Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 review: hands-on
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 review: hands-onT3
Samsung Galaxy 2 (or 10.1) is expected to rival Motorola's Xoom and, of course, the Apple iPad 2. So, how will it fare?
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 - officially the Galaxy Tab 10.1 - landed at T3 towers this week, no this isn’t the finished article so we aren’t able to bring you a full review, but we’ve spend some time with the tablet and here are our first impressions.
Weighing 599g, it feels comfortable and you can just about hold it with one hand for a short period, which you can’t with the significantly heavier Motorola Xoom. Circular grips on the back combine with a ridged surface to provide a decent grip.
It doesn’t feel as much of a premium product as the Xoom though, the silver trim around the edge is plastic.
Volume and mic controls are along the top, there’s a sim slot on one side and the 3.5mm jack and power button on the other. Underneath is a proprietary jack for charging.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 Android 3.0
We’ve said it before, but Honeycomb is a totally different user experience. For anyone who has used Android on a tablet previously, that’s a positive thing. The main difference is the removal of hard keys. Instead Back, Home and Multiview controls are on the bottom left, keeping them touch sensitive enables them to remain in the same position when you turn the tablet around.
Dare we say it, but Honeycomb can be a little inconsistent at times. In some programs – like the browser – a menu icon appears at the top left, in other – like Skype – it’s at the bottom left. But this is a very minor gripe.
One of the most effective elements of Android 3.0 is the customisation. Hit the arrow in the top right corner or hold your finger down on any screen and you are presented with an overview of all your homescreens. Onto this you can drag Widgets and App shortcuts; admittedly it’s hard to see exactly where elements are from this view. Drag each element around as normal to position or delete. There’s a good selection of live and static wallpapers too
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2: Screen
The 1280x 800 10.1-inch screen is excellent for video, watching a selection of YouTube HD movies quality is excellent, motion is fluid and streaming over WiFi we didn’t have any issues with buffering.
It doesn’t recognise our Mac, so we weren’t able to watch our usual test videos and although we could download the iPlayer app. Our unit didn’t have Flash out of the box, and although you can download the smartphone Flash Player 10.2 app from Android Market, it wouldn’t load, so we’ll have to wait for the Honeycomb version
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2: Performance
It’s really hard to fairly judge performance from a tablet that clearly isn’t final sample. We weren’t able to use the Tab 2 over 3G, instead using WiFi and tethering it to our Android handset.
But first impressions and this is a powerful performer, we could easily stream HQ video from You Tub and swap between multiple browser windows and applications. Although the real test will be with games and Flash content.
Browsing is a pleasant experience thanks to a responsive touchscreen. Double tap and the text aligns to fit to the space, pinch to zoom to get closer, but like the Apple iPad 2 - the text doesn’t wrap automatically, like we’ve been used to on mobile phones.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Camera
What sets the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 apart from rivals – especially after the iPad 2 – is the inclusion of an 8-megapixel camera. Samsung has produced some cracking phone cameras – such as the Wave.
When you open the camera app, there’s a funky circular dial to the right with Flash, White Balance, Color Effect, Scene mode and Camera Settings options. We’re pleased Samsung has included such wide selection of features.
There isn’t a dedicated button for the shutter, instead you press the centre of the circle (pictured). In low-light situations, the shutter is a little slow, so you need to hold the tablet very still. But outside in bright light, it’s far quicker.
Choose from Infinity and Auto focus control, we managed to take close-ups from 20cm away. Quality is pretty good, there’s no ISO control, so we did notice noise creep in when we used the flash indoors.
Considering this isn’t a final sample we can’t be too critical of the camera. But even after some time using the Tab 2, it’s still hard to see who would actually use it to take photos, it’s just too big.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to use the front-facing camera to make video calls, so we’ll try this feature out when we do our full review.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2: Apps
The You Tube app is fantastic. Fire it up and you are confronted by a virtual video wall with you drag left and right.
It’s only been a couple of weeks since we reviewed the Motorola Xoom, which had a paltry 16 Honeycomb apps. Since then (and possibly following Steve Jobs’ comments), there’s now 142 Honeycomb apps. Choice isn’t fantastic, so don’t expect to see Facebook, Twitter or Ebay, but you’ve got Friendstream for Facebook.
Of course mobile phone apps work too, but these are stretched to fit the screen, resulting in less than sharp edges. Skype only supports voice calls, but we defy anyone not to feel like an idiot using this 10-inch beast
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2: Early verdict
A few software crashes aside we’re impressed by the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. It’s quick, with a decent camera and increasing selection of apps. It’s comfortable to use, but it lacks the premium feel of the Motorola Xoom, although we’ll have to see final pricing to see whether this matters. We’ll bring you a full review as soon as possible.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 video
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