Review Index:

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Review - The Best Android Tablet?

Author: Steve Grever
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Samsung

Interface and Software, Performance and Battery Life

Interface and Software

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The Samsung Tab 10.1 comes preloaded with Android's 3.0 "Honeycomb" operating system. Honeycomb is the new platform Android uses for mobile devices with larger displays and features an elegant, content-focused UI design. Samsung is pretty much using it out of the box on the Tab 10.1 until they can push a software update with their own TouchWiz UI in August. 


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When you click on the apps icon on the top-right portion of the screen you are able to see all the apps installed on the Tab 10.1. We installed quite a few more than what come preloaded, but all the icons are organized alphabetically and are easy to navigate through and use. This UI design for the apps page is similar to how Apple uses icons for their apps, but Android allows developers to make app icons that are more interactive and are not confined to the button model that most people will see with apps installed on the iPhone, iPad2, or iPod Touch.


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From the home screen, users can touch and hold to bring up a larger menu for seeing all the available real estate on the Tab 10.1. There are five separate screens that users can add more app and widget shortcuts depending upon their individual needs. Users can also change the background wallpaper and use a static image or "live wallpaper" that includes motion. 


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Under the settings icon, users can configure a variety of options on the Tab 10.1 including wireless, sound, display, GPS location, security, application management, Gmail account, privacy, storage, and a host of other advanced options. The layout of the settings menu is pretty standard and does a good job of explaining each option for novice users.


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The preloaded browser that comes standard with Honeycomb is pretty intuitive and looks great on the Tab 10.1's 1280x800 display. I browsed PCPer's website and was able to navigate through the site quite easily. I was even able to zoom, pan, and rotate the screen to portrait mode very well with little effort. The keyboard configuration can be adjusted based off user preference, but I found the standard keyboard to be quite responsive. I wasn't able to type as fast as I do on a normal keyboard, but the experience wasn't off-putting for short messages on Facebook and the PCPer forums.


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One of the more interesting apps I wanted to play with was the Movie Studio app. I took a couple short video clips outdoors with the Tab 10.1 and began to edit it using this preloaded app. I added a basic title, captions, credits, and even included a few transitions and music. Overall, the application is easy to navigate, but the left scroll wheel is a bit confusing because all it does it left you expand or contract the timeline at the bottom of the screen. I wanted to use it to fast forward the movie clip to different parts I wanted to edit. If they could make that slight change it would be a great movie editor when you need to post a movie to YouTube or Facebook quickly. 


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There are a variety of preloaded apps that come with the Tab 10.1, but one of my favorites was the YouTube app. I was able to go to PC Perspective's channel and scroll through all our weekly podcasts and other videos our team has uploaded really fast and the navigation was clean and intuitive. Overall, the included Honeycomb OS is pretty refined and has had time to mature a bit from previous versions of Android. I was throughly disappointed with Samsung for not including their own TouchWiz UI when they shipped the first Tab 10.1s on June 8, especially since they are already advertising this UI on several vendors' website that sell this product. It's false advertising when you list a feature that isn't available with the products when it is shipped to consumers. Other than that oversight, the Honeycomb OS is extremely snappy when tandemed with the Tegra 2 chip and all the preloaded software added new dimensions to the capabilities of the Tab 10.1.


Performance and Battery Life

To evaluate the Tab 10.1's overall performance capabilities we ran several mobile benchmarks to see how it faired against ones of its competitors in the tablet market today - the Blackberry Playbook. To be consistent during testing, we ran both tablet displays at 50 percent brightness Wifi was enabled. We also wanted to test the tablet's battery life so we performed several hours of web browsing, Word processing, basic photo editing, music listening, and video playback to determine how well the tablet, and the battery, would perform during these tasks.

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The results of our testing were a bit interesting as the Tab 10.1 seemed to excel during the battery life tests, but lost some ground in the SunSpider Javascript test, and then rebounded during the BrowserMark test. We averaged between 6 and 9 hours of battery life for the Tab 10.1 depending upon what general tasks were were doing. Under heavy loads that required lots of power (like video playback and encoding), but basic web browsing and word processing obviously took less power usage. On average, we estimated the Tab 10.1's battery life to hover around 8.5 hours, which is more than adequate for consumers looking for a tablet that could function on its own throughout a normal work day or during a long flight or road trip.

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.


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


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$ 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.

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