The Apple iPad 2 has set the standard for tablets very high. While we can't say that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 exceeds the mark set by the category leader, we have no reservations about stating that it is the closest Android tablet yet to give the venerable iPad a true run for its money. It's no thicker than the iPad and is a bit lighter. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 runs the newest Android 3.1 Honeycomb OS, which is designed specifically for tablets and it even runs Adobe Flash. As a result of these and a host of other impressive features, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the recipient of the TopTenREVIEWS Bronze Award for tablets.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 offers a feature set that is rivaled by few tablet devices. The first thing that you'll notice is the brilliant display screen. Whether watching videos, surfing the web or using productivity applications, the screen provides a user experience that is remarkably like using a full-sized computer. We were impressed with the speed at which web-based video content loaded and the flawless playback. Switching videos to full-screen mode is a delight. While we expected to see notable pixilation in full-screen, the reality was that the images remained sharp with beautiful color saturation. Videos played every bit as smoothly as we're accustomed to seeing on a desktop.
The 3.0-megapixel rear camera takes good if not spectacular pictures, and while the form-factor of a tablet isn't ideal for photography, it's certainly functional. The camera application includes auto-focus, an LED flash and a few basic adjustments. Switching to video recording mode is simply a matter of moving an on-screen slide control. There's even a video editing app included, and you can embed still photos into your video project.
The 2.0-megapixel forward-facing camera is ideal for video chatting. Our test device offers internet access via Wi-Fi only and it certainly isn't a cell phone, but we particularly like being able to make Skype video phone calls. A cellular version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is slated to be released in the near future and will operate using Verizon Wireless' 4G LTE network.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1's design is dominated by its 1200 x 800 pixel touchscreen. It's surrounded by a black bezel, but otherwise the buttonless face of the device is all screen. An on/off switch, volume rocker and 3.5 mm headphone jack are located on the top edge. The sides sport stereo speakers that won't send chills up your audiophile spine but are much better than might be expected as built-ins. On the bottom there is a proprietary charging and docking port. The back cover is available in white or metallic gray.
At the heart of the device, Samsung has provided a peppy nVidia Tegra2 Dual Core 1GHz processor. It provides plenty of power to run the device smoothly over a wide variety of applications. Our test unit had 16GB of internal memory though a 32GB version is also available.
Typing on any touchscreen has positives and negatives. Its flat surface certainly doesn't offer the feel and certainty of a physical keyboard, but the virtual QWERTY keyboard – available in landscape and portrait mode – offers some haptic feedback, which helps to a degree. In portrait mode, thumb typing seems to work best, but the larger keyboard of the landscape mode allows for normal typing if you pay close attention to avoid errors.
The browser application is exceptional for such a portable device. It offers the complete internet experience like on a computer with full-content webpages. It even has tabbed browsing just like on a computer, a particularly handy feature. Pages are rendered as quickly as you'd expect with any brand new computer.
The Galaxy features a 7000 mAh Li-Polymer battery that offers about 10 hours of usage on a charge. Actual battery life will, of course, depend on how you use the tablet. Wireless connectivity is by Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, and the device also supports Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR Connectivity.
Touchscreen devices are all about the display, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a real winner. Whether you'll personally find it to be a little better or a bit worse than the iPad is a matter of personal preference. We'll say that we found it to be surprisingly bright and crisp and liked it very much.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 will run Adobe Flash, a feature notably missing from the iPad. Since so many webpages use Flash, this can be important. In our evaluation, we found that most content ran with ease, but while some graphics-intensive pages indeed played, they tended to be choppy. Once we closed some applications that were running in the background, Flash play was smoother but still not as fluid as it should be.
Tablets are intended to make their users' lives easier so there's little toleration for one that is at all difficult to operate. For consumers who already use an Android device, there's virtually no learning curve in getting up to speed with the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Even those who have never used and Android device will have little trouble adapting to this sleek interface. Icons, widgets and drag-and-drop functionality make using the tablet simple and pleasurable. Its multitasking ability is a major plus, and the web browser experience is essentially identical to using a computer.
The screen is very responsive to the touch of a finger. Panning from one screen to another is smooth and instantaneous. Multi-touch technology is available in many applications for zooming, and tapping hyperlinks will deliver you quickly to the next subject. Downloading apps from the Android Market is a simple process and installing them is even easier. Icons and shortcuts can be customized by dropping them where they are most convenient for your personal needs.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the best Android tablet we've tested so far. Its design is not coincidentally similar to that of the Apple iPad 2, which continues to set the standard but is now being challenged. If you're a fan of the many advantages of Android smartphones, this is definitely the tablet for you.
This tablet features the Android 3.1 Honeycomb OS and is thin and light.
Though the device offers Adobe Flash, the response can be rather unimpressive with demanding content.
This is the best Android tablet yet and is a serious challenger for the number one ranking.