Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 - Verizon 4G review: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 - Verizon 4G

MSRP: $529.99
3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Its blazingly fast 4G LTE speeds match and in some cases surpass that of Wi-Fi networks. As thin as the iPad 2 and even lighter, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in any form is still the sexiest Honeycomb tablet we've seen.

The Bad The placement of the volume rocker and power button on the side leads to lots of accidental button presses. Also, the lack of ports will be a problem for some and the plastic back leaves it feeling less solid than the iPad 2. Preliminary battery life using 4G is disappointing.

The Bottom Line The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G LTE offers blazingly fast "always connected" 4G speeds for the price of a two-year commitment and a sleek, sexy, and light design, which gets as close to the iPad 2 as any Android tablet before it.

7.3 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 8.0

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G LTE has the same thin, iPad 2-like design as the Wi-Fi-only version of the tablet. So the question is, are blazingly fast 4G speeds worth being stuck in a two-year commitment?

Design and features
The first thing that struck us upon taking the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G LTE (Verizon) out of its box was its slim profile. In fact, when it's lying next to the iPad 2 we honestly can't tell which tablet is thicker and unfortunately we don't have a micrometer handy to get down into the business of microns. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G LTE Verizon weighs 1.24 pounds, compared with the iPad 2's 1.32 pounds.

Rather than several paragraphs filled with confusing numbers, I thought a chart would be much more appropriate. Here's a handy chart to illustrate the size differences between the Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G LTE (Verizon) and other recent tablets.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer Acer Iconia Tab A500 Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G LTE (Verizon) Apple iPad 2 T-Mobile G-Slate Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Weight 1.52 1.66 1.24 1.34 1.38 1.24
Width (in landscape) 10.7 10.2 10.1 9.5 9.6 10.1
Height 6.9 6.9 6.9 7.3 5.8 6.9
Depth 0.51 0.51 0.34 0.34 0.49 0.34
Side bezel width (in landscape) 1.1 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.9 0.8

Taking another page from the iPad 2's school of sexy tablet building, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G LTE (Verizon) has one of the cleanest designs we've seen in a tablet. From the front, its 10.1-inch screen is surrounded by its 0.8-inch black bezel and a dark-silver aluminum outline at the edge. In the top middle sits its 2-megapixel front-facing camera.

On the top edge from left to right are the headphone jack and SIM card slot. On the left side, from bottom to top are the volume rocker, power button, and speaker. Another speaker adorns the right side and the universal connection port is found on the bottom edge, right beside a microphone pinhole. There are no USB or HDMI ports and no SD card slots.

The back of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G LTE (Verizon) sports a 3-megapixel camera at the top and a gray-metallic back. It's the feel of the plastic back that is one of the most disappointing aspects of the Tab 10.1's design. It doesn't feel as solid as the iPad 2, and as a result, doesn't feel as comfortable in our hands. Also, Samsung placed the power button on and volume rocker on the left edge, unlike the Wi-Fi version of the Tab 10.1, where the buttons are on the top. Samsung's decision to place the buttons on the left side results in many accidental button presses while holding the tablet. Still, despite its 10.1-inch screen, the tablet never felt the least bit bulky.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G LTE is a Google Experience tablet, meaning it uses the base version of Honeycomb 3.1, with no customizations to its interface. The version of the tablet we got for review didn't include Samsung's TouchWiz interface.

Performance
This is Samsung's first tablet with a 10.1-inch screen, and it looks fantastic. The Super PLS-based display, with its 1,280x800-pixel resolution, produces a clear, crisp image, with a wide viewing angle that looks great when Web surfing or browsing the app store.

Angry Birds Rio actually looked better on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 than on the iPad 2, with more vibrant and appropriately saturated colors. "Toy Story 3" was vibrant and colorful--as colorful as the movie looks running on the iPad 2--and teemed with more life (yes, even in a cartoon) than on the other Android tablets. The speakers are powerful, and capable of deep, thumping bass.

The 3-megapixel rear camera took high-quality pictures for a tablet camera, with a high sharpness and color vibrancy. The default camera app isn't the stock Honeycomb one. It has a slightly more streamlined interface and includes a few options like white-balance setting and a timer, but is missing a zoom function. We also noticed that when panning around, before taking a still pic, the video frame rate was noticeably laggy compared to other Honeycomb tablets or the iPad 2.

The tablet includes the Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual Core processor and navigating feels just as zippy here as it did on any previous Honeycomb tablet.

Web surfing was just as fast running on the 4G LTE network as on our closed Wi-Fi network. Also, downloading Angry Birds Rio on the tablet from the Android App Store took 16.1 seconds running on 4G LTE and 18.3 seconds on our Wi-Fi network.

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