Computing

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Review

It’s finally here. After those legal battles with Apple in Australian courts, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet (follow-up to the Galaxy Tab 10.1v) has hit Aussie shops starting at around $579. It’s thinner and lighter than the iPad 2, and Samsung’s TouchWiz UX interface for Android 3.1 Honeycomb is bright and inviting. We also now know which Galaxy Tab 10.1 accessories will be available in Australia. Let’s take a look.

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The Galaxy Tab 10.1 measures 8.66mm thick and weighs 565g (3G model) / 560g (Wi-Fi only). This is a big deal. It helps it feel a generation ahead of any other Android tablet, even though it’s basically got the same guts (1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 chip like the Asus Transformer for example). The Galaxy Tab 10.1 sets the bar for what every other Android tablet should feel like.

Meanwhile, Samsung wants its recent TouchWiz UX tweaks to improve the visual look and feel of the tablet. They’ve added Swype support and a resizable keyboard, a mini apps tray along the bottom of the screen, and “Live panel” — a magazine-like collection of widgets the live on the home screen. “Quick Panel” improves one-click access to system settings like Wi-Fi, and Samung’s Social and Media Hub apps pretty much do what you’d expect.

Settings menus and the keyboard are now a whitish-grey. Fonts have a cleaner appearance. The weather and news Live Panes aren’t terrible. There’s even a dedicated icon on the status bar for screenshots (something Android didn’t previously have built-in support for). Overall, TouchWiz UX makes the OS look much better.

Good on Samsung for including a full version of Polaris Office 3.0 so you can view/edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. You also get limited trials of Norton Mobile Security and Samsung Music Hub. Additional apps on the way include a Kobo eReader in addition to PressReader (for digital versions of newspapers like the Australian, Courier Mail and Daily Telegraph). For the absent minded, Samsung’s Dive service will also help you track the Galaxy Tab 10.1 via GPS if you lose it.

Besides Flash 10.2 video support, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 can playback video encoded in MPEG4, H.263, H.264, DivX, Xvid and WMV. It’ll handle 1080p videos at 30fps, but play them at the 10.1-inch screen’s resolution of 1280×800.

It’s worth noting the use of a PLS (Plane to Line Switching) LCD, which is basically Samsung’s version of IPS. It performs comparably — sometimes a bit better and sometimes not. It’s an impressive mobile display with a lot better standout performance than all of the other Android Tablets — except in one very important category. If you like to watch your HDTV with the colour Saturation control set to maximum then you will be right at home with the Galaxy Tab because Samsung has turned the colour obnoxiously high with no way to lower it (yet). This could be fixed easily with a software update by adding a colour picture control that lets users adjust the colour to their liking — see Gizmodo’s Tablet Display Shootout for more.

Don’t Like

We don’t have many cons, but the plastic backing is one. That’s partly how Samsung out-wisped the iPad 2. Not an absolutely deal breaker, though, as it still feels quite sturdy. It’s down to personal preference. As is the 16:10 orientation – those used to an iPad may feel it awkward to hold in portrait (to say, read a Kindle book). On the flip side, widescreen actually makes other apps a whole lot more usable.

TouchWiz UX definitely makes Android easier on the eyes, but if you had fundamental issues with Honeycomb before, this won’t do much to change your mind. Beyond the homescreen and settings menu, there’s not too much that feels radically different. The dock bar full of Samsung-developed mini-apps/widgets stays hidden until you tap the arrow icon on the status bar – but most of these apps are inconsequential at best.

Galaxy Tab 10.1 Accessories

Unfortunately, you’ll need the $50 “HDTV adapter” (HDMI) to connect the Galaxy Tab 10.1 to an external screen. Other Aussie accessories include:

- Keyboard Dock ($99)
- Combo Bluetooth Keyboard / Case ($159; pictured)
- SD card reader ($37.95)
- Full-sized USB port adapter (supports mouse-input; $37.95)
- Desktop Charging Dock ($39.95)
- Book cover / viewing stand ($69)
- Pouch ($34.95)

What’s Next?

As things stand, Samsung has yet to announce when (or if) Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwhich will arrive for the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Here’s hoping it’s soon — the current Asus Transformer tablet received an early ICS port, and we’ve seen it running on the upcoming Asus Transformer Prime.

And what of Samsung’s own Galaxy Tab 8.9 and Galaxy Tab 7.7? No word yet on Australian availability – but it’s early days yet. The 10.1 only just got cleared for sale.

Rumours: Is Samsung Making An 11.6-inch (2560×1600) Retina Screen Galaxy Tab?

Galaxy Tab 8.9 and TouchWiz UX hands-on video:

You can pick up the Galaxy Tab 10.1 from the likes of JB Hi-Fi, Good Guys, Myer, Bing Lee, Office Works and Harvey Norman for around $579 (16GB WiFi variant) and a RRP of $729 (16GB 3G variant). Vodafone is the first telco to provide a subsidised option, and Kogan and Mobicity are selling it too — though we really recommend giving this one some hands-on time before picking it up. Gizmodo readers recently voted the Galaxy Tab 10.1 as the best Android tablet currently available on our shores. We agree. For now.

More: Asus Transformer Prime Super Tablet Hits Australia In January


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