Handson Limited Edition Samsung Galaxy Tab 101

first_imgNearly a full month before its launch in the US, Google and Samsung gave all of the attendees at Google I/O 2011 a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 with Android 3.0 onboard. This GTab, the WiFi-only 32GB version, has been considered by many to be “the Android tablet to beat the iPad 2” (sorry, I refuse to call anything a “killer”) due to its size, thickness, and weight all being extremely comparable if not better than the iPad 2. So, we took some time to give the Tab 10.1 a full once over to see exactly how well it stood up against the other devices out there.HardwareAllow me to preface this by saying that I sincerely hope the whole “make it thinner” bit stops with the Galaxy Tab and the iPad 2. I realize that we’re headed towards digital paper and whatnot, but I can’t imagine anything thinner being comfortable to hold without a constant fear of breaking it. Lighter, sure, but not thinner.The Tab 10.1 LE has a slick plastic backplate that was not made of the same material as the Samsung GTab’s I have had the opportunity to examine prior to I/O. The backplate on this device is much less grippy than the soft touch material on the Xoom, or the polished metal backing of the iPad, and forget about holding the tablet if your hands are at all moist.The power button rests on the bezel next to the volume rocker, and aside from the headphone jack and the 20-pin connector, there are no other features to the device. Since the Tab is flat, and the weight balanced, you’re less likely to feel like it’s needed to hold the device in landscape mode like the Xoom, though the front-facing camera’s placement on the long edge of the device make it clear how you are “supposed” to hold it. Speaking of the camera, a side-by-side comparison with the Xoom revealed that Samsung’s cameras take much better pictured than the Xoom. The lack of an SD card slot seems to be a growing trend with Samsung Android phones.In asking people how they like the Tab, I was really surprised at the mixed response I got to the weight and thickness of the device. It seemed that about half of those I asked preferred the heft of the Xoom to the lightweight Tab. Personally, I think the Tab is much more comfortable to walk around with and hold for extended periods of time, and I think most users will really enjoy the device itself.Despite being so light and thin, the Galaxy Tab’s battery life is nothing short of impressive, and in fact beat the much heavier Xoom by almost an hour when compared side by side.SoftwareI can’t say enough nice things about the software inside the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. I can’t say enough, because there aren’t any nice things to say. They don’t exist. Android 3.0 is actually more broken on the Tab 10.1 as it stands right now than the Xoom was prior to the 3.1 update.In just using the device today, I experienced no less than 9 separate Force Close warnings in every app from GluMobile games to Google Navigation. Simple functionality, such as the ability to change the timezone your device is in, doesn’t exist. It’s unlikely that this is the build that the Tab 10.1 will ship with, but as it stands right now, the experience is not good. Another thing that may not be included in the finished product is the ability to quickly apply Root or SuperUser access to the device, but on this device it’s an extremely simple thing to do.On the good side, the camera app on the Tab is Samsung’s camera app, brings back one of my very favorite things about Samsung’s TouchWiz system, the Panorama shot. The existence of the Samsung camera app is further evidence that Samsung has, in fact, managed to theme Android 3.0 with Touchwiz, though from what we’ve seen so far even the final version of the TouchWiz theme will still be pretty close to Stock Honeycomb. The Samsung Keyboard, which is the default keyboard, messes up some of the really nice things about the stock Honeycomb Keyboard, most notably the long press quick access to things like the question mark. It’s a very quick switch back to the stock Android keyboard, and I highly recommend it.The Tab was very clearly rushed to us. Samsung had to make some severe hardware changed after Mobile World Congress to re-invent the Tab 10.1, and the software that drives it has clearly not been fully baked. I would expect the final version of the Tab to lack a lot of the things I find problematic with the Tab, though only time will tell.Final ThoughtsProvided the software gets fixed in a hurry, the Tab 10.1 could very well be the best Android tablet out there for the moment. The battery life and the weight alone make the Tab a clear winner, and Samsung’s move to open with a cheaper WiFi only option will most likely be a popular one. Will this device put the iPad 2 out of business? Of course not, but the Tegra 2 processor inside will certainly give it a run for its money when comparing quality of games and an ability to deliver high quality content. If more manufacturers use Samsung as an example to shoot for when it comes to price and hardware, the Android tablet space is sure to heat up this year.[Images 2 and 3 via PCmag]last_img

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