Last year’s Samsung Galaxy Tab has put quite a task in front of the company for this year, being the best-selling Android tablet on the market. Unlike the previous model, which has been sold as a single model with various memory configurations, Samsung has now turned to a different approach. During the year, two, if not three different models will be presented, and the first one to reach us was Galaxy Tab 10.1v.
As its name suggests, the main difference is visible at first sight already - the new Galaxy Tab has a significantly larger display, and the change in size is also reflected in a weight that’s almost doubled. Yet the device still manages to remain lighter than anything the competitors have to offer at this display diagonal, and is noticeably thinner. The capacitive display is excellent, with very good viewing angles and with no noticeable flaws. The automatic light sensor makes sure that the display is kept visible even under direct sunlight, whereas the layer of Gorilla glass provides the high-resolution display with physical damage protection. We particularly like the minimal frame around the display, which keeps the device within very narrow dimensions having in mind the display size. The plastic cover on the back is coarse, providing good grip during work. There are even mild bumps across the surface, which make horizontal use more pleasant and ergonomic.
There isn’t a lot to see on the edges. Aside from speakers, there are power and volume buttons, a headphone jack, microphone and a non-standard charging plug. A single cover hides the SIM card slot, and that’s about it. No HDMI output, no USB port, no microSD socket. While we could somehow justify the omission of the first two, we just can’t do that for the latter.
As is common in the Android tablet world, but somewhat surprising for Samsung, the hardware basis of this device is NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 platform, with its dual-core CPU and a powerful graphics card. Internet website rendering is very fast, and thanks to hardware support for Adobe Flash, also precise and complete. The internet connection is fast as well, and you can establish one either by using the HSPA modem or the WiFi connection. Due to the high resolution, many websites are rendered in normal (desktop) mode. In case that you get the mobile version of a website, the result can often be excessively tiny and taxing on the eyes; worse even, you often don’t get to choose. The internal memory has a capacity of 16 GB, which is more than decent in itself, but bear in mind that you don’t have the option of adding additional microSD cards. Although 16 GB is plenty of space, once you’ve started copying your favourite HD films and music onto it, you’ll soon learn just how limiting a factor it can be, while a microSD card would’ve been just perfect for that sort of content. The excellent back camera with the ability to record full HD video is a most pleasant surprise - we simply haven’t expected such a high recording quality from a tablet. However, this is another thing eating away at your available disk space, as an hour of recording in high-res will cost you more than 6 GB.
After a very quick startup, the user is greeted by the recognisable Honeycomb (Android 3.0.1) environment. As you can see by the version number, the revision in question is a slightly refreshed basic version, which has resulted in far fewer bugs than the first version of Google’s tablet platform had. You’ll still encounter a few problems here and there, but these have more of a comical value than they actually hamper work; besides, they appear rarely, so it’s likely that you won’t be bothered by them by the time they get corrected with the next OS revision. Samsung has made it a rule for their mobile devices to get an Android version with a customised UI in the form of TouchWiz, but not this time. This isn’t bad at all, really, as what you get is a familiar environment that’s prone to being updated more frequently and easily. On the other hand, Samsung has proven that they know how to bump up the OS a bit with TouchWiz, so we were interested in how they’d handle such a large display as the one present here, but it looks like we’ll have to wait a bit more to satiate our curiousity. A few more widgets to complement the basic ones wouldn’t have hurt either, with the weather forecast one being the most obvious omission.
As expected, all Google services are up & running here, and connecting to Android Market will quickly introduce you to the already mind-boggling number of available applications. As for the applications that come preinstalled, we particularly appreciate Pulse Reader (free) and QuickOffice HD (trial). Pulse is similar to an RSS reader in many ways, but has a much slicker design, optimised for tablets. It’s simply an enjoyment in itself to use it, as it gives much more visually, with an intuitive navigation. As for QuickOffice HD, its purpose is very clear, as it handles documents in a typical Office environment. So far, Polaris has been our favourite, but this application not only provides perfectly comfortable document work, but also enables seamless connection with Google Docs and Dropbox services, as well as their integration with the local packet. More than useful and welcome.
Samsung has obviously invested a lot of effort into this model, making it an exceptionally good tablet. The material aspect of the device has got a lot of attention - it’s very light compared to other models on the market, has an excellent finish and a gigantic battery that enables several days of unhindered work. The speakers and display are marvellous, the hardware base strong, the software polished, and internet connection capabilities widened - all of these are very important aspects that we approve of. However, this device has its share of flaws as well, the biggest one being the complete lack of memory extension options, which is an almost inconceivable oversight. The connection to larger displays is also utterly lacking, as there’s no HDMI output in any variant. Still, if you intend to use this tablet as an internet device with frequent gaming sessions and occasional multimedia enjoyment, you’ll hardly find a device on the market that’ll suit you better. All you need to do is find a proper provider, and you’re good to go.
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v|
|Chipset||nVidia Tegra 250, dual-core Cortex-A9 1GHz|
|Memory||1 GB RAM, 16 GB internal storage|
|Display||TFT, 10.1", 1280x800, Multi-touch, capacitive|
|Graphics core||ULP-GeForce GPU|
|Operating system||Android 3.0.1 Honeycomb|
|Camera||2 Mpix frontal, 8 Mpix back, Full HD recording|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, USB (non-standard cable), Bluetooth, GPS, 3.5mm audio jack, HSPA|
|Battery||Integrated, Li-Polymer, 6,860 mAh|
|Size||246.2 x 170.4 x 10.9 mm|
|Misc||Video out (1080p)|
|Price||Depending on contract|