Samsung flexes enterprise muscles with Tab Active and Knox

Even Gear VR virtual reality headset is promoted for workplace uses

Samsung promoted enterprise uses for its upcoming Galaxy Tab Active rugged tablet, its Knox security and management software, and even its Gear VR headset at its recent Super Mobility Week in Las Vegas.

The Galaxy Tab Active, first announced at IFA, is a standard Galaxy 8-in. tablet but has some promising add-ons for rugged uses in warehouses and field work. It boasts 10 hours of use from a removable 4450 mAh battery. To get to the battery, a user snaps off the rugged case, then pops off the back cover.

Samsung officials claimed it can withstand a 4-foot drop from waist height and is water resistant. The 8-in. display is WXGA LCD. It is powered by a 1.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor and has 1.5 GB of RAM.

It runs Android 4.4 KitKat, but Samsung hasn't described upgrade plans to Android L, the next version of the mobile operating system, which could launch as early as November. Samsung also hasn't given the price or shipping date. More details are expected in October.

The Active feels heavy at 13.86 ounces, not including the rugged case that Samsung showed with the tablet, but that's to be expected in a rugged device. Overall it measures 8.4 x 5 x 0.38 inches without the rugged case.

There are two cameras, but the rear one is just 3.15 megapixels while the front camera is 1.2 megapixels. The rear camera spec is not consumer grade, but well within the needs of warehouse operations that would require image capture capability for tracking inventory. A C-Pen stylus slides into the top edge and can be used as an alternative to touch controls for workers wearing gloves.

Samsung said it will soon announce a docking station for charging multiple Active tablets. There is also a more rugged pogo pin charging port on the left side. Workplace apps are being developed by both SAP and Citrix. Active also supports Knox 2.0 security and management software from Samsung.

The Gear VR headset

Samsung's Gear VR virtual reality headset might sound more like a gaming device, but Samsung officials say it will have real value for the workplace. Officials said it could be a useful tool for surgeons preparing for real-world surgery in a virtual way or for training police in tactics. One airline is investigating the Gear VR as a tool to give passengers a quick glimpse of how the first-class cabin will soon be upgraded, officials said.

Gear VR uses the new 5.7-in. display Galaxy Note 4 from Samsung as the VR's display and processor. The Note 4 clips inside the headset, which then attaches to the user's head with straps. In a brief demonstration, Samsung provided a world tour that offered vivid video of a helicopter ride over New York City and other scenes.

As this reporter tried out the Gear VR while standing for a couple of minutes, there was no blur when I moved my head up and down and left and right. It was so realistic that it was hard to stay standing.

About halfway through the demo, the image in the display got foggy in the center, while the image remained crystal clear around the edges. A Samsung worker said there might have been a moisture buildup, but it was impossible to tell. There was no sound with the presentation, and it wasn't clear how sound from Note 4 will be heard, although some kind of ear bud attachment seems likely.

Pricing and a shipping date weren't announced for the Gear VR. Sales in the U.S. are expected in time for the holiday buying season.

Knox security tools

Samsung officials defended Knox management and security tools and indicated the Knox brand will live on despite Samsung's recent cooperation with Google on its enterprise security and management initiative, Android Work.

There are 2.2 million users on 24 different Knox devices available in many countries, Samsung said.

The cost for cloud support of Knox tools is $3.60 per user, but prices are expected to go down, according to Jae Shin, vice president of Knox Business Group at Samsung.

Officials at Centrify, a cloud-based identity management software partner with Samsung Knox, said Samsung is soon expected to make Knox cloud support free for individuals and small and medium-size businesses and to lower its enterprise Knox support cost. However, Samsung would not comment on Centrify's statements.

Analysts noted that there has been a recent trend among enterprise mobility management vendors to lower costs. Also, several analysts at Super Mobility Week said that Samsung may be holding off on pricing until it finishes negotiations with Google over the license fees Samsung will receive for its contribution to Google Work.

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