed for 5-inch smartphones. In Geekbench 3, it earned a 725 single-core score and a 3836 multi-core score, narrowly beating out the ZTE Grand X View but coming up well behind modern flagship smartphones.

MEGATech Reviews: Samsung Galaxy View 18.4-Inch Android Tablet

A similar story carries through with other standard benchmarks. It got 208 in the Sling Shot test in 3D Mark, 4244 in the Work performance benchmark in PC Mark, and 42,450 in AnTuTu. That pegs it behind the Dell Venue 10 Series 7000 tablet, comfortably in the range of a mid-range tablet but well behind the range of a mid-to-high end smartphone.

MEGATechie New World View or MEGATechie No Place in the Universe?

MEGATech Reviews: Samsung Galaxy View 18.4-Inch Android Tablet

The biggest problem plaguing the Samsung Galaxy View is this sense of an identity crisis. It's approaching this odd sub-segment niche of the market that no one really asked for. It's much too large to be a portable tablet, it's too small to be a proper big screen TV, and it's not versatile enough to act as a real computer. It's both all of these things and none of these things.

Aside from the strange rocker stand (which really needs to fold up flat when necessary), you can't really knock the Galaxy View too hard. The screen, while not AMOLED, is perfectly decent for video watching. Performance is more than adequate and battery life is commendable. I'm just not convinced it's something I would actually want instead of a smaller tablet or a proper AIO PC.

Bell customers can pick one up for $499 after a $200 discount, while everyone else can buy the Galaxy View for $699 outright.


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