Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Review – Wi-Fi

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is now available from Amazon.com

When it comes to Samsung tablets, you definitely have a lot of options to choose from. After all, you have the original Galaxy Tab 10.1, Galaxy Tab 7.7, the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, the Galaxy Tab 8.9, and now you have the recently released Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 and Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. While the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is Samsung’s response to Amazon’s Kindle Fire, for some, the smaller 7-inch form factor leaves one wishing for more screen real estate.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is Samsung’s replacement of the original Galaxy Tab 10.1. While it differs slightly from the original Galaxy Tab 10.1, the new Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 offers two things that the original Galaxy Tab 10.1 doesn’t offer: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and a lower price tag.

Is Android 4.0 and a lower price tag good enough to make you buy this new Samsung tablet? Find out in our review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. 10.1.

The Good

  • Price: Samsung is finally starting to understand that consumers want tablets, but just aren’t ready to pay a lot of money for it. At $400 for a Wi-Fi 16GB model, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is $100 cheaper than Apple’s new IPad.
  • Android 4.0 – The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 comes with the latest version of Google’s Android operating system, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The difference between Android 4.0 and 3.0 is speed, bug fixes, and lots of cool new features.
  • Thin and light – Although it’s a 10-inch tablet, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is both thin and light. The Tab 2 10.1 weighs just 1.28 lbs and is only .38 inches thick.
  • Integrated IR – With the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1’s integrated IR and Peel remote app, you can control your TV while working on your tablet.
  • microSD slot – With manufactures cutting cost to lower the price of their devices, many don’t include this simple but absolutely necessary component. If you ever need additional memory, simply insert a microSD card.
  • Battery life – The 7000mAh battery combined with Wi-Fi only connectivity will give you hours of entertainment on your Galaxy Tab 2.

The Bad

  • No major changes – Even though it is running Android 4.0 and costs much less than the original Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Tab 2 doesn’t offer overwhelmingly new specs compared to the original 10.1 slate.
  • Camera – The camera on the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 isn’t the best camera out there, but then again, this is a tablet, and you shouldn’t be using it as your main source of capturing memories when on vacation.

Specs

Although Samsung reduced the price of the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 by $100 (compared to the original Galaxy Tab 10.1), they didn’t really downgrade or remove some features. As a matter of fact, some features were added. The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 features a nice 10.1-inch TFT (PLS) display with WXGA resolution, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, a 1GHz dual-core processor, 16GB of internal storage, 1GB of RAM, and much more. For complete specs, check out the list below.

  • Display: 10.1″ TFT (PLS) with WXGA (1280×800) Resolution
  • OS: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Size: 0.38″ x 10.1″ x 6.9″
  • Weight: 1.28 lbs
  • Memory: 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage
  • Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth v3.0, USB 2.0 host, 3.5mm headphone jack, 30 Pin IF Connector, Integrated IR
  • Camera: 3.2 megapixel rear-facing, VGA front-facing
  • Other features: GPS, Stereo Speakers; Supports MDM, ODE, EAS, and VPN for Enterprise, Video Playback at 1080p/30fps

Hardware / Design

Design wise, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 resembles Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Note 10.1. Although the device is $100 cheaper than it’s predecessor, it’s still beautifully designed and feels great to hold.

The front of the device lacks any sort of hardware controls because the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 runs on Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS. Gone are physical capacitive touch buttons in place of the virtual buttons available in Android 4.0.

When holding the device in landscape mode, you have your large 10.1-inch TFT display. The display is bright and allows for great viewing angles. Besides the large display on the front, you also have your VGA camera towards the top and the Samsung logo on the bottom.

Also located on the front of the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 are stereo speakers to the left and right of the display. For some, the location of the speakers might become problematic depending on how you hold your tablet; I personally didn’t have any problems with them since my thumbs never really covered them up.

With the inch-wide bezel (the section between the display and edge of device), you won’t find yourself accidentally activating the display when carrying the tablet.

