The richness of those displays is even more apparent when you stick one of Samsung's Galaxy Tab Pros next to them -- the Pro is less than a year old, but the screen looks lifeless and washed out alongside the 10.5-inch S. And if the Tab Pro didn't have it bad enough, the difference was magnified in a test that simulated performance in direct sunlight. The Tab S's AMOLED panel maintained a level of clarity and vividness that couldn't be touched. Part of what makes the screen so impressive are the smarts that help it adapt to new situations. There's a tiny RGB sensor embedded in the bezels of both tablets that let it gauge your current lighting situation and fiddles with white balance to compensate. If you happen to find yourself in a room bathed with purple light (poor you), the screen takes on a magenta cast so as not to strain your eyes, a process that repeats wherever you go.
Despite what Samsung might think, a killer tablet requires more than just a killer screen. Getting a sense of a device's power while elbowing other journalists for room is a tricky process, but in our limited time together, both Tab S devices had no problem handling minor tasks we threw at them. Swiping through pages was quite snappy, as was firing up apps and thumbing through digital magazines. Oh, and as you'd expect, there was nary a hiccup in sight when we fired up a few test videos.
Both versions are good for gripping too, if only because they're so slim. Sony's Xperia Tablet Z2 still wins that fight by a few fractions of a millimeter, but the Tab Ss are only as thick as five credit cards stacked atop each other, so you shouldn't have trouble whipping them around. What's more, they both feel nice too. Don't get me wrong, the Galaxy S5 is fine and all, but it's just light enough to lack a certain sense of rigidity and robustness. That's thankfully not the case with the Tab S family: Sure, they're light, but the increased weight of those displays makes each respective package feel just a little more premium.
It's not just the hardware that seems a little familiar this time. Samsung didn't go overboard with the new software additions -- instead, it just updated a few key components. Easily the most impressive is Samsung's refreshed SideSync app, which allows a Tab S to communicate with a nearby Galaxy S5 over Wi-FI Direct. Why does that matter? Because now you're treated to a realtime replica of your phone on the Tab S screen, so you can swipe away on Tinder or transfer files by dragging and dropping. The usual slew of security-focused apps and Galaxy giveaways are still present and accounted for, so you'll find plenty of familiar bits if you're coming from another Galaxy gadget.
We can't pass final judgment on Samsung's newest pair of tabs yet, but we definitely like what we see so far. A mix of thoughtful updates, familiar design and some seriously impressive screens makes the Galaxy Tab S family one to consider when units start hitting shelves this July.