The Hardware

The 10.1 is light enough to wield single handedly without fatigue, assuming you're holding it in portrait mode. In landscape there's some basic physics that comes into play, the long side of the 16:9 display pulls down and wears on your wrist after a while. In portrait mode the Galaxy Tab is remarkably comfortable. After prolonged usage I either orientation can be a problem, but I honestly believe Samsung's 8.9-inch variant may be the answer to all of our problems when it ships later this year. Unfortunately by that point you may as well wait for a Kal-El version rather than jump on what will most definitely be an aging Tegra 2.

Around the 10.1's perimeter are the usual suspects, just rearranged. The upper left edge is home to a subtle power/lock switch and a volume rocker. Neither are terribly pronounced nor are they impossible to find. With the Galaxy Tab's symmetrical industrial design it's very easy to lose your bearings and hold the tablet upside down. The subtle buttons do little to help avoid any confusion. Luckily Honeycomb, like iOS, can be oriented in any direction.

A curved 1/8" headphone jack also graces the top edge. Because of how thin the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is part of any stereo plug is going to be exposed when fully inserted into the jack, however I didn't notice any issues with the connection in my testing. Samsung ships the 10.1 with a pair of in-ear headphones with integrated mic. The mic has a single button that can be used to pause/skip songs (click once to pause, twice to skip). The headphones look expensive but the audio quality isn't anything to be impressed by.

The left and right edges are home to two individual speaker grills. The speakers are high enough on the sides that they typically aren't covered by your hands when holding the tablet.

Finally along the bottom edge of the 10.1 there's Samsung's proprietary dock connector, oddly reminiscent of Apple's iPad dock connector but just slightly narrower. If you wanted to, you could definitely get the iPad's dock cable stuck in your brand new Galaxy Tab (ahem, don't do this).


Three different, far too similar dock connectors

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 draws too much power to be charged while running off a standard USB port that doesn't implement the USB charging spec. To quickly charge the tablet you'll need to use Samsung's supplied USB to AC adapter which is a bit larger than what you get with the iPad:

Unlike the Eee Pad there are no microSD card, HDMI or USB ports available on the Galaxy Tab 10.1. This is a Honeycomb tablet in the strictest sense, it's a device for consumption not something that's going to transform into a netbook alternative. Samsung does advertise a "full size" keyboard dock, however it's only available from Samsung's website ($69.99) and it is currently out of stock.

The missing HDMI support is a bit unusual for a Tegra 2 based Honeycomb tablet, but presumably Samsung could coax a digital output out of its custom dock connector via an adapter if it wanted to.

Samsung offers the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in white and dark grey versions at the same price points. Also pretty standard are the Galaxy Tab 10.1's two cameras: a rear-facing 3.2MP (2048 x 1536) sensor and a 2MP (1600 x 1200) front facing sensor complete the package.

Introduction The Software
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  • darkhawk1980 - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    One thing that might be of note to those buying, might be the fact that the secure software key (SSK) for the Asus Transformer has in fact been found. This means that it is now possible to completely unlock the device to do whatever you'd like with it (ie possibly install Ubuntu Linux?). This is something that I'd be surprised if it happened with the Samsung Tab 10.1. While for most people it probably doesn't make a huge difference, but in another month the ability to have both Honeycomb and Ubuntu on the device could be a very compelling argument.

    Personally, given how much Samsung locks down their devices, I would never buy into their tablets. I still believe the Asus provides a much better overall experience. While it isn't the lightest, nor is it the most thin, it provides the best experience and flexibility. And to be perfectly honest, the price is pretty damn good as well. Having a rooted Asus and being able to overclock it a bit (1.6 GHz and really stable) makes a pretty decent difference in performance.

    BTW, I've always wondered, how much of a difference does the resolution difference between the IPad 2 and all other Honeycomb tablets make a difference in the graphical benchmarking tools? I would imagine it does make a decent difference, all things given.

    My experience with tablets thus far (have spent a few hours looking at the Acer Iconia and Samsung/Xoom at Best Buy, and bought a Transformer) is that I really do enjoy having it. I like being able to pick it up and browse the web while watching TV during commercials or boring parts of a show. I love reading books and comic books on it. And to be perfectly honest, since I got Plants vs. Zombies the other day for free from Amazon, I use it way too much. More than my wife I think.....
    Reply
  • adt6247 - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    Samsung locking down devices? You on crack? All of the Galaxy S devices shipped with unlocked boot loaders. Samsung also just sent a few Galaxy S II phones to the CyanogenMod team that brought CM7 to the various GSM Galaxy S variants. I rooted my Captivate within an hour of purchase, and I got it on launch day. How much less locked down do you want?

