Samsung Galaxy Tab Wi-Fi review: Samsung Galaxy Tab Wi-Fi

  •  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.0
  • Design: 6.0
  • Features: 6.0
  • Performance: 6.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Galaxy Tab Wi-Fi Android tablet offers a bright, responsive 7-inch screen, GPS, Bluetooth, and full access to Google's suite of mobile apps, including Android Market.

The Bad This Galaxy Tab is an Android 2.2 tablet living in an Android 3.0 world, and bigger and better tablets are priced in the same ballpark.

The Bottom Line Samsung's 3G-free version of its 7-inch tablet, the Galaxy Tab, offers an appealing mix of price and horsepower, but it's overshadowed by the wave of inexpensive Android 3.0 devices.

Editors' Top Picks

Editors' note: Due to the changing competitive landscape, we've lowered the Tab's overall score to 6. Check out CNET Tablet page for our latest tablet reviews.

In 2010, Samsung was one of the first manufacturers to bet big on a premium Android-based tablet, the Galaxy Tab. Equipped with a beautiful and conveniently sized 7-inch screen, Android 2.2, Adobe Flash, and 3G support from every carrier under the sun, the Galaxy Tab was poised to draft behind the success of the Apple iPad and capitalize on the growing legions of Android fans.

Unfortunately, the first-generation Galaxy Tab wasn't a runaway success. One reason commonly cited for Samsung's inability to gain Apple-like traction with tablet buyers was the lack of an inexpensive Wi-Fi-only version of the Tab to compete directly against the Wi-Fi-only iPad. To remedy this, Samsung is releasing a 16GB version of the Tab without 3G for the enticing price of $349.

Strategically, we wish Samsung had presented this model (and this price) at the outset, especially since consumer attention has now shifted to tablets running Android 3.0 (Honeycomb). Still, the Galaxy Tab is one of the best-performing 7-inch tablets on the market and from its low price it gains a unique advantage over the more expensive BlackBerry PlayBook and Dell Streak 7 , while outgunning low-end competitors like the Nook Color.

What gives us pause, though, are the increasingly inexpensive prices for Android 3.0 tablets, including the $399 Asus Eee Pad Transformer. Unless you're specifically shopping for a 7-inch device, Honeycomb is the way to go when it comes to Android tablets.

Design
Tablets are only as good as their screens, and the Tab's screen is a glossy beauty with the strength of a beast, thanks to a protective layer of Corning Gorilla glass. The LCD underneath it has a crisp 1,024x600-pixel resolution, which is on par with the iPad 2, but since the screen is about half the size, the pixel density is much tighter. The screen uses a capacitive multitouch technology that can match the iPad in both response time and usefulness.

Above the screen you have a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera, perfect for video chat with the included Qik Plus application. Across the bottom you find the typical Android-style buttons for menu, home, back, and search. There's a standard headphone jack on the top (in-ear headphones come included), and there are volume and power buttons on the side, along with a MicroSD card slot. Samsung's dock connector and a pair of built-in speakers are located on the bottom edge. The dock connector works with the included USB adapter and power brick, but can also be used for accessories, such as a keyboard dock or video output adapter.

On the back of the Tab you'll see a smooth white plastic surface and a more impressive 3-megapixel camera with an integrated flash. The camera can capture video at a maximum resolution of 720x480 pixels at 30 frames per second.

Overall, the Tab, at 7.5 inches tall by 4.7 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick, has a solid, paperback-book feel and can be comfortably grasped in one hand. Unlike the Apple iPad, we never felt the need to set the Tab on our lap or cross our legs just to use it comfortably. For better or worse, it operates and behaves just like a giant Android smartphone, requiring little to no learning curve to navigate menus, type e-mails, or browse the Web.

Features
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of what the Tab has to offer, let's state for the record that the Tab's two best features are the simplest to understand. First off, you have the size: smaller, lighter, and more convenient than the iPad. Second, there's the full, undiluted Android 2.2 experience, complete with third-party apps, and the official Android Market for all the latest and greatest apps. When it comes to tablets, though, Google is now throwing its weight behind the tablet-optimized Android 3.0 operating system and spurring the development of apps designed specifically for larger screens. In 2011, buying an Android 2.2 tablet isn't an investment in the future of Android tablets, because they are heading elsewhere. That said, at $349, you're still getting a lot of tablet.

When you unlock the Tab's touch screen, you'll find a familiar home screen with a floating Google search bar, and dock icons for e-mail, Web browser, and a drawer for apps. Hold the Tab in either portrait or landscape view and the built-in accelerometer sensor will reorient the screen automatically. By default, the Tab comes with five main home screens, which you can jump between by flicking left or right. Beyond the core apps in the dock (mail, Web, drawer), the first of the three home screens comes preinstalled with apps for Market, Amazon Kindle, Maps, New York Times, Camera, Calendar, and YouTube. Samsung also throws in its own Samsung App store (stocked with a measly 16 apps at the time of this review), and an AllShare app for streaming content to DLNA-certified devices, including televisions.

Editors' Top Picks

 

ARTICLE DISCUSSION

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Where to Buy See All

Samsung Galaxy Tab Wi-Fi

Part Number: GT-P1010CWAXAR Released: Apr. 11, 2011
MSRP: $369.99 Low Price: $299.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Apr. 11, 2011
  • Wireless Connectivity IEEE 802.11n
    IEEE 802.11b
    Bluetooth 2.1 EDR
    IEEE 802.11a
    IEEE 802.11g
  • Type Android 2.2
  • Weight 13.6 oz
  • Operating System Android 2.2
  • Storage 16 GB
  • Processor Cortex-A8
About The Author

Donald Bell has spent more than five years as a CNET senior editor, reviewing everything from MP3 players to the first three generations of the Apple iPad. He currently devotes his time to producing How To content for CNET, as well as weekly episodes of CNET's Top 5 video series.