The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is 1mm thicker and 14 grams / 0.49 oz lighter than its predecessor the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 that was introduced last year during Google I/O. The 10-inch Tab second generation features a more elegant design with a nice Titanium Silver color on its backside and new front facing speakers.
In the United States, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 comes in WiFi only with 16GB of built-in storage capacity expandable to 32GB via a microSD card slot. We assumethat there might be an international 3G model somewhere, since the official specification page mention a different weight for the 3G model.
The most noticeable new feature is the lower price, at $399.99 for a 16GB (exp. to 32GbB) WiFi only model , the new Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is highly competitive in a space where most of the other latest similar tablets cost at least one hundred dollars more. If we compare the pricing to 32 GB models, knowing that you can get a microSD card for about $25, we can consider that the Tab 2 could save you about $175.
Storage capacity is a big deal when it comes to tablets: their primary function is content and entertainment consumption, specifically watching movies during long trips. HD movies are memory hungry, thus, being able to purchase a high quality 10-inch tablet with 32 GB storage capacity at a reasonable price is the most appealing feature.
Pricing is not everything, so we need to check if the performance and the user experience are comparable to the latest and the best tablets on the market. In case you are interested, check the complete review, enjoy!
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1||Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1|
|Dimension mm||256.6 x 172.9 x 8.6 mm||256.7 x 175.3 x 9.7 mm|
|Dimension inches||10.1 x 6.8 x 0.33″||10.1 x 6.9 x 0.38″|
|LCD||10.1” capacitive touch screen||10.1” PLS TFT|
|OS||Android 3.2 (latest software update on 05/11/2012) – it will officially get Android 4.0 “soon”||Android™ 4.0|
|SoC||NVIDIA Tegra 2||TI OMAP 4430 (according to Android Community)|
|Core and Frequency||(1GHz dual-core)||1 GHz Dual-Core|
|RAM||1GB DDR2 RAM||1GB RAM|
|Storage||16 / 32 /64 GB||16 GB built-in expandable to 32 GB|
|Front Camera||2 MP||0.3MP / VGA|
|Rear Camera||3 MP, 720p video recording||3 MP, 1080p video recording 30fps|
|LED flash||No flashlight|
|Wireless Connectivity||WiFi a/b/g/n||Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct|
|Bluetooth – GPS||Bluetooth 3.0 (+ EDR?) – built-in IR Blaster – GPS|
|Optional wireless connectivity||HSPA＋ 21Mbps 850/900/1900/2100, EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900||International version only: HSPA+ 21Mbps 850/900/1900/2100|
|I/O||USB 2.0 (proprietary connector)||microSD / USB 2.0 (proprietary connector) / compatible HDMI|
|Battery Life||6,800mAh||7,000 mAh|
|Weight||595 g – 1.31 lbs||581g (WiFi)
583g (3G – international version?)
|1.28 lbs – 1.29 lbs|
We always have a hard time ensuring objectivity in our reviews, since different people use electronic devices in drastically different ways depending on their needs and lifestyle.
By telling you how I use a tablet, it will be easier for you to decide which aspects of this review will be useful for you to help make up your mind. I have used the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 for a few days as an additional device to my desktop computer, my MacBook Pro (running Windows), my Macbook Air (running Windows) and my Smartphone ( I use two of them when abroad). Since I have bought the Macbook Air, I do not use a tablet for meetings as much anymore, it has become more of an entertainment device from which I watch movies in my bed or in the plane, read news and books, play with apps (ie Angry Birds, Music apps), Skype/chat with friends, check Facebook updates, play music on a mini Bluetooth speaker.
External design (very good – better than previous model)
Although the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1) is slightly thicker and lighter than the previous Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (9.7 mm/ 0.38” vs. 8.6 mm/0.33”) I like its design better, mainly because the uniform matte silver finish on the backside makes it more elegant. This time, Samsung kept the differently colored area that covers the top of the device to a minimum, which conveys a more harmonious look.
Another noticeable change in the form factor is the addition of larger and front facing speaker grills, positioned on the edges and close to the top of the display (see video and pictures). This might improve the audio quality, although most people use headphones or a wireless speaker when it comes to watch movies or listen to music on tablets. In fact, we can surely blame it on the consumers’ appetite for thinness and lightness. For that reason, it is not quite possible yet to deliver portable-speaker grade audio quality to tablets.
The camera does not have a LED flash anymore, I guess the manufacturer made a cost reduction decision here. We know that most people who use a tablet own a smartphone as well and prefer to use the latter to shoot photos.
Samsung still insist to feature its proprietary 30-pin connector, and still does not offer a HDMI port (the 30 pin IF connector is HDMI compatible via an adapter). There is a microSD Card slot to expand the storage capacity up to 32GB which is great for people who loves to own and watch a lot of movies.
