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Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Review - The Best Android Tablet?

Author: Steve Grever
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Samsung

Display and Audio Quality, Camera Quality

Display and Audio Quality

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After powering up the Tab 10.1 I could easily tell this was the one of the highest resolution displays on a tablet I've ever come across. The 1280x800 display is vibrant, sharp, and all the icons and widgets seem to pop right off the screen. I was even impressed that the display was only set to 50 percent, so I increased the brightness to 100 percent and screen was so bright that I preferred using it at around 50-60 percent.

 

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The Tab 10.1 wasn't compatible with the Netflix app in the Android Market, so I loaded a couple new movies from my network storage drive to see how well the tablet handles standard and high definition video. Almost needless to say, but the Tegra 2 chip chewed right through my 1280x720 MP4s like they were nothing and the video quality was fluent, lag-free, and a perfect aspect ratio for the Tab 10.1's widescreen display.

 

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After watching a couple movies, I moved over to the standard music app that comes with Honeycomb to hear a variety of songs that I loaded from my home network. I played everything from rap, rhythm and blues, pop, and country to get a balanced outlook of this tablet's audio capabilities. I listened to music through the included ear buds first to evaluate how these bundled items handled basic music. After about an hour of listening to music through these ear buds, I was left wanting a bit more bass and less treble from them. I tried to play with the included equalizer, but sadily it didn't make much of a difference.

 

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I unplugged the ear buds and started listening to music through the dual "surround sound" speakers Samsung included with the Tab 10.1. Surprisingly, I was taken back to hear crisp music come through the embedded speakers. Typically, I am appalled at the quality of speaker systems included in laptops, networks, and mobile devices. But, Samsung bundled a premium speakers to give consumers good bass and treble quality for movies, music, and video chat.

 

Camera Quality

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After taking a look at the Tab 10.1's display and audio features, I wanted to do an in-depth look at the tablet's front-facing and back cameras. As I mentioned earlier in the review, the front camera is a basic 2 megapixel camera with no auto focus or flash functions. These 2MP cameras are becoming the standard for front-facing cameras because consumers typically use them for video conferencing and other low-resolution applications that require lower video quality to continuously stream audio and video from the tablet. 

 

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The back camera maxes out at 3 megapixels and includes auto focus, LED flash, and 720p video. I was a bit disappointed that the back camera was only 3 megapixels because the Blackberry Playbook and Motorola Xoom both include a 5 megapixel back camera. The 720p video option is a welcome addition to this tablet, but for $500 I think they could have spent a few more pennies for a 5 or 8 megapixel back camera.

 

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To test the tablet's photo capabilities, I opened the standard camera app that is bundled with Honeycomb. I was welcomed with a full screen app with identical functions that are available on my current Android smartphone. This was good and bad because the learning curve to use this app was minimal, but i think the user interface could be a bit easier to use and have a lot more functions for advanced users. Taking photos was as simple as clicking the camera icon. 

 

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I moved the slider in the camera app over to the video icon and was greeted with another familiar screen to shoot HD video. There were several options for white balance, switching between the front and back cameras (you can't shoot video from the front camera though), photo timer, exposure, and other advanced settings. I found shooting video with the Tab 10.1 pretty straight forward, but it did have a hard time with darker environments so ensure you shoot video with this device in well-lit areas.

 

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Here's a sample shot of a photo I took using the front-facing camera. Since we had decent lighting, the picture quality was better than I expected. I used the auto white balance feature, but as you can see in the photo above, the white parts of the photo are very washed out. The photo is in focus and composing the photo is pretty easy since you can see yourself in the camera app before you click the shutter icon. Overall, the front-facing camera did well for basic photos and video teleconferencing through Skype. I had no real complaints at all with it because it met all my basic requirements.

 

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Outdoors, no filter used

Under the camera app, there are four different filters consumers can choose to get different effects on their photos. The four filters are none, black and white, sepia, and negative. To test these features, I went by a local golf course by my house before sunset to see how well the Tab 10.1 could handle taking photos with the back-facing camera and using the different effects.

 

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Outdoors, black and white filter

 

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Outdoors, negative filter

 

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Outdoors, sepia filter


August 10, 2011 | 04:44 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The Samsung Touch Wiz application was released on August 8, 2011, just prior to the publishing of this review. I agree it's unfortunate that it wasn't available sooner or in time for this review.

If you want the update you can snag it my using the device update feature on the settings menu -> About Table menu -> Software update.

Note you'll need to have an active Samsung account to complete the download and install the update.

It took my tablet about 20-30 mins to complete the install. It's easy and straight forward.

If there's any time maybe you can do an update on this review using the TWiz update? I'm interested in your thoughts.

S

ps. And no I don't work for Samsung, just a friendly reader /owner of this device.

Enjoy

August 10, 2011 | 05:05 PM - Posted by Super Six Two

Most android fans would be glad that TouchWiz isn't there. I won't buy one simply because I knew they would be adding it. I like the true android experience. Just like with my PC's I just expect the hardware from the manufacturers. Let them stick to what they are good at and let google do its thing with android.

August 10, 2011 | 08:51 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Just bought a Asus Eee Pad Transformer for $400. Has HDMI, external sd. 10.1 etc. So why is the samsung a 100 dollars more and you get less (no sd or hdmi) greedy!!!

August 16, 2011 | 01:22 PM - Posted by Ashish87 (not verified)

Just bought Tab 10.1 for 250$ extra...it makes me feel good coz I love Samsung and a tough competitor of Apple!!

August 10, 2011 | 11:17 PM - Posted by GMAN (not verified)

No SD slot? I don't get it. Does it add that much to the thinkness? What are they trying to be the iPad? Have a Transformer and a ICONIA and find the SD slot a must have. The full size USB port ( ICONIA ) for flash drives is also a must have for me. Oh well guess I will give this one a miss.

August 11, 2011 | 05:12 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The Touch wiz update seems to remove the WMV drm support that came with the tab out of the box.

If you use digital copy because your a noob or just like a hassle free experience you might not want to update your Galaxy Tab.

September 6, 2011 | 07:42 PM - Posted by Anthony Nguyen (not verified)

I love the Samsung Tablet 10.1 with 32Gb. It is light and portable, and the best part is the hd screen that is soothing in my eyes when I work and read ebooks on kindle for tablet software for hours. It is big enough to hold most of my documents and programs. When something, I don't need, I just store on my labtop, if I need space, I just move files to my labtop to make room for the tablet. It is not a big deal as long as I can access more files from my laptop. Of course, the SD feature would be nice, but I found out that it will outgrowth its limit quickly in a few years. For now 32Gb is big enough for my need. Thanks Samsung, you are the best.