    My biggest complaint with Samsung was TouchWiz, and that simply isn't an issue here.
    Reply
  • ph00ny - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    That's what i was about to say. Only company active leaving the bootloader unlocked Reply
  • mongo lloyd - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    Reports have said that Samsung will deliver its TouchWiz UI enhancements in a later update.

    You can see a very recent video of how it looks on the 8.9 here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yj7M1WTiwGo
    Reply
  • StormyParis - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    to see the insta-obsolescence of those things. Each month brings a new tablet that's da schinitz... for a month. And now Tegra 3 will arrive within a couple of months, and the OEMs that kind messed up first time around (Motorola, a lot; Asus, a bit) will have a second shot at leading the field... Any tablet will be upstaged within 6 tot 12 months anyway, which really is a pain because the new ones will be significantly better (and the current ones are barely "good enough", and those things are a lot more expensive than subsidized phones.

    I started out waiting for any Android tablet. The first ones, especially the Xoom, where pretty awful, so that morphed into waiting for the eeePad... which is OK, but not as good as the Galaxy. Now I'm thinking 10" is too big. It won't fit into my man-purse and is a bit unwieldy... but the 7-8" alternatives are pretty niche and/or lackluster.

    So, in the end, I'm thinking I'll get a cheap Chinese knock-off, test out the format (for web surfing, ebooks, comics, and some videos), and wait 12-24 months for the dust to settle. I've found 8 inchers around 100 USD with 1280x800 and 1024x600 screens (Ainol Novo 8, Zenithink E98)
    Reply
  • JasonInofuentes - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    That's not a terrible plan but try not to be too disheartened. This is simply the expected process of performance increasing with technology advancements played forward really fast. Ten years ago when deciding what computer to buy you would have asked yourself a few questions that had to do with features; at the time they would have involved playing the latest games, fast internet access, expandability and sufficient storage. So, a Radeon 9700, an ethernet NIC, a decent case, a 40 GB drive and a Pentium IV and you were all set. A few years ago you would have added HD video playback, WiFI and turned all the other dials up a few notches. And that's basically where we are today. Ten years ago to meet the demands of most users you needed a pretty high end system, anything less and the compromises were pretty high. Today, a decent video card (nothing integrated, yet), a cheap mobo with all the bells and whistles integrated, a cheap 2TB drive, and Intels cheapest Pentium will probably hit all your feature requests and still fit in a case smaller than the box my 9700 came in.

    In tablet talk, we are, thankfully, a bit beyond the Pentium IV era, but we're not quite at Penryn, and still a few years off from Nehalem. You can play games, you can watch HD video and you can do all the other things you want to do, you just can't do it as smoothly as you might want, and certainly not so smoothly as you could on your netbook. But we're in the post-PC era, so the days will come.

    If I were you, still expecting to wait as much as two years before really committing to the cause, I'd hold off on that Chinese grey market special, pick-up a used Nook Color and throw CM7 on it. It's not Honeycomb but it's not bad either. And when you decide the market is ready for you to throw some real money on a tablet it'll be like booting up a Sandy Bridge powered MacBook Pro after years of using a Powerbook G4. Let us know how it goes!
    Reply
  • StormyParis - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    I'd go for the nook color in a blink if I could get it. I'm in France though, and don't know anyone in the US. Even my brother in Canada can't et it, as far as I can tell. Reply
  • jrs77 - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    First of all, nice review there Anand.

    The Galaxy Tab 10.1 looks really good actually and with the bigger resolution then the iPad2 it's more to my liking. However, Android still doesn't feel as good as iOS and that's the real downside of the iPad-competition currently. With a pricetag of the iPad2 I'd take the better OS and go with Apple still, as I don't mind about the iTunes-thingy actually for a device that's primarily ment to browse the web or watch movies while travelling from/to work every day.

    I'd like to see a tablet with a fully suported USB-port, that let's me use a internet-stick or external storage, with a pricetag of a netbook ($400). That would really be a step forward actually.
    Reply
  • tayb - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    Still sucks. I'm sorry, but it does. It's half baked and crashes more than a Microsoft Windows beta. It's not a finished product and I'm starting to understand how Google seems to make such rapid improvements to their OS. It's because they release the beta as the full version and then fix all of the massive holes and bugs with new OS releases.

    I still don't see a tablet offering from any company that I would actually be interested in. $499 for this is not a great deal unless you compare it to the iPad. Hey, the iPad is overpriced. I can walk into any electronics store and get a powerful notebook for $499.
    Reply
  • ph00ny - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    Have you tried 3.1 honeycomb tablets over 3.0? It looks like they're progressing very nicely Reply

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