Display (very good)
Samsung is one of the top providers of LCD panels in the world, and as such, its mobile display offering is always top notch. Compared to the iPad 3 at maximum brightness, the Galaxy Tab 2 has a comparable quality, although it is a hair more reflective. Both have a similar footprint (9.7″ and 10.1″) but the latest iPad (gen 3) has a higher pixel density since it has a much higher resolution (2048×1536 vs. 1280×800)
I personally prefer to watch movies on the Samsung device since the video is displayed in a larger size and the image quality, in term of contrast and colors, is very similar. Additionally, I have more fun using the Android YouTube app with its 3D carousel than the one designed for iOS.
When compared to the previous Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Asus Transformer Pad TF300, at maximum brightness, the Tab 2 display offers a similar image quality.
In direct sunlight, the Galaxy Tab 2 is still readable, and offers the same reflectiveness as the iPad 3. The viewing angle is quite good as well, and comparable to the iPad 3 (see pictures).
Virtual Keyboard with handwriting recognition (very good)
The Samsung keyboard, available by default, has been updated and it is slightly different than the one running on Android 3.2 in the previous Galaxy Tab 10.1 model (an Android 4.0 ICS update is supposed to be coming soon). The main difference is the handwriting recognition capability, a great feature that has been initially developed for the Samsung Galaxy Note.
The Samsung handwriting recognition technology is fast, very accurate, and delivers better performance than some competing applications that we have seen at MWC. To switch from typing to handwriting, you simply have to hit the key with a T and a pen (see picture). This feature is also accessible from the S-Memo application where you can mix drawings with text, photos and videos, exactly like in the Galaxy Note. I have tested a similar app preloaded in the Asus Transformer Pad TF 300, SuperNote, but the Samsung one’s is better in general, and the Asus’ SuperNote does not offer handwriting recognition.
In the previous model, you had the choice between the custom keyboard from Samsung or the Android one. In the Tab 2, only the Samsung keyboard is available and you can switch on and off the Google Voice typing feature from the Settings. When activated, Google Voice typing is accessible directly from the key with the microphone icon (picture).
Additionally, the Swiftkey Tablet X trial keyboard is preloaded and accessible from the Settings in the “Language and Input” menu. Swiftkey runs an awesomely fast and accurate predictive typing algorithm that can also handle three languages simultaneously without slowing down the process!
The audio quality is good for a tablet. I have compared the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 with the iPad 3, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the iPad 2 using the same song with the same streaming service over WiFi.
All tablets offer a comparable audio quality, however, the iPad 3 is slightly better than all the other ones. The iPad 3 plays audio with deeper and clearer sound texture, both the Tab and the Tab 2 sound a little more acute and slightly more “metallic”.
With headphones, the audio quality is good, better than with the built-in speakers, the sound quality is comparable for all devices, the Galaxy Tab 2 still sounds a little bit more metallic than all the other devices.
Performance and hardware (good)
Perceived performance (good)
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 runs a 1Ghz dual-core processor which is now a regular component for tablets. This processor is similar to the 1GHz dual-core NVidia Tegra 2 that powers the previous Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Since the device is reasonably priced at $399.99, we can imagine that is the reason why the manufacturer did not push the processing power performance too far.
Tested against the iPad 3 which runs a 1GHz Apple A5X dual-core processor with quad-core GPU, the Tab 2 is slightly slower in general. It has same perceived performance as the Galaxy Tab 10.1” from last year. The Asus Transformer Pad TF300 is slightly faster than the Tab 2, and the device retails at a similar price.
The difference in speed does not bother me at all, since I can perform all the tasks I need to do very smoothly. Hubert, having a graphic engineering background, is more sensitive to it.
Measured Performance (good)
Nenamark 2 is a test aimed at measuring the graphics processor performance. It is handy, but keep in mind that the latest games use much more complex techniques that are not represented in this test. As expected, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1” delivers weaker performance on that front than other tablets with beefier processors and GPUs – such as the 1.2 Ghz and 1.3 GHz Tegra 3 Quad Core that powers the Asus Transformer Pad TF300 and the Asus Transformer Prime, respectively.
Antutu is an overall system performance benchmark (CPU, graphics, storage), and what it shows is that overall, most recent tablets land in a comparable performance footprint. This means that unless you do something very specific (like “gaming” or “downloads”), those tablets should provide a similar overall performance. Both Transformers are twice as fast here as te Tab 2, because each has two more cores than the Tab 2.
On the home screen, you have access by default to the TouchWIZ widgets (Weather, Media Game Hub, Music Hub) and the following application icons: Readers Hub, Email, Camera,YouTube,Maps, Browser, Samsung App store, Google Play Store
I will give a brief overview of the applications that are mostly used, although I will skip email, calendar and contacts, since those applications are now well known on Android.
