Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Verizon 4G LTE Review

Back in December of last year, I had the opportunity to review Samsung’s first Android tablet, the Galaxy Tab 7″. I liked it well enough, but ended my review saying that I really wanted an iPad sized Android tablet because a 10″ screen is the sweet spot for me. Since that time I’ve reviewed a handful of other Android tablets, both big (iPad sized) and small. The Motorola Xoom running Honeycomb came the closest to making me want to shell out my own cash for one, but I kept dragging my feet on making the purchase. Now it’s 8 months later and there are quite a few 10″ sized Android tablets running the latest and greatest version of the OS (Honeycomb). Verizon was kind enough to send me the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G LTE to try. Am I tempted to buy one for myself? Let’s see.

Note: Click the images in this review to see a larger view.

Hardware Specifications

Processor: AP (nVidia T20, Dual Core Cortex A9, 1GHz) + CMC220(LTE) + VIA CBP 7.1
Memory: 16GB or 32GB internal –actual formatted capacity will be less
Operating System: Android 3.1 (Honeycomb)
Network: Verizon 4G LTE/3G and Wi–Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n)
Display: 10.1” 1280×800 WXGA 16M PLS TFT screen
Camera: 3.0MP rear–facing camera w/auto–focus and flash, 2.0MP front–facing camera for video conferencing
Bluetooth: v2.1 + EDR
Battery: Usage time up to 12 hrs OR Standby time up to 400 hrs
Dimensions: 10.10”x6.90”x0.34”
Weight: 1.25 lbs

Hardware Tour

Out of the 10″ sized tablets currently on the market, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is probably the most iPad like as far as looks go. It’s thin, sexy and even weighs a little less than the iPad 2.

The tablet has a brushed grey shell with rounded corners. The casing looks like metal, but it’s plastic as far as I can tell. Even so, it has a very nice feel to it and it’s really attractive.

The front of the device is taken up entirely by the 10.1 display. There are no buttons, just a Black bezel around the screen with the front facing camera on top.

On the back, there’s the main camera and LED flash.

On the left side of the tablet, you’ll find a speaker grill (there’s another one the opposite side), power / wake button and volume button.

Listening to music and audio through this tablet is enjoyable. Max volume isn’t deafening, but the quality of the audio through the side firing speakers is much better than I expected.

The earphone jack and 4G SIM card slot are located along the top edge.

The docking / charge connector and microphone are found on the bottom edge.

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 feels really solid and doesn’t creak, crack or rattle when I perform my patented squeeze test on it. Except for the fact that it has a plastic shell instead of a metal back like the iPad 2, it feels every bit as good in hand. The texture of the back gives it a better grip than the iPad too.

Samsung is known for the AMOLED displays in their smartphones, but unfortunately this tablet doesn’t have such a display – probably because AMOLED displays aren’t yet available in this size. Even so, the display is bright, crisp and easy to read, with a wide viewing angle. I have no complaints about it at all when it comes to visibility.

Watching video through the included Media Hub application (sorry, no Netflix…) is very enjoyable with the large display.

As far as touch sensitivity, this display feels responsive. However, I have noticed some issues in various apps where my taps are sometimes ignored, but I think this is due to some software glitches and not the display itself.

Camera

The camera built into this tablet takes mediocre pictures. Indoors they are a bit grainy… but outdoors they fare better. Of course I don’t see anyone using a 10 inch tablet as a camera, so this isn’t a make it or break it feature. Here are a couple sample images (cick to see the full-size):

I do like that you can tap on an area in the viewfinder to focus on. That’s a feature of iOS that I’ve always liked and I’m glad to see it here too.

System Performance and Battery Life

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a snappy performer. Apps launch and lists scroll quickly. Using WiFi to watch movie previews through the included Media Hub app is smooth with no hiccups.

Using 3G (we don’t have 4G in my area) has been a decent experience too. Not having to worry if there is free WiFi available makes it very convenient. Of course, you have to pay for that convenience. Monthly data plan rates will set you back 2GB $30, 5GB $50, 10GB $80 per month.

