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Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 review

Verdict

The slickest Android tablet yet: at last the iPad 2 has, almost literally, met its match

Review Date: 10 Aug 2011

Reviewed By: Darien Graham-Smith

Price when reviewed: £399 (£479 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £476
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Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

As we write this review, it’s been announced that sales of Samsung’s latest Android tablet are to be halted across Europe, following legal action from Apple. Glance at the picture and it’s not hard to see why. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 looks eerily, insolently similar to an iPad 2 – and it probably doesn’t help that its various capacities and 3G configurations are priced to precisely match Apple’s corresponding models. Samsung plans to appeal against the ruling, but once current stocks are sold there’s no telling whether or when there’ll be any more.

Update: The EU-wide ban has now been lifted; but Apple's legal action continues, so it's possible that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 might once more be withdrawn from sale.

It’s a shame, because the Galaxy Tab has a lot going for it. The looks have been updated since Samsung first demonstrated the device in February, but it’s still lighter than the iPad 2 at 565g, and a fraction of a millimetre thinner. The plastic back isn’t quite as bulletproof as Apple’s metal casing, but like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer – hitherto our favourite Android tablet – it feels sturdy and warm to the touch.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

The screen is a delight too – a multitouch 1,200 x 800 LCD panel giving more screen space than the iPad 2 and a sharper dot pitch. Based on Samsung’s Super PLS technology – the company’s own take on IPS – it’s as bright and colourful as you could ask for, offering excellent viewing angles and an arresting maximum brightness of 492cd/m2 (brighter than Apple’s display), with a punchy contrast ratio of 600:1. The only downside is that, predictably, the widescreen format feels slightly unwieldy in portrait orientation.

Internally, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is based on a 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor, again matching the Asus Transformer. It was no surprise, therefore, to see the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark complete in a very similar 2.4 seconds – just a smidgeon behind the iPad 2’s 2.1 seconds. The BBC home page opened in 5.6 seconds, and in the Android-only Quadrant benchmark the Galaxy Tab scored 2,200, again a typical score for a high-end tablet.

In practice, this makes Honeycomb a snappy experience. The scrolling and rotating animations appear slightly choppy compared to the iPad 2, and when you swipe to scroll up or down a page there’s a tiny delay before the movement registers. But these are general Android niggles, and they’re easy to live with. Overall, the apps and front-end are as responsive as you could ask for.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 rear view

Samsung has also overlaid its TouchWiz 4.0 customisations onto the regular Android interface. These include “live panels” – large informational widgets for your home screens – and a “Mini Apps Tray” along the bottom of the home screen. The notification and settings area at the bottom right of the screen is replaced with Samsung’s own version, offering simpler one-touch access to frequently used settings.

A showy “tilt to zoom” feature has also been added to the browser and various interface elements have been spruced up with a clean black-on- white look. These changes aren’t too intrusive, but they add little to the experience. Potentially more useful is the preinstalled copy of Polaris Office, plus some bespoke Samsung applications. These include the Social Hub, which combines your social network services into a single interface, and the Music Hub, an integrated music store powered by the 7digital service.

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User comments

If it's banned from the shelves here, why review it?

Why not wait until the injunction is removed & it can be sold legally.

By SKINHEAD1967 on 10 Aug 2011

The interface is nothing like the iPad (widgets for one thing!) so very disappointed Apple have been successful in blocking this so far.

Also, watch out if you buy a US model. I did this off eBay a few weeks ago (before this one was even released here). All working well, until I installed the latest Touchwiz UX update, which has gone and limited the Tab to WiFi channels 1-11. Given it's only the USA that don't allow chan 12&13 to be used (or at least only in a very limited range) it's really annoying to have them blocked over here. This was without any warning too. Samsung support have been pretty useless about it as expected.

By alanjrobertson on 10 Aug 2011

Retailers can sell the stock they currently hold, so for the time being it's still possible to buy a Galaxy Tab 10.1. It's not clear, however, how long these stocks will last, or what will happen when they sell out.

By DarienGS on 10 Aug 2011

Why innovate when you can litigate?

Of course the Samsung looks "eerily, insolently similar to an iPad 2..." Just how different can you make a 10" Tablet with a touch interface?
Having said that the Apple is all Metal & glass, the Samsung mainly plastic, and I don't recall seeing e "Samsung" writ large on the iPad, either....

As ever Apple are prepared to protect 'their' turf from fair competition.

Hopefully this stupid injunction will be chucked-out and we (the Public) can chose whose Tablet we want to buy.