Samsung has elected to keep the left and right side of the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 free of buttons and slots. Instead, they decided to put all buttons along the top edge and the 30-pin proprietary connector on the bottom edge.

Along the top edge, you have your power button, volume rocker, microSD card slot, infrared blaster, and 3.5mm headphone jack. It’s really nice that Samsung included the microSD card slot in this version of the Galaxy Tab. As you recall, the original Galaxy Tab didn’t feature a microSD slot, so there was no room to increase the storage capacity of the device.

The infrared blaster on the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 allows you to use your tablet as a remote control for your TV. The IR blaster, along with the Peel app, transforms your tablet into a remote control.

The placement of all the buttons and slots are fine. Since they’re up top, you don’t end up accidentally doing things like shutting off the device or turning down the volume.

On the bottom of the tablet, you have your proprietary slot that is used to power the device, connect to your computer, and output to a bigger HDTV via the optional HDMI adapter. The connectors on Samsung tablets are pretty much universal, so if you have another Samsung tablet, you’re going to be able to use that cable on this one. Also located on the bottom of the device is the microphone.

Would it have been nice if they used a traditional micro USB and micro HDMI connection instead? Yes, I think.

If you flip the device over, you have your 3-megapixel camera located on top center of the device. The back cover of the tablet is made out of a soft plastic that feels good to touch and isn’t a fingerprint magnet (unlike the display). Underneath the back cover, you have your 7000mAh battery, which is non-removable, like on almost every other tablet.

Although it’s a large 10.1-inch tablet, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is easy to hold in one hand. Thanks to its lightweight and slim figure, it’s a portable device that’s comfortable to handle.

Display

The 10.1-inch TFT PLS display on the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 isn’t the best in the business; after all, it isn’t a Super AMOLED HD display. I understand Samsung’s decision to go with this older display instead of a newer one. After all, you don’t want to shell out the big bucks for a tablet, right?

Despite it being a TFT PLS display, it still offers good viewing angles and rich-enough colors. Under normal lighting, the screen excels; In settings with too much lighting, viewing what’s on the screen becomes a little challenge.

Last but not least, the display on the Tab 2 is just a major fingerprint magnet. Make sure that you invest on a screen protector and micro fiber cloth to keep that display nice and clean.

Software

The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 comes loaded with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest and greatest from Google. Of course, Samsung wouldn’t just ship its tablet with nothing but pure Android. Coexisting with ICS is Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. When it comes to the user interfaces that OEMs put on their devices, you either like it or you don’t. While I prefer a pure Google experience, I would be lying if I said that Samsung’s TouchWiz UI made the Android experience worse on the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1.

When it comes to installed software, there’s a number of them that come preinstalled on the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. You have your traditional Samsung apps such as AllShare, ChatON, Game Hub, Media Hub, etc. You also have a number of third party apps that come preinstalled on the device, such as Amazon Kindle, Dropbox, Netflix, Polaris Office, and Peel’s Smart Remote app.

The main star in all of the pre-installed applications is Peel’s Smart Remote. Combined with the built-in IR blaster that’s available on the Tab 2, your tablet is quickly transformed into a remote control for your TV. No need to grab that remote anymore when you’re lounging in front of the TV with your tablet, simply launch the Peel app and use your tablet as the remote.


    
Peel’s Smart Remote app turns your Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 into a remote control

Another great app that’s on the Galaxy Tab 2 is Dropbox. We all know that Dropbox is great and all, and it’s nice that it comes on the Tab 2. What’s even nicer is that as a Samsung customer and owner of the Galaxy Tab 2, you are given 50GB of free storage to use on Dropbox. So if 16GB internal storage isn’t enough, and a 32GB microSD card isn’t enough, you also have 50GB of free storage from Dropbox. The free Dropbox storage space is valid for 2 years.