I’ve been impressed with battery life while I’ve been testing this tablet. I don’t have any real data to share, but I’ve been able to use the tablet for a few days between charges. Battery life seems to be on par with my iPad 2.

Software

This tablet is thankfully NOT loaded up with a bunch of junk applications that you’ll wish you could delete. In addition to the normal suite of apps like the Calendar, Contacts, Gmail, Browser, Calculator, Market, Music, Camera, Clock, Maps, and Talk, you also get Quickoffice, Movie Studio, Media Hub and a GPS Navigator.

One of the first things I tried to find after getting this tablet setup was a swype style keyboard. I’ve been using Swype on my Droid X and love it. I ended up installing the demo version of an app called SlideIT, which works pretty well. I wish I could have this type of keyboard on my iPhone/iPad <sniff>

Some of you hate it when I compare the iPad to an Android tablet, but I can’t help it. The iPad is a standard that I hold similar gadgets up to because I like it so well. That said, there are several things that this particular Android tablet beats the pants off the iPad:

  • You don’t have to sign into the market every time you download a new app
  • Home screen widgets
  • Flash support in the stock browser
  • Swype and similar alternative keyboards
  • Bluetooth mouse support

I’d like to note that the last item in the list above is pretty important to me if I need to use this tablet as a laptop replacement. I’m happy to report that I was able to pair a Bluetooth keyboard AND mouse with this tablet at the same time. When you pair a mouse with the tablet, an arrow cursor appears on the display and you can move it around exactly like you do on your laptop.

I’d love to be able to use this tablet (or an iPad) as a laptop replacement when needed. Although the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 comes pretty close to being able to do so, it still fails – for me. I say “for me” because I’d want to use it to do blogging work through The Gadgeteer’s WordPress admin interface. It has some issues with being able to upload images and editing posts. It can be done, but it takes too much effort to make it easy and enjoyable.

But using the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 strictly as a tablet is a very good experience. It works well for emailing, surfing, playing games, watching movies, etc. I really enjoyed my 2 weeks with this device and really don’t want to send it back to Verizon… That said, I probably won’t buy one for myself because of the fact that I can’t quite use it as a laptop replacement for blogging. If someone would ask me which tablet I’d buy between the iPad 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, I’d have a hard time giving them an answer because I love both devices. I’d like to take the apps and accessories for the iPad and add them to the ability to add desktop widgets and view Flash content with the Android and create my own Frankentablet. Sadly I can’t…

Bottom Line

If you want an Android tablet that is thin, sexy and weighs very little, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a good choice. It’s a little pricey when you figure in the 4G data plan, but you can get this tablet in a WiFi only version…

So tell me, what is your favorite Android tablet right now and why?

 

Product Information

Price:(16GB) $529.99 w/2yr contract, $699.99 w/o contract, (32GB) $629.99 w/2yr contract, $799.99 w/o contract, Dataplan also required
Manufacturer:Samsung
Retailer:Verizon Wireless
Posted in: Android related, Reviews

25 comments… add one

  • Rene August 18, 2011, 11:19 am

    Problem with the Android Tablets is, that there are almost no tablet-apps !

    99% of all aps are phone apps and are small

    You can’t even search them in the app store.

    1
  • Darwin August 18, 2011, 11:37 am

    Cheap plasticky construction, slow and laggy which I’m amazed you didn’t notice. f you use an iPad you will notice it immediately. Terrible UI. Samsung has horrible customer service. No expansion which is supposed to be a big deal with Android tablets. You have to sign a contract to get 3G unlike the iPad which can go month to month at Apple’s insistence. Non standard cables and expensive which again is not very Androidy. No apps to speak of. Its no wonder these aren’t selling even though they can be found heavily discounted. This is supposed to be the best Android tablet you can buy right now which is pretty sad.
    Oh and its not actually thinner than an iPad 2.

    2
  • chris August 18, 2011, 11:56 am

    Apple fan boy. Just get over it. Apple are losing to the competition. They had their moment. Now it’s time for the toys to move out of the way.
    Apple need to stop using lies and silly patents to try and keep them from falling.
    Samsung tab has better spec tech in every way and the os will only get better and better as it still an early release..

