By November 2, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 ReviewWe have been waiting for what seems like years for a tablet that Samsung have promising and finally it is here, all 10.1″. The tablet has arrived amidst a barrage of controversy. Luckily, we are in the UK and have been unaffected by Apple’s attempts to murder the Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1 at birth.

King of Android tablets, iPad clone, Galaxy Tab successor or expensive prettiness the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is could be a lot of things, and here we hope to work out just what exactly it is and if it’s really worth your time and money.


The ten second review:

  • Device: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
  • Price: From £399.00
  • Summary: The premium end of the Android tablet market
  • Best of: Screen, size, weight
  • Worst of: Media, storage, Vodafone only
  • Buy it now: Vodafone


What’s in the box:

  • The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v (thankfully)
  • Power charger
  • Sync Charge Cable
  • Headphones
  • User Guide/Manual

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v Specification:

  • Dimensions: 256.7×175.3×8.6mm
  • Weight: 565g
  • Processor: 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 dual core processor
  • GPU: Nvidia Tegra 2 T20 chipset Nvidia Geforce graphics
  • Display: 10.1-inch TFT display – 800 x 1280 pixels (149ppi)
  • Internal memory: 1GB of RAM
  • On-board storage: 16GB
  • Operating system: Android 3.1 Honeycomb
  • Back Camera: 3-megapixels
  • Front Camera : 2-megapixels


On the top of the Tab is the busiest spot. You have the power button, volume rocker, 3.5mm headphone socket and the Sim card slot. The bottom has the proprietary power socket and “peripheral extender docking section location area” and there is a microphone. No, this is not for phone calls, you will look silly.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Review

The back has the camera and a little LED flash. This is probably the best point to mention that the Tab comes in two different flavours, Wine White and Jagermeister. I have included the most notably different feature of these two devices, other than the colour they are exactly the same.

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The front has a forward facing camera, it’s a little off centre, hopefully it was meant to be.


Both the left and right sides are bare, aside from two stereo speakers.



  • Size, super slim
  • bright and vibrant screen
  • Edges are straight
  • Android 3.1 Honeycomb


  • Video playback can be embarrassing
  • storage cannot be expanded
  • At this price, I expect a cover in the box


Having had a lot of success with the Samsung Galaxy Tab released around this time last year it seems only right that release review the tablet for this coming year. When something sells well, Samsung have taken the approach of swamping the market for every available size option as there were a couple of criticisms last time round that the Galaxy Tab was just a big phone instead of a proper internet tablet.

Not many may realise this but Samsung have released two different variants of the Galaxy Tab 10.1″ (and I don’t mean by colour.) The 10.1 and the 10.1v. There is a big different right from when you pick them up. The 10.1 is 2mm slimmer and 30g ligher. It also features a 3mp camera on the back as oppose to a 8mp camera on the 10.1v. Most of all, it appears to have lost the memory card slot. A shame to many, however what you are getting is a distinctly slimmer product that can take the iPad 2 on at it’s own game!

There is little else that compares to the 10.1’s build quality, aside from the iPads. Some come close however the all metal frame is undeniably robust.  The light, black matt plastic that covers the back helps with a weight issue that may have arisen from the metal frame. It’s a tad finger print unfriendly and is prone to surface scratchs, even from finger nails.

The bezel around the screen is necessary for holding the tablet. Other tablets have increased this bezel and I can understand why. The Asus Transformer had a particularly wide bezel and it really improved the grip comfort. The Tab 10.1 has a narrow bezel and if, like me, you have chubby manly thumbs then holding the tablet for a prolonged period will become a tad annoying. The Tablet also feels more akin to a landscape orientation than portrait, as with the iPad resulting in a more uncomfortable position for holding with one hand.

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On top of Android Honeycomb 3.1 we have Samsung’s Touchwiz interface. It might not seem terribly in your face ala HTC Sense, and thankfully it isn’t. It does however appear the odd time when you least want it. Whilst mildly annoying it is nicer to have a naked flavour of Android without the intrusion. We shall delve into the features of Touchwiz in a bit.

