Samsung touts enterprise uses for Tab Active and Knox

Even Gear VR virtual reality headset is promoted as a business tool by Samsung

Samsung is using the stage at this week's Super Mobility conference to promote its upcoming Galaxy Tab Active rugged tablet, its Knox security and management software, and even its Gear VR headset to enterprise users.

The Galaxy Tab Active, first announced at this week's IFA conference in Berlin, is described as a standard Samsung 8-in. tablet with some promising rugged add-ons for use in warehouse and field work.

samsung galaxy tab Matt Hamblen/Computerworld

Samsung hasn't announced pricing for the new Galaxy Tab Active with a rugged case and 8-in. display.

The device can run for 10 hours using a removable 4,450 mAh battery. To get to the battery, a user snaps off a rugged case, then pops off the back cover.

Samsung officials say the device 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 1.5 GB of RAM.

Galaxy Tab Active runs Android 4.4 KitKat. Samsung hasn't disclosed its plan to upgrade to Android L, which could launch as early as November. Nor has Samsung given a price tag or shipping date for the tablet; more details are expected to come in October.

The Active feels heavy at 13.86 ounces, a weight that doesn't include the rugged case that Samsung showed with the tablet. But that's to be expected in a rugged device.

Overall, the tablet measures 8.4 x 5 x 0.38 inches without the rugged case.

The device includes two cameras -- a 3.15 megapixel rear camera and a 1.2 megapixel fromt camera. The rear camera spec is not consumer grade, but well within the needs of warehouse operations. 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 also plans to add 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 for the device by both SAP and Citrix. Active also supports Knox 2.0 security and management software from Samsung.

Samsung's new Gear VR virtual reality headset might sound more like a gaming device, but Samsung officials told reporters and analysts that it also has real workplace value.

Officials said the headset could be a useful tool for surgeons prepping for real-world surgery, or for training police in tactics. One airline is investigating the value of using the Gear VR as a tool to give passengers a quick glimpse of how the first class cabin will soon be upgraded.

Gear VR uses the new 5.7-in. display Galaxy Note 4 from Samsung as its display and processor.

The Note 4 clips inside the headset, which then attaches to a person's head with straps. In a brief demonstration with reporters, Samsung provided a world tour via Note 4 that offered vivid video of a helicopter ride over New York City and other scenes.

When this reporter tried out the Gear VR, 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 may have been a moisture buildup, but it's impossible to be sure. There wasn't any 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.

Samsung hasn't disclosed pricing plans or a shipping date for the Gear VR. Sales in the U.S. are expected in time for the holiday buying season.

In general, Samsung officials defended Knox management and security tools at a breakfast for reporters and analysts. They indicated the Knox brand will live on despite Samsung's recent move to take part in Google's Work initiative.

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 coasts $3.60 per user, but prices are expected to go down, said Jae Shin, vice president of the 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 its cloud support free for individuals and small and medium businesses and to lower its enterprise Knox support cost. 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 speculated that Samsung is holding off to finish negotiations with Google over the license fees Samsung will receive for its contribution to Google Work.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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