Not content with being second best, Samsung went back to the drawing board after Apple unveiled the iPad 2 to the world – with its impressive thin profile and premium construction. Of course, Samsung isn’t content knowing that they’ve been one-upped, and instead, they reworked the design of their Samsung GALAXY Tab 10.1 to meet the new standard set by its chief rival. Instantly, it’s going to catch plenty of inquisitive glares with its razor thin profile, but more importantly, does it have enough drawing power to make it a well-rounded model that can stay head above water over other recent Honeycomb flavored tablets flooding the market as well?
The package contains:
•Samsung GALAXY Tab 10.1
•Proprietary USB Cable
•Quick Start Guide
•Health & Safety and Warranty Guide
Alright, let’s get the obvious out of the way, but the Samsung GALAXY Tab 10.1 is undeniably super razor thin – albeit, we’re not thrilled at the same level when we first feasted our eyes on the iPad 2. Nevertheless, it’s the first thing to capture our attention. Besides its slender looks, we’re greeted with a conventional looking tablet that doesn’t boast anything we haven’t seen before. The combination of its white plastic rear cover and silver accent offers a suitable contrasting look, but it doesn’t particularly scream anything premium. All in all, it’s indeed a valiant effort on Samsung’s side, however, it lacks the ingenuity and polish that we find on models like the Apple iPad 2 and HTC Flyer.
Of all the Android powered tablets we’ve reviewed thus far, the 10.1” PLS-LCD display of the Samsung GALAXY Tab 10.1 is arguably the best we’ve seen to date – honestly! For starters, its 1280 x 800 resolution offers some vivid and sharp looking details, but when you combine it with its iridescent color production, it charismatically dishes up one potent luminance that makes it utterly alluring. Seeing that it’s one of the brightest panels we’ve seen grace a tablet, we didn’t have almost any issues attempting to use it outdoors under the presence of the sun. Adding to its prowess, its viewing angles are pretty much rock solid to keep its flowing colors visible in just about any way you look at it.
When held in landscape, its front-facing 2-megapxel camera sits squarely in the middle along the black bezel surrounding the display – with the proximity and light sensors nearby. On both its left and right sides, cutouts found along the silver trim bezel hide its two speakers, which offer support for stereo output. Meanwhile, the 3.5mm headset jack, raised dedicated power button, and volume rocker are positioned along the top edge – with the latter two exhibiting a natural tactile response when pressed. Oppositely, the tablet’s proprietary dock connector and microphone are found on the bottom side of the tablet. Sadly though, it’s sorely lacking some modern amenities; like a microHDMI port and microSD card slot.
Flip it around to its rear; the 3.2-megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash resides directly in the middle of the silver plastic accent. As much as we’re in love with its skinny looks, one has to wonder if Samsung had to compromise on other goodies that are increasingly becoming prominent amongst most tablets. Additionally, its plastic construction is alright, but doesn’t make a resounding or long-lasting impression on us – then again, we’re curious to see how the metallic gray version of the tablet pans out.
Boasting that all too familiar 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, it still undeniably comes across as a high-caliber tablet – though it’s nothing astoundingly superior to what we’ve seen previously. Much like the many other Honeycomb tablets before it, the GALAXY Tab 10.1 provides a responsive navigation experience with few instances of choppiness or slowdown in landscape. However, we’re still experiencing some delay with the tablet’s operation in portrait, which is clearly something related to Honeycomb’s programming. Strangely though, the tablet is able to achieve average Quadrant scores of 1,550, which is rather low compared to similarly spec’d tablets.