Samsung Mini Apps
Samsung Mini Apps are very convenient because they are available across the OS from the bottom sliding navigation bar and they can run on top of any other application, no need to switch from one to the other. The Pen Memo app has been replaced by a quick access to your email. An Alarm clock and a World Clock have been added to the tray as well.
In my opinion one of the most useful app here is the Task Manager, that allows to close applications running in the background.
Mini Apps include:
- Alarm Clock
- Music player
- S Planner (calendar)
- World Clock
Web Browsing with Flash Support (very good)
The browsing experience offers a rapid loading time, scrolling and pinch-to-zoom are fluid and fast. Unlike the iPad 3 (as you all know), the browser supports Flash.
Google Maps with 3D
The Google maps app (v5) has been redesigned for Honeycomb to take full advantage of the larger screen size featured in tablets.
The most notable addition is the 3D rendering you get in compass mod. In version 6.3, the compass is accessible using touch gestures, the building can be seen in 3 D when you zoom in closely enough. This is not the most intuitive way to get to this I guess.
Over WiFi in my office, my location was instantly found very accurately and I just had to type the name of a local restaurant to get an immediate result.
The revamped Android 3.0 / 4.0 Google Maps app provides more features than the one in the iPad: places gives access to default POIs-restaurants, bars, coffee, attractions, ATMs, Gas Stations…- and you can create your own as well, I tried “parking” and it worked very well. The layers menu provide various ‘layers’ that you can apply to your map such as Traffic, Buzz (status update from people on the map), satellite, terrain, latitude (where your friends are), and Wikipedia which gives information about POIs.
Google Talk with Video Chat
Google Talk worked well when calling from the Tab 2 to the Transformer Pad over WiFi. I personally prefer Skype’s user experience. The image quality was decent, although not great.
I tried the Skype application, with a call from the Tab 2 to a Desktop PC, the video quality on both side was very good for a mobile device.
Media and Entertainment (good)
IR Remote control
During its market research, Samsung has noticed that most people were using their tablets at home nearby their television, audio equipment and other entertainment devices. That’s why the company has added an Infrared emitter to the Galaxy Tab 2. With it, the tablet can turn into a smart remote that will have no problem beating the good old remote control. Obviously, you wouldn’t buy a tablet to use it only as a remote, but now that you have it anyway, turning it into a remote is pretty cool.
Photo and video capture – (good, but during testing the AF did not work)
For the mobile market, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2’s back facing camera is regular, which may be sufficient since most people do not take pictures with their tablets. The 3 MP rear camera shoot pretty decent pictures, when I tried it I was unable to make the focus work. This might just be a bug that may not occur on all units – I need to check on this with Samsung.
Compared to the Asus Transformer Pad TF300 (8 MP) and the iPad 3 (5 MP) which offer the best cameras in the tablet market to date, the photos taken with the Tab 2 are quite good and well contrasted, although the colors are a bit less realistic (see photo of the street) and the image seem a bit more blurry in some areas. The iPad 3 has a tendency to deliver over exposed images when the in total bright sunlight, that have the only advantage of providing more details in the parts of the images that were in the shade.
I regret the lack of a LED flash, but again, this might have to do with the fact that people rarely use their tablets to snap pictures,especially in low light conditions.
The video quality is good as well – check our Flickr account to see the videos and the pictures in original resolution.
YouTube and HD Video Playback (very good)
I really like the YouTube application for Android over the one in iOS, the 3D carousel is fun to use. I played several HD trailers from YouTube both on the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1” and on the iPad 3 – the video playback is fluid, the image quality is similar and very good on both devices.
I personally prefer the experience on the Samsung tablet since the video is played in a larger size than on the iPad.
Battery Life (to be updated)
Samsung did not provide an estimated battery life. We just know that the Li-Polymer battery has a higher capacity (7,000 mAh) than the one featured in the previous 10-inch Galaxy Tab featuring
I will update this review with our battery life testing.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 delivers good performance packaged in a nice design for a reasonable price ($399.99). At that price point, the Asus Transformer Pad TF300 (32GB) offers a lower build-quality packaged in a heavier body (1.28 pounds vs. 1.39 pounds without dock), but provides higher performance.
Beside Android 4.0 and the enhanced Samsung TouchWIZ interface, the most noticeable addition to the 10-inch Galaxy Tab next-gen is the handwriting recognition and the S memo application, a feature that is not available in the Transformer Pad. We could add the IR remote control capability as a nice feature that the Asus device does not provide as well.
We are happy to see that competition is heating up in the 10-inch tablets below $400, and that is certainly good news for consumers.
The overall computing power and the good built quality (display, audio) are largely sufficient to perform the usual tasks for work – email, calendar, web browsing, video conferencing – and for entertainment – social network apps, video and audio playback, drawing. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is a fairly good choice for people who want to save $100 to $175 (32 GB models) on the purchase of a secondary computing device.