    3
  • Julie August 18, 2011, 12:10 pm

    @darwin I don’t think the Tab feels cheap at all… and I didn’t have not noticed any lag…
    As for the UI, I don’t find it to be terrible. what exactly don’t you like about the UI?

    4
  • Manyiel August 18, 2011, 1:20 pm

    @ Chris and Julie, Darwin is correct about Samsung’s customers service. They are horrible. I have Earlier Galaxy tab, and I am Android user cell phone and tablet. Samsung in North America can not deal with similar product in Asia or EU. They can’t even take care of your product if you have bought product from different market that was target to a different countries vs. your own, yet it is the same product. I have never owned Apple Pad or I-phone. The rest of the his claimed may not be correct.

    5
  • Big John August 18, 2011, 3:55 pm

    @darwin
    None of your comments make any kind of sense. I own both and have plenty of user time on both.

    I’ll admit i was at first turned off by the plastic but it is sturdy and feels better then the ipad and WAY less slippery. It makes the ipad feel like a can after holding it.

    You can go month to month contract as well. Contract pricing just gives you a discount on the tablet itself but majority of users use wifi on either tablet anyways..

    Its definately not slower possibly even faster then the ipad, slow and laggy, umm No…

    and is actually very noticably thinner then the ipad as well as lighter.

    Most major apps are also available on the Gtab and more of the phone apps work on the tablet without problems unlike the ipad which looks horrible

    Get the facts straight son…

    6
  • Andrew August 18, 2011, 11:51 pm

    @Chris

    How is the IPad failing? Nothing has come close as of yet. Every time a new tablet comes out we hear the same thing, but none of them have sold well. I do see some promise in this tablet and I guess time will tell.

    I like Apple products but I am open to seeing what else is out there as well, it just has to be worthwhile

    7
  • James Goforth August 19, 2011, 7:11 am

    Julie

    I went with the 16GB Asus Eee Pad Transformer (picked mine up for around $350.00) and have not had any regrets. I really love this thing, screen size is the same as the Samsung Tab, actually running Android 3.2 on this thing. It does have it’s setbacks, kind of cheap feeling, creaks and cracks but the screen is amazing at least from what I can tell, I have not put it through it any vigourous testing but for what I use it for it is perfect.

    8
  • Julie August 19, 2011, 7:52 am

    @James do me a favor… put some pix on an SD card and put the card in the slot on the Eee Pad. Then login to wordpress and see if it will let you upload those pix into a test post.

    9
  • Fahad August 19, 2011, 11:26 am

    Okay now I live in a small town that does not cover (4G) Will (3g) work instead ? and If so how is it working ??

    10
  • Wayne August 19, 2011, 11:35 am

    I purchased my Galaxy Tab 10.1 3 weeks ago and have come to really enjoy all of its qualities. If your opinion of it is based on a review of only a few days, I can understand why it wouldn’t be glowing. It took me about two weeks to hit my stride with this tablet and find apps that really make it a very useful replacement for a laptop.

    I got the wifi/4G version but use wifi almost exclusively at home and work. I charge it overnight and can use it all day ( 8 – 10 hours) before recharging.

    It comes pre-loaded with QuickOffice Pro HD, a very nice productivity app that also allows you to link your documents to other accounts such as Google documents.

    The Dolphin Browser is also a great add-on and allows you to link up to your other accounts. My favorite part of Dolphin Browser is the ‘Speed Dial’ feature, much better than wonky bookmarks.

    There are other apps out there, you simply have to search for them. I’m sure more will come as the Tablet gains in popularity. I’ve loaded the following apps, all of which work great.

    Natalie McLean’s Wine Picks
    Springpad
    Google Sky Map
    Dolphin Browser
    Body
    Angry Birds Rio
    iSyncr
    Data traffic counter
    Pulse
    Circle battery widget
    Skype
    Pandora Radio
    Weatherbug

    For more apps check out these websites.

    http://androinica.com/2011/06/best-android-honeycomb-apps-for-samsung-galaxy-tab-10-1/

    http://www.businessinsider.com/best-samsung-galaxy-tab-apps-2011-6

    http://www.cio.com/article/685052/10_Hot_Honeycomb_Apps_for_Business?page=1#slideshow

    I have the 32GB version so space isn’t much of an issue. I do not have any music or media loaded on it though.