Quite frankly I think most will prefer the tactile quality and IOS of the Apple over the cheaper-feeling Samsung & Android.

If it were priced £50-70 cheaper than the Apple it might be a threat but at the same price.....

By wittgenfrog on 10 Aug 2011

So that's why Apple have thrown the toys out of the pram?

How dare they make a tablet that gives the ipad2 a run for it's money? Apple can't handle competition - deal with it. How long before they try to ban the Galaxy S II?

By everton2004 on 10 Aug 2011

Apple Dominance

Trouble is with the financial size that Apple have now become and the market lead that they have secured, they have just become the big bully.

Yes, IP is important, but just how different can a tablet be? How different can icons on a touch screen be?

Despite the commanding market lead it still seems that Apple don't want anyone to be able to compete with them.

In Apple's world it's Apple or no-one!

By SimFen on 10 Aug 2011

@ wittgenfrog

The main differentiator for Android devices that appeals to me is the size difference - I've used iPads and iPad 2 on many occasions, once for almost a month and I've found the size and weight to be too unwieldy for anything other than sitting on the sofa.

7" screens are what I've decided are best as the 'perfect' compromise between ultra-portability and screen size - bigger and heavier than my phone, but with a significantly larger screen (and higher resolution).

Acer Iconia A100 looks to be the one for me, depending on battery life. Still interested in the Andy Pad Pro at £180, but I'd willingly pay the extra £120 for excellent battery life and Honeycomb 3.2

By bioreit on 10 Aug 2011

"it probably doesn’t help that ....[Galaxy's] 3G configurations match Apple’s models"

Outrageous... a mobile device with 3G - Thank god Apple can save us from this sacrilege by crushing them all at customs.

By geofff_s on 10 Aug 2011

@geofff_s

Oh come on, if you're going to quote and criticise, actually QUOTE and make the criticism relevant...

"and it probably doesn’t help that its various capacities and 3G configurations are priced to precisely match Apple’s corresponding models."

The quote is about general configuation AND pricing being matched. Thus stengthening the assertion that one is a market clone of the other.

If you're going to get uppity, talk about the differences in user experience (iOS vs Android), don't re-word what is in the article!

By matbailie on 10 Aug 2011

Do Apple fanboys recognise that the company has become far worse than MS ever was?

By Aspicus on 10 Aug 2011

Try watching the '1984' Apple advert on YouTube and laugh heartily at the irony!

By everton2004 on 10 Aug 2011

Poissened Rotten Fruit

Apple has some nerve, by banning the Tab10.1 in Europe, they are doing this on the basis that they originated the concept of the Tablet. Look and Feel are incidental, here and there is absolutely no way anyone could pick up an iPad or a Tab and confuse one with the other.

Other companies have attempted in the past to produce tablet computers though with minimal effect since technologies of the time and software were not so capable as today.

If Apple had a legal leg to stand on, then Apple should have arranged for a ban of not just all Tab10.1's, but Android and any device operating Android or similar OS since it would be only effective and right to compare the software interface of the tablets without which the tablet is a paperweight and I ask you, how else is any tablet going to look if the concept is purely a touch screen? Further if Apple was in the right, it should have acted some 18 months ago when the first Tablets were launched or 2-3 years ago when the first Android phones started to appear.

I think Apple has gotten way too big for it's own good, any company that seriously overcharges for it's products, where the teardown of these products reveals hardware costs to be around half and in some cases much less than half the cost of the price charged especially when considering the units are build in large batches in the order of million units at a time to allow for discounts to costs - I don't have specific details - however the facts have been reported over time, and the proof of the over charging consumers is the pot of gold Apple is sitting on,which is probably close to $60 Billion now and is growing by $5-$10 Billion a year.

So serious is this that there has been chatter that Apple might buy out a number of associated businesses including suppliers of technology such as ARM, who design the CPU that most of the billions of phones and tablets are based on and I do expect that Apple could try to buy out competitors such as Samsung or Google too.

Now what is totally frightening about the possibility of ARM being bought out by Apple is the fact that Apple could overnight choose to put many of it's competitor out of business by discontinuing licensing agreements or making the cost of such agreement so unsustainable that competitors are forced to abandon them.

I do think that it is well overdue for Apple to be subjected to a serious investigation for anti-competitive and monopolistic practices that make Microsoft and Ma Bell look like charities! Now please if you must fine Apple, please give them a serious punishment, break them up, fine them the majority of their cash surplus, and forbid them from ripping of their customers by overcharging directly for their own products or by indirectly charging for the privilege of selling software and services on Apple products.

