Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 First Look Review

by Reads (8,060)

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is now on sale for $400. While we had great things to say about the Galaxy Tab 2 7-inch, mostly due to its excellent $250 price – the Tab 2 10.1 hits the market with the same price as the iPad 2. So is the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 any good? Read our initial impressions following some brief time with the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 below, and check back later in the week for the full review.

Build & Design
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1Put simply, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 has an excellent build. It’s remarkably slim at only 0.38 inches thick, and it’s one of the lightest 10-inch tablets I’ve ever handled, with the Wi-Fi only version (which is the version we had) weighing in at only 20.5 ounces. Generally, I prefer 7-inch tablets because they’re more comfortable to wield one-handed for extended periods of time, but the sleek design of the Tab 2 10.1 makes it surprisingly comfortable to hold.

Granted, we do wish that the back of the tablet was rubberized or textured in some capacity, but instead it’s just slick gray plastic. For what it’s worth, it looks pretty and minimalist given that the only other things on the back are the Samsung branding and a discrete 3-megapixel camera (and given that there’s no flash and that it’s flush with the surface of the device, it blends in very well). It’s just that a slick backing isn’t always very practical.

In terms of the rest of the design, the left and right sides are devoid of any ports or controls, and the bottom edge only plays host to the proprietary charging jack and a mic. The top edge is where all the action is, including the power/standby button, a volume rocker, a microSD card slot, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and an IR blaster.

But easily our favorite part of the design is that the Tab 2 10.1 has front-firing speakers, with two slim-profile speakers lining the upper part of the left and right sides of the display. Despite the fact that this is probably the most sensible position for speakers to be located on a tablet, it’s actually quite a rarity to come across this design choice. Samsung made the right call with this and we wish more manufacturers would do it. Having the sound come right at you and not being at (as much of a) risk of covering the speakers with your hands just makes consuming media so much more enjoyable. It’s just a shame that the speakers don’t sound very good and, even at maximum volume, aren’t particularly powerful.

Performance
With a 1280 x 800 resolution, the display of the Tab 2 10.1 is not the worst you’ll ever see, but it’s certainly not the best, either. It certainly pales in comparison to some of the real top-of-the-line displays, like the Super AMOLED Plus screen on the Galaxy Tab 7.7. At $400, I would personally hope for something a little more impressive (even if it wasn’t the best). Some may feel that $400 is a relatively low price point; if you’re part of the latter group, then you’re probably figuring that a 1280 x 800 WXGA PLS TFT display sounds about right for the money being paid.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1

As usual with Samsung tablets, the manufacturer’s TouchWiz UI skins the Android 4.0 OS (Ice Cream Sandwich) that is present here. It’s generally unobtrusive, but it does add on a hideaway toolbar with quick launch apps, and the skin changes the aesthetics of the pure OS quite a bit. There is a ton of pre-loaded content on the Tab 2 10.1, both in terms of apps and widgets, so you’ll probably have to do some house cleaning once you take it out of the box. While it’s mostly just garbage, it does include one year of DropBox with 50GB of storage, which is not a bad deal at all given that would normally run you $50.

But all the clutter might actually have a bit of an impact on the tablet’s performance. We actually noticed that the tablet’s 1 GHz processor wasn’t always sufficient; at times, just sifting through the home screens resulted in sluggish framerates and slowdown. We can’t say for sure if this had to do with all of the widgets and pre-loaded material, but we would be willing to bet that it did. We’ll try cleaning it up a bit and see how it performs then.

Nevertheless, a 1 GHz dual-core processor in a tablet that costs $400 is not a great value in this day and age, and the stuttering performance is a testament to how it could really use something a little more powerful. In fact, such an underpowered piece of hardware could prove to be the Tab 2 10.1’s only major flaw. Its display may not blow you away and the price isn’t the most appealing—especially given the $250 price tag of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, which has similar specs save for the screen size—but really the only thing that disappoints so far is its underpowered CPU. Stay tuned for our full review.

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