As the desktop of Android is naked we have to dress it all up, customise it so we can see what we need to see and not what we are told to see.

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There are plenty of options to customise the home screen. Widgets and shortcuts are all readily available alongside many more in the marketplace. My only problem is that Android widgets style rarely match and the screen can become quite cluttered. However there is more than enough space to keep you creative when it comes to plugging some of the gaps.

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In the middle of the notification bar at the bottom is the link for the Touchwiz pop-up. Once the up arrow is selected the bar rotates like James Bond’s number plate to reveal short cuts for the Task Manager, Calendar, World Clock, Pen Memo. Calculator and the Music Player.

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The Pen Memo was one of the more interesting of these features. You can type a note or draw one. As you can see from above, I have drawn a picture of a dog, looking at you. Nothing else, it is a dog! In turn you can pin these notes to a cork board. This is not an actual cork board, in fact it is a digital representation. Pushing pins into the screen will just leave you a tad upset.

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With a 10.1″ screen comes a keyboard to match. Held in portrait mode the keyboard is almost comfortable, provided you don’t want to use the T, G and B buttons terribly often. If you are the B.F.G. then you will have no problems. Landscape the keyboard is what you have come to expect from a 10.1″ keyboard, easy to type and once up to speed you can actually manage a fairly quick pace, as I am doing now. Accuracy will obviously be an issue, especially when you are me.

For this review, I used the Samsung keyboard exclusively. I have tried the stock Android keyboard and whilst it is fine I do prefer the Samsung version as I my used to the layout. It is important to note that the keyboard does not suffer from lag as previously experienced on the Asus Transformer.

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Android’s stock browser has to be one of Honeycomb’s most redeeming feature, and right fully so. The browser here roughly mirrors the high end browsing experience you would expect from Chrome on a desktop. Fast rendering, snappy response and easy to use. When using other browsers there are some glitches as you can see from the shot of the Dolphin browser above. Whilst this browser isn’t formatted for the 10.1″ screen it works quite well aside from warping of the screen when using the slide in menus.

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Google Books is obviously going to be a big draw of many a user. Google have presented this very well and the app performs at a pleasing speed. In addition to Google Books Samsung have their own ebook app, cunningly entitled Ebook. This provides a virtual bookshelf for your collection to stand proudly upon. Amazon’s Kindle app also works well.


Social Hub has be ability to take your social network feeds and present them in a neat queue for you to review. You can add Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Exchange email and a regular email account. It would seem that you can only have one Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin account logged in which is a bit of a shame. However, this app appears to have come on leaps and bounds since the last incarnation we saw on the Galaxy Tab 7″ last year. It might be handy but there are better options in the market.


One of the biggest let downs was PDF performance. I do not think the laggy and embarrassingly slow rendering was anything to do with the competent Polaris Office suite that is included here. Instead I think the slow down was due to an incompatibility with some PDF compression techniques. Polaris ran well on the Asus Transformer earlier this year, however on this Galaxy Tab 10.1″ there might be some issues.


Thanks to some pretty swish screen technology Google Earth looks stunning. The movements are fluid and when on Wi-Fi the landscape renders very quickly.


The Youtube client hasn’t seen any dramatic changes since it’s inception for Honeycomb. The carousel interface is some and the video playback was surprisingly good.


Oddly, besides the  widget under the Touchwiz menu there is a larger version of the World Clock. It’s all very pretty however there is one crucial problem. See if you can spot it.




Yup, it’s wrong. An hour slow it would appear. The clock on the status is reporting the that is it 22:20, however the world seems to think that it is 21:20. A small flaw and whilst it’s hardly going to cause any major problems it’s a strange bug. The Android status bar was correct, it was past bedtime.


Google prides itself upon Android’s ability to mould itself to your needs and there will be a few folks out there looking to pick on of these up to take with them in the car. I mean it’s a pretty awesome prospect of having a 10″ Sat Nav mounted on your dashboard, not quite so handy when it obscures the road, but that’s a trivial matter. The Tab comes equipped with the in car funcationalilty. Access to in car navigation and voice activated input with minimum interaction.


