Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Review
In the world of tablets, the Apple iPad still reigns supreme. Samsung launched their 7-inch Galaxy Tab last year but it still not quite the tablet people think that can compete with the iPad. So what did Sammy do? They released the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 for those wanting a bigger screen because 7-inch is just not fun when you’re reading a magazine.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 comes in two versions. The first one which was slightly thicker was unveiled before the iPad 2 was launched. When Samsung saw how thin and light the iPad 2 was, they quickly modified the 10.1 to its current form, lighter and slimmer and looks like an iPad 2 sans the home button, and renamed the first one to 10.1v.
Check out our review of this 10-inch Android tablet from Samsung.
If you’re going to compare the Tab 10.1 to the iPad 2 black version, the only thing you would get is the aluminum band lining the edge of the tablet. The display size is much bigger but the bevel is slightly smaller. A lot of reviewers say that this is lighter than the iPad 2 but realistically, you can’t feel the difference.
The only thing you can see at the front aside from the display is the 2-mp front-facing camera which also indicates how this device should be oriented. Android buttons are included on the UI itself.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 doesn’t have much buttons and ports as well. On top (landscape orientation) there’s the Power/Sleep button beside the volume rocker, and also the 3.5 mm audio jack beside the regular SIM slot. This tablet accepts a SIM card but can’t do calls, only SMS and mobile internet. There are small speaker grills on both sides and the proprietary Samsung docking port is at the bottom.
There’s no HDMI port nor a microSD slot here but Samsung reps told us that you can have both via the docking port when you have the required accessories. Samsung also has a keyboard dock for the Tab 10.1 as well if you wish to do some heavy typing.
At the back is an all white goodness with a silver band on top for the 8-mp camera and a LED flash beside it. It’s made of hard plastic though so you might want to have something to protect it from scratches. This attributed to the lightweight design for its size.
Display and UI
This Tab’s 10.1-inch display sports a wide 1280 x 800 resolution using a 16:10 aspect ratio. Images appear sharp and vibrant on its glossy screen.
Samsung applied their TouchWiz layer on top of the Android 3.1 Honeycomb UI on this device. If you’re not familiar with the Honeycomb UI, the bottom portion is dedicated for the main navigation (Back, Home, Running applications, screen capture) and device info like time, WiFi settings, battery, and notifications.
Clicking on the lower right area will expand that portion where you can also toggle different device settings as well as see detailed notifications. The upper right is where the App button and additional menus are located. Not quite intuitive as you tend to look at the bottom of the screen for navigation.
Samsung added their own widgets here so that you can easily look at some info without launching any app. The social hub widget and calendar proves useful on a large display. They also added some sort of quick launch bar which you can invoke by swiping the bottom portion up.
The App view is where you can see all apps installed in the device. Press and hold an icon for a couple of seconds will show bring up your home screens below so you can simply drag your apps onto a screen to create a shortcut. Nice implementation Goog!
A tablet should be a very good multimedia device and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 makes a nice example… almost.
The music app looks clean and very easy to operate. No fancy view but it’s how I like it. Photos are viewed on a scrollable but plain wall. YouTube app looks nicer with its 3D wall.
As for video capability, DivX, MP4 and MKV were playable and it even has support for .SRT files (subtitles). I wasn’t able to transfer a 5GB mkv file onto it (for my 1080p test) though which is maybe a file system limitation. Viewing a 2GB 720p MP4 video looks really, really good on its screen. Crisp and clear colors. Just don’t hit the home or back button though. Luckily, video resumes from where you left off if you have to close the app.
Gaming is a different matter though. I thought I can just install a regular Android game into a Honeycomb tablet which would run it smoothly on a scaled up version, well not all. The Android market will only display games that would run on the Tab 10.1, like Angry Birds.
I tried installing some Gameloft HD games but I can’t even get one to work. Shrek Kart, Real Football, Hawx, they would all close before you can start playing. The closest I can get to run is GT Racing but the accelerometer doesn’t work so I had to use on-screen controls. This is more of an Android 3.1 issue (or game devs too) rather than Sammy’s fault. What I’m saying is, don’t expect a lot of awesome gaming from an Android Honeycomb tablet as of this moment.
