Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 preview: First look
Stock music player
Unlike its smaller brother, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 will come with the stock Android music player with the TouchWiz customization here probably appearing at a later stage. This means that you will be able to enjoy the cool cover-flow-like browsing that we noticed on the XOOM, but you will be losing some of the functionality added by Samsung.
Tracks can be sorted by album, artist, song, genre, playlist or just bring the new and recent additions on top. Naturally, there’s also a search option, which will be greatly appreciated by those with large music collections. It gets activated by pressing the magnifying glass icon in the upper right corner.
When you select a specific album (or a group of tracks based on any filter) you get the familiar split screen interface. Album art, which is naturally supported, appears on the left along with the information about the compilation. The track list goes on the right and the currently playing track (if any) appears at the bottom with quick controls available.
The now playing screen offers shuffle and repeat (including repeat one) functionality, but no equalizers.
Finally, if there is a track playing in background a dedicated row appears in the notification area showing its name. There are also quick pause or skip controls right there so you don’t need to open the music player every time.
No dedicated video player yet, good potential though
As the stock Android Honeycomb doesn’t have a dedicated video player app, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 early adopters will be forced to use the gallery for browsing their videos.
It’s a bit irritating having to switch the gallery to video-only mode every time, but you will have to, if you have a lot of videos and/or images on-board. Yet this is just one more thing that will be fixed as soon as the software update hits and TouchWiz adds its own dedicated video player. In the meantime, you can snatch a Video player off the Android market too.
And the even better news is that Samsung promises DivX and XviD support for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 slate. Saving you the effort to convert each and every clip for watching it is vital to turning the slate into a really useful player.
The video playback performance is pretty sleek and our pre-release Galaxy Tab 10.1 was already capable of doing 1080p videos.
Finally, if you get the right accessories you will easily be able to output those videos to your HDTV and enjoy them the way they were meant to be so the potential seems all there. We are really hoping we won’t be made to regret those words when we get an actual retail Galaxy Tab 10.1 unit.
Web browser does a splendid job
As you could probably figure out by now the Galaxy Tab 10.1 web browser has no customizations whatsoever. Nothing to regret here though as the Honeycomb browser is one nicely performing and functional app. There were a few glitches with our unit, but they were undoubtedly entirely down to its pre-release status.
The interface is neat and simple, yet powerful enough for all you needs and the full Flash support is more than welcome for experiencing browsing as it should be.
The tabs are kept in a bar on top, much like on a desktop browser and opening a new one is as easy as clicking the plus sign on the right. The address bar and search bar are, as usual for Android devices incorporated in a single field, which scores another point for the Tab 10.1.
Bookmarks have their own screen and they can be organized in folders for easier navigation. History uses a split-screen interface letting you check the pages browsed today, yesterday or over the past week. There’s also a Most visited tab.
Synchronizing the browser with your desktop Google Chrome doesn’t need any extra software – you check a box in the settings menu and you are done.
There’s also auto-complete for forms and passwords and you can pick the default zoom level for the browser. Not that altering the zoom is that hard with pinch-zoom, naturally, being supported.
The only thing that is missing here is the alternative interface that Motorola XOOM offered. We are talking about the quick access to your page controls (back, forward, refresh, bookmark etc.) by a swiping gesture performed near the right edge of the screen.
Flash performance on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 was, unsurprisingly, about identical to the one of the previous Tegra 2 devices we tested. This means that you will be able to watch 360p and even 480p Flash videos embedded right in the browser, but at least at this stage, 720p or higher resolutions are out of the question.