    Wi-fi connectivity is solid. It can connect to my enterprise Wi-fi hot spot at work with no problems, but I cannot say the same for my Motorola Droid 2 which almost never connects and when it does, drops often.

    The 10″ display is crisp and bright. I keep it on the auto brightness setting, which detects ambient light levels and adjusts it to appropriate levels.

    Honestly, if I was able to afford an iPad, I would have one. Instead, the money I saved will go toward my data plan for the Gtab. :-)

    11
  • Julie August 19, 2011, 3:55 pm

    @Wayne I really like the Samsung. It’s just that *for my needs*, it doesn’t quite cut it. If I was going to buy one, I’d buy it to use as a laptop replacement while traveling. I’d want to be able to use it to work on reviews through the wordpress admin interface. The Samsung doesn’t do this task well enough. The deal breaker is that I can’t upload images in to my posts through that interface. It can’t find the images. There is a wordpress app that I could use, but I don’t like it that well… So for me, at this point, I still need a laptop when I travel. BUT, the Samsung and the iPad (and most other newer android tablets) are perfect for email, surfing and game play. I use my iPad on the weekends to check my mail and surf sites while eating breakfast and find it really enjoyable.

    12
  • Julie August 19, 2011, 3:56 pm

    @Fahad I don’t have 4G where I live either. It worked fine over 3G. No problems at all.

    13
  • thsu August 19, 2011, 5:20 pm

    Wayne and Big John, are you guys seriously defending the subsidy and data plan? Really?

    Of all the points you can make, Apple won big when it came to the data plan. It’s the model that all other hardware makers should do.

    The iPad data plan is a great example of customer oriented service. It is user initiated and user terminated, from the iPad itself, with a default setting of automatic termination after 30 days, no activation fee, no termination fee. In fact, the only thing you can complain about is that it you have to buy 30 days at a time.

    It is really common for a 3G iPad owner to just buy data plan when they go on a trip and use wifi the rest of the time.

    The Verizon month to month data plan requires a $35 activation fee, each and every time you activate your tablet. You can talk the sales folks into waiving the fee, but you have to remember to do that. Did I neglect to mention that you have to talk to Verizon to activate and deactivate when on a month to month plan? That is, you cannot just activate/deactivate from your tablet, you have to talk to Verizon to do either.

    The 2 year contract Verizon plan has a $350 early termination fee, although you can normally get that prorated, if you sweet talk a sales person. Thus, if you stop using your tablet any time before 2 years, you are still stuck paying for a data plan or paying a termination fee, with all of your subsidized savings going bye bye.

    Of all the points in Android’s favor, the data plan is not one of them. In fact, all of you should be trying to convince Google to throw their weight around, to get Android tablets the same preferential data plan that Apple was able to secure from the telecos.

    14
  • Ken Schoenberg August 19, 2011, 9:57 pm

    @thsu,

    That’s not exactly true about the Apple data plan.
    I was an early purchaser of an iPad 3G which was advertised as coming with the ability to turn the plan off an on. Well, yes that’s true…but there was a big penalty right away. After only a few months, AT&T did away with the $30/unlimited data plan and capped data at 2GB for $25. If you want more data you have to buy another 2GB for $25. I was allowed to keep the unlimited data plan until I turned it off. Reactivation was limited to the new plans only.
    Second, the data plan defaults to auto renew. You have to go in and terminate the plan. It does not shut off on its own.
    Third, unused data does not rollover…so you get 2GB or 30 days whichever comes first.
    Once I moved to T-Mobile and the G2 phone I just turned AT&T off for good. Tethering is included in my phone’s plan $20/month unlimited data and best of all it’s faster than AT&T’s 3G service.

