Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

SHARE

By Steven Vea

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1’s exterior is very sleek, albeit very similar to it’s more popular fruity counterpart. Its overall design is very minimal and when held in its prescribed horizontal/landscape orientation, the 2-megapixel camera is all that is visible.

On the sides of the unit you will find the speakers which have been craftily designed as to be almost indiscernible. At the bottom, you will find the port to connect the USB/charger cable. On the top of the tablet, the buttons for power and volume, 3.5mm audio jack and slot for a SIM card can be found. Unfortunately, the 10.1 cannot make phone calls and is restricted to text messaging and 3G only.

Once the Galaxy Tab is up and running, it is hard to resist toying with it without any technical oversight. The display is crisp, vivid and well illuminated which makes it quite pleasurable to use. Some users might find the extra large widgets shocking it at first, but since the 10.1 runs on Android 3.1 Honeycomb, widgets can be resized and arranged to your preferred taste.

At the very bottom of the screen on the right hand side are the familiar info data (time, WiFi signal and battery life indicators). When touched, a menu will appear in which you can customize the Tab’s settings. On the left hand side, you will find the main navigation buttons (Back, Home, Running Applications, and Screenshot). Opening the Running Applications displays a graphic menu on the left hand side which shows all the open applications. It would have been nice to be able to shut them down from there as well, but this is possible via another shortcut bar that can be accessed by an subtle arrow on the bottom-center of the screen.

The button to access the apps is a little difficult to spot in the beginning, but it’s located on the upper right hand side, next to a + button which launches an organizer for your homescreen. Opening the Apps will launch a graphic menu.

The first app I launched was the already installed eBook reader, seeing that tablets initially cater to that specific need. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 came with two free eBooks (at least in our review unit): The Marvelous Land of Oz and A Christmas Carol.

It was fun to read The Marvelous World of Oz because you could actually “turn” the pages, and the graphics were fluid and smooth. Several tools were available such as a highlighter and pen so that you could make notes on the digital “pages.” The Galaxy Tab 10.1’s weight does become a factor after some time however, and wrist fatigue made it necessary to place the unit down on the table. So despite this tablet’s thin and light form factor, it still isn’t suitable for prolonged one-hand usage.

Upon opening the web browser, a notification appeared asking to download the Google Circles app. After agreeing to the request, setting it up was easy.  Once the Gmail account is synchronized, everything flowed smoothly. In tandem with Google, this author’s Facebook account was also synced to the Social Hub app, which provided a quick and intuitive way to view new posts. All Facebook events appeared in Samsung’s Calendar app as well, which makes this tablet a great way to organize.

However, I did experience recurring “Force Close” messages. These notifications needed some investigating, so I mustered the courage to run a number of apps simultaneously. Launching the Gallery, camera, Angry Birds, YouTube App, eBook Reader and six other tabs on the web browser did not only cause the “Force Close” pop-up to appear. Rather, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 froze and required a complete reboot.

It was now time to run the benchmark test, and it seemed that installing Advanced Task Killer was necessary, so that unnecessary apps/processes could be shut down. Two consecutive benchmarks tests were done using Quadrant Standard. In both benchmarks, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 comes out on top, with the Nexus One coming in second.

A third benchmark test was supposed to follow, but unfortunately, the “Force Close” notification surfaced once again. Apparently, after some extensive research, there are other testers/users experiencing this issue, which seems to be recurring in Samsung’s tablets especially when multi-tasking. Whether this is a hardware-based issue or Honeycomb cannot be confirmed, but both consumers and Samsung should be aware of this.

Fortunately, in the span of time that I was able to test it, the hard reboot only occurred once, but it can be assumed that if you don’t effectively manage your running apps with this tablet, it might be a frequent problem. Although the Galaxy Tab 10.1 comes with its own Task Manager, it is highly suggested that you avail of Advanced Task Killer (or something similar) from the Android Market.

Specifications
SCREEN: 10.1’ display @ 1280×800 WXGA screen
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 3.1 Honeycomb
CPU & CHIPSET: Dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor; ULP GeForce GPU, NVidia Tegra 2 chipset
MEMORY: 1GB RAM; 16GB/32GB/64GB internal storage
CAMERA: 3.2 megapixel camera with LED flash (rear); 2 megapixel front-facing camera
CONNECTIVITY: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0; 3G, HSDPA, HSUPA, GPS w/ aGPS

What’s Hot:
 • Excellent display
• Responsive touchscreen

What’s Not:
 • “Force close” notifications

Bottomline:
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is an excellent device and should be at the top of your list if you’re looking for an Android tablet.

Buy Meter: 9.0

[This review originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of Gadgets Magazine]