Interestingly enough, the tablet launches without Samsung’s full-blown customized homescreen UI with TouchWiz, but rather, we’re presented with a stock Honeycomb experience that has some minor touch ups. In fact, Samsung’s presence is found in things like the camera UI and on-screen keyboard. Depending on your preference, some can see it as a good thing, but it naturally doesn’t provide any additional widgets that we’re normally accustomed to seeing. With Android 3.1 Honeycomb in tow, it offers a few subtle changes, like the ability to resize certain widgets to specific lengths, but overall, it doesn’t necessarily offer anything drastically different from other Honeycomb tablets. If you want to learn more about Honeycomb’s vast personalization aspects and core features, then you can read about it in our in-depth Honeycomb walkthrough. We should definitely note though that Samsung’s TouchWiz UI, Samsung Media Hub, and enterprise solutions will still come to the GALAXY Tab 10.1 through a future software update GALAXY Tab 10.1 . Taking into account that Honeycomb has been around for a few months now, we’re rather bummed to find that there are currently 72 tablet-optimized apps in the Android Market. Besides the Android Market, you can also download apps via the Samsung Apps hub – albeit, there are only 6 offerings available on there. To make matters worse, they’re nothing different from what’s found already in the Android Market – these include all the Angry Birds games, i-Inter, blinkx Beat, and Zkatter: Galaxy.
Organizer and Messaging:
Being a largely stock Honeycomb tablet, there is nothing different hardwired into the Samsung GALAXY Tab 10.1’s Calculator, Calendar, and Contacts apps. As can be expected from any Android device, information is synced across your Google account, like your calendar and address book, with Honeycomb adding a visual flare and usability optimized to take advantage of the tablet form factor.
Plentiful with its real estate, typing for the most part is a satisfying experience – even for those who happen to have larger sized fingers. Not only are we given the stock Honeycomb keyboard, but it even incorporates the Samsung and TalkBack keyboards. Generally, all three exhibit the same responsive feel when typing, but the only difference among the three is their physical layouts. In reality, they all work accordingly like they should, but the TalkBack keyboard is the least favorable one since it’s basically the stock keyboard you find with Android for smartphones – but stretched out.
With an abundant amount of screen real estate, the Gmail experience is a pleasure to use, with threaded view, the ability to label items and a two-panel layout that presents emails in their full fidelity. Alternatively, setting up other email accounts is a breeze, requiring an email address and password for automatic setup. However, if it’s not one of the popular email services out there, you’ll need additional information to get things set up.
Internet and Connectivity:
Looking back at the original Samsung Galaxy Tab, the biggest memorable annoyance we found was none other than its laggy and sometimes wonky web browsing experience. Fortunately, the GALAXY Tab 10.1 eases our worries with its flawless execution as it loads pages relatively quick, offers responsive navigation, and brings the web in full fidelity with Flash support (after it’s installed). However, we still encounter some hiccups along the way, like random crashes, but it’s not something that happens all the time.
Nothing out of the ordinary with this Wi-Fi only tablet, but it’s still accompanied by the usual set of connectivity features – like aGPS, Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR, and 802.11 b/g/n. Launching Google Maps for the very first time, it’s able to hone into our exact location within 10 seconds. Meanwhile, we didn’t experience any problems connecting Bluetooth peripherals to it or retaining a solid connection to a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Surprisingly, the Tab 10.1 forgoes using the stock Honeycomb camera interface, and instead, it opts to use the new interface found with TouchWiz 4.0. Minimalistic with its presentation, it doesn’t come off as something drastically beneficial in shooting photos – mainly because its interface isn’t optimized for tablet. Regardless, you have some reasonably sized buttons to quickly change settings or access specific manual controls. Indeed appreciative, we like the fact that pressing on the shutter key activates the LED flash so that it properly focuses. Moreover, it does the same thing with its touch focus feature.
Though acceptable for smaller sized printouts, the 3.2-megapixel camera’s results are nothing spectacular – yet, it’s not too terrible at the same time. Specifically, outdoor shots exhibit soft looking details that naturally make them appear muddy in appearance – albeit, color production seems to be on the warmer side. Thankfully though, it excels in capturing macro shots. However, things take a dip with indoor samples taken in low lighting mainly because they’re littered with an abundant amount of noise – thus, lessening its details. Fortunately, it’s able to be combated by the tablet’s LED flash, but it loses its potency with shots taken further than 5 feet away.