The built-in Ebook app here reminds me of the iBook by Apple. Anyway, I was able to import ePubs and PDFs without any difficulties thanks to the convenient file explorer available in the device (Dropbox works too). It won’t render text on PDFs properly though as you can see some bleeding on the letters even at 100% zoom. It’s readable but discomforting. ePubs however, are pleasing to the eyes to read.
Despite its light weight, I can’t comfortably hold the tablet in one hand when reading a book for a long time without straining my wrist.
Oh yeah, did I already mention that you can do messaging with this tablet? There’s a messaging app which you can also access via the social hub. The social hub app looks neat as well. No need for TweetDeck or the likes.
I would say browsing on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is really smooth. Pages load fast and are rendered as they are. It plays live streaming Flash videos and you can even play those Flash games in Facebook like CityVille. It is strongly suggested that you download Flash 10.3 player from the market though.
Although you can take decent photos with the Tab 10.1, using it feels really awkward. Nothing special with the camera app, there are fewer settings than what you can find in high-end smart phones.
Here are a few photos taken with the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Not bad I might say.
I did some test on the front-facing camera for some video chat but like the 7-inch Galaxy Tab, it doesn’t work with Skype. I can’t get it to work with Google Talk as well. I can see video from the other side but video from the Tab’s camera won’t transmit.
Performance and Battery Life
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 runs on dual-core 1GHz processors and a low-powered NVIDIA GeForce GPU.
Overall performance is pretty smooth (not buttery smooth) although there were a few times that switching between home screens becomes jerky. There was also an instance that I would get some stuttering when watching a huge 720p video.
Here’s the quadrant score (1549) which is lower than dual-core smartphones but on par with other dual-core Android tablets such as the Asus Eee Transformer.
I could get around 8 to 9 hours off the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Slightly lower than iPad 2’s ten hours but that’s to be expected considering the Tab has a bigger screen but a bit lower battery rating at 6860 mAh as compared to the iPad’s 6930 mAh battery.
I have to mention a couple of things with my experience on this Tab 10.1 though. I get “force close” issues with a few apps from time to time. These doesn’t only happen to downloaded apps but also on native apps like camera, YouTube, etc. Secondly, I encountered having the battery on the Tab drained quickly while it’s on sleep a few times. Then I also experienced a few “hangs” where I had to do a hard reboot to get it started again. I’m figuring it’s isolated in this review unit but I can’t discount it being a problem of Android 3.1 since 3.0 had a few glaring bugs of its own. Or the TouchWiz UI can also be the culprit.
What I like most about the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is it’s beautiful design. The slim form makes it look more appealing than the ASUS Transformer’s edgy but thick design. It’s also light for a 10-inch tablet but not the ideal size for viewing magazines (too long) so you might want to opt for the 8.9 version instead if you’re into digital reading.
For those who are looking for the usual ports like microSD, HDMI or USB might be disappointed with the Tab but if Apple can make people buy the iPad with the same limitation why can’t Samsung right? If you want to play your favorite Android games on this tablet, prepare to be disappointed until Google can get it going right with Honeycomb. Then there’s the issue of video chat which is still not fully functioning as of this writing.
Otherwise, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a very capable multimedia tablet for browsing, watching videos, checking in on your social networks, and even doing some productivity work if you will also get the keyboard dock for it since it already comes with a Polaris app for your basic Microsoft Office files.
If you ask me, I think the sweet spot for a tablet is around the 9-inch size. If you don’t need the 3G capability, might as well wait for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 instead.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 will be available late August for Php29,990.
|Samsung P7500 Galaxy Tab 10.1 Specs:|
|10.1 inches TFT capacitive touchscreen (800 x 1280 pixels)|
|Dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor|
|ULP GeForce GPU, Tegra 2 T20 chipset|
|Android OS, v3.1 (Honeycomb)|
|HSDPA, 21 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps|
|3 MP, 3264×2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash|
|Video recording: 1080 @ 30fps|
|Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot|
|Bluetooth v2.1 with A2DP, EDR|
|2 MP front-facing camera|
|16GB storage, microSD slot via proprietary dongle|
|246.2 x 170.4 x 10.9 mm|
|Standard battery, Li-Po 6860 mAh|