Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1V £649.99
8th Apr 2011 | 16:00
The GT-P7100 Vodafone version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is here!
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1V: Overview
UPDATE: The Galaxy Tab 10.1V has been axed in the UK. We've now reviewed the newer, thinner model: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 review
While 2010 was undoubtedly the year of the Apple iPad, 2011 has a good chance of being the year that Android comes of age.
The original 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab was the only major iPad competitor to be released in 2010, but it was hampered by the inclusion of Android 2.2 – very much an OS designed for mobile phones rather than tablets.
However with the release of the tablet-tastic Android 3.0 this year, the iPad 2 is about to come up against some serious competition.
Our colleagues at T3.com grabbed some Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 video footage which you can watch below.
Alongside the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1V GT-P7100 that we have here, we're also expecting the imminent release of Android 3.0 tablets in the form of the Motorola Xoom, Asus Eee Pad Transformer (out now), Acer Iconia Tab A500 and LG Optimus Pad – not to mention the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9.
To clear up any confusion, there are actually two different versions of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. There's the original version (read: the one that was announced first) – which is the one we have here – and a revised version.
The original version was ditched in many territories before it even went into production, in favour of a slimmer, less highly spec'd version without the 8MP camera. However, in the UK Vodafone signed an exclusive deal with Samsung to sell the original model, and here it is.
The upshot of all this is that here we have the newly-titled Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1V, while the newer version - which will come packing Samsung's Touchwiz overlay - will be known simply as the Galaxy Tab 10.1.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1V: Features
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1V is about as highly spec'd as tablets come at the moment.
Powered by Nvidia's dual core Tegra 2 CPU and lubricated by 1GB, it's powerful and a match for any other Android tablet yet released.
Physically speaking, the 10.1V isn't too different from most other tablets. The bezel is marginally slimmer than that of the iPad 2 and the unit weighs about the same – 599g versus iPad 2's 600g.
It's a bit thicker than the iPad 2 though...
...and marginally thinner than the original iPad...
It does feel very well balanced though, so much so that most people we gave it to to play with thought it was quite a bit lighter than the iPad 2, even though it really isn't.
The most interesting physical talking points of the 10.1V can be found if you flip the device over.
The back has a rough, honeycomb-like surface, with contoured ridges on each side. This makes gripping the device (in landscape mode) very easy. It's especially good for those times when you're in a stuffy office and your palms are a tad sweaty.
The stand-out feature of the 10.1V, hardware-wise at least, is that 8MP rear-facing camera which sits next to an LED flash on the back of the device. It absolutely blows the iPad 2's 0.7MP effort into oblivion. It's a very welcome feature - if something's worth doing, it's worth doing well, after all.
The rear-facing camera is backed up by a 2MP front-facing effort for video chats and self portrait photos if you're that-way inclined.
The screen is a 10.1-inch TFT with a resolution of 1280x800. It has a widescreen aspect ratio, and that resolution is a fraction higher than the iPad 2's 1024x768 display.
Flash storage is available in both 16GB and 32GB flavours, while additional hardware features come in the shape of a gyroscope, accelerometer, digital compass and proximity detector.
The usual connectivity options are there also, in the form of Bluetooth 2.1, Wireless N and the full range of cellular protocols are there too. The 10.1V uses a full-sized SIM slot though, unlike some other tablets that use a micro SIM.
As is fast becoming the norm with Android 3.0 tablets, the Galaxy Tab 10.1V only has three hardware buttons. An on/off/standby button on the left-hand side, as well as volume up and volume down just round the corner on top left.
That SIM slot is located at the top of the right-hand side, while stereo speakers sit in the centre at both ends of the device when held in landscape mode.
In terms of software, this is a stock Android 3.0 affair, with no sign of any of Samsung's Touchwiz modifications or apps. That means it's Android 3.0 as Google intended it to be, and comes with the full range of Google mobile service apps like Android Market, Gmail, Google Maps and Google Talk.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1V: Screen and interface
The screen on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1V is excellent.
