Tablets Guide

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (3G 16GB) review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 - The Starlet

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Overview and Design

The Starlet 

Since our hands-on with the device in May, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 has garnered much attention (positive and negative). On the positive side of things, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the strongest offering yet from Samsung (and Google) yet that can compete with the market leader, Apple iPad 2.

For starters, Samsung has done a very respectable job of designing the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (3G model) - it is the lightest (565g) and thinnest (8.6mm) tablet in the market for the 10.1-inch form factor. In addition, it runs on Google Android 3.1 on top of its own user interface, Samsung TouchWiz. It ships with a 1GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. Given these traits, Samsung is ready to take on Apple and the rest of the tablet market too.

Alas, the coin always has two sides. Having all the attention showered on its stunning feat of engineering, it is inevitable that it will be under scrutiny. In recent weeks, Samsung has been embroiled in legal lawsuits with Apple in 12 courts in nine countries on four continents. Apple succeeded in gaining a ban on the sales of the tablet in Germany and Samsung has refrained from marketing and selling the tablet in Australia while pending the resolution for a similar lawsuit. Locally, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 hasn't faced such an issue, so we are still good to go with our review of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 (3G model) that has most of the tech community drooling over it.

Does the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 has what it takes to dethrone the Apple iPad 2?

Design Aspects 

As the name suggests, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has a large 10.1-inch display. While the black bezel surrounding the screen does not occupy much space as compared to the Lenovo IdeaPad Tablet K1, it suffers from a similar undesirable trait in almost all tablets - a glossy display that attracts fingerprints and smudges very easily. 

Samsung keeps the front of the tablet clean with no hardware controls. It only has a front-facing camera embedded in the black bezel.

As mentioned earlier, a key selling point of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is its light weight of 565 grams. This makes it the lightest 10.1-inch tablet in the market when compared to tablets in its class (Acer Iconia Tab A500 - 730g, Apple iPad 2 - 613g, ASUS Eee Pad Transformer - 680g, Lenovo IdeaPad Tablet K1 - 750g, Motorola Xoom - 730g). Hence, you will have no problem holding it with one hand over long usage periods. 

We were totally comfortable handling the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in one hand as it is only 565g. The feeling is amazing as we've had our fare share of various tablets but none can match its excellent portability and handling.

Although it is the lightest among all the 10.1-inch tablets, our gripe with the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is its plastic build. Having handled and reviewed a several tablets, we can't help but notice the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is lacking a premium feel compared against tablets such as the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer. Nonetheless, we found ourselves leaning towards a lighter and more portable device over build quality.

The other star physical feature of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is its 8.6mm thin profile, which is just a hairline thinner than the 8.8mm iPad 2. While the 0.2mm difference is hardly noticeable, every gram and millimeter counts in the technology arena.

Samsung deserves credits for streamlining the Galaxy Tab 10.1 to a mere 8.6mm thin.

Besides shedding off the grams and millimeters, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 has rounded edges to give it a comfortable handling.

Flanking the sides of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a pair of stereo speakers.

You can find the SIM card slot, 3.5mm audio jack, volume controls and Power button on the top section of the device.

The review unit we had is a 3G version, hence it comes with a SIM card slot. Inserting or removing the SIM card proved to be difficult though we don't expect that situation to take place often.

Located at the bottom section of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the proprietary connector port for charging and data transfer, with a microphone pinhole for video chat situated just beside it. Proprietary connectors are not a welcoming point, but that's something you just have to make do with this tablet unfortunately.

We find it strange that Samsung equips the Galaxy Tab 10.1 with a mediocre three-megapixel auto focus camera on its rear. Most tablets these days offer five-megapixel camera modules. On a positive note, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has a LED flash, which can be handy when taking photographs in low lighting conditions.

As powerful as the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is, it does not have connectivity features available straight out of the box. Unlike it, competitors such as the Motorola Xoom has a dedicated micro-USB and HDMI ports. We would also prefer the inclusion of a memory card slot to increase the storage capacity of the device, which is a common feature among Android tablets such as the Acer Iconia Tab A500. These limitations quickly bring to mind of the the tablet's similarity to Apple's iPad 2.