Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 – An Unnecessary Tablet
The Good -
- Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
- Excellent, light-weight design
- MicroSD card slot
- Cool universal remote functionality
The Bad -
- Less than admirable display
- No real improvements over the original Galaxy Tab 10.1
- Performance can be glitchy
- Poor Camera
Samsung packs a lot into the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and best of all manages to lower the price of the device. Samsung fixed my biggest qualm of the original Galaxy Tab by adding a micro-SD card slot to the second generation. However, the 1280×800 TFT display just doesn’t get it done when tablets are pacing 720p displays. The performance on the device is also glitchy, which is another thing that shouldn’t be occurring on a second generation tablet.
Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Specifications
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with TouchWiz
1 GHz dual-core TI OMAP processor
3-megapixel rear-facing camera
4,000 mAh battery
8 GB internal memory
1280 x 800 pixel resolution
Samsung’s first forte into the tablet world took play in June of last year when they launched the Galaxy Tab 10.1 for $499 with Honeycomb, and back then, it was the cream of the crop. It had a great, iPad-like design and performed very well with stock Honeycomb. So, Samsung thought they would just drop the price, add a few things, install Ice Cream Sandwich and slap a 2 in the name. That right there folks, was the birth of the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. And it probably happened that quickly too.
Samsung has always been good at designing their tablets, whether they are ripping off Apple or not. The Galaxy Tab 2 is no different. On the front of the device you will find the 1280×800 TFT display with a glass bezel surrounding it. The bezel is just as big of a fingerprint magnet as the display itself. One thing Samsung changed on the second Galaxy Tab is the speaker s are now on the front of the device on either side of the screen.
The back of the device is made of a plastic material and has a brushed metal look. Samsung has never been known for using high-quality materials, and they stuck to their roots with the Tab 2, but it really does feel good in the hands and not really cheap at all.
On the top of the device you’ll find a power button, volume up and down buttons, a microSD card slot, and your 3.5mm headphone jack. On the bottom, you will see Samsung’s proprietary charging port and on the back is the 3MP.
The display on the original Galaxy Tab 10.1 was pretty good for its time, but Samsung, the same display will not satisfy us in 2012. The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 features a 10.1-inch 1280×800 TFT display. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a decent screen, but nowhere near the quality of other tablets, such as the iPad 3 or Galaxy Tab 7.7. It is just dull and washed out.
If someone were to walk into a Best Buy store and see the Tab 2 10.1 sitting next to a Transformer Prime and iPad, they would instantly be drawn to the competition, which last time I checked, would upset Samsung.
One of the few changes Samsung made in the Galaxy Tab 2 was on the software front. The device ships with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and Samsung’s TouchWiz UI on top. TouchWiz adds a handful of useful features:
- Live Panel: Magazine-like widget view for immediate access to weather, social updates, email,news, photo gallery, all on the home screen. The visual layout of Live Panel is completely customizable for one-touch entry into each user’s most important information.
- Mini Mode Tray: One-touch access to commonly used applications–Task Manager, Calendar, World Clock, Pen Memo, Calculator, Music–which overlay in a pop-up window on display screen for powerful multi-tasking.
- Clipboard: Advanced copy & paste functionality allows Galaxy Tab users to store photos, Web pages, YouTube links, etc., on the clipboard for easy sharing via email and social network sites.
- Indicator Quick Panel: Quickly toggle on/off Wi-Fi, notifications, sound, brightness and settings in lower right hand corner of the Galaxy Tab display.
- Photo Editor: Rotate, crop and adjust colors on high quality digital images
Ice Cream Sandwich is a great improvement over Honeycomb, which is why I don’t think TouchWiz is necessary. In my experience, a stock Ice Cream Sandwich tablet, such as the Sony Tablet S, performs much better than the Tab 2.