With a resolution of 1,280x800 it's very sharp indeed. Colours are bright, vivid and pure.
The viewing angle is also surprisingly good. Samsung has thankfully not gone down the route of scrimping on the screen in order to keep production costs low. The screen performs brilliantly even at the tightest of angles.
Viewing outdoors is a weak spot though – out in bright sunshine it's extremely difficult to make anything out on the screen at all, even with brightness turned up to the full.
It doesn't have as much of a premium feel as the iPad, either, mainly because the it's plastic rather than glass.
Another negative is the fingerprinty surface. While the iPad's finger-grease resistant skin does a brilliant job of keep smears to a minimum, as well as making it easy to polish up - the Galaxy Tab 10.1V has no such feature, and it's a pain.
Back to positive things. The 10.1V's screen couldn't be more responsive if it tried. It really is a pleasure to use and we can't fault it at all.
When navigating the Android 3.0 OS, touches are responded to immediately. It's just a well-packaged device, with a decent screen being backed up by the powerful Tegra 2 CPU. The hardware sings together as a nicely-tuned whole.
Pinch-to-zoom also works perfectly well on both photographs, websites and Google Maps.
The interface is vanilla Android 3.0 from front to back. There's no sign of the Touchwiz overlay or Samsung Apps that will be present on the other version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
For an idea of how this OS works, check out our Android 3.0 review. But rest assured, if you're familiar with Android 2.x already, the interface you're used to has only been improved to make use of the bigger display.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1V also makes use of haptic feedback, so you'll get a slight vibration every time you press a button. This is an important feature on an Android 3.0 tablet, as there are very few physical buttons. The vibration lets you know that the button press on the touchscreen was registered.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1V: Performance and media
The Galaxy Tab 10.1V is a fantastic Android performer.
True multitasking is perhaps Android 3.0's biggest trump card over iPad 2's iOS 4.3 at present. Using the Tegra 2 CPU to instantly switch between running applications is an absolute joy.
We loaded up all three versions of Angry Birds, the web browser set to the TechRadar homepage, the camera app, BBC iPlayer app, Gmail and Google Sky Map all at once. We were able to switch between them at lightning speed and without any kind of delay.
The 10.1V handled everything we could throw at it without a hitch.
The web browsing experience on the 10.1V was perhaps the biggest drawback.
While sites like the BBC News homepage were handled with ease – scrolling and zooming was instantaneous and glitch-free - Flash-heavy websites didn't go down anywhere near as well. When we'd scroll or zoom, the whole page would have to be re-drawn, which would often take several seconds.
It was fairly clunky in this respect and absolutely not the user-friendly experience you would expect from a premium tablet like this.
However, it should be pointed out that the sample we tested was a pre-production model and so we would absolutely expect faults like this to be fixed before Vodafone puts it on sale.
While we're on the subject of glitches, there are more to report. Leaving the 10.1V on standby would often result in it turning itself off completely. One time when we restarted it, it failed to boot altogether and refused to play ball until it was allowed to completely ran out of charge and then put put through another charging cycle.
Again though, the pre-production nature of this unit means that we'd expect some problems like this. We have every expectation that these glitches will be absent from final retail models. We'll update this review as soon as we can get our hands on a finished sample and let you know what's what.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1V's media-playing capacity comes entirely courtesy of stock Android 3.0's standard capabilities.
Audio formats supported are MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, OGG, MIDI and AMD-NB/WB.
Supported video capabilities come in the shape of MPEG4, H263 and H264.
Remember, though, that this can all be modified by installing your own apps and modifications if you so wish. We'd highly recommend playing around with different audio and video players – the basic Android apps that come as part of the OS are just the start. There are a world of options available to you, and unless you explore a little, you won't be making full use of Android's greatest strengths.
Of course, you've also got compatibility with Flash 10.2 here - which means you've got instant access to the majority of web-based video.
