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Tablets

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 review roundup has distinct flavour of 'meh'

The first reviews of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 are out in the US. There are plenty of positives, but a few reservations about Android Honeycomb. How does the tablet shape up against the iPad 2?

The much feared Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android tablet has been roaming the wilds of America for over a week now. Rumours are flying that it will migrate to the UK any day, and the latest eyewitness reports indicate it's a horrifically powerful beast.

Is the Tab 10.1 an iPad 2 killer? How good is the display, the battery, the Honeycomb OS? Read on to confirm your worst fears in our comprehensive reviews roundup.

Hardware

Every review mentions the nanometre difference in depth between the iPad 2 and the Galaxy Tab 10.1, with Samsung's baby being just 0.02mm thinner.

Though the build quality is good, there's no love for the plastic back. Our good buds at CNET.com write, "The Galaxy Tab 10.1 has one of the cleanest designs we've seen in a tablet," but "the feel of the plastic back... is the most disappointing aspect of the Tab 10.1's design" and "doesn't feel as comfortable in our hands."

This Is My Next agrees: "The tablet's white plastic back isn't actually all that plasticky," it helpfully describes.

Display

Most reviewers can't fault the 1,200x800-pixel display, although PC World noted that it "tends to oversaturate colours," suggesting, "The iPad 2 generated better colour reproduction, especially when in the soft browns of skin tones." This Is My Next said the Tab has "superb viewing angles; there's no colour distortion at any angle and images appear bright even off-axis."

CNET.com included an essential comparison: "Angry Birds Rio actually looked better on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 than on the iPad 2." Good to know. 

Camera

Very few expect great things from tablet cameras at present, so no-one was surprised Samsung's device offered merely average performance.

This Is My Next said the camera is "actually one of the better shooters I've seen on a tablet... the lens has at least taken some decent shots over the past few days," while Business Insider wrote, "the rear-facing camera on the Tab does the job. So does the front-facing camera for video chatting over Google Talk."

Dismissing the usability of cameras on tablets altogether, Engadget said, "It's hard to knock something that most folks aren't going to take advantage of."

That said, CNET.com was rather impressed: "The 8-megapixel rear camera took high-quality pictures for a tablet camera, with a sharpness and level of colour vibrancy that was unmatched." 

Battery and performance

Inevitable comparisons with the iPad 2 continue with the battery. While Engadget managed to get some very good results: "With Wi-Fi on and display brightness at about 65 per cent, we scored just under 10 hours (again!). That's second only to the iPad 2, and by merely half an hour."

Others weren't so lucky, however. This Is My Next noted, "The Tab 10.1's 7000mAH battery didn't fare as well in our video rundown test... It only lasted 5 hours and 33 minutes, which is about... 5 (hours) shorter than the iPad 2." The Wall Street Journal also cited a "weaker battery life" than the iPad 2.

On the Tab's Flash abilities, This Is My Next noted, "Performance was what you'd expect: it slowed down the browser a bit, but videos played back smoothly. As with most of these tablets, local and streaming 720p video purred along."

Honeycomb

No-one seems particularly excited about Honeycomb overall. It does the job but has some quirks, it seems.

"Google claimed that the newest build of Honeycomb would perform even faster than 3.0, and in practice, things did seem to operate at a subtly brisker pace," Engadget wrote. "Animations were a pinch quicker, and transitions were ever-so-slightly faster. Web browser performance was noticeably better."

This Is My Next noted the real problem: "Google has fixed a number of the stability issues and even began to polish up the interface with resizable widgets, etc [but] the platform still seriously trails iOS in terms of app selection."

CNET.com was fairly dismissive in general. "It's a little difficult to get excited about yet another Wi-Fi-only Honeycomb tablet with no truly unique software or hardware features," it wrote.

Conclusions

Every tablet is compared to the iPad 2, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is no exception. The general consensus is it's well built, looks great and performs pretty well across the board. Until Google fixes up Honeycomb and more tablet-specific apps make it to market, however, the device has a noticeable limp.

Still want one of these monsters? Let us know what you think in the comments below.