This time around, the Korean high tech giant seems less inclined to attack its adversary from the front, or at least not with this latest product. As we see it, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is more of a threat to the iPad 2 (now dropped to £329) on the mid-range tablet market.
So here we are, with a 10.1-inch tablet equipped with a 1 GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 dual-core processor and 1 GB of RAM. In terms of raw power, nothing has changed since the first 10.1-inch tablet running a 1 GHz Samsung Exynos dual-core. As a reminder, the upcoming Galaxy Note 10.1 has the exact same design and a 1.4 GHz Exynos dual-core processor, with a touchscreen and stylus from Wacom.
The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 has a capacitive touchscreen made using PLS technology, Samsung's equivalent of IPS (wide viewing angles and great contrast), and 1280 x 800 pixel resolution.
The only noteworthy, yet useful, changes from the previous model are a microSD slot and a choice of 16 or 32 GB of internal storage. It has a proprietary connector for file transfers and charging and a 3.5-mm headphone jack.
The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 runs on Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) with the Samsung TouchWiz interface and is being sold for around £330 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi version. The 3G model is available for around £400.
Samsung interestingly chose the same design for the Tab 2 10.1 as the upcoming Galaxy Note 10.1. That should confuse a consumer or two. But let's point out that while the new body looks more crude than its thin, minimalist forebear, we were pleased to see one very rare feature: speakers on the front of the tablet, on either side of the screen.
The finishings are well-hewn and the body is solid and unassuming, although the frame surrounding the screen is on the large-ish side. The protective cover for the microSD slot looks like it will stay the course on this tablet with such well-distributed weight (575 grammes).
In terms of contrast, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 underperforms its predecessor with a ratio of 840:1, using the same PLS technology. But this is still quite satisfactory and higher than many models (although it lags behind most worthwhile tablets). The maximum brightness of 370 cd/m² added to the contrast still gives it a certain amount of legibility outdoors, despite the reflective screen. Samsung has included an "Outdoors" mode for video playback, which boosts the saturation to increase visibility, resulting in a sort of barely noticeable "fluorescent" effect.
When it comes to colour rendering the Tab 2 10.1 gives a temperature of nearly 7,500 kelvins that has the merit of being constant, avoiding deviations towards blue, for example, across the spectrum. The average delta E could be improved, with a score of 6.9 (where accurate colours would give a delta E of under 3). None of the shades on this display reach that long-prized goal of accurate colouring. If you're one of those lost souls searching for the ever-elusive faithful reproduction (like we are), then this is yet another tablet to cross off your list, along with practically every other one on the market.
The ghosting time is 28 ms, which basically means that during video playback figures and objects in motion appear slightly blurred (especially in darker shots). And, as on the company's other tablets, Samsung doesn't appear to have added any motion interpolation to compensate for the ghosting.
The 10.1's interface is exactly the same as the 7.0, so for more information about Samsung's TouchWiz interface (which includes a kid's space, VOD, mini-apps, a task bar and re-styled menus), please see our Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 review.
Let's take a moment to address this tablet's ability to make the world of TouchWiz turn round. Known for being welcomely less present than its competitors, TouchWiz is a resource-intensive user interface that Samsung has finally begun to integrate with panache into all of its mobile devices. While the Tab 2 7.0 runs like clockwork, the 10.1 shows minor signs of latency that we thought Samsung had left behind with the days of its Honeycomb 3.2 + TouchWiz tablets. The result is nothing drastic, mind you, but with both tablets running side by side you can see a slight difference, despite the fact that both tablets have the same insides.
Another noticeable difference with the 7-inch version is the latency encountered with the 10.1's screenshot function, whereas the 7.0 finishes the task almost instantly. The latency is also apparent in the minute hiccups experienced when you swipe from one Android desktop to another or when opening the app menu after browsing the web for a while.
More importantly, the Tab's competitors of equal size and market positioning don't suffer these issues, whether it's the Acer Iconia Tab A200 or A510, the upcoming Asus Transformer Pad TF300 (which we've already had the pleasure of getting our hands on), or—let's be crazy—the iPad 2.
Web browsing is a tad slower than on other recent high-end tablets. But it's in no way a bad browsing experience, and pages are easily legible in both portrait and landscape mode. The zoom is fast and responsive, though not necessarily the most precise.
Samsung's tablets have always been a dream for music and movie fanatics. Like Archos, the Korean manufacturer has given its tablet a super-extensive media player, and the Texas Instruments chipset allows the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 to play HD 1080p video. Keep in mind, however, that the Tab 2 10.1 does not support file or folder transfers of over 4 GB.
Without an Nvidia Tegra 2 or 3, this Galaxy Tab necessarily cannot have the most optimised support for video games, but all the most processor-intensive games available on Google Play will have no problem whatsoever running at their intended quality settings.
The 3-Megapixel photo/video sensor is so representative of tablet cameras in its utter lack of quality that I can't even think of a witty jab to make about it. Use only as a last resort.
While the 7.0 needed a 4,000 mAh battery to last 7 hours, Samsung gave the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 a 7,000 mAh battery to meet the demands of a larger tablet with higher resolution and brightness.
The 10.1 easily exceeds 8 hours of use, either with a mix of activities (e-mail, Internet, games, movies, music...) or video playback alone (with or without Wi-Fi). The highest we got was 8 hrs 48 min—just under 9 hours, which is outperformed by several of today's tablets.
The battery takes just over 3 hours for a full charge.
- Decent overall screen rendering
- Media player
- Adequate battery life
- Smartly placed speakers
- MicroSD slot
- Déjà-vu from the last Galaxy Tab 10.1
- Slower OS compared to the 7.0 version
- Behind the competition in its price range
- Offers little compared to a Galaxy Tab 10.1 with the ICS update
What exactly was the thought process that led to the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1? We were impressed with the 7.0's technical consistency and value for money, but here the story isn't quite the same. Don't get me wrong—this is a perfectly satisfactory tablet. But with the exception of the microSD slot, not much has changed since the previous version. The first Galaxy Tab 10.1 has now had an Android 4.0 update and is still a good buy, for less money. It seems the real improvements in the 10.1-inch format are being saved for the Galaxy Note 10.1...