Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Review

After going back to the drawing board to redesign its first Android 3.0 tablet, Samsung finally went ahead and released the Galaxy Tab 10.1. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 features a 10.1-inch WXGA 1280×800 HD display, runs on Android 3.1, features both front and rear-facing cameras, comes in 16GB and 32GB flavors, and is all powered by a powerful 1GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor.

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 initially went on sale exclusively at the Union Square Best Buy location in New York City on June 8. It was then launched at Best Buy locations nationwide on June 17. There are currently two models of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 available, with two different color schemes to choose from The 16GB model sells for $499 and the 32GB model sells for $599; both models come with either a black or metallic gray back.

This is our review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. The model we’re reviewing is the 16GB version with a metallic gray back.

Hardware

The first thing that you will notice about the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is that it is slim, and it is light, very light. After Apple announced the iPad 2, Samsung decided to go back to the drawing board and completely redesigned the Tab 10.1. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 measures 256.7 x 175.3 x 8.6mm (width, height, depth), and it weighs a tiny 565g. Those same measurements for those of you in the U.S. are 10.10” x 6.9” x .33” and 1.24 lbs. As you can see, the tablet is pretty thin and pretty light.

Here is a complete list of specs for the Galaxy Tab 10.1:

  • Android 3.1
  • 10.1-inch Widescreen 1280×800 WXGA display
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 1GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor
  • 7000mAh battery
  • 3-Megapixel rear-facing camera with 720P HD video recording
  • 2-Megapixel front-facing camera
  • Surround sound speakers
  • A-GPS
  • Sensors: Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Ambien Light, Compass
  • 30-pin dock connector
  • 3.5mm stereo headphone jack

On the top of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, you have the power button, volume rocker, and 3.5mm headphone jack. The left and right side of the tablet are equipped with the stereo speakers. The bottom of the tablet has the 30-pin dock connector and a small microphone to the right of the connector. After using the Motorola Xoom for such a long time, it was weird turning on the Tab 10.1 with the power button located on the top of the device. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just that I have gotten so used to pushing the power button on the back of the Xoom.


      

On the back of the tablet, you have your 3-megapixel camera that’s capable of recording videos in high definition (720), a long with the LED flash. Besides the small 2-megapixel camera on the front of the tablet, there are no other buttons; this is all because this wonderful tablet runs on Honeycomb, the latest version of Android that’s specifically for tablets, and in Honeycomb, all the buttons are built into the OS.


      

microSD card

Instead of including microSD card storage, Samsung decided to go without this feature. This could be the one feature that turns many people away from this tablet. While all the other Honeycomb tablets out there have SD card storage the Wi-Fi version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 doesn’t. microSD storage will be available in the 3G/4G models that will be released in the future.

One of the main selling points of Android is the ability to store things on an microSD card. Asus and Toshiba have taken it up a notch and have introduced full SD card storage and even full USB ports. I guess this is one of those trade-off’s that was needed to be made in order to have the world’s thinnest and lightest tablet.

Software

At the moment, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is shipping with Android 3.1. Samsung is working on the finishing touches of their Touchwiz UI, which will be available as a separate update later on. As far as the software on this baby, it’s pure, stock Honeycomb. If you’ve ever used an Android tablet running pure Honeycomb, such as the Motorola Xoom, then you already know the deal. Android 3.1 brings the ability to resize widgets, and other performance improvements.


      
Honeycomb on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

There’s no specific date on when the Touchwiz UI update will be made available. The only thing that we know at the moment is that it will be an optional update. If you like your Honeycomb pure, then you will get to keep it the way it is.

Apps

Although the Galaxy Tab 10.1 doesn’t come with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI, it still comes preloaded with some of Samsung’s custom apps.

Music Hub: Music Hub is Samsung’s music store. It is powered by 7digital and allows you to, as expected, buy and listen to songs. The songs range from $0.99 to $1.49. Prior to buying songs, you are given the chance to listen to a 30 to 60 second preview of the song.


      
Music Hub lets you buy music, with songs starting at $0.99

Samsung Apps: Samsung Apps is Samsung’s appstore. Since Google’s all about being free and open, appstores are popping up everywhere. There isn’t really much offered in the Samsung Appstore. I counted a total of 17 apps available. If I were you, I would stick to the official Android Market store, or the Amazon Appstore.

In order to install any of the 17 apps available in the Samsung appstore, you will need to make sure that your Galaxy Tab is set to install non-market applications.


   
The Samsung Appstore doesn’t contain many apps, stick to the Android Market

Quick Office HD: Quick Office HD is a nice little document editing application. Unlike the original Quick Office, this version is optimized for Honeycomb tablets and takes full advantage of the screen real estate that tablets have to offer.

With Quick Office HD, you can pretty much create and edit Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations. The application allows you to open from and save to the local disk. Don’t worry if you don’t have anything stored locally. You can also open from and save to cloud storage services such as Google Docs, Dropbox, Box, Huddle, SugarSync, and Mobile Me.


      
QuickOffice HD lets you edit documents saved on your device or in the cloud.

Pulse: Also coming standard in the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is Pulse reader, the popular RSS reader that has been optimized for tablets.

Pulse, the popular RSS reader comes pre-loaded on the Galaxy Tab 10.1

Camera

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 features both front and rear-facing cameras. The front-facing camera is a 2-megapixel camera that’s capable of taking pictures and recording videos. The rear-facing camera is a 3-megapixel camera that’s also good for pictures and HD videos at 720P.


      
Sample pictures from the 3-megapixel rear-facing camera

The cameras perform well when lighting is good. When I took pictures outside, camera application responded very quickly. Taking pictures indoors, where lighting was the best was another story. When taking pictures in low-lighting conditions, the camera application took a few seconds to focus and take the picture.

This isn’t a deal breaker, after all, you aren’t buying this wonderful tablet to take pictures in low-lighting conditions.

720 Video sample



Mobile viewing link

Conclusion

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a solid device by Samsung. Its thin size and great design will definitely make this one a winner for Samsung. I didn’t like the fact that the camera didn’t take such great pictures in low light, but that is understandable. The missing microSD card support was missed, but Samsung made it up by offering this tablet in both 16GB and 32GB models.

Jonathan converted to the Android platform from Blackberry with the original Motorola Droid. He currently has a Samsung Galaxy Nexus complete with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on Verizon Wireless, a Motorola Xoom, and a Kindle Fire. Besides keeping up with Android news, he enjoys spending time with his family, gaming, reading, and computers. Google+

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