Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 review

Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 hasn't hit Australia yet, but that hasn't stopped us reviewing it

Apple may have stopped for Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android tablet being released in Australia for now, but that didn't stop us getting our hands on a review unit courtesy of importer MobiCity.

Our review tablet was the European 3G model (GT-P7500).

The most striking thing about the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is its excellent build quality compared to the 10.1-inch Android tablets. It's a smidgen thinner than the iPad 2, measuring just 8.6mm thick. Its weight is also impressive: At 565g it's lighter than the iPad 2 and can easily be held in one hand.

The tablet's screen is a 10.1-inch capacitive touchscreen. It offers bright and clear text and graphics, and it has excellent viewing angles. However, like most tablets it quickly becomes covered with fingerprints and it's hard to see in bright sunlight.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 runs Google's Android mobile platform. It uses version 3.1 — Honeycomb — of the operating system, which has been designed for use with tablets. The tablet includes Samsung's TouchWiz UX user interface overlay.

TouchWiz UX adds a number of features to Android, There is a 'quick panel' that offers access to a handy set of toggles in the notifications pop-up. There are toggles for Wi-Fi, notifications, GPS, sound vibration, auto rotation, Bluetooth and flight mode, making it very easy to access these options.

Samsung has also added a screen capture button next to the standard back, home and recent apps keys: Tapping this button will immediately capture a screenshot of the device.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 preview, and check out our guide to the best upcoming tablets in 2011.

Tapping a small up arrow at the bottom of the screen brings up a tray of 'mini apps' — a task manager, calendar, world clock, pen memo, calculator and music player. These apps appear on top of the screen, allowing you to continue working on any other open applications. The mini apps can be dragged to any part of the screen, meaning you can theoretically have two apps open side-by-side.

Unfortunately, the mini app tray can't be customised, and right now there are only six mini apps available. We'd love to see more of these developed, and we can only hope Samsung will eventually open them up to third-party developers — there's only so much use you'll get out of a world clock and a calculator, for example.

Although Honeycomb and TouchWIZ UX are an impressive combination, the overall user experience isn't as slick as it should be.

The Galaxy Tab 10.1's browser automatically switches to mobile versions of many Web sites, the home screen jitters if there are too many widgets on the screen, and performance is often questionable. The tablet is sometimes sluggish, especially when using the browser.

A more pressing issue is the lack of third-party apps in the Android market that have been designed with a tablet in mind. Many common apps have not yet been optimised for the larger screen size the Galaxy Tab 10.1 offers.

Sadly the tablet doesn't include a regular USB port: Charging and connecting the unit to a computer require a proprietary cable. On the plus side, the proprietary connector charges the Galaxy Tab 10.1 much faster than a standard micro-USB port could.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor and has 1GB of RAM. It offers Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS. 3G connectivity is also an option. The tablet also has dual cameras and is capable of recording 720p HD video, and playing back 1080p HD video. Disappointingly, it does not have a microSD card slot for extra storage.

Score: 4/5

The verdict:

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the best Android tablet on the market. It's thinner and lighter than Apple's iPad 2, despite having a larger screen, and offers most of the functions and features of its competitors. So far it's the only real credible alternative to the iPad.

Original review Ross Catanzariti, PC World Australia

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