I look on Apple as the wicked step mother from Snow White and the iPhone/iPad etc al as the poisoned apple, though one could make biblical references to the garden of Rden, the snake and forbidden fruit!

I have to ask - does this ban apply to the Tab 8.9 (yet)?

By j_woolliscroft on 11 Aug 2011

The tab is good

I got my tab end of june shipped from the USA and I really did like it. The touchwiz addon just got updated a few days ago. For the most part they give a file browser and task manager but the rest of it is useless IMO.
The social hub needs you to sign in again to your Gmail account, I dont know why they didnt have that app intergrated to it.
Same goes for other things like FB, google music and video isnt in the UK yet.
You can customise it a lot, Ive got a moving background and Wifi only on when the tablet is active, otherwise I only got 3-4 days of moderate daily use with wifi always on.
Now its around 6-7 days with moderate use and Wifi off when the screen is off for 15 mins. All in all I do really like it, and the only way to get the same experience on the Ipad is to jailbreak it. If everyone considers the Ipad to the be the king of all tablets then I personally think the 10.1 is a real contender. Its light and packed with good features.
I use the ARKmc media player app which lets me play networked media from my, WD my book SE 2.0TB which I love and I get a good number of TV VOD apps.

By r1sh12 on 11 Aug 2011

Hurry up Microsoft

By next year I look forward to to seeing Samsung producing hardware like this runnning Windows 8. How will Apple view this?

By grisdale on 11 Aug 2011

Only in IT

Why is it only in IT that you see companies taking out injunction because products look the same. Audi don't take an injunction against Ford because Ford have a car with four doors, four wheels and windows or Hotpoint don't take an injunction against Bosch because they made a washing machine which loads at the front. The Apple Ipad is a fundamentally different piece of hardware to the Samsung it just looks the same. I hope the courts throw this injunction out.

By stuscott1978 on 11 Aug 2011

Very Funny

Apple worse that Microsoft ever was! Hurry up Microsoft!...appreciate the irony of these comments from one that remembers Microsoft's arrogance and lack of vision that has seen Apple & Google make significant in-roads on their market share. May I remind the above commentators that without Apple there would be no touch screen, tablets or probably Android! I think its great that Google and other hardware manufacturers are offering alternatives to Apple and Microsoft. I don't say competition because Apple are aimed at and appeal to a different segment of the market. BUT it will certainly keep Apple on its toes! And who knows maybe that lumbering giant Microsoft might actually wake up, get their collective acts together and pose some serious choice to consumers!

By nford3 on 11 Aug 2011

Being cynical...

You wonder if Samsung are secretly pleased. There's nothing like being banned to get you noticed. The story even featured on R4's Today programme this morning and Apple came out looking rather pathetic. This 'ban' can't possibly stand, and in the meantime, people are snapping up the device thinking it's gong to disappear soon, and the rest of us are wondering what Apple is so worried about.

Hopefully their patent-trolling will blow up in their faces.

By Noghar on 11 Aug 2011

"If it were priced £50-70 cheaper than the Apple it might be a threat but at the same price....."

Absolutely.

Whether this tablet is as good as, or even better than the iPad, the Apple brand name still carries a lot of appeal to customers.

By Lacrobat on 11 Aug 2011

Very Funny

Apple worse that Microsoft ever was! Hurry up Microsoft!...appreciate the irony of these comments from one that remembers Microsoft's arrogance and lack of vision that has seen Apple & Google make significant in-roads on their market share. May I remind the above commentators that without Apple there would be no touch screen, tablets or probably Android! I think its great that Google and other hardware manufacturers are offering alternatives to Apple and Microsoft. I don't say competition because Apple are aimed at and appeal to a different segment of the market. BUT it will certainly keep Apple on its toes! And who knows maybe that lumbering giant Microsoft might actually wake up, get their collective acts together and pose some serious choice to consumers!

By nford3 on 11 Aug 2011

Samsung Strikes Back

The KiesMac download does not install on Lion, and flat out tells you: Failure: Kies Software does not support Lion. HA!

By herojig on 11 Aug 2011

Inept Judgement

The Samsung device looks like a thin rectangular box because most computing devices in a particular class look pretty much the same, but internally it is radically different from an iPad, especially in its software. Apple did not invent the tablet PC, any more than they invented the rectangle.

