Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 £299

11th Dec 2012 | 16:36

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1

The popular Galaxy Tab gets a reboot and redesign for 2012

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

Like:

Android Jelly Bean; Good movie playback; MicroSD support; Bright screen

Dislike:

No 3G; 16GB internal storage; Uninspiring design; Average cameras

Introduction

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is the rather wordy successor to the popular Galaxy Tab 10.1, an Android tablet which managed to challenge the iPad in almost every department, which are some pretty big shoes to fill.

Unveiled by Samsung in February at MWC 2012, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 was confusingly launched alongside the Galaxy Note 10.1 which sported a similar, if slightly more premium, look and a S-Pen stylus, something the former does not have.

However unlike its blockbuster predecessor, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is only available with 16GB of internal storage and Wi-Fi only, and launch at a £299 price tariff. However the cost has taken a tumble and you're now able to pick it up for under £240 in a few outlets.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

The lack of a 3G model in the UK and larger storage capacities means that the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 isn't as much of a contender to the new iPad as the original was to the iPad 2, with the middle to high end of the market more suited to its price.

Where does this leave the Tab 2 10.1 one then? Well, rubbing shoulders with the likes of the Toshiba AT200, iPad 2, Asus Transformer Pad 300 and Acer Iconia Tab A200.

Take one look at the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and you'll notice immediately that it's undergone a dramatic redesign from the original Galaxy Tab, as Samsung looks to distance its devices from Apple's iconic iPad – something which has landed the South Korean company in trouble before and seen the Galaxy Tab 10.1 taken off the shelves in some countries.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

The result: a two-toned black and grey tablet with what can only be described as ears – which are actually two speakers either side of the 1280 x 800 LCD display.

The large black bezel around the screen is further increased by the additional grey plastic chassis wrapping round from the back, providing some unnecessary bulk and little design flair, something other tablets like the uniquely shaped Sony Tablet S manage to bring to the table.

The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 isn't huge, with its 9.7mm deep body meaning it's actually a shade slimmer than the Transformer Pad 300 and Iconia Tab A200, although it does feel porkier than the iPad 2 (8.8mm) and super-slim AT200, which clocks in at a mere 7.7mm.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

The unassuming lighter grey plastic back of the Tab 2 10.1 leaves little to be desired in the style department, giving off the air of cheapness. However the tablet does feel strong and well built, with no flex experienced with the case or screen.

Thanks to the plastic build, Samsung has managed to keep the weight of the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 at a reasonable level, with the slate tipping the scales at 587g, making it lighter than its Acer, iPad and Asus rivals, but once again the dinky Toshiba steals in at 558g.

Features and design

As we've mentioned the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 pulls no surprises when it comes to weight, sitting comfortably between its rivals at 587g, although this will still test your forearm muscles over an extended period.

Although 10-inch tablets in general aren't recommended as ereaders, one of the key selling points for them is movie playback, and you'll need to keep two firm hands on the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 if you're going to make it through a feature length film.

Enhancing that movie-watching experience are the front facing speakers plonked, slightly unlovingly by Samsung, either side of the screen.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

While they lack aesthetic prowess, they are at least functional, delivering sound straight into your face, thus providing a better audio experience than tablets which have speakers located on the back.

The speakers do a respectable job at audio playback, but sound can get tinny and distorted at the highest volumes, and we'd recommend a decent set of headphones for solo viewing over the speakers any day.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

The unassuming design flows to the rest of the tablet, with the dark grey plastic screen surround complimented by a lighter shade of grey on the back – providing what can only be described as a drab looking device, lacking the shiny pizzazz of Apple's iconic offerings.

Although a glut of plastic is present here, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 still feels solid, with a sturdy frame clawing back a small amount of premium feel.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

In the middle of the chunky plastic bezel sits the 10.1-inch display, featuring the same 1280x800 resolution of its predecessor, putting it inline with the iPad 2 in terms of clarity and brightness, but miles below the iPad 3, which can be had for not a HUGE amount more cash.

