Last year this time, the only Android tablet available was the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 Inch model. Even the iPad was still fairly scarce…turn the clock forward a year and we have quite a variety to choose from, from all sorts of different OEMs. One of the better known ones, thanks to a hugely successful and dominant marketing drive, is yours truly – The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
So let’s get acquainted shall we!
One of the first things I noticed when I lifted the Tab from its box, was that it was so incredibly light. My Transformer felt like an elephant compared to it. Next, you realise that it really is very thin – very thin! My mind boggles at the way we fit all the necessary components into these devices these days, and yet, keep them so thin…
At 8.6mm thin, this tablet won’t be stopping any door anytime soon. It really does feel great in your hands.
Rounded on all corners, it is also very pretty to look at. The display fits nicely into the average sized bezel on the front.
Looking at the front, you’ll notice that there are no hardware buttons – obviously thanks to Honeycomb and the buttons being a part of the display. There is also a 2 MP forward facing camera and a light sensor that works very well at adjusting to environmental light conditions.
There aren’t many ports or SD card slots on the Tab…in fact, there’s really just the proprietary port at the bottom for USB connections and charging. That’s it. This to me is still a disappointment – the ability to use native cables ie. HDMI cables, or to insert an SD card to transfer files to (Or for expanded memory) is something I enjoy having on other devices, including the Transformer. However, that being said, with cloud computing and DLNA and WiFi direct becoming big players in the coming months, this will be less of a problem over time with devices in the future. Anyhow, I digress…
Joining the proprietary port is a pinhole microphone, for use when not using a headset.
On top of the Tab, (when looking at the screen) one finds the power button on the far left, the volume rocker, 3.5 inch audio jack and a sim card slot for mobile data use – though the Tab is unable to make calls, unlike its smaller and older 7 inch cousin.
Just to touch on data via the sim briefly – I have heard a fair amount of complaints that the Tab is unable to maintain it’s connection to the data network, though these all tend to come from Vodacom users. On Cell C, I had no issues. Data performed as expected (Which is really quick on Cell C at times).
The back sports a 3 MP camera and a LED flash – which is quite powerful I might add!
There are 2 speakers, found on either side of the Tab, that to put it simply – blew me away. I was very pleasantly surprised to hear the quality and fullness of the sound that emanated from the Tab’s speakers. Definitely top notch.
The display is brilliantly bright and rich in colour. The light sensor previously mentioned adjusts well to the light conditions around it, helping to save battery life, and saving you the trouble of adjusting the brightness yourself. The responsiveness is also stellar, though this is hardly surprising, considering it is capacitive. As expected, Samsung does not disappoint in the screen department, as display is one of their products, and something they’ve always done well.
My favourite hardware feature? Vibration and haptic feedback – this worked really well on the Tab, something I wish I had on my Transformer.
All in all, the hardware quality on the Tab is superb. It is solidly built, with nary a creak to be found.
With the now slightly outdated Android 3.1 running on it, as well as the Touchwiz UI, the first thing I just couldn’t escape noticing, was a slight jerkiness and lag when swapping from screen to screen, opening apps or the app drawer and rotain from landscape to portrait. While I don’t think this will be a problem for an everyday user, power users like myself would definitely find it increasing annoying. The Tab should be receiving the 3.2 update soon though, which should more than likely sort this issue out. Once 4.0 is available, it will definitely perform well…
Touchwiz itself adds a fresh, bright appearance to Honeycomb, while still keeping Honeycomb’s Tronish look. I personally prefer the way the status bar settings tab looks with Touchwiz’s influence. The greens and rounded fonts are much more pleasant to look at.
Samsung also includes the Mini Apps tray, a handy quick app access launcher, as well as Readers, Social and Music Hub. Social Hub quickly became a favourite of mine, as it amalgamated both my twitter and Facebook into one, with a nice little widget to go along with it.
The mini apps tray provides quick access to apps like the calendar. A nice touch was that they opned up in a small window that you can move around.
Battery life was awesome – standby time was around 3 – 4 days, and normal use got around 9 hours. Heavier use will obviously get less…go figure I still think that this is superb, given the Tab’s size.
Besides the lag when switching between screens etc. the general performance was very good, with pinch to zoom and tilt to zoom working pretty much flawlessly.
720p playback wasn’t an issue either, with videos playing well complimented by awesome quality sound.
