Comeback king? We review the previously-banned Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Comeback king? We review the previously-banned Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Rating
Overall:

The slickest Android tablet yet: at last the iPad 2 has, almost literally, met its match

Features:
5
Value:
6
Performance:
5

Samsung's latest Android tablet looks a lot like an iPad 2 - so much so that Apple has called foul. Now that the court injunction has been lifted, we examine how the former outlaw measures up.

After months of legal wrangling, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 can finally be legally sold in this country. The Federal Court of Australia has unanimously overturned an earlier interlocutory injunction that had barred the tablet from sale (read the full story here).

Now that you can actually buy the device, we thought it was time to run our review. In short; it's the slickest Android tablet yet. At last the iPad 2 has, almost literally, met its match.

Déjà vu?

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 certainly looks eerily, insolently similar to an iPad 2 – and it probably doesn’t help that its various capacities and 3G configurations are priced to precisely match Apple’s corresponding models. 

 

 Apple iPad vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Nevertheless, the Galaxy Tab has a lot going for it. The looks have been updated since Samsung first demonstrated the device in February, but it’s still lighter than the iPad 2 at 565g, and a fraction of a millimetre thinner. The plastic back isn’t quite as bulletproof as Apple’s metal casing, but like theAsus Eee Pad Transformer – hitherto our favourite Android tablet – it feels sturdy and warm to the touch.

The screen is a delight too – a multitouch 1,200 x 800 LCD panel giving more screen space than the iPad 2 and a sharper dot pitch. Based on Samsung’s Super PLS technology – the company’s own take on IPS – it’s as bright and colourful as you could ask for, offering excellent viewing angles and an arresting maximum brightness of 492cd/m2 (brighter than Apple’s display), with a punchy contrast ratio of 600:1. The only downside is that, predictably, the widescreen format feels slightly unwieldy in portrait orientation.

Under the hood

Internally, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is based on a 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor, again matching the Asus Transformer. It was no surprise, therefore, to see the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark complete in a very similar 2.4 seconds – just a smidgeon behind the iPad 2’s 2.1 seconds. In the Android-only Quadrant benchmark the Galaxy Tab scored 2,200, which is a typical score for a high-end tablet.

In practice, this makes Honeycomb a snappy experience. The scrolling and rotating animations appear slightly choppy compared to the iPad 2, and when you swipe to scroll up or down a page there’s a tiny delay before the movement registers. But these are general Android niggles, and they’re easy to live with. Overall, the apps and front-end are as responsive as you could ask for.

Features & interface

Samsung has also overlaid its TouchWiz 4.0 customisations onto the regular Android interface. These include “live panels” – large informational widgets for your home screens – and a “Mini Apps Tray” along the bottom of the home screen. The notification and settings area at the bottom right of the screen is replaced with Samsung’s own version, offering simpler one-touch access to frequently used settings.

Games like Angry Birds fare well on the Galaxy Tab 10.1.

A showy “tilt to zoom” feature has also been added to the browser and various interface elements have been spruced up with a clean black-on- white look. These changes aren’t too intrusive, but they add little to the experience. Potentially more useful is the preinstalled copy of Polaris Office, plus some bespoke Samsung applications. These include the Social Hub, which combines your social network services into a single interface, and the Music Hub, an integrated music store powered by the 7digital service.

If you want to transfer existing media files from your PC to the Galaxy Tab 10.1, it’s a breeze. Samsung’s Kies software offers wireless syncing, but once the drivers are installed the tablet also works as a regular MTP device, so you can use whatever media manager you like to sync the player over a regular USB connection. The speakers are excellent, delivering remarkable volume and presence considering the size of the device.

Many popular video formats can be played out of the box, and there’s support for Windows 7’s built-in transcoding capabilities to help with movie files in the wrong format. We also found that 720p YouTube videos played without a hiccup.

Galaxy Tab 10.1 rear camera.

