Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 with Verizon LTE

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a new tablet into a busy market. With many tablets out there, will it stand out in its own way to make it a compelling choice or will it blend into the crowd to never be heard from again?

Right away, it is easy to tell that this is not an overnight product that Samsung shoved out the door to simply have a product on the market, but spent many hours creating a thin slice of Honeycomb that is now available with a 4G radio.

The Verizon version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 ups the game for Samsung. While many compared the iPad 2 to the Tab (a fair comparison), with Samsung now putting 4G into its tablet, while the iPad is stuck at 3G, the game changes just a bit.

Hardware:

The tablet comes fully packed with everything that you would require in a modern tablet. The device measures in at 10.10”x6.90”x0.34”, weighs 1.25lbs, runs Android 3.1, 16 GB or 32 GB of storage, Nvidia Tegra 2 running at 1Ghz (dual core), Bluetooth 2.1, 1280x800 WXGA resolution, 3 MP rear facing camera, 2MP front facing camera, Wi-Fi (A/B/G/N), GPS, 3.5mm Audio Jack, and of course, a 4G radio.  The tablet is everything you would expect, although, unlike others on the market, it doesn’t have an SD slot.

Design:

There is, without a doubt, that Samsung thought long and hard about the design of the Tab. The tablet is thin, has a bit of minimalism feel to it, and has an attractive back plate. Overall, the Tab is a gorgeous tablet to not only look at, but to also hold. If there is one sticking point, the back panel is plastic, while it doesn’t feel like it will break easily, metal would have been a preferred choice to help make the Tab feel more like the premium device that it is.  

Performance:

While the Tegra 2 found in the Tab is not the newest CPU on the block, it is more than capable for this application. Turning the device on from a cold boot took around 18 seconds and swiping between screens was effortless and without issue. Movie playback, surfing the web, were all done with no issues; it was hard to find any faults with the speed of applications.

Display:

The screen on the Tab is gorgeous and responsive. Samsung has done an excellent job selecting a display with a relatively wide viewing angel as well as being responsive into this device. Pinch to zoom was accurate and responsive, all gestures were picked up with minimal to no lag and the user experience is near the top of its class, if not the top.

UI:

Samsung has not opted to put its TouchWiz UI onto this device, and in our opinion, is a welcome choice. The stock UI makes it easier to transition from a non-Samsung product to this device. While there are not many custom additions like the Toshiba Thrive, the device feels complete and not lacking in any specific area. Google’s Honeycomb is turning out to be an excellent tablet UI and the Tab only enhances that look and feel.

4G

What separates this device from others (including the Xoom at this point) is that it comes with 4G. The device is able to use the high speed waves of Verizon’s LTE network. The unit activates itself when first turned on, which we might add took a bit longer than we were expecting, but after that it is good to go. The speeds, as expected, are tremendous for OTA network such as this. After using 4G on this device, using 3g on the iPad 2 feels like dial-up Internet. Average download speed was 22 Mbps and upload averaged 6 Mbps. It should be noted that this is faster than what Verizon advertises, most likely as they believe the network will slow down once it becomes loaded. 

There isn’t much else to say besides that 4G is a nice addition to this tablet. If you are on the go and need to take a tablet with you, having 4G is preferred network.

Camera:

As with every tablet that we have reviewed, using a camera to take a picture is still an awkward practice. The size of a tablet does not lend itself to taking photos very easily and the low resolution sensors typically don’t do the justice needed.

That being said, the camera gets the job done. But the images were a bit more noisy than what we have observed on other tablets. The colors were typically on the warm side but, again, the cameras are basic at best. Take it for what you will, the camera on the back of the device is mediocre and that’s that.

The front facing camera, again, does what is needed to scrape by. Like other front facing cameras, it will get the job done but will be noisy in general and it did take a bit of time to accurately focus.

Battery:

What good is a tablet if it only has a limited lifespan; fortunately the device is well positioned in the battery department. On two full charges to shutoff, we were able to get an average of 9.5 hrs of life. This is above average for its class and renders the battery life exceptional. While it is not user replaceable, it is, without issue, possible to get an entire days worth of work done with the device without the need to looking for the nearest outlet.

Audio:

The device does have built in speakers which leave a lot to be desired. For a tablet though, it is what you would expect. For simple sounds based on user feedback (keyboard clicks, email notifications), they work well. But attempting to use them for music playback is not a fulfilling experience. But then again, if you look at the size Samsung had to work with, they are exactly what you would expect in this form factor.

Conclusion:

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a fantastic tablet and when you add in 4G, it only becomes that much better.  This is a first class device with many great traits. When compared to the iPad 2, it competes on every front, when compared to other Android tablets, it can hold its head high. While other tablets do have more features (SD slot for example), overall, this device is worth checking out.  Sure, the iPad may have the brand recognition and if you are already in the Apple ecosystem, the iPad 2 makes for a good choice, but if you live outside the Cupertino walls, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 with 4G, is the device to beat.