What calibre of judge would not understand this? One who has no computer experience? One who owns an iPad? Such a decision has brought the EU into disrepute (which is apparently a serious offence) and caused damage to the very competition that was claimed as a primary reason for having the EU at all.

It would be remiss of Apple not to pick a court (and hence a judge) that would not be sympathetic to their case. This being so, Samsung should not let the matter rest.

By fogtax on 11 Aug 2011

I do hope Apple lose :)

By nicomo on 11 Aug 2011

Is it the tablet or the connectors that are copies?

Have you seen the connectors that Samsung have chosen to use, a 30 pin connector that looks exactly the same as the Apple connectors, is this the reason Apple have kicked off?
And apparently Germany are a lot more receptive to patent claims than other european countries.

@j_woolliscroft, I'm not sure how you say apple are overpricing their items on a review of a samsung tablet that is exactly the same price as the iPad?

By Peza1 on 11 Aug 2011

I know this would be a big step, but as apple dont actually manufacture anything. If everyone got together and stopped supplying them, job done just a tiny glitch in the supply chain as other manufacturers replaced them.

Funny when the shoes on the other foot, anyone remember Apple Music allowing them to use the rather similar logo as long as they did not get involved in the music market......And know we have iTunes (I say we, I dont and wont). The other apple tried to sue but failed. Obviously iTunes has nothing to do with music. But that is another topic all of its own !

By davidk1962 on 11 Aug 2011

@nford

Let's not get into a sterile debate about this. This isn't about Microsoft's past misdeeds, but about Apple's current ones.

The injunction secured in the German Court is solely in respect of the physical appearance of the Samsung. Apple has persuaded the Judge that Samsung have 'copied' Apple's registered design. I believe this relates amongst other matters, very specifically to the black border area around the screen, and the overall shpe of the device.

Anybody who doesn't find this completely ludicrous is either an Apple lawyer or a credulous German Judge.

Apple is not, nor has ever been a particularly innovative company. Despite what sensi Jobs might like us to believe they didn't invent WIMPS, they didn't invent MP3 players, and they didn't invent Tablets. What Apple are briliant at is POPULARISING existing technologies.

Apple's ego\greed-induced spat with Wal-Mart & Amazon over in-app purchases has led to those two developing HTML5-based systems which cut Apple out completely.
Continuing to go all attack-dog on major OEM and component suppliers like Samsung upon whom Apple depends is not rational....

By wittgenfrog on 12 Aug 2011

@wittgenfrog and others

You seem to have a distorted definition of the word innovate. Innovating is NOT the same as Inventing. By your standards, no car company can be innovative because they didn't invent the car - a system of 4 wheels moving together to produce perpetual motion. Apple describe themselves as a software company and it is interfaces that have innovative and revolutionary that have rebooted MP3 players, Smartphones and tablets.

Apple is tremendously innovative and this is why they feel they have to protect their intellectual property. Essentially what Apple are saying about this product is that it could be passed off as being an iPad. From using the exact thickness to the mm of black bezel to using the same angle of curvature for the rounded edges- (not forgetting using a 30pin dock connector at the bottom) if a person who had seen an iPad before and walked into a shop and saw this device switched off- one could easily think this could be iPad 3.

Believe it or not, Lawyers have degrees, and to become a judge - you have to have been a great lawyer. They have a modicum of intelligence people. I thinking people should stop fooling themselves and see that there are distinct similarities between these two devices. There are other ways to design a tablet- we've seen Acer and HP do it- we've even seen Dell do it. At the end of the day- Samsung is the one who should be lambasted for not innovated- they are quite clearly imitating here. Its a good tablet- I've played with one- but it does look and feel way to iPad like.

By willdamien on 12 Aug 2011

@willdamien - Muphry's law

In trying to correct the use of innovate & invent, you've given the example of a a car having perpetual motion - No. My car has brakes.

That aside, you've also hit the most likely reason that Apple want the Galaxy off the shelves - People might think it's the iPad 3 - i.e. an inproved iPad.

No, there is no way anyone would think the Tad is an iPad, really - not unless
1) They've never seen an iPad AND
2) They think iPads are made by Samsung.

I'll give that Samsung could have changed the size of the bezel & maybe used a different docking arrangement (has Apple got a patent out on the 30-pint port?), although with that dock, it means they can make use of so many third party products that also have 30 pin ports.

Yes, lawyers have degrees & judges don't get where they are without several years of law experience - but they also have to make judgements based on the facts presented at the time. In this case, Apple sought an injunction without notifying Samsung - therefore there wasn't a defence.