For shooting your own video, the rear-facing camera captures sharp 720p footage, but it’s a little grainy. Stills look better: the rear autofocus camera takes 3.2MP stills with crisp detail and good, realistic colour even in lowish light – and there’s an LED flash to help out if things get too dark. The front-facing camera is just as sharp, but uses a smaller 2MP sensor and a fixed focal length.

Cons

Inevitably, we’ve a few gripes about the hardware. The biggest disappointment is battery life: in our continuous video test, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 managed just 7hr 18min of playback off a full charge – less than half the life of the iPad 2, and 80 minutes less than the Asus Eee Pad Transformer.

It’s annoying too that the only regular connector is a 3.5mm headphone socket (plus a SIM slot on the 3G version). Otherwise, all power and data goes through a proprietary 30-pin socket. If you want to hook up an external display, you’ll need the external HDMI adaptor, sold seperarely.

There’s no microSD slot either, so if you want extra storage, you’ll need the similarly priced SD or USB 2 adaptor. The USB adaptor can also be used to connect a mouse, but it may not provide enough power for an external keyboard: if you need to do a lot of typing, you can use Bluetooth or buy a dedicated keyboard dock direct from Samsung. 

The OS also has a few admitted shortcomings. The Android Market is smaller than Apple’s App Store, with no way to filter out smartphone apps that aren’t optimised for tablets. The interface lacks the ruthless clarity of iOS, and Samsung’s tinkering with the front end only complicates things further. On the other hand, you do get the freedom to install alternative browsers and soft keyboards, not to mention Flash. And of course you can sync an Android device with as many PCs as you like, using whatever software you like.

Conclusion

Overall, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a hugely likeable device. With its slick performance, lightweight chassis and excellent screen and speakers, it captures the instinctive, tactile appeal of Apple’s tablet better than any rival we’ve seen. It has its weaknesses – notably the battery life – and it’s hardly innovative. But if you can find one in the shops, it’s the best Android tablet we’ve seen, and a compelling alternative to the iPad 2.

This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk


Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing

See more about:  samsung  |  galaxy  |  tab  |  101
 
 

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Comments: 23
zeebeech
5 December 2011
just wondering if that is really the right pic, it says 8.0 mega...


Comment made about the PC & Tech Authority article:
Comeback king? We review the previously-banned Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 ?
Samsung's latest Android tablet looks a lot like an iPad 2 - so much so that Apple has called foul. Now that the court injunction has been lifted, we examine how the former outlaw measures up.

What do you think? Join the discussion.
Haratu
5 December 2011
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is too late in my opinion. The Asus Transformer is well priced and has better connectivity, and the Transformer prime is due out early next year. If it had released 6 months ago it stood a very good chance, now it is just not enough, it is too little too late.
amcmo
6 December 2011
Another press release review.

Let me get this right,

It has a delay with registering some actions,
It has jerky response
It has a proprietary 30 pin connector. (hang on isn't Apple's hated prop iPad connector also 30 pin? - slavish copying at work??:d )

It has no USB port,
It has no SD or other card slots,

(the last 2 supposedly essential items for an Android tablet and reasons not to by an iPad)

Before anyone points out you can get adapters, this mag and others (plus fanboys) complained about the need for adapters with the iPad/Air. Personally don't have an issue with adapters, just pointing out.

Interface isn't as smart as iPad,
1/2 the battery life

It supports Flash - hang on isn't that the same Flash that doesn't actually work on mobile devices and has been abandoned by Adobe? (and this review was written AFTER Flash was dumped)

YET IT'S A COMPELLING ALTERNATIVE????

OK, who got the freebie tablet, the case of Scotch or the hooker???? Seriously, did someone get PAID to do that review?

The Transformer is a FAR MORE COMPELLING alternative to an iPad. That alternative I can accept, possibly even get one to play with, this device.. No.



Edited by amcmo: 6/12/2011 05:14:11 PM
photohounds
6 December 2011
Sharper, bigger, brighter screen + thinner case = shorter battery life. Only plays 4 movies before it runs out - is anyone actually surprised by this?

