Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G (Bell) - review

Added on by TEK.GADG.

It is an interesting moment to be reviewing the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Apple and Samsung are battling worldwide on who owns the designs to this tablet. But legal battles don't interest us that much. We care about good products! Does Samsung's first Honeycomb tablet step up to the plate? Read on to found out

Hardware

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a striking device to hold, simply because it is so thin and light. The iPad 2 weighs 1.32 pounds, and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 weighs 1.24 pounds. While this may seem like a minuscule difference, little differences go a long away when you are reading on your tablet for hours and hours. It also felt slightly thinner than the iPad 2.

At a glance it is hard to tell the Galaxy Tab 10.1 from the iPad 2, as both devices sport a similar clean and minimalistic aesthetic. The 10.1 inch screen is surrounded by a 0.8 inch black bezel and a silver outline at the edge. You can find a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and light sensors on the top of the screen. 

On the top edge, you can find the sleep/power button, volume rocker, headphone jack, and the SIM card slot. Data/power port and a microphone hole is on the bottom of the device. Now, an interesting design choice to note is that this device is meant to be held in a widescreen view. When you are holding the device with all the logos the right way, the device is in landscape orientation. This seems to be the case for all Honeycomb devices. Coupled with a 16:10 screen ratio, it feels more suited for media consumption than for e-reading. On the other hand, the iPad 2 has a 4:3 screen ratio which feels more natural for e-reading and less so for media consumption.

As we've come to expect in Samsung devices, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 comes with an excellent screen. The Super PLS display with 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution looks crisp and clear for both web browsing and movie watching. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 comes with 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 chipset with 1GB RAM, and a 16GB internal storage.

Software 

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 comes with Android 3.1, and brings TouchWhiz to the Honeycomb field for the first time. Fortunately TouchWhiz does not change HoneyComb too much, merely adding a few animations and lower dock items for convenience. Honeycomb feels snappy for apps and web browsing. It handled 3D games very well, and played Minecraft Pocket Edition like butter.

Android fans will notice pretty big changes in Honeycomb. Instead of hardware buttons, Honeycomb comes with three software buttons on the lower left side. These buttons are back, home, and recent-apps. Menu button comes up for apps that need them. Samsung added a screenshot button to the lower corner, which is a nice touch. Lower right side has the clock and notifications. Widgets on the homescreen can be freely resized. Honeycomb is a lot busier than previous versions of Android, but also packs a lot of functions right on the homescreen.

One gripe with have with Honeycomb is that it does not render some typefaces (fonts) correctly. Helvetica, one of the most prominent typefaces of our time and our favorite, is replaced with some serif font on the version of Honeycomb that comes with the Galaxy Tab 10.1. We could not help but cringe at this error as it hurt our site aesthetics. It is beyond us why Honeycomb does not render a common typeface correctly. Older versions of Android displays TEK.GADG like it's intended to be displayed. Did Google forget to include some files? What happened? Is Google going to replace all typefaces with Roboto in the future? We don't have these answers and we were not happy about this.

Battery and Network

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is rated at 9 hours of continuous video playback and 72 hours of music playback. It only lasted 8 hours in our test, but we were using the 4G network so that is understandable. Tab 10.1 held a reliable connection to the Bell 4G HSPA network, continuously fetching download speeds of 8 megabits/s and upload speeds of 1 megabits/s.

Conclusion

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a very good Honeycomb tablet. It has a very clean hardware design, and honeycomb runs very well on the Tab 10.1 While Android Market does not offer as many tablet optimized apps as the Apple App Store, Tab 10.1 makes up for it with good Google experience and core functions. If you are an Android guy, you will love the Galaxy Tab 10.1. We give it 3.5 enjoyment balloons out of 4.

Sean