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29 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I'm definitely considering picking one up for school. Buying an electronic textbook is much cheaper than the actual thing.

How could this be called a review ? That's not a review... maybe a few lines on a new device ? Where are the parts regarding the software ? the UI ? what about the autonomy ? where are the benchmarks ?

It looks by the pictures posted that this LTE device is suffering from the same "newton rings" problem that the other Galaxy Tabs...I have a WIFI version and I'm disappointed with this issue...

i just picked up the wifi only version for 399, and i must say, it's an awesome device..much nicer than my coworkers Ipad.

I've played with this device at the local Best buy and feel that this is the first real alternative to the iPad 2, it at least comes close though it doesn't quite match the iPads high quality, Android also lags considerably in comparison to IOS4 which I find surprising when you concider that Android is a mature platform.

Jobs was right, 2011 is still the year of the iPad .

Joe05 said,
Android also lags considerably in comparison to IOS4 which I find surprising when you concider that Android is a mature platform.

I would have to disagree with this portion of your comment. I see Android as maturing at a good rate, but not yet matured compared to iOS.

Glen said,

I would have to disagree with this portion of your comment. I see Android as maturing at a good rate, but not yet matured compared to iOS.

I wasn't implying that Android couldn't be developed further, I was referring to My observation that the Android UI still hangs somewhat when in use, especially in comparison to IOS4 which is very smooth and fluid when you use it.
When you concider that Android is a maturing though not yet fully, it makes one think about the reason for the sluggishness in the UI, there's something in the graphics process that just doesn't function as well.

Joe05 said,

I wasn't implying that Android couldn't be developed further, I was referring to My observation that the Android UI still hangs somewhat when in use, especially in comparison to IOS4 which is very smooth and fluid when you use it.
When you concider that Android is a maturing though not yet fully, it makes one think about the reason for the sluggishness in the UI, there's something in the graphics process that just doesn't function as well.

On technical terms, its not really just 'Android' thats on this, and is maturing. Its Honeycomb, and how long has it been out for? 6 months? How long has iOS been around for? 2+ years? I think that 'should' be the winner, for a long time. But look at that, 6 months after honeycomb release (with 75% different from android for phones), people are saying its close to apples work. That to me is progress. Another 6 months, I think apple wont have an ipad to stand on...

PyX said,
Did they modify an iPad and wrote Samsung on it?

What an absolutely silly comment. It's a tablet, how else would it look? Generally a thin flat screen with nothing else is what a tablet looks like. Only so many variations you can come up with.

Or did you need some fancy, utterly useless, annoying border that has nothing to do with the tablet itself?

nekkidtruth said,
What an absolutely silly comment. It's a tablet, how else would it look? Generally a thin flat screen with nothing else is what a tablet looks like. Only so many variations you can come up with.

Or did you need some fancy, utterly useless, annoying border that has nothing to do with the tablet itself?


There's billions of possibilities. Just admit that it's the perfect twin of the iPad and that's all.

Contrary to your opinion, there isn't a single solution for tablet looks, or else you're admitting that Apple had this sole solution since day 1.

PyX said,

There's billions of possibilities. Just admit that it's the perfect twin of the iPad and that's all.

Contrary to your opinion, there isn't a single solution for tablet looks, or else you're admitting that Apple had this sole solution since day 1.


Tablet implies a certain shape, I don't think a triangle or circular device comes to mind.

PyX said,

There's billions of possibilities. Just admit that it's the perfect twin of the iPad and that's all.

Contrary to your opinion, there isn't a single solution for tablet looks, or else you're admitting that Apple had this sole solution since day 1.

You're being completely ridiculous. There is only one shape for a tablet. There is only one screen for a tablet. The only differences between tablets are hardware (internally), the type of screen used and the casing. As I said above, did you need a fancy border on your tablet?

I would love for you to show me a reasonable tablet design that doesn't in any way resemble the iPad. In fact, I challenge you to do so. Lest we forget tablets have existed a lot longer than the iPad.

quote=nekkidtruth said,]

What an absolutely silly comment. It's a tablet, how else would it look? Generally a thin flat screen with nothing else is what a tablet looks like. Only so many variations you can come up with.

Or did you need some fancy, utterly useless, annoying border that has nothing to do with the tablet itself?[/quote]

That's an absurd comment. Just because you lack imagination or innovation does not mean there is only one way to do a tablet.

For example, a slide out keyboard is a variation.

DukeEsquire said,
That's an absurd comment. Just because you lack imagination or innovation does not mean there is only one way to do a tablet.

For example, a slide out keyboard is a variation.

It's not my fault Apple fan boys live in a tiny bubble up Steve Jobs' rear end. A tablet doesn't need a "slide out keyboard" to be innovative, original or creative. Tablets have existed long before iPad.