Along the top left of the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 you'll find the power/lock key, followed by a volume rocker switch, which we found relativity easy to hit most of the time, but when we were lacking in concentration we found ourselves fumbling round for the buttons, like a teenage boy trying to unclasp a brassiere for the first time.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

For those who are disappointed to learn that Samsung is only offering the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 in a 16GB variant, there's a slight reprieve with a microSD slot located next to the buttons atop the device.

Supporting cards up to 64GB in size, this should accommodate the majority of users, and there's a smart cover over the port, which is easy to flick out with a fingernail and pop back in, helping keep the dust out.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Finally, a 3.5mm headphone jack completes the lineup along the top of the tablet. There's a front facing VGA camera above the screen and on the base is a 30-pin connector dock and a pin hole for the inbuilt microphone.

It's slightly irritating that Samsung has continued with the 30-pin port option, as it means we need to dig out the dedicated cable every time we want to charge or connect the Tab 2 to a computer – we'd much rather have seen a standard USB or microUSB port instead – something which we see on the majority of Android slates these days, although faster charging is always a plus.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Round the back Samsung has bundled in a 3.15MP camera, certainly nothing to write home about and significantly lower than the 5MP snapper found on the Toshiba AT200 and new iPad, making us think, why bother?

Possibly more disappointing for some is the lack of a SIM-card slot (in the UK at least), meaning that the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is confined to Wi-Fi only web access, ruling out data on the go and reducing the appeal of the tablet as a all-round portable device.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

There is a 3G version of the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 knocking about, but it looks to be available in only a handful of markets, and the UK isn't one of them.

Wi-Fi b/g/n is on board, allowing you to hook up to wireless internet when you are in range, with Bluetooth 3.0 and A-GPS also making an appearance, providing the standard array of connectivity options we've come to expect from devices these days.

For those you who are partial to a bit of steaming action then it's good news for you: the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is DLNA certified, allowing you to fire media to and from the tablet and your other connected devices.

Interface

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 ships with the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, which is good to see and shows manufacturers are finally moving on from Honeycomb.

And Samsung has been beavering away at the Android update to Jelly Bean, meaning we're now seeing Android 4.1.1, which comes with a glut of new features on the interface front. We're still sifting through what these are before we can properly update the review, but it's worth noting that Samsung is still fully supporting this model.

Power-wise Samsung has opted to stick a 1GHz dual-core processor inside the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, which certainly isn't going to blow anyone away, considering the Transformer Pad 300 boasts a quad-core power house and even the Toshiba AT200 has a 1.2GHz dual-core chip.

However, it's still fairly comparable to the Google Nexus 10, which offers a dual core experience (albeit with a lot more grunt) and in that scenario you're paying twice the price.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

There is 1GB of RAM, putting the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 on par with its competition and although we had fears over the processor's perceived lack of power, the tablet does a commendable job of running the new version of Android.

Fire up the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and you're greeted with Samsung's slightly tweaked version of Ice Cream Sandwich, although it hasn't messed around with it too much, allowing for an easy to use interface.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Sweep through the homescreens, (default at five but can be expanded to seven if you pinch the display to see an overview), and there's a very small delay as the Tab 2 10.1 flips between them – probably not enough for average tablet users to notice, but as we've experienced the slickness of the Transformer Pad Infinity, this is sluggish in comparison.

Widgets can be a little slow to load at times, especially the more demanding ones such as the Game and Music hubs, as they require an internet connection to update their content heavy displays.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

There's the standard array of Android widgets on offer, along with Samsung's own memo, calendar and app suggest options – all of which can be dragged and dropped into the desired location on a homescreen, plus some can even be resized allowing you to optimise all the space available.

The menu bar which runs along the bottom of the screen features the iconic back, home and multitasking buttons, and there's the ability to add a handy fourth icon, which you can set to take screenshots, open the camera app, view the app list or launch the search function.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Tap the clock in the bottom right corner and you'll be greeted with the familiar Android notification area, which Samsung has tweaked to include controls for brightness, Wi-Fi, GPS and a host of other settings – making it easy to toggle functions with a tap.