Gladly accepting its 720p video recording quality, there’s a lot to like with this one because it’s able to cough up some exciting details that are supplemented with its smooth 29 frames per second capture. Not only that, but it maintains a steady level of exposure and color production to keep things looking clean at all times. Moreover, its clear and distortion free audio recording caps its all-around good video recording ability. In all likelihood, just about anyone will find its quality more than pleasing to the eyes.
Browsing through content with the Gallery app is a treat, despite there being no deviation from the stock experience. Obviously, you’ll be able to share photos with a variety of services, while also presented with the same set of minimal editing options at your disposal. As for the music player, Honeycomb’s stock offering is visually rich and exciting and acts as you’ve come to expect from music players, displaying the album cover, on-screen controls and track information. Finding two speakers, its output is rather neutral in tone – still making it pleasant to the ear. However, its natural and distortion-free tones can easily drown out in noisy environments. Featuring the Music Hub app, it’s the one spot where you’ll be able to browse, purchase, and download songs directly to the tablet. For the most part, single tracks range in price from $0.99 to $1.49, while downloading a full album will generally accompany an average price of $11.99.
Blessed with a high contrast display and lush color production, it’s naturally the ideal concoction to offer an exhilarating video watching experience. Able to smoothly play a video encoded in MPEG-4 1920 x 1080 resolution, it’s guaranteed to show off plenty of rich visuals to keep anyone engaged. Blatantly, it’s missing a microHDMI port that’s found on many devices nowadays. Meaning, you’ll more than likely need to purchase a dongle or dock of some sort to output video or get a mirrored experience on a high-def television set.
Granted that it isn’t your professional grade editing software, the Movie Studio app nevertheless offers users some of basic editing functionality on the go. Although it’ll take some time fully comprehending how the app works, there is a reasonable amount of editing functions that you can apply – like adding different templates, transitions, and effects.
Starting in size with 16GB of internal storage, it might be enough for some people out there – but if not, there’s the 32GB version available as well. Unlike some of its Honeycomb brethren, it sadly doesn’t offer additional storage capacity via microSD card slot.
Looping a video while having the brightness and audio set to their medium settings, we’re able to get out 8 hours of continuous video watching while connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot. Indeed hitting the same mark as the HTC Flyer, we’re more than satisfied with its battery life – albeit, its normal usage is still less than the iPad 2 by comparison. Regardless of that, you can sleep knowing that you’ll more than get a solid one day of usage on a full charge – with no worries about recharging throughout the day.
At first glance, there’s no denying that people are going to be enthralled by the Samsung GALAXY Tab 10.1– even more when they see that it’s the thinnest and lightest tablet on the market. However, once those feelings soak in and disperse over time, they’ll soon find themselves at a standstill questioning some of its omissions. Specifically, its gorgeous display and thin profile take precedence immediately, but when you find that it’s missing some common amenities that are perceived to be standard amongst Android tablets, like a microSD card slot and microHDMI port, you get a sense that it’s being reserved with its offerings. Not everyone might need those two specific items, especially when the GALAXY Tab 10.1 features a sizable display that’s perfect for viewing, but when you see previous tablets offering them, it’s only expected to be available going forward.
Priced at around 60k bdt for the base 16GB Wi-Fi model, it definitely is forgiving, but taking into account the novelty and inexpensive route that some other Honeycomb tablets are flaunting, it really makes it hard for some to unequivocally fall in love with the Samsung GALAXY Tab 10.1. Nevertheless, future software updates are surely going to aid the tablet to differentiate itself from the current crop. Indeed, it’s by far one of the better designed Android tablets out there, but after seeing similarly spec’d Android tablets priced cheaper, like theAcer ICONIA TAB A500 and Asus Eee Pad Transformer, the only recognizable advantage with the GALAXY Tab 10.1 is none other than its slim looks – and that’s what you’re primarily paying for. If you really prefer looks, then the Samsung GALAXY Tab 10.1 is for you, but if value and savings are things akin to your style, then you might want to consider checking those other Honeycomb tablets.