The cameras perform pretty much way below par. The 3 MP camera takes ok pictures for the ‘before I miss it shot’ and 720p recording is really just the pixel size. Quality wise – its not worth writing home about. The idea of taking a device the size of your average exam pad and using it as a camera is pretty much absurd. The features are nice for the quick snap or two, but don’t count on them being masterpieces – and you shouldn’t really look at this as a deal breaker. In my opinion, they should keep the front facing cam, improve it’s quality, and ditch the back….I mean, how many netbooks have you seen with a back facing camera???
All the usual other features, such as the GPS, motion sensors perform as they should without any issues.
This is where the Tab falls short. It retails for around R7500.00 (the 32 GB). As far as competitive pricing goes, it’s pretty much on the same level as the iPad 3G 64 GB, and unfortunately Apples name counts a lot more in this case. Samsung has an excellent advertising campaign, but they really need to price their products more competitively in the SA market.
Other Android tablets out there that are as good quality wise are much more competitively priced ie. The Transformer retails with the keyboard accessory for between R6000 and R6500 – and that’s for the 32 GB. It may be WiFi only, but chances are you already have an Android phone with hotspot capability, or even an iPhone with the same feature. 3G on board is an expensive feature, especially when it is so simple to tether. Wifi is becoming more common as well, so devices without 3G are no longer a problem.
Another factor is the fact that other tablets have SD card slots, USB ports and HDMI ports without the need for a proprietary adapter. The Iconia has USB on board, the Transformer has 2 on the keyboard attachment, a micro SD card slot on board and a full one on the keyboard…and they retail for far less.
You’ll see I mentioned future devices…why? Because they’re already announced and will be coming to SA shores very soon. We’re talking next gen hardware here. The Transformer Prime should be here by February at the latest, and it will have 4.0 onboard, a quad core processor and beats the Tab in thinness at 8.3 mm – and 12 hour battery life.
Why do I say this – Samsung hasn’t announced a new 10.1 inch competitor yet…and probably only will at CES in January. They may announce a killer device, and I hope they do…but for now, they’re a little behind.
Samsung does have variety going for them though, and this is one thing that should keep the brand going strong. They cater for everyone, with form factors coming in at 10.1 inches, 8.9 inches, 7.7 inches, 7 inches and the Galaxy Note. This is a clever move, as they have excellent quality tablets available at plenty different price points, or pretty much capable of the same thing.
So is this tablet for you? Would I buy it? Is it worth the price? I say yes to the first two…and a tentative yes to the third. The Tab is well built and offers a rich experience. I still believe that Android tablets offer a much greater value for money compared to their fruity competitor and thus will still say that the money is well spent on the Tab. But Samsung needs to bring their pricing down. It’s a great device and worthy of your money. Go buy it!
Ease of use: 4/5
Gallery below, as well as some more photo samples!
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 3G Specs (P7500)
|HSPA＋ 21Mbps 850/900/1900/2100
|Android™ 3.1 (Honeycomb)|
|10.1″ WXGA 1280×800|
|1GHz Dual Core application processor|
|Main(Rear) : 3.0-Mega Pixel Camera AF with LED Flash
Front : 2.0-Mega Pixel Camera
|Format : MPEG4/H263/H264,Divx/Xvid
Playback : 1080p Full HD Video @ 30fps
Recording : 720p HD Video
|MP3, AAC, AAC＋, eAAC＋, OGG, MIDI, AMR-NB/WB
3.5mm Ear Jack, Surround Sound Stereo Speakers
|Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync|
|Quickoffice HD Editor|
|Google Mobile Services :
Google™ Talk Video Chat, Google™ Maps, Books, etc.
|Samsung TouchWiz UX|
|Samsung Mini Apps Tray|
|Social Hub, Music Hub, Readers Hub
＊Availability differs by region
|Adobe Flash Player 10.2|
|Bluetooth® technology v 2.1 ＋ EDR
WiFi 802.11 (a/b/g/n)
|Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Digital Compass, Ambient Light sensor|
|16G / 32G / 64G|
|256.6 x 172.9 x 8.6 mm (1mm thinner than the iPad 2), 595g|
＊ All functionality, features, specifications and other product information provided in this document including, but not limited to, the benefits, design, pricing, components, performance, availability, and capabilities of the product are subject to change without notice or obligation.