You may have noticed the 'up' arrow in the centre of the bottom console, and tapping this will pop up a horitzonal menu above it, displaying a number of mini applications as tidy looking thumbnails.

Select one and it appears as a window on top of the homescreen, allowing you to move it around, plus you can have more than one open at a time – allowing for side by side working.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

The apps which Samsung has made mini versions for are; alarm, calculator, email, music player, S Planner, task manager and world clock.

We found these to be handy little apps, saving us time sifting through homescreens or the app list in an attempt to find these key applications.

You can't resize the pop-up apps, meaning that you can only really get two on a screen at a time, but you can open them even when you're inside another full-screen application, and they'll happily sit on top.

You can launch a mini app's full blown big brother by pressing the arrow in the top left corner, plus they can be easily closed by hitting the cross in the top right.

Overall the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 provides a simple and intuitive user interface which will appeal to both first time users and hardened Android fans, although the 1GHz processor means the experience isn't a slick as some of its rivals.

Messaging and battery

There is a handful of messaging options available on the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 out of the box, with the standard Gmail and Email applications present - letting you set up a number of accounts, with the latter offering a unified inbox, allowing you to see all your new mails in one place.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Samsung has also included its ChatOn messaging service, similar to that of BlackBerry's BBM and Apple's iMessage – although this offering is a broader service, working across all Android devices, as well as Samsung's Bada featurephones, iOS and BlackBerrys.

Working in a similar way to the popular WhatsApp, the interface is clean and clear, making it simple to operate, but we found there was a serve lack of people to chat to, as it's still a relatively underused service, with most consumers using on of the rivals we've mentioned.

Samsung has squashed in a 7,000mAh battery into the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, and with moderate usage it should last you the day with the spot of web browsing, social networking plus a smattering of music playback and short video viewing.

In our more measured test we got over six hours out of the Tab 2 10.1 when we streamed HD video over Wi-Fi, with the screen at full brightness.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

If you hammer the tablet with demanding games or excessive streaming activities then you will need to charge it again before bed time, but on the whole we were impressed with the battery life on the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1.

Internet

Tablets are popular choices for sofa surfers, allowing for large screen browsing without the hassle, heat or weight of a laptop.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 manages to deliver in this field, with a strong showing in the internet department.

The stock Android browser comes preinstalled on the Tab 2 10.1, offering up tabbed browsing, offline reading and thumb-nailed bookmarks which can be synced to your Google account.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Offline reading is a useful feature if you know you will be out of Wi-Fi zone for a period of time, as you can read the pages stored on the tablet, however the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 appears to save an image of the page – meaning URL links will not work on saved pages – resulting in you having to re-search for the page to click a particular link.

Of course if you're not a fan of this particular browser then head over to Google Play, where there's a whole host of alternatives, including Google's Chrome app – available on devices running Ice Cream Sandwich.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 was able to load the content heavy TechRadar.com in around seven seconds, including all the animated banners, with less demanding sites appearing in a couple of seconds – providing a hassle free browsing experience.

Zooming in and out of pages isn't as smooth as we had hoped, with a noticeable judder as the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 attempts to render the page at the new level, with text appearing blurred for a second until snapping back to the crisp, clear display.

There's no text re-flow at play here, but thanks to the large 10.1-inch display it's unlikely that you'll zoom in enough for this to be a problem – a simple double tap on an area of text will zoom you to the area and you can further increase this view by pinching the screen.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

We found the default browser was sporadic when it came to deciding if it should serve up the mobile or desktop versions of websites – although this can be toggled in the settings menu, which seemed to sort the problem out for most sites.

Adobe Flash is supported here, as it is on most Android devices, and even though it's soon to be replaced by HTML 5, there's still a whole host of sites which use it to display various content including videos – the BBC is a prime example, giving it a clear advantage over the iPad 2.

Media - Part 1

It's fair to say that any 10-inch tablet has media at the centre of its plans, and that's certainly true for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1.

The 10.1-inch, 1280x800 screens provides a decent display for you to gorge on your favourite videos, images, games and social networks.

