Review: 10.1″ Samsung Galaxy Tab

  • August 11, 2011 7:53 am


In the current tablet market, the iPad 2 is still the undisputed king. Some participants such as the Motorola XOOM and older, smaller Samsung Galaxy Tab have certainly put up a fight thus far, but ultimately failed to claim any serious market share. Back for round two, however, is Samsung’s larger, more threatening 10.1″ Galaxy Tab. With more pixels and more potential than any Android tablet yet, can Samsung finally take a large enough bite out of the iPad 2′s market share? Jump past the break to find out…


The Specs

  • Processor: 1 Ghz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Display: 10.1″ 1280 x 800 IPS (In plane switching)
  • Cameras: 3-megapixel w/ LED flash (rear) + 2-megapixel (front)
  • Video: 720p
  • Storage: 16 GB | 32 GB | 64 GB
  • Battery: 6860mAh

Hardware & Physical Impressions


Whereas the 7″ Galaxy Tab is cute, portable and sleek, the 10.1″ Galaxy Tab is large and in charge. Yeah, it still has the same sleek lines as its smaller sibling but the overall package is better — much better.

The 10.1″ Galaxy Tab packs a higher resolution 1280 x 800 IPS display that simply looks stunning. At 149dpi it’s not nearly as sharp as Apple’s retina display. Still, it handedly trounces the iPad 2′s similar sized, but lower resolution 1024 x 768 display. While the IPS display isn’t quite as impressive as the company’s AMOLED glass, it’s definitely close. We’ll take it.

The dual-core 1 GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 is the standard silicon for a high-end tablet these days, though no less impressive. One thing we continually noticed when picking up the 10.1″ Galaxy Tab was that to most people, there’s not much difference in outward appearance between the Motorola XOOM and Tab. Though once Samsung’s latest TouchWiz update rolls out to all 10.1″ tablets, that change will be a tad bit more apparent.

Moving on, Samsung has managed to make a few compromises in the name of design, with I/O ports and expandable storage getting the cut. External, replaceable SD card storage is not present on the Galaxy Tab. Ditto for miniHDMI too — a usually standard feature on high-end Android tablets. The end result is an Apple-like neutering in the name of a more sleek and eye-pleasing design. For some, the compromise is a welcome one. For others used to Android’s normal “cover every base” approach, the move is a blow to everything that is Android. With all that said, the bottom of the 10.1 Galaxy Tab houses the Apple-like charging connector. The left side claims the power and volume buttons. And finally, the top holds the headphone jack.

Performance

With the powerful dual-core processor, one would expect rather potent performance, fluid traditions and an interface free of lag and freezes. No surprises — it’s fast. Unlike the Motorola XOOM we reviewed several months back, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1″ with its nearly identical hardware is like butter. In the several days we’ve been flogging the device, we have seen one, single instance of stutter. We weren’t do anything particular intense — closing the browser and opening up the Android Market. Still, we’re not worried. Just trust us when we say Samsung got it right with the 10.1″ Galaxy Tab. To put it bluntly — it feels very Apple-like. (Sorry Apple haters. Though, you should take that as a massive compliment.)

Apps & Software

One of the biggest problems we’ve had with Android tablets thus far has been the lack of apps. While the scene is thankfully improving, the Android tablet app scene still has a long, long way to go. With that said, there are quite a bit more noteworthy and worthwhile tablet Android apps available since our last stint with an Android tablet, the smaller Galaxy Tab a couple months back.

We must note that Samsung is currently rolling out a new update for the 10.1″ Galaxy Tab that among other things, brings a slightly tweaked UI that features TouchWiz undertones, widgets and apps. For those who find TouchWiz utterly repulsive — like us — don’t get too concerned. Google’s own requirements for Honeycomb is that it isn’t ruined by 3rd party skins like pre-3.x versions. As such, the TouchWiz UI elements are minor in appearance and not very deep. In fact, from what we’ve seen of early hands-on previews of the new TouchWiz UI, we’ll actually admit that it looks pretty decent.

LTE

LTE is amazing. LTE is fast. What more do you need? In all seriousness, the inclusion of LTE is a massive plus. The only con is of course the rather expensive costs associated with the newly tiered data plans sweeping the country.

If you’re looking to save a benjamin or two, drop the LTE version and go WiFi-only.

Battery life

Like Samsung phones, we found the 10.1″ Galaxy Tab to exhibit the same fantastic battery life, easily amongst the top tablets in the Android scene, and even tablets overall. Using a mixture of internet, gaming, music streaming and the occasional YouTube video, we got a touch over 9 hours in between outlet sessions (WiFi only). Considering we were hitting it pretty hard at times, the 9-hour figure is pretty impressive. More video/gaming will obviously shorten time abroad. On the flip side, users who aren’t quite as tough on batteries as we are could easily stretch the Galaxy Tab’s battery life across several days.

If we switched on LTE and got hot and heavy with VZW’s uber fast networks, run time dropped quite a bit down to ~4-5 hours. Still, that’s not too bad in our book.

Conclusion

As far as Android tablets go, the 10.1″ Galaxy Tab is where it’s at. In terms of hardware, it packs all the latest bells and whistles to please Android enthusiasts. For those with an eye towards design, the casing and reduced number of ports brings a more Apple-like approach that in our opinion, pays off. The only area lacking is software. Though that’s not Samsung’s fault, but Android developers instead for dragging their feet in adopting support for larger-screened devices.

If you can look past the still humble market for tablet specific apps, Samsung’s larger Galaxy Tab is quite the competitor.

Get the LTE equipped 10.1″ Samsung Galaxy Tab today for $529 (16 GB) or $629 (32 GB) at Verizon Wireless.

Gadgetsteria’s Rating: 8


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Gadget lover, smartphone collector, and beer connoisseur. I've been writing about gadgets for three years now and loving every minute of it. Outside of the digital landscape, I enjoy being active outdoors. I'm always up for a good conversation, so feel free to drop me a line!