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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