However for those of you who love HD movies on the move, or have massive music libraries you may find the 16GB (technically 12GB, as the system takes up 4GB) of internal storage slightly restricting, and although there's a microSD slot supporting cards up to 32GB, we know some of you prefer your device to offer big storage, instead of splitting it between mediums.

Samsung has stuck its Music, Video, Game and Readers hubs onto the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, giving you instant access to a selection of paid-for content, to keep you entertained on those long commutes into work and shuttle rides to the moon.

If you want to get your own content onto the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 then you have a couple of choices. You can opt to use Samsung's desktop software suite, known as Kies, which offers an iTunes-esque way of syncing content between machines – although it doesn't have any of the music/video/app stores built in.

You can plug the tablet straight into your computer, or use Kies Air, which will display an IP address on the screen, which you type into your computer's browser(both devices need to be on the same Wi-Fi network) - which then gives you the web-version of Kies to work with.

If you like to do things in a more straight forward manner, you can simple hook the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 up to your machine using the 30-pin USB lead and then use the familiar drag and drop system to get content on and off the tablet.

Video

With such a large screen, video is certainly the name of the game when it comes to consumable media, with your phone or MP3 player probably your most likely destination for music on the go, rather than a large tablet.

The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 was able to churn through the multitude of formats we threw at it including m4v, AVI and DivX, happily loading them from either the internal memory or microSD card without fuss.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

There's a dedicated video player app, providing an easy to use interface with the usual play/pause, skip and scrub options available, along with some basic preset equaliser options; voice, movie and 5.1ch.

Dive into the settings can you can adjust the play speed, something you won't bother touching if you're watching a movie or TV show, but can be a fun gimmick to slow down or speed up videos of your friends.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

There's a host of sharing options accessible via the Video Player app, allowing you to easily send video via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Email etc and share on a variety of social networking platforms including Facebook, Google+ and YouTube.

If you fancy streaming the video to a DLNA connected device there's a handy button in the top right of the player screen which will jump you straight to "select device" – which sees the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 scan for compatible devices, such as a smart TV or computer, which you can stream to.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

We found video playback to be smooth, bright and crisp and watching full-length feature films wasn't an issue, although our arms did get a little tired from holding the tablet.

The front facing speakers meant that a few people huddled round the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 could hear the audio just fine, with the volume going up to an acceptable level – however we'd recommend headphones for solo viewing for a more complete listening experience.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

We were pleased with this well connected and functional video player and other manufacturers could take a leaf out of Samsung's book here.

There's a couple of options when it comes to purchasing video content directly on the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, with the choice of the Google Play store and Samsung's own video hub.

The Google Play store only gives you the option to rent movies, most of which will set you back either £2.49 or £3.49 and offers a relatively decent selection of films (although far, far from complete), keeping up to date with the latest DVD releases.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Make sure you also check out Samsung's own Video Hub, which not only offers movies but TV shows as well, plus there's an option to purchase films as well as rent them.

Rental prices are similar to Google Play, with most films coming in at £2.49 or £3.49, although the purchase price seems to range wildly, going from £5.99 all the way up to £12.49 – which seems a bit steep, especially when you consider you can pick the DVD up for less online.

The selection isn't as up to date as Google Play's offering, although it does have some classics such as Independence Day in the back catalogue.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

There's also the excellent YouTube app, which has been enhanced for tablets and provides a pleasing visual experience allowing you to easily navigate around the massive library of informative and ridiculous videos.

Of course this is all well and good, but the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 isn't a one trick pony, it also handles music, photos and ebooks, so head to the next page to learn more.

Media - Part 2

Music

As far as portable music players go, 10-inch tablets are unlikely to be at the top of anyone's list, unless you're a giant, but even so the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 still caters for those in need of instant music respite.

Samsung's pre-installed music player has a very similar layout and feel to the video player application, once again offering your basic track control along with shuffle, repeat and more detailed equaliser presets, 12 in total plus the ability to tinker with a graphic equaliser if you want to fine tune your, well, tunes.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

There's also the option to tweak the play speed, if you fancy slowing down or speeding up your favourite tunes in the same way as video, although we struggle to see why you would.

