Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 review
There are plenty of Android tablets in the shops. But the problem has been that they tended to stay there. Not many people have been buying them. One of the problems has perhaps been the overwhelming and confusing choice. Another reason has been that many of the tablets have had much smaller screens than Apple's iPad, making them less like tablets and more like oversized phones. For both of these reasons, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 seems like a good iPad alternative, as it uses technology already familiar to owners of phones like the Samsung Galaxy S3, and it has a 10 inch screen, like the iPad.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 was launched last year (2011), so this review is being written with hindsight. But hindsight is always a good thing. One thing we know now is that the Tab 10.1 has become the top selling Android tablet in the UK since its launch, and that's always a reassuring fact for potential buyers.
The Tab 10.1 is physically about the same size as the iPad 2. It's slightly more elongated, and ever so slightly thinner, making it unbelievably thin to hold. It's a little lighter in weight too, which is no bad thing. The screen has a higher resolution than the iPad 2 - at 1280 x 800 pixels it's a match for many laptops.
Apart from the big 10 inch screen, the Tab 10.1 has several advantages over the original Galaxy Tab 7. It uses a newer version of the Android operating system - Honeycomb 3.1, which has been designed specifically for tablets. Samsung have customised this with their Touch Wiz 4.0 user interface, and there are various Hubs too, which give easy access to various media content. The home screen can be customised so you can view content like email, facebook updates, weather forecasts, etc directly from the home page.
All kinds of messaging are integrated in the tablet - email, social media, instant messaging, etc. The Social Hub brings these together seamlessly, and you can also use it to view web feeds.
The Tab has a superb web browser, with very fast internet access via 3G HSPA or Wi-Fi. One of the benefits of the Tab over the iPad is that it supports Adobe Flash content in the web browser.
The Tab is brilliant for media. With the 10 inch screen you can properly enjoy watching video, whether they're youtube clips streamed over the internet or feature-length HD movies. And sound quality from the stereo speakers with 3D surround effect is excellent too. The Music Hub gives you an easy way to access new music. Google Music enables cloud-based music storage.
The Android Market is approaching the breadth and depth of Apple's App Store, and in fact products like Google Maps (with navigation), Google Calendar, Google Talk video chat and Skype make the Tab into a very powerful device indeed. We must admit though that the iPad is still the app leader.
Moving now from software to hardware, the Galaxy Tab delivers in spades. Powered by a dual-core 1GHz processor, with a full 1GB of RAM and up to 64GB of memory, the Tab 10.1 is the most powerful tablet we've reviewed so far. It's got the best screen too. The rear camera has 3 megapixels and HD video recording, but we're really not fussed by the rear camera on a tablet. The front camera is more useful, as it can be used for video chat, and it does its job well. We must just mention that the build quality of the device is impeccable.
Battery life is very good for a tablet, with the 7,000mAh battery being nearly twice the size of the battery in the old Galaxy Tab 7, and slightly larger than the iPad 2's. It should last for a full working day with heavy use.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is easily the best Android tablet we've seen so far. In many ways it matches or outclasses the iPad 2, and the price is the same. Yet the iPad family continues to outsell Android tablets, and that's mainly because of Apple's superiority on the "soft" side, i.e. availability of apps and media. But times are changing and the Android camp is getting stronger and stronger in this respect all the time. Combine this trend with the sheer brilliance of the hardware, and the Tab 10.1 could be a great buy for those brave enough to be a little different.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 features include:
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 user reviews
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