I shouldn't be surprised though. Apple zealots tend to believe Apple created everything, including the Air (Oh wait! They did! The Air Book!). Fools.

I tend to use only a handful of apps and a couple of games on my iPad 2. This way it is very important that I have these in the highest possible quality. As it is very unlikely that a single application of a certain type will be the perfect one for you, there must be a good selection in the app store. That is definitely missing at this stage for all Android tablets. Being a key differentiator now, it should be included in the review. Hardware is one thing, using the device is another one.

No mention of the video capability or quality?

I would say that with the sub-par camera and no SD slot, I would have to pass on this version. The competition in this market is just heating up so we should see some really interesting advances soon.

Hardware wise, the cameras in every aspect are below average...but lets face it, who buys a tablet to replace their video camera?

Glen said,
No mention of the video capability or quality?

I would say that with the sub-par camera and no SD slot, I would have to pass on this version. The competition in this market is just heating up so we should see some really interesting advances soon.

Interestingly enough, Engadget shows this 4G enabled device with a microSD slot.

I still don't understand the fuss over a few things like this. I have the non-4G version of this tablet and I love it. I don't need the expanded storage. I don't use the tablet as a desktop replacement to store that much data. Cloud storage is the future, and the vendors are marketing it in that manner - to force the use of cloud storage.

So unless your storing every ounce of music on your tablet, 16GB and 32GB is plenty of space for a tablet. And if your storing music, then try something like Google Music and store it on the cloud so you can stream it anywhere.

And honestly, your complaining about the camera? My version takes great photos for what it is. ITS A TABLET. Its not a high-res camera. Photo shooting with a tablet is weird, IMHO. If you want fantastic photo's, use a real camera, not a tablet or cell phone.

But thats just me. Love this tablet and I've read everywhere that the 4G speeds are insane.

rkenshin said,

Interestingly enough, Engadget shows this 4G enabled device with a microSD slot.

I still don't understand the fuss over a few things like this. I have the non-4G version of this tablet and I love it. I don't need the expanded storage. I don't use the tablet as a desktop replacement to store that much data. Cloud storage is the future, and the vendors are marketing it in that manner - to force the use of cloud storage.

So unless your storing every ounce of music on your tablet, 16GB and 32GB is plenty of space for a tablet. And if your storing music, then try something like Google Music and store it on the cloud so you can stream it anywhere.

And honestly, your complaining about the camera? My version takes great photos for what it is. ITS A TABLET. Its not a high-res camera. Photo shooting with a tablet is weird, IMHO. If you want fantastic photo's, use a real camera, not a tablet or cell phone.

But thats just me. Love this tablet and I've read everywhere that the 4G speeds are insane.

The SD slot is also something that I've seen in other versions of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, such as the wi-fi version. While I agree that it's not essential to every user for storage, it is useful for quick media transfer from a PC so you can have your music library or favorite movie with you while traveling. Using cloud services doesn't help when you have no connectivity available, such as when you're on a flight.

As for the camera, it was not a complaint. I was mainly pointing out that video was missed in the review and I believe it is a deciding factor for many users. On many of Samsung's smart phone designs, they have great cameras with unique features. I just don't understand why they would skimp on a feature where they generally excel in the mobile device market (IMO).

bdsams said,
Hardware wise, the cameras in every aspect are below average...but lets face it, who buys a tablet to replace their video camera?

Probably nobody. But then again, I heard this said about the cameras on smart phones a couple of years ago, and I know at least 2 people who use their phone as their primary "snap shot" camera. So who know what the trend will be?

Glen said,

The SD slot is also something that I've seen in other versions of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, such as the wi-fi version. While I agree that it's not essential to every user for storage, it is useful for quick media transfer from a PC so you can have your music library or favorite movie with you while traveling. Using cloud services doesn't help when you have no connectivity available, such as when you're on a flight.

As for the camera, it was not a complaint. I was mainly pointing out that video was missed in the review and I believe it is a deciding factor for many users. On many of Samsung's smart phone designs, they have great cameras with unique features. I just don't understand why they would skimp on a feature where they generally excel in the mobile device market (IMO).

You do make a valid point. If Samsung did put the microSD care in the tablet, it would have put them ahead of their competitors. I'm sure it probably had to do with size, weight, or whatever. Or they just sought it as that it wasn't a need for the majority of consumers.

Even so, one can transfer what they need for a trip onto the Tab by USB cable. 16GB and 32GB is plenty for a travel trip to transfer all kinds of music. I store 8500 songs on my 64GB iPod Touch, and I have used 40GB of that space. I can hardly imagine transferring all my 8500 songs to a tablet though. Just my .02 though.

In regards to the camera, I figured it was something like that with your point.

I myself can't see a use for such a large device, *except* as a way to view pictures taken on a digital camera in the field. For such a use either an SD card slot (full sized), or a USB host port are required. Without either of these I can't see me every buying such a device.

That's just my requirements though, so don't take it as anything other than that.