There are the same sharing and streaming options we found in the video player app, allowing you to manipulate your music in pretty much any way you want.

The music player is simply laid and intuitive, even for those new to the Android operating system, allowing for a stress-free audio experience.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 seems to support the majority of file formats, with it happily playing our MP3, WAV, WMA and eAAC+ tracks, and Samsung claims it supports at least another ten.

Audio playback is acceptable, and the front facing speakers produces a better projection of sound, although music does get tinny and distorted at high volumes and there's little to no bass support.

Plug in a decent set of headphones and twiddle the equaliser to your desired settings and you'll find the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 produces a decent output, although you can't just stick it in your pocket and walk down the street.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

The Google Play store doesn't currently support music purchases in the UK, but luckily Samsung has come to the rescue in the form of its Music Hub, which is powered by 7 Digital.

One of the biggest rivals to Apple's iTunes crown, the 7 Digital store offers a wide selection of music to suit all tastes, although not quite as many as Apple's version.

It's an easy enough app to use, providing top lists, new releases, genre search and 30 second previews, so you can make sure you've got the right track and not some awful parody.

Single tracks seem to go for a rather standard 99p (around $1.50) – so on par with iTunes, and albums range in price, mostly falling between the £5 to £10 (around $7-$15) mark.

Photos

It will come as no surprise that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 packs a photo gallery, and albeit it being a basic one, it does the job and allows you to admire your snaps on a large, detailed display.

A simple and easy to use thumbnail layout is used to allow you to browse through your albums, with the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 loading them up within a couple of seconds.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Select a picture and you will be able to share it via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and social networks, stream it to a DLNA compatible device in the same way you do with music and video, and perform some simple editing – with the options to rotate and crop the image.

If you fancy doing some more indepth editing, then Samsung has stuck its photo editor app on the Tab 2 10.1, which gives you a much wider range of tools to work with including various colour enhancements, five effects and selection tool letting you cut out, move and delete parts of your photos.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

While the colour tweaks and effects were easy to master, the selection tools were a little more complicated – however it's a nice additional from Samsung and the 10.1-inch display means you can easily play around with the settings, without struggling for space.

Books

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 offers a couple of reading options out of the box, if you fancy a slightly more traditional form of entertainment.

We reckon 10-inch tablets are a little on the big side to make suitable ereader replacements, with the likes of the 7-inch Google Nexus 7, which can be held comfortably in one hand, a better fit for this particular genre.

The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is just too big and too heavy to comfortably see you through an extended reading session and the TFT display isn't as kind to your eyes than the e-ink offerings on the likes of Amazon's Kindle range.

Nevertheless it's good to see Samsung accommodating all media types and you're greeted with the Play Books and Readers Hub apps when you fire up the Tab 2 10.1

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

The Play Books app is available on all Android devices and gives you access to Google's own library of reading material – set to rival the likes of Amazon's Kindle Store.

Books can range from free up to £10 (around $15) – and even more in some cases.

There's a decent selection of fiction and non-fiction titles on offer and if you keep a look out for the deal of the week and "Books for 49p/99p or less" promos you can pick yourself up a bargain.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

The 1280 x 800 display means text appears sharp and clear, and with suitable font size tools, even those with poorer eyesight should be able read easily on the tablet.

Samsung's Readers Hub offers up an alternative way to consume books, powered by the rival Kobo store, but it also offers newspapers, from PressDisplay and magazines from Zinio.

More and more publishers have got on board with digital editions of their publications, so there's now a decent array of newspapers and magazines on offer, varying in price depending on subscriptions or single issues – although you will always save money opting for a subscription instead of buying each issue individually.

Camera

Lets face the facts, no one buys a tablet for its camera abilities and it looks like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 has heeded this advice, as it offers only a basic camera experience.