Sometimes the jerk's behind the controls? I turn that crap off anyway, it wastes batteries and I'm not that hard up for entertainment. Flash is being fixed as we read - apparently.

The connector SUCKS just as hard as Apple's rip-off-generating connector.
What is this - a "Lets see what SUCKS and then do as badly." exercise? :-(

Nah, pass on both of them ... no standard inputs is a huge disappointment and a reason not to buy EITHER unless you're INTO pointless expensive adapters that offer ONE MORE POINT OF FAILURE.


The transformer it may well be - (the kids will think that's cool...)
amcmo
7 December 2011
I see the Xoom 2 reviewed and it too lacks MSD card slot, plus the USB connector is positioned to be knocked out and/or damaged if you use it on your lap.

What is it with the Android tablet mfrs (apart from ASUS?) all in a mad rush to prove who can make the most ordinary iPad competitor. One point to Moto, they did manage to make a tablet that does not look like a copy of an iPad - see Samsung, it CAN be done.

The same review shows the Transformer performs almost twice as fast as the Xoom 2 and Galaxy. Sounds a far more compelling iPad alternative with every look.

Apart from ASUS, the current crop of iPad imitators would need to be hugely discounted to generate much following, but even then, why spend good money on something so ordinary?
photohounds
7 December 2011
A black rectangle with a glass screen is the most logical thing to make - and Apple copied the predecessors who looked just like that for good reason - looks OK and is the cheapest to have built. Glass top - like a COOK top? Many KITCHEN appliances have looked the minimalist thing from the late 1990s.

Hardly new, hardly 'innovative' Sick of hearing that BS claim from the fans.

Here are some precursors ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Tablet_PC - silver surround, but simple and RECTANGULAR.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynabook - ooh going back to 1968 - Kindle, anyone.

Apple chucked in better smarts that its PREDECESSORS and didn't make it fully functional. The HARDWARE MAKERS had new ram/cpus/screens to flog for inclusion in such things and were keen to sell them.
Apple were cluey enough to make a good range of apps available before launch and spent a S*LOAD on marketing BS. Result? They've sold a mozza of them and stole a march.

Why would another maker follow a different formula than the "minimalist appliance look"???



That said, these new tablet boofheads STARTED by putting proper connectors on - so what went wrong along the way???





...

Edited by photohounds: 7/12/2011 09:00:06 PM
amcmo
7 December 2011
Forget the rectangular shit.

Look at a Xoom2, Galaxy and you'll see which one was raced out within 6 weeks of the iPads release looking amazingly similar.
photohounds
8 December 2011
amcmo wrote:
Forget the rectangular shit.

Look at a Xoom2, Galaxy and you'll see which one was raced out within 6 weeks of the iPads release looking amazingly similar.


You CAN'T just 'race something out'. My money's on being well along the way and arriving with a similar solution, no matter HOW the fans like to paint it.

Cars are also remarkably similar these days, washing machines, fridges - ANY appliance.
amcmo
8 December 2011
Having run a multinational tech manufacturing unit, I can tell you we could have a publicly displayable unit within 4-5 weeks just from public domain data. Starting from the fact that Samsung had a working device (the original Galaxy)to springboard off it would have been a doddle.

Samsung have FAR FAR more resources than the company I was responsible for. We could have had a prototype of the case within days using our rapid prototyping gear. Using new equipment I examined in Europe last month, I could have a prototype case within 10 minutes of finishing the CAD and a finished production mould within the week.

I could also have had a working prototype within 8 hours of finishing the PCB on CAD, assuming all components to hand.

Given Samsung's amazing manufacturing prowess (from your previous postings) they would certainly have been able to do so in similar or less time without raising a sweat.
photohounds
8 December 2011
Maybe so, AM. They certainly have changed from an also-ran to an often shortlisted brand.
Rightly so as the stuff seems to be of very good quality.
amcmo
8 December 2011
I've never questioned their manufacturing ability and quality.