The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is powered by a 1GHz dual-core TI OMAP processor with 1GB of RAM. The 7-inch Tab 2 is powered by the same processor. It feels like the TI OMAP processor was not meant to be used on the larger screened Tab 2 10.1, but rather for phones and 7-inch tablets. I know Samsung had to save money somehow, but I don’t see how much more expensive a Tegra 2 chip could be.
Simple games such Temple Run or Angry Birds run great, but when you try to play something like Riptide GP or Grand Theft Auto III suffer from a hefty amount of lag and stutter.
Like I do in all my reviews, I ran a Quadrant Standard test on the Tab 2 10.1. Quadrant is an app, available on the market, that puts your device through a series of tests. Quadrant was recently updated for Ice Cream Sandwich and tablets to give more accurate results.
The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 scored about a 2500 each time I ran the app. By no means is this an outstanding score, but it is not horrible either.
As with all Ice Cream Sandwich tablets the Tab’s home and back button are software buttons. There are only two physical buttons on the device. A power button and a volume rocker on the top of the device. It feels rather odd having the volume rocker on the top, instead of on the sides like normal. Instead of the volume rocker being along the sides, the speakers are. Even though they are small, the speakers sound as good, if not better, than competing tablets.
Ports is where the Tab really lacks. Unlike the Iconia A500 and others, the Tab doesn’t have a USB port or HDMI output, but does have a microSD card slot, unlike its predecessor. Also, instead of a standard micro-USB port, Samsung decided to use a PROPRIETARY USB port. Why Samsung? WHY?
Yes, I know, it makes you look like a fool to take a picture with a tablet, but if manufactures are going to include cameras, they need to at least be decent. The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is packing a 3MP rear camera, which is just slightly above useless. Pictures indoor were fuzzy and dull, but pictures outside could be decent.
The device also features a front facing camera which is useful for video chatting.
The Tab comes in two varieties, a 16GB version and a 32GB version. Samsung was also kind of include the aforementioned microSD card slot, which can be used for up to 32GB more storage.
Battery life is where Samsung’s 10.1-inch tablet really shined. I was easily able make it through a day.
In this review, I performed a continuous video battery life test. In this test, I loaded up an MP4 of an episode of ‘The Office’ and let it repeat until the tablet died. In this test, the Tab lasted for 9 hours and 11 minutes with display brightness at 75%. When I performed the same test on the iPad 2, it lasted for 10 hours and 45 minutes.
One thing you will notice about the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is the infra-red sensor on the top of it. That is for the pre-installed Peel Smart Remote app.
Smart Remote is basically that, a smart remote. It comes preloaded on the Samsung Galaxy Tabs and is great if you watch television. Let’s say you’re in bed or on the couch using your Tab. You want to watch TV but don’t want to get up or can’t find the remote. You have one right there with you. Open up the app and you can control you television, cable-top box, DVR box and more right from it.
Setting it up is a breeze. The first time you use it, it asks you what you’d like to do. It’ll give you options of brand names for your TV and find the correct code automatically. Same for your cable-top/DVR box. I have mine set up with my FiOS box and TV and I love it. I can search my local listings from it and change the channel from it.
I’m just going to come out and say it: this isn’t a necessary device. Currently, Samsung offers way too many tablets: the Galaxy Tab 7 Plus, Galaxy Tab 2 7, Galaxy Tab 7.7, Galaxy Tab 8.9, and the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. The whole Galaxy Tab 2 series is just not necessary.
What really makes me mad is the lack of upgrades in the Tab 2 10.1 over the original 10.1. All that has been improved is the software and the addition of the microSD card slot. Also, where is the Ice Cream Sandwich update for the original Tab 10.1? Is Samsung just going to tick of the millions of people who shelled out half a grand for it?
All in all, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is a decent, but unnecessary, device. If you own the original Galaxy Tab 10.1 or any of the other models, this is not a good enough upgrade for you to shell out $400 for. However, if you are looking for an Android tablet, this is one to check out, but I would have to recommend the Galaxy Tab 8.9, 7.7, or Transformer Prime over it.