The fact it has both front and rearing facing snappers is pleasing, as the competing Iconia Tab A200 just has a front camera and iPad 2 can only offer a 0.7MP rear cam, although neither are anything to write home about, and both are inferior compared to the pair on the Toshiba AT200.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

The front facing VGA offering is purely there to facilitate video calling, using services such as Skype, and the odd vanity check – we wouldn't recommend taking photos or video with it, although both options are available to you.

Round the back there's a 3.15MP sensor, but low light shooting is out of the question straight away, as there's no flash to accompany it.

As well as shunning the option of a flash, Samsung has decided not to include auto-focus, tap to focus or a digital zoom to the camera on the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

The camera application closely mirrors the one found on Samsung's range of Android smartphones, providing an easy to use layout and some basic functions including exposure control, timer, 11 scene modes, three effects (negative, black and white and sepia), and a trio of shooting modes; single shot, smile shot and panorama.

Shutter speed is less than a second, mainly thanks to the lack of auto-focus, but this along with a low quality sensor results in grainy images, with motion blur common as the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 struggles to keep up with fast moving objects.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Video

Slightly surprisingly the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is able to capture 720p video using the 3.15MP camera on the back of the tablet - putting it inline with the iPad 2 and Toshiba AT200, but the Transformer Pad 300 steals the show with 1080p recording.

The video recorder is accessed through the camera app, and there's a toggle next to the shutter button allowing you to easily switch between the two modes.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Like the camera app, you get the option of exposure control, timer and three effects, but nothing else.

As there's no flash, auto-focus or digital zoom included in the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, so that pretty much wraps up the filming capabilities – however the 720p film it produces is more than respectable.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

If you really want, you can also shoot VGA quality video using the front facing camera, but results are poor so we'd advise against even considering this as an option.

Check out how the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 got on in our HD video test below, which shows you can get some quite pleasing results out of that lowly 3.15MP sensor.

Maps and apps

Maps

As far as mapping is concerned the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 comes with the superb Google Maps application, giving you access to worldwide maps, route planning and traffic information.

The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 has A-GPS built in, providing you with a faster, more accurate satellite lock, and we found the tablet was able to pinpoint us within five seconds.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Although the blue dot to show our location appeared on the screen pretty sharpish, the actual maps took a good 10 to 20 seconds to load, even when we were connected to a strong Wi-Fi signal.

The slow loading experience continues as you pan and zoom, with the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 seemingly struggling to keep up with the movement, which leads to a fragmented and frustrating user experience.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

As well as route planning, you also get Google's free turn-by-turn navigation software, however seeing as the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is Wi-Fi only, it means you won't be able to use the tablet as your in-car sat nav, as a data connection is required to render the maps unless you download them offline.

Not that you'd want to use a 10.1-inch tablet as a sat nav, as mounting this beast to your dashboard or windscreen would result in your not being able to see out of the car. Safety first folks – mirror, signal, manoeuvre.

Apps

As the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is an Android device you get access to the well stocked Google Play store, which is now giving the Apple App Store a real run for its money.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Here you can download apps, games, books and movies to keep you entertained, although Samsung doesn't think this is enough.

The Korean manufacturer has also pre-installed its Samsung App World store, offering a more condensed selection of applications, and while it may remove some of the dross you get in Google Play, it seems a little unnecessary and we found ourselves heading back to the stock offering pretty quickly.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

We found the Samsung App World was clearly laid out and loaded up in a couple of seconds, with various categories including hot, new, top and several genres to choose from.

Unfortunately you cannot uninstall Samsung App World, or any of the other pre-installed applications on the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, so you may want to make a folder to chuck these apps into if you don't plan to use them.

Samsung has also included its S Suggest app on the Tab 2 10.1, which will recommend popular applications – although it clearly states that it cannot guarantee every app it suggests will be compatible with your device, confusingly.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

S Suggest comes with a large homescreen widget, flagging up applications it sees fit to promote – we're not sure how it filters these and we still prefer checking out the top lists in Google Play.

Interestingly S Suggest is connected to Google Play, instead of the Samsung App World, presumably because the former offers a much wider array of applications.

