Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 review: Droid at large

GSMArena team, 08 September 2011.
Pages: «12345678910»

Unboxing

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 retail package hardly brings any surprises. The box holds the device, a USB cable, a two-piece wall-mount plug and a pair of headphones.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 3G Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 3G Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 3G
Taking a peak inside the box

The package is about identical to what you get with most other tablets out there with the headphones not even present everywhere, so we won't be deducting any points of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 here.

Design and construction

The tablet is impressively slim and deliberately underdesigned. A certain litigant-happy competitor did vehemently disagree on the latter but to no avail. In tablets, design is minimalist bordering on non-existent. They all look alike. It's not the XOOM, the Flyer, or the Playbook that were in trouble though and we can see a point there. Yes, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 looks like the iPad2. In a good way or a bad way? You decide. Certainly not in an illegal way.

What's ultimately important though is that the Galaxy Tab looks good, and being slim is a big part of that.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g
Galaxy Tab 10.1 next to Galaxy Tab 8.9 and Galaxy S II

We do like premium materials like steel, aluminum and the likes but choosing plastic instead saves a whole lot of weight. This is one of the most important things when considering the purchase of a slate - you wouldn't want your hands to go numb when hodling it. The larger 10.1 Galaxy Tab is a good 35 grams below the 600 mark. Its nearest competitor, the Apple iPad 2, is 42 grams heavier.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the iPad 2 head to head

We have to admit, though that the iPad 2 does have a minor edge in terms of overall feel. The Galaxy Tab strikes back with its easier handling due to its taller and slimmer body.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g
Size-comparison with the iPad 2

Just bear in mind that all that shedding of grams and millimeters hasn't made the Galaxy Tab 10.1 the friendliest of gadgets. Yes, it's portable - impressively so for its screen size - but you'll still need a place to prop it up when your hands need a break.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is built around a 10.1” PLS LCD screen with a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. The image quality and viewing angles make it one of the best screens to find on a slate.

We do like the smaller Galaxy Tab 8.9 screen better, but that's down to the higher pixel density. We were pleasantly surprised to find that both tablets are readily usable outdoors, even if colors do get a bit washed out.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 0.31 257 826 0.55 502 915
LG Optimus Pad 0.19 170 889 0.57 458 811
Apple iPad 2 0.18 167 925 0.55 429 775
Apple iPad 0.18 178 834 0.53 410 776

Anyway, we're still at a point where being able to see anything on a tablet screen outdoors is considered a great achievement (and we'll probably stay there until the Galaxy Tab 7.7 finally hits the shelves), so the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is almost as good as it gets.

Controls

The front of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 has no hardware controls whatsoever – with the Honeycomb OS based solely on touch controls, the slate just doesn’t need them. All you get is the front-facing camera, embedded in the bezel.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g
The 10.1" PLS TFT display on the Galaxy Tab 10.1

At the top we find the 3.5mm audio jack and the SIM card slot. The SIM card sinks quite deep and is a bit tricky to push and eject but that's not something you'll need to do daily. The top is the only part of the device to feature any kind of hardware controls with the volume rocker and the power key near the left corner.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g
The top part of the slate • SIM card slot • 3.5mm audio jack • Volume and lock buttons

Moving on to the bottom, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 uses a proprietary 30-pin connector for charging and connectivity. Both the USB host and HDMI TV out require adapters to work and at this point we cannot confirm any of them will be part of the standard package. An SD card reader is another optional accessory which will probably have to be purchased separately. Be warned that you'll need a power cable to use the HDMI TV-out.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g
USB host adapter • SD card reader • HDMI adapter

Aesthetically, a single connectivity port is the preferred solution - and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has the functionality after all - you'll just need to get the adaptors. To be fair to the competition though, they have the connectivity features available straight out of the box. The Motorola XOOM comes with dedicated microUSB and HDMI ports, along with a microSD card slot (fully enabled at last). The HTC Flyer has a microUSB port and a memory card slot, too.

The other thing to note at the bottom is the microphone pinhole. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 doesn’t have telephony enabled, but the mic is needed in voice and video chat. There are a bunch of Android apps that offer that kind of functionality.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g
The 30-pin connector port • Microphone

The two short sides of the slate (left and right when you hold it in its default landscape orientation) have nothing but a speaker each. The placement of the stereo speakers on the opposing sides seems the better solution than what we saw on the Galaxy Tab 8.9, where they were right next to each other.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g
The stereo speakers on each side of the Galaxy Tab 10.1

The journey ends at the back of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, which features the 3.15 megapixel camera lens and its LED flash. The flash will probably make better use as a torch than provide serious shooting assistance. Then again, nobody buys a tablet for its imaging capabilities.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g
The all-white back of the Galaxy Tab 10.1

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 3G is powered by a 7000 mAh Li-Po battery, which Samsung say should keep it going for 9 hours straight. We can't complain about the battery life the tablet gave us in our test.

Used occasionally on normal daily tasks, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 can easily last 3 days. On a fully charged battery, we surfed the web for a couple of hours via Wi-Fi, played a few games, watched videos and installed apps, all the while testing the tablet for our review and the charge dropped below 50% in the evening.

We guess you can easily get a full day out of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 no matter how hard you push it, which is not bad at all.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 held in hands

Let's briefly look at the accessories available for the Galaxy Tab 10.1. The keyboard dock is pretty convenient packing a lot of hardware shortcuts and allowing comfortable two hand typing. It would have been even better if there was an additional battery inside it to power you on, but no such luck.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g
Auxiliary keyboard

There's a great carrying case you can get for your newly-bought Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (or 8.9). It does add to its weight and thickness, mind you, but sure looks nice.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g Samsung Galaxy Tab 101 3g
Carrying case

Next Page »