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Samsung Galaxy View

Display: 18.4-inch 1080p HD LCD display with 120 pixels per inch

OS: Android 5.1 Lollipop

Processor: 1.6GHz Exynos 7580 octa-core processor

Memory: 2GB RAM, 32GB (microSD card slot expandable up to 256GB)

Camera: 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera

Battery: 5700mAh

Connections: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, A-GPS

Viewing angle: Two viewing angles; upright or incline

Dimensions: 17.19 x 10.86 x 0.47 inches (at its thinnest point)

Weight: 2.65kg

Comes in black

Whether you consider the Samsung Galaxy View a tablet or a TV depends on your point of view. Samsung welcomes the confusion because it views (pun intended) the device as hitting a “sweet spot” between a large TV and a regular tablet. Large enough to enjoy any type of content, yet portable enough to move around the house, this overgrown tablet is all about size and convenience.

Even in spite of its size, the Galaxy View’s purpose isn’t immediately obvious because it’s not entirely clear who it is made for. The lack of clarity makes the device somewhat ambiguous, but the screen is where everything begins and ends.

Design and Setup

By any measure, this is basically a Samsung Android tablet, only in a much larger form factor. The 18.4-inch LCD display isn’t the same as the more saturated and sharper Super AMOLED displays the company typically uses for its mobile devices. The lower pixel density is understandable because of the larger real estate, so it’s important to recognize this isn’t a mini-TV with the latest screen technology.

The built-in slit handle along the top makes it easier to carry the View around, though it isn’t as recessed as it could’ve been because of how the kickstand goes flush with the top half of the device. That same kickstand can only do two angles — upright and inclined. The incline doesn’t have the same level of practicality, though it is useful for watching video with others lurking over your shoulder. The rocking design of the kickstand means the device can never be fully flat.

It runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop, which feels a little outdated at a point when Android N is coming in the fall. For the basic use cases the View is made for, however, that isn’t as big an issue. The 32GB of internal storage is decent, but not great, though it matters less if streaming is your primary focus. The one USB port is compatible with sticks and external drives, allowing for access to more content should you have it stored on there.

Otherwise, there is no memory card slot for any further expansion. A 3.5mm headphone jack can be equally useful for plugging in portable speakers for a sound boost. Lacking an HDMI input, there is no way to leverage the View as a second screen, nor a TV tuner input to bring in free over-the-air TV from an antenna.

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Software

Samsung heavily marketed the View in partnership with Bell because of the Fibe integration. In lieu of a traditional way to connect to subscription cable TV, the streaming option is the method of choice instead. On the surface, this includes live TV channels, the guide and more, except the integration doesn’t include recording shows to the View’s internal memory. PVR functions are relegated to the Fibe box connected to another TV, meaning that, while it’s possible to set a show to record or access recorded shows, it can only be done when on the same Wi-Fi network as the Fibe box.

The onus has been placed on making TV and online video inherently easier to access. Hence, there is a visual menu with logos for different streaming services, like YouTube, Netflix, CraveTV, TSN, The Movie Network, HBO GO and more. Not surprisingly, the Bell-owned or operated ones make the cut, while others have to be downloaded and accessed by downloading their respective apps. For example, Rogers properties, like Shomi or Sportsnet Now, fall into that category.

Being an Android device, getting around that is easy. Simply downloading the apps and keeping them on the home screen essentially does the same thing, without all the fancy grid-style wallpapering. The home screen is always the anchor, but Samsung tried to make it simple to get to content anyway. Swiping right from the home screen shows the same grid of streaming services I noted earlier. Swiping to the left immediately goes to Bell Fibe.

Full access to Google Play means any app or game could technically run on the View, but how practical they might be is questionable. Casual games aren’t bad, depending on how the controls work. It would be possible to pair a controller via Bluetooth to play more immersive games, but I don’t know if it’s entirely worth it.

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Performance

The Galaxy View has one job to do: display content. As long as it stays in position and the Wi-Fi connection is fine, it does that one job well. What it offers in doing that one thing is convenience. The convenience of being able to watch something from one room to another. The convenience of easily accessing live TV (as long as you have a subscription). The convenience of accessing the web and whatever other content sources Android makes available.

For the most part, all of those conveniences already exist with regular-sized tablets, and even smartphones, but it’s the screen size that completes the picture. Sure, a Chromecast on each TV in a home could theoretically achieve the same result, but the View does make it easy to literally take it anywhere at home or outside. Watching a Blue Jays game outside on the deck while barbecuing or smoking a cigar, or in the kitchen while cooking or having a meal are just two examples.

The portability means the View doesn’t have to be stationary. The screen size means it’s easier to see what’s on. Mind you, the limited battery life will require frequent plugs to a power outlet, but that’s not an issue if there’s one close to where the View is situated.

Taking the View beyond the home is certainly possible, but not always practical. Since the unit doesn’t flatten out, it has a larger footprint than it should during transport. I carried it around in a tote bag to the car and it was fine, if not a little awkward.

Battery life

With a battery only 5,700mAh in capacity, it’s not especially big for the size of this machine. And it shows fairly quickly. Screen brightness does need a boost, as do the not-so-good internal speakers. With Wi-Fi also always on, and video playback being so common on it, the battery is likely to last in and around six hours. Not especially great, but not terrible, either.

Final Thoughts

Bottom line, the Samsung Galaxy View is neither a TV replacement, nor a premium tablet that just happens to be bigger than the rest. It’s a serviceable tablet that serves a specific need for watching content on a portable device that has a screen more than one person can look at. It also doesn’t have any specific competitors, so while a little bit of a strange product, the View pretty much stands alone.

If you want a bigger screen you can lug around to watch the game or a favourite show at a time and place of your choosing, this oversized tablet is built to oblige such desires. It just doesn’t do much else beyond that.

The Samsung Galaxy View is available at Best Buy.

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Editor Cellular/Mobile Technology
I’m a fortunate man in being able to do the fun job of following and reporting on one of the most exciting industries in the world today. In my time covering consumer tech, I’ve written for a number of publications, including the Globe and Mail, Yahoo! Canada, CBC.ca, Canoe, Digital Trends, MobileSyrup, G4 Tech, PC World, Faze and AppStorm. I’ve also appeared on TV as a tech expert for Global, CTV and the Shopping Channel.

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