As I sat down on my bed the other day, holding the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in my hands, flipping through the news, it suddenly dawned on me – the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the closest anyone could get, device-wise, to matching the Apple iPad 2. I know, I know – I also said that for the Asus Eee Pad Transformer when I reviewed it a couple of months back, but that was before I was able to spend time with Galaxy Tab 10.1. The Transformer is an excellent piece, don’t get me wrong, but the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is something else. Its aesthetics, ease of use and anorexic dimensions place it at a unique position to raise Honeycomb’s flag against iOS.
So why now? Why didn’t Honeycomb debut in this slice of silicon heaven instead of the Xoom, which was plagued with bugs on day one? Well, that’s because the Galaxy Tab 10.1 that we’re reviewing now is a new and improved version of the original one unveiled back in February in the Mobile World Congress. A few weeks after that unveiling, the iPad 2 was announced, and Samsung announced in CTIA that the 10.1 went back to the drawing board, with the unit I’m reviewing now as the end result.
Was the redesign worth it? Definitely – the original Galaxy Tab 10.1 (which was renamed Galaxy Tab 10.1v) had an overall thickness of 10.9mm. The one that I’m reviewing now is almost impossibly thin at 8.9mm, and more importantly, is thinner than the iPad 2 by 0.2mm and its 42 grams lighter. While those dimension and weight differences are somewhat negligible, it’s still a win over the iPad 2 and more importantly, Apple, something that few companies can claim to do. Like all other high profile devices that Samsung outs, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is pretty solid – no creaks or flexing anywhere.
Of course comparisons with the iPad 2 is unavoidable, so it’s best to get that out of the way right now.
As you can see here, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is slightly thinner than Apple’s offering.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is also narrower than the iPad 2, but is a bit taller.
The overall design aesthetic is simple, yet pleasing. Like most Honeycomb tablets, physical keys are scarce, save for the power and volume keys on the side of the device.
You get a 10.1-inch PLS TFT capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 1280×800. Its hardware isn’t anything we’ve seen before – dual-core Tegra 2 processor running at 1 GHz, 16GB of storage, 3 megapixel camera – though I have to admit this is the first tablet I’ve reviewed with 3G capability.
It’s also one of the first Honeycomb tablets I’ve seen running a customized version of the UI (courtesy of the TouchWiz interface) instead of just plain Honeycomb.
Just like TouchWiz on Samsung’s other Android offerings, you can expect a number of widgets and slight improvements to your tablet experience, including Samsung’s Social Hub – a social network aggregator of sorts.
Especially useful are the widgets that can be accessed on the bottom of the screen at anytime. The review unit I tested was running Honeycomb 3.1.
The whole user experience is nothing short of fantastic, and using the Galaxy Tab 10.1 was a joy. Jumping from app to app was seamless, and the tablet didn’t bog down even when I had multiple windows running in the background. The device also had haptic feedback – the tablet vibrated ever so slightly with each press on the virtual keyboard, which made typing on the touchscreen heaps better. The 3G functionality lent itself well during the review, with the device running off my Globe line without issues. Unlike the first Galaxy Tab, the 10.1 version delivers data and SMS only, so no calls.
Samsung is also bringing out the big guns when it comes to competing with the iPad 2 via accessories. I’ve already seen a few of the planned add-ons during the official launch of the Galaxy S II a couple of weeks back which includes different keyboard docks and protectors.
Performance numbers for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 was encouraging, to say the least. I ran the device through Quadrant Standard, a standard benchmark tool I’ve used on several other Android devices to get performance figures of the Galaxy Tab 10.1. The device managed to wrangle a 1528 score.
Battery life was good, with the Galaxy Tab 10.1 managing a nice, solid 10 hours of run time with heavy use.
Judging from what I’ve written so far, you’re probably thinking “what’s the catch?” Well, catch is that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is going to be expensive – it’s going to retail at Php 29900. There’s no word on the eventual availability of the WiFi version (at least, none so far) so it’s probably safe to say that if you want a slice of Sammy’s Honeycomb action, you’ll have to pony up the cash for the 3G version for now. Also, my standard complaint against Honeycomb concerning apps still apply here – the platform needs a lot more apps, fast. And sharp-eyed readers may also have noticed that there’s no place to put in your microSD cards, so you won’t be expanding storage anytime soon. A hardware orientation lock would have been nice, though you can still lock your screen’s orientation using the UI.
Personally, I feel the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has the best chance against Apple when it comes to design, form factor and usability. The only thing holding it back is it’s relatively steep price compared to its competitors (which is always a huge factor when it comes to this price sensitive country of ours), but hopefully Samsung will release a cheaper, non-3G version for people on a budget.
Thinner and lighter than the iPad 2
Solid battery life
No hardware orientation lock
Cannot use microSD cards to increase capacity
It might be a bit expensive, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the epitome of Honeycomb tablet design – get one if you can.
- 10.1-inch, PLS TFT capacitive touchscreen
- Operating System
- Android Honeycomb, 3.1
- 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 Dual Core processor
- Physical Dimensions
- 256.7 x 175.3 x 8.6 mm 256.7 x 175.3 x 8.6 mm
- 565 g
If you like what you’ve seen, you can preorder yours at a discounted price. Check here for more details.