Personally don't like the plastic feel, however each to their own.
photohounds
8 December 2011
Fair enough, and I think a glass back is idiotic and fragile - a slave to some sense of fashion I suppose. Take that 'solid' back for instance:
. Can't easily replace the flamin' battery
. Instead cough up loot for that 'specialist' work
. Don't get YOUR phone back
' Have to restore your data onto a refurbished phone that's LIKE the one you sent off.

That SUCKS more than a plastic feel - a back you can clip off, replace the battery on your phone in seconds with a fully charged one, clip back on again
Inconvenience? As close to zero as you can get.
Planned obsolescence? Demonstrably lower than a sealed unit.

Plastic (that usually sensible alternative) is not what it was 30 years ago, as you'd remember ... It wasn't always a lightweight, durable material that can be made to look almost any way you like. The newer varieties take impact better than glass typically does, most types springs back into shape better than metals typically do, and plastic has always been a pretty good insulator.

Yes, each his own. The phones themselves are a swings and roundabouts affair, both with weaknesses and strengths. I have the spare batteries just in case, and at low cost. I like being to be ready to fix simple issues fast, without the witch doctor :).


Edited by photohounds: 9/12/2011 05:30:49 PM
Ikeable
13 December 2011
Looks nice but I'll stick to my Acer Iconia 500. No microSD slot is a crime!
marts
15 December 2011
What's with the proprietory 30 pin connector? What's at the other end? If it's a standard USB connector then what are the remaining 26 wires connected to?
jeffhilsonn
24 December 2011
I see the Xoom 2 advised and it too lacks MSD agenda slot, additional the USB adapter is positioned to be agape out and/or damaged if you use it on your lap. What is it with the Android book mfrs (apart from ASUS?) all in a mad blitz to prove who can accomplish the a lot of accustomed iPad competitor. One point to Moto, they did administer to accomplish a book that does not attending like a archetype of an iPad - see Samsung, it CAN be done.
photohounds
1 January 2012
Agree wholeheartedly that no externals like an ipad is a stoopid thing to 'copy'. Maybe having one would confuse the slavish iBuyers? Anyway, limited external inputs is a minus.

I tried one locally - not AT ALL jerky - easy, smooth and pleasant to use. and interestingly, the screen seems MUCH larger when you surfing using the horizontal view. This size advantage is even more pronounced for movie content. It literally dwarfed the fruity incumbent. The seemingly thinner bezel means you don't have a behemoth on your hands, but still benefit from that nice, bright, large screen. Nice!

B- (for this OLD version) Good at $399...

Where's the 10.1n that has been released???
Pity this mag couldn't be bothered to get the newest version.
I think the telephone would have instantly procured one.

Stereo 'speakers' will appeal to many - and on the FRONT, too...
Something for apple to "slavishly copy".
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7 January 2012
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shmartinn
8 January 2012
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is too backward in my opinion. The Asus Transformer is able-bodied priced and has bigger connectivity, and the Transformer prime is due out aboriginal next year. If it had appear 6 months ago it stood a actual acceptable chance, now it is just not enough, it is too little too late.
AutoHertz
25 January 2012
Haratu wrote:
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is too late in my opinion. The Asus Transformer is well priced and has better connectivity, and the Transformer prime is due out early next year. If it had released 6 months ago it stood a very good chance, now it is just not enough, it is too little too late.



I have this set since last 1 year. it's functionality is superb.....
watson4455
26 January 2012
Before anyone points out you can get adapters, this mag and others (plus fanboys) complained about the need for adapters with the iPad/Air. Personally don't have an issue with adapters, just pointing out. implant in dentistry
ianmarcuss
28 January 2012
The Universe Tab 10.1 is too overdue in my view. The Asus Transformer is well cost and has better connection, and the Transformer excellent is due out beginning next season. If it had published 6 several weeks ago it a very pretty excellent possibility, now it is just not enough, it is too little too overdue.
Brianjohnson07
3 March 2012
Samsung's latest Android tablet looks a lot like an iPad 2 - so much so that Apple has called foul. Now that the court injunction has been lifted, we examine how the former outlaw measures up
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