In addition to Android’s own marketplace, Samsung provide their own attempt. Honestly, you will probably only check it once, or it you are really bored. There is very little here of interest. Of course there are some more popular games like Angry Birds or Majesty: Fantasy Kingdom alongside some of Samsung’s own offerings and store demonstrations. When the Galaxy Tab 7″ was originally released there was a number of games released here to show off the platform, Need for Speed: Shift and N.O.V.A. for example. Unfortunatly there is nothing of that calibre awaiting you. Hopefully this will become more populated in the future.


Also provided is one of the fancier RSS readers, Pulse. Pulse is a great way to follow your favourite weblogs and site updates in one easy to use place. There are a couple of bugs to it however, I believe these are within the app itself instead of the tab as they occur on the 7″ counterpart. The bugs I mention are minimal and do not hinder the experience of the application that is at it’s best of the larger screen.

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Polaris Office suite is something we seem to be seeing more and more often on Android tablet’s. In addition to the Google Docs application, that has only been fully updated for the larger screen real-estate, the Tab proves to be quite competent are running this fully featured office suite. The generous keyboard makes easy work of input and the ability to work with your existing Google documents increases the usability to no end.

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Photo editing has always been a big hole in Android. There really wasn’t much in the way of tools for picture manipulation. Third party apps had to do the job. Now on Honeycomb we have a featured photo editor. Rather than having simple tools like crop and rotate you can add a limited amount of effects and do some basic colour adjustment. Additionally you can splice some images together. The image was not provided by Samsung, it is from my personal collection, you must understand, I really like those crisps.

It’s hardly ground breaking, however it does help plug that hole and if it isn’t enough then you can always find something else in the market or use an online resource like Photoshop in the competent browser.


The handiest of handy tools is a file explorer. My Files does this. Copy and Paste, move, rename and delete actions are all available. Tapping a file will open the file as you would expect in the relevant application.


As with all 10″ tablets you will be wanting to use this as a media player to slip into your pocket when you go running or cycling. As already mentioned the Tab’s headphone socket it located on the top of the device. or side if you are using it in portrait mode. or on the bottom if you. the headphone socket is above the hole for the webcam. There are allsorts of pros and cons for the location for the headphone socket. The music is standard, nothing particularly special here. You can organise your music into playlists, or by genre.

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As with other Samsung devices the music library comes with the online store provided by 7 Digital. Love them or hate them, you are having them. Of course there are other stores available from the Android Marketplace and you can just resign this to the background if you are not fussed with it.


Google Maps, like Google Earth, is a joy on this device. Fast and smooth renders look impeccable on the Tab’s gorgeous display. Multitouch, twisty turny map manipulation works wonderfully well.


There is an additional feature I have not played with before. When using the stock browser the user has the ability to zoom in based around a tilt action. The user places their thumbs on the screen and tilts the screen towards themselves to zoom in and away to zoom out. A handy little feature that I continually forgot about and only remembered after pinching to zoom in. Upon daily use I’m sure a user would see this as a handy bonus.

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All tablets have some sort of gaming ability now. Games on tablets range from the most basic to graphical splendours. In an effort to push the platform Nvidia have put together the Tegra Zone with Tegra chipset focused titles at agreeable prices. It might simply link back to the Android Market place with a hardware authorisation signature however there is a great selection here already.

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Galaxy On Fire II is a title I was severely sucked into and one of the reasons why this review took soooo long to complete. The game provides a good challenge for the hardware. There is a detail level that once maxed caused the game to slow considerably, running the game on medium level is the obvious choice and either means one of two thinks. Firstly, the game ahead of the hardware at this time and when the quad-core Tegras appear in the new year we will be able to push this slider all the way to the end. Secondly, the Galaxy Tab doesn’t have it in it to run this at full speed when other tablets might be able to. From the benchmarking scores later in the review I think it’s safe to say the reason is the former, but rest assure I will try this out on the next Tegra 2 that passes by.