You'd think Samsung would be able to program the app to know what device it's sitting on and then filter out applications which won't run, because in its current state the whole system seems a little redundant.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

And if that wasn't enough, on top of the Music, Video and Reader hubs, Samsung has also stuck its Games Hub onto the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 which, yep you've guessed, offers up gaming applications.

The Games Hub is an almagamation of apps from five developers; Gameloft, Mobage, Com2us, G-Gee and TheAppsGame – and is purely just a portal which takes you straight into the Samsung App World whenever you select an app.

The choice is poor as well. Mobage has a decent selection, but there were just two Gameloft apps, 10 Com2us and eight G-Gee, the fifth – TheAppsGame – didn't have any games associated with it.

It's a poorly implemented offering which has no right being on the tablet, so make sure you hide the Games Hub in a folder right away and remove its annoying, and slow loading, widget from the homescreen.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

For those of you who love a bit of streaming action Samsung has included its AllShare application, allowing you to easily beam content to and from the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1.

The app will automatically search for other devices in the vicinity which are able to take part in the streaming activities – including phones, laptops, computers, smart TVs, games consoles and other tablets.

You're able to share music, photos and videos via the All Share application easily with just a few taps.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Lastly, and rounding off the app onslaught on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is the Video maker application, something we were rather fond of.

This particular movie maker is a pleasing one, offering up a wide range of features and functions to keep most budding directors happy.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

It's not quite polished as Apple's iMovie offering, but never the less it's easy to use, providing a simple drag and drop interface, which allows you to tinker with video, audio and imaging channels in a concise timeline.

There's a range of themes, effects and transitions which can be applied to your masterpiece and when finished you can share your creation via a number of channels including AllShare, Bluetooth, ChatOn, social networks and Wi-Fi direct.

Hands on gallery

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Official gallery

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Verdict

After the blockbuster entrance by the original Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is a more muted affair, offering little in the way of an upgrade from its predecessor and seemingly happy to nestle into mid-range obscurity, instead of setting itself up to challenge the new iPad.

It's also been out-done by the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 in terms of raw power, but the price difference between the two shows they're two very distinct products.

We liked

It's pleasing to see Ice Cream Sandwich is making it onto devices out of the box these days, even if Jelly Bean is just around the corner, and Samsung has done a good job of implementing Android 4.0 onto the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1.

Movie playback is decent, with the large 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800 screen doing feature films justice and the front facing speakers delivering sound directly at you instead of behind the tablet.

Even though the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 only comes as a 16GB option, the inclusion of a microSD card slot on top of the tablet will keep the majority happy.

Samsung's impressive Video editor application is certainly fun to play with, and well designed, allowing for some enjoyable hours of film making shenanigans.

We disliked

Although the original Galaxy Tab 10.1 may have looked like an iPad a little too much, it did mean it had an appealing design, something which the Tab 2 10.1 sorely lacks.

The two-tone grey, large bezel around the screen and oddly designed speakers means the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 isn't going to be winning any beauty contests.

The low-res cameras, both front and rear, feel like afterthoughts from Samsung, with no flash, auto-focus or other options to write home about, although the 720p video recording does draw a small silver lining in an otherwise drab offering.

Some may be disappointed to see that the 3G version doesn't look like it will be hitting UK shores officially, and the added Samsung bloatware feels unnecessary in most cases.

Verdict

As far as middle of the road Android tablets go, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 hits the nail on the head.

It's doesn't stray too far from the norm, failing to offer anything truly exciting or different, but also ensuring it doesn't fall flat on its face. However, we're loving the recent price drop, meaning we're happy to boost the score on a tablet that brings rich power on top of the latest version of Android for under £240.

If you're looking for a bog-standard Android tablet experience then it's worth considering, but you may want to check out the Asus Transformer Pad 300, Toshiba AT200 and Acer Iconia Tab A200, which offer strong competition to the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Android Ice Cream Sandwich tablets tabletscarousel-en-gb
Share this Article
Google+

Apps you might like:

Most Popular

Edition: UK
TopView classic version