We managed to play various HD movie files - the 720p and 1080p clips we threw at it were all handled perfectly well, although playing a 1080p file on a tablet like this is a frankly bit of a waste of time and battery life – the screen resolution is only 1280x800 remember.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1V: Camera and video capture
The camera on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1V packs an 8MP sensor, allowing you to capture very high resolution images, as well as HD video.
Of course, resolution is not the be-all and end-all of photography, but luckily the 10.1V is able to produce some very encouraging images all the same. Android 3.0's camera app makes great use of the Tegra 2 processor and is able to apply any number of different settings when taking the shot.
The camera deals well even when there are both dark and bright areas in shot at the same time, although very bright areas are often over exposed and lack a bit of detail.
Auto white balance works a treat, but you can change lighting settings according to whether you're outside or inside beneath fluorescent lighting etc.
The 10.1-inch screen is also a brilliant viewfinder – it's almost too big in fact, as you have to hold it well away from your face in order to be able to see everything in the shot.
There's an 8x digital zoom on offer here as well, and while image quality obviously degrades substantially when you employ this feature, the results could be a lot worse.
Digital zoom = 0
Digital zoom = 8x
There's also an LED flash to be found next to the sensor, so when shooting in a dark room you've got more of a chance of capturing a decent image.
Video is captured at full HD 1080p, although the quality of the output is far below what you'd expect even from 720p capture on a compact camera.
Frame rates are decent, but the sharpness you'd normally expect from HD footage is absent. What this basically means is that you're better off shooting at lower quality and saving storage space.
Overall though, the camera on the 10.1V really does show up the iPad 2's camera for being the inadequate and outdated sensor that it is.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1V: Benchmarks
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1V benchmarks
How it rates against the rest - higher is better
How we test
TechRadar aims to produce the most helpful tablet reviews on the web, so that you are able to make a more informed buying decision.
Part of this testing process includes benchmarking. It's a good way of measuring the overall performance of a product's internal hardware components.
We use Antutu System Benchmark to test tablets. It's a comprehensive Android benchmarking app and produces consistent results.
Antutu measures an Android device's CPU performance, 2D and 3D graphics performance, memory speed and internal and external storage read/write speeds. It combines the results for each test and gives the device a final score.
We test each device three times and take an average.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1V: Verdict
We must point out once again that this unit is pre-production, and so we must be prepared to forgive the odd glitch here and there. The clunky browser performance and the crashing issues should all be polished out before the 10.1V goes on sale – if they're not, we'll be very surprised.
This tablet is a lightning-quick performer and a capable multitasker. Even when running multiple widgets across every hoemscreen, and a range of games and apps running at the same time, we were able to switch between each running process with ease and speed.
While Android 2.2 tablets including the original Samsung Galaxy Tab 7-inch were hampered by a lack of compatibility with most apps in the Android Market, there are no such complaints for this model.
While there are still apps that aren't compatible with Android 3.0 tablets, they won't show up if you search the Android Market from within the device anyway. And if you use the web-based Android Market on a computer, it's very simple to filter out the apps that aren't compatible with your device.
The 8MP camera is a great feature. We just don't see the point in including a rear-facing camera sensor unless it's able to capture a decent image – and that's a dig at the iPad 2 in case you hadn't noticed.
The glitches we experienced were irritating but we don't see them impacting anyone who purchases a finished unit. We'll re-review it once we get a final sample, so stay tuned for more info on this.
While the unit is well put together and solid, it does feel decidedly plasticky which will put some people off – especially those used to the solid, refined build quality of devices like the iPhone 4 and iPad 2.
We'd have liked to see 1GB of RAM inside the unit, and although our testing didn't seem to suffer for it, double the memory would go a long way to future-proofing the device.
There's also no SD-card slot, so the only way to load content on and off the device is via the same proprietary iPhone-like Samsung USB connector.
Overall it's a bit of a gem then. We've given the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1V a score of 4/5 although this is irrelevant now that the device has been cancelled!