I doubt if the injunction will hold up on appeal

By greemble on 13 Aug 2011

... And in calling out Muphry's law

My post is now full of typos...

By greemble on 13 Aug 2011

calm down, dear

let's all calm down and wait to see what Amazon comes up with this Autumn. It will be a cracker and get right up Jobs' nose. It won't be too popular with Ballmer either

By bigbollocks on 13 Aug 2011

@greemble

Yes you are right- my post was full of typos - and I was wrong to use perpetual motion as an example- but I think people get the point.

The point is though that there are people who have never seen iPads and there is no samsung logo on the front of a device. Generally, tablets in the shops have their backs in inaccessible locations.

Samsung are not as innocent as they seem- Apple did indeed notify Samsung about this because a week before the injunction was filed, Samsung filed a 'protective pleading' with the court to stop this injunction going through. Nevertheless, the motion was denied and the device was banned from sale.

There is some analysis on this here:

http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2011/08/samsung-pl
eaded-unsuccessfully-against.html

Samsung are not a perfect company and had to withdraw an advert about the Galaxy 10.1 as it was uncovered that the people who they got to comment on how easy it was to use etc where paid actors not actual consumers. - something they didn't need to do for a good product...

To be honest- I'm disappointed with Samsung because they have a good product, but with all the evidence on the table- they have a weak case.

By willdamien on 13 Aug 2011

I was using both an iPad 1 and the Galaxy at the weekend and really cannot understand this. Yes, the connectors are about the one thing I thought were similar.
The Samsung is clearly labelled on the front, is a different aspect ratio and the black around the screen, well doesn't every tablet have that, along with many phones?

I think both in use have pros and cons, including limited connection to usb devices and expandable storage.

By bit_byte on 15 Aug 2011

THIS is what all the fuss is about (Oh and lies)

The actual "Community Design" in question may be found at this link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/61944044/Community-Desig
n-000181607-0001

As I said before, it doesn't even look much like an iPad!

You can read up on Apple's for-real "Reality Distortion Field" on virtualy every blog\news site on the interweb, including PcPro.... Quite simply they tried to deceive the Judge (clearly quite easy, despite his degrees!) by photo-shopping 'evidential' pictures of the Sammy.

By wittgenfrog on 17 Aug 2011

Screen freezes

"when you swipe to scroll up or down a page there’s a tiny delay before the movement registers. But these are general Android niggles, and they’re easy to live with"


....sorry but reading other reviews and comments it seems to be like this 'lag' is part of a bigger touchbug with the galaxy tab which reviewers AND samsung so far seem to be ignoring.... why is that?

By amywoods99 on 22 Aug 2011

Oil slick and poor service

Stay away from this I parted with my cash (£399) 6 weeks ago and last week the oil slick appeared (a known fault). Was told it had be sent back for repair for up to 30 days. Never had any such problem with Apple. Why should I have to do without the device because of their issue. Remember when you buy a device it is as much about the service as the tab itself. Poor device poor service.

By balec on 3 Oct 2011

Judge them all the same

Again great review and one I've been looking to read for ages. You comment that to attach things like tv's to the Galaxy Tab you need to by an extra piece of hardware. But excuse me is that not the case for the Ipad2 yet it still viewed as the best tablet.

So a negative for the Android is not mentioned for the Ipad.

I own an Acer Iconia and I love it, for having all those connectors built in.

Please try and be a bit fairer to the androids and bear in mind the ipad is without these connectors also

Other than that a great review

By Lairo on 19 Oct 2011

Judge them all the same

Again great review and one I've been looking to read for ages. You comment that to attach things like tv's to the Galaxy Tab you need to by an extra piece of hardware. But excuse me is that not the case for the Ipad2 yet it still viewed as the best tablet.

So a negative for the Android is not mentioned for the Ipad.

I own an Acer Iconia and I love it, for having all those connectors built in.

Please try and be a bit fairer to the androids and bear in mind the ipad is without these connectors also

Other than that a great review

By Lairo on 19 Oct 2011

Besides apple using samsung parts

Its so funny, that apple complaining about samsung.

They just forget that almost every single parts and technology is developed by samsung. not mention the screens , so apple go and cry, samsung will whip your arse.

By jollzy on 26 Oct 2011

Very happy with my Galaxy.

Excellent review Darien. I was excited to see how the functionality matched up to the Apple products I’m used to, and to get to know the Android UI. After having it for a day to play with I decided to go for it and couldn't happier. I have been converted.

By Sarah_Churchill on 27 Oct 2011

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