List of Samsung Apps

  • AllShare
  • ChatOn
  • Game Hub
  • Media Hub
  • Memo
  • Music Hub
  • Music Player
  • My Files
  • Photo Editor
  • Readers Hub
  • S Planner
  • S Suggest
  • Samsung Apps
  • Video Maker
  • Video Player
  • Screen Saver
List of 3rd party Apps

  • Amazon Kindle
  • Dropbox
  • Netflix
  • Next Issue
  • Polaris Office
  • Smart Remote
List of Google Apps

  • Gmail
  • Google+
  • Latitude
  • Maps
  • Messenger
  • Navigation
  • Places
  • Play Books
  • Play Movies
  • Play Music
  • Play Store
  • Search
  • Talk
  • Youtube

Mini Apps

Back with this latest version of TouchWiz are Samsung’s Mini Apps. Mini Apps are a set of applications that can be run on top of any window that is currently open. The mini apps include an alarm, calculator, email, music player, calendar, world clock, and task manager.


    
Mini apps lets you perform task without missing any of the action

Although you still can’t add a custom application to the mini apps tray, you can now customize which of the above-mentioned apps appear in the mini apps tray. So now when you’re watching a movie and an email comes in, you don’t’ have to leave your movie to read the email, simply launch the email mini app and your email is opened while your movie continues to play in the background.

Performance and Battery Life

Samsung decided to go with to go with a dual-core 1GHz TI OMAP 4430 processor in the Galaxy Tab 2. While it’s a powerful processor, it’s not as powerful as some other dual-core processors, such as Samsung’s Exynos.

The dual-core processor on the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 makes using the device a pleasant experience. Navigating between home screen, launching apps, and surfing the web all happen very fast thanks to the dual-core processor. During my time with the tablet, I didn’t experience any lag while transitioning between screens or when launching applications; everything just moved along without hiccups.

In terms of battery, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 comes packed with a powerful 7000mAh battery. I tested the battery by watching movies and with Wi-Fi and GPS on and with the display set to full brightness. Under those circumstances, I was able to watch 3 full movies and use up the battery in roughly 6 hours and 15 minutes. Under normal usage, I was able to go 1-2 days before requiring a recharge. Overall, the battery life on this tablet is great. You will have enough juice to get through your day.

Camera

The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 features 2 cameras; a VGA front-facer, and a 3-megapixel rear-facing camera that’s also capable of recording video at 720P HD. In general, cameras on tablets haven’t been of great quality. Samsung continues that tradition here with the camera on this tablet.

There is no autofocus available, meaning that you will not be able to take any sort of close-up pictures. Be prepared to always be at least a foot away from your subject; anything closer than that will result in a blurry picture.

The quality of the pictures produced by the rear-facing 3-megapixel camera are alright when pictures are taken outdoors with enough light. Indoor pictures or those with moving subject on the other hand turn out dark, grainy, and noisy. The low quality of the pictures can be attributed to the fact that the tab 2 doesn’t have an LED flash.

Although the Tab 2 is capable of capturing video at 720P, the video it produces is just as mediocre as the pictures it takes. The video produced is grainy low audio. If you must use it, go ahead and do so. If you have something else in your possession capable of recording better video, I suggest you use that instead.

Camera Samples


   

   

720P HD Video Sample



Mobile viewing link

Conclusion

Should you be buying the $400 Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 or should you look for something else? It all depends on what really matters to you. If you want a good 10-inch tablet that will get the job done and won’t break the bank, then you should really consider the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. At $400, it is a great tablet for its price. The fact that this tablet offers good battery life, Android 4.0 ICS, IR blaster, thin and lightweight design, and a low price tag should be good reasons to jump on it.

If you don’t mind spending more money, I suggest you take a look at some of the quad-core tablets that are currently available. If none of those are of interest to you, I suggest you hold off on purchasing your tablet. Maybe you might be interested in the upcoming Galaxy Note 10.1?

You can now buy the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 from Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, and other retailers both online and in store.

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+

  • Yenrriz Canela

    Nice Review Very informative!

  • Bander

    I’ve been looking for an informative and professional review since the device was released. I’m interested in this device but I want more information before buying it. Looks like I finally found it.

    Thanks

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