Samsung ups its game against Apple with new tablets

Samsung has taken direct aim at Apple's iPad Air and iPad mini with the introduction of a new flagship line of super-slim tablets. The move comes at time when companies have to not only compete with each other for a share of the tablet market, but also to keep the market growing at all.

On Thursday, the South Korean tech giant unveiled the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and 10.5, focusing both on their portability as well as their super-bright screens as a way to gain attention for the devices as the world's appetite for tablets wanes. According to the market forecast from research firm IDC, growth in the tablet market is expected to slow significantly in 2014 -- 19.4 percent as opposed to the 51.6 percent growth it saw in 2013.

Apple currently leads Samsung in the tablet world, the firm said, and iPads accounted for 32.5 percent of the world's tablet shipments in the first quarter of 2014. Samsung tablets took 22.3 percent of the market.

With an eye on gaining ground, Samsung made a point of highlighting what it called "meaningful, groundbreaking features" in its tablets. The main distinguishing feature that the company touted was the quality of the tablets screens, which the company said produces vivid colors and crisp images.

Other features seemed to be aimed at families -- a smart market, since many households share one tablet rather than buying multiple devices. For example, the decision to put in a fingerprint scanner, Samsung noted makes it easy to switch between multiple users in a household. The company has also put in more security features that parents can specifically turn on for their children, as well as a full "kids' mode" that allows for screen time limits; these features are similar to those baked into Amazon.com's Kindle Fire.

Still, Samsung is definitely going after its main competitor, Apple, with these devices. The company also referred to the new line as "enterprise" tablets, clearly looking to horn in on the market Apple has built in the professional world. The firm was also quick to note that the new tablets will be able to run two windows at the same time -- a feature that was rumored to be in the latest build of Apple's mobile operating system but was not included after all.

In a statement, Samsung Telecommunications America president and chief executive Gregory Lee said that the company has a "commitment to bring meaningful innovation that our customers care most about."

Samsung introduced two new tablets to take on Apple's iPad Air. The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and 10.5, pictured here, are slim and boast a super-high definition screen. (Courtesy of Samsung.)
Samsung introduced two new tablets to take on Apple's iPad Air. The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and 10.5, pictured here, are slim and boast a super-high definition screen. (Courtesy of Samsung.)

The tablets are available for pre-order starting Friday. The smaller of the two tablets will start at $399.99, while the larger will go for $499.99. Several retailers will carry the devices, including Best Buy and Sears, which has already put up a deal that shaves up to $105 off the retail price.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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