    15
  • Ken Schoenberg August 19, 2011, 10:03 pm

    @Darwin, I can’t speak for the Samsung, but Android 3.2 running on my Asus Eee Pad Transporter is every bit as stable as iOS on my iPad. The selection of apps is tremendous and I have no problem running apps developed for the phone on the tablet. They’re certainly not limited to a small screen either.
    It’s also sort of funny that an Apple fan would talk about non-standard cables…the Apple 40-pin connector ain’t exactly USB now is it?
    The iPad is a nice device and does something well. The Transformer running Android 3.2 is better in some functions, not as nice in others but it is every bit iOS’s equal. It’s also a very solidly built machine with a great HD aspect display.

    16
  • Ilikeapple August 22, 2011, 2:14 pm

    I am both an Apple (MacBook Pro) and Android user (HTC Incredible 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab). In my opinion there is a not a more stable operating system than iOS or Mac OS. Android is coming along quickly, and I am pleased at the most part with its performance, I am not ready to place Android in the same league with any of Apple’s operating systems. This coming from a Windows loyalist who thought 3.1 was the tits.

    17
  • Ana Claudia October 22, 2011, 10:03 am

    Samsung Glaxy Tab 10.1 is much better than android tabs in means of apps. In android tabs most apps are mobile apps while same is not the case in Samsug Galaxy Tab 10.1

    18
  • Adrea November 22, 2011, 1:47 pm

    I have a question regarding the Samsung tablet that I will be buying as a Christmas present for someone….I know absolutely nothing about them. I know I will be getting a Samsung Galaxy (or some sort of tablet that uses the Android market). Is there a tablet that uses WiFi, and then down the road if they so chose, can use Verizon 3G? I don’t want to sign up for Verizon right away because I’m not sure if they want that, but I would like it to be an option. Thanks!

    19
  • Riley December 22, 2011, 7:20 pm

    I have had my Galaxy Tab 10.1 for about a month now and so far it is awesome! I had to get one that had an internet plan, so this was the most logical choice. The LTE speeds on my Galaxy Tab are impressive! I was looking at getting the smaller Galaxy Tab 8.9, but I think the bigger screen would be better for watching movies. Verizon’s LTE makes mincemeat of streaming and downloading. I have a few favorite apps on my Galaxy Tab, like Words with Friends and DISH Remote Access. The DRA app lets me stream live TV and recorded shows from my Sling Adapter-connected receiver to my Galaxy Tab anywhere I am. It’s great because I don’t have to save the movies to the device to watch them, which makes more room available for stuff that does require saving. From my experience working for DISH, I have become very familiar with the app, and it is one of my absolute favorites! I love my Galaxy Tab 10.1, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a fast and sleek tablet!

    20
  • Joshua Grigonis January 24, 2012, 2:57 pm

    I’m curious as to what the “issues with being able to upload images and editing posts” were. On vacation I spent about 20 minutes trying to help a lady upload an image from her gallery to facebook. On the Galaxy tab, it simply wouldn’t work. I could post regular text posts, but it couldn’t upload images either directly from the gallery using the share on facebook option, or from facebook app and selecting the image in the gallery. It would always just stick at 0% and then time out saying it could not upload. That’s a pretty sad tab. My wife’s iPad works flawlessly on the same wifi connection.

    21
  • Julie January 24, 2012, 3:48 pm

    @Joshua I was referring to making posts to this website with the Wordpress application. When you try to upload an image, the Wordpress app doesn’t know to go look in the picture gallery.

    22
  • Joshua Grigonis January 24, 2012, 7:51 pm

    Thanks for the clarification. I’m gonna keep troubleshooting this lady’s Tab, but if I had this thing, I’d return it and get an iPad.

    23
  • rpm March 10, 2012, 7:08 am

    can we access internet by inserting a sim card

    24
  • Vickie March 30, 2012, 10:06 am

    love my 10.1 all my apple friends are jelous as for apps not far behind apple some in fact better than, its only been a week since i got it im reading up on the upgrades apps and things i need to make it work in my favour. i have an android phone took me a while its so much better than the iphone.

    25

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