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The onboard camera is fine. Nothing more, nothing less. Images are of an acceptable quality. The quality is, whilst not brimming with colour not entirely washed out, however light can bleed into the darker shades from the light with ease. The fixed focus is a bit of a pain, the pictures with the chestnuts show problems with the depth of field. The second chestnut picture was using a sports mode as the branch was moving in the wind however the camera decided to focus on the background instead.

This is a 3 megapixel camera, not an 8 as you would see in the other variant of this tablet. I would be interested in seeing a side by side comparison of the two as to be quite honest, I am being very hard on this camera. For a camera on a tablet the results are better than you would expect.



One bug i did find in the gallery was a problem with uploading pictures to the online site of Picasa.



 The video funcation inside the camera uses the follow specifications:Format: MOVDimensions: 1280x720pxVideo codec: H264Audio codec: AAC

The output is quite good, if nothing to write home about. I’d say for a tablet the inclusion of the video camera is a trivial one and if you are considering buying this tablet to use for video production then you should really be made aware that there are other, better dedicated options out there.

Video and audio proved to be a problem. When downloading some random video from the internet I was met with the unsupported notification frequently. Perhaps there is an expanded codec pack from the Samsung website however I had to rely on players from the marketplace that had codec support to playback content. This wasn’t an ideal solution as HD content tended to be chuggy, skipping as it played and sometimes unresponsive. This isn’t a new problem, the Terga2 chipset have a well documented problem with playing back 1080 and even 720 video. You will have to resort to converting video files in Samsung’s own Kies software if you plan on taking video with out.

A second problem was audio playback. When using the microphone to record a voice note to Evernote, a choice note taking app, the Tab failed to be able to reply the voice note that was recorded.




Battery life and performance:

Using the Tab for 3 weeks I never had an issue with the battery. I would say that for web browsing in the house on wi-fi the user will see between 6-8 hours use. When out with 3G and the screen compensating for different lighting environments between 4-5 hours would seem likely. I have aways given tablets a good testing when using video, however as that experience was pretty horrible I found it heard to challenge the battery and was able to leave it to one charge every 2-3 days.

The processor is a well known one and the results speak for themselves. The tablet is not without it’s lag and this might just be down to Honeycomb. I have never been a fan of the switcher on Honeycomb as it feels to much like all these applications are open in the background slowing things down whilst the user is helpless to terminate app they have finished using.
That’ said there was little that challenged the device, save for Galaxy on Fire II.


I could blether on all day about how well Android’s tablet side is coming along however the important fact is that you will receive pretty much the same experience on any other Android tablet, save for the additional Touchwiz features and a couple of bundled app choices made by Samsung.

So is big question is all down to how well it performs. Again, there is a problem with that too. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 runs on hardware we already know quite well as the chipset is being used by almost every other Android tablet at a lower price. So we can already point out the ups and downs of the Tegra 2.

So the big question would then be is this worth the price it says on the box (or shelf, webpage, sign.) In a word, no. This hardware is tremendously expensive, especially when you compare it to other tablets on the market. The Transformer for example, true a 3G modem is missing, however there are some game changers when you consider the loss of expandable storage and just how many connectors are built into the Transformer. If you buy the 16gb version, you better be completely sure you are not going to need more and for quite some time. Lack of connections, you better be prepared to shell out for USB or HDMI connectors and given this has a proprietary connector, Samsung are charging a premium. Concerns many iPad users will be familiar with, how I can’t imagine there being as many third party alternatives at a lower price point.

This isn’t the be all and end all of Android tablets. I have my concerns about the future of the device, having been stung by my theoretical Samsung device renewal system. If you purchase an iPad for the same money as this, you will see updates for the next 2-3 years as the current trends would suggest. Samsung have all but abandoned the tablets that appeared on the market this time last year so I would be very reluctant to purchase one of these, at the price they are asking, for fear this would be laid to waste in 12 months time for a revised edition or successor.

So honestly, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1″ is a good tablet, the price is the problem. You will find better value elsewhere and some of them even come with a cover in the box!

Posted by: Gareth

Posted in: Reviews, Tablets
Tags: , ,

About the Author:

Seasoned tech blogger. Host of the Tech Addicts podcast.
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