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Devices

Battery

I didn't run formal battery rundown tests on the Tab 10. Instead, here's a table of what other reviewers have reported.

Review Battery Life (h:m)
Anandtech 8:45 (Gen. Use:)
9:30 (video loop)
Engadget 10: 00 (video loop)
thisismynext 5:33 (video loop)
Laptopmag 8:23 (unspecified)
AllThingsD 5:38 (video loop)
Battery life reports

The results are split between five and nine hourish results, so YMMV. I used the Tab for email and web browsing sessions of about an hour a day and only had to charge it every couple of days.

I didn't notice the tablet waking up from sleep like the Acer did. But, as I noted in that review, this could have been due to a weather app auto-refreshing. I had to reboot the tablet, though, to get rid of the "Connect your Charger" message on the wake-up splash screen.

Applications

Samsung doesn't load up the Tab 10 with much crapware. But it does include the very useful QuickOffice HD free, that worked smoothly with the eMail app to view attachments. Also included are Pulse news reader and Samsung's Music Hub and Apps. Other reviewers don't seem to be impressed by either of Samsung's offerings. I didn't even look at them.

Samsung will soon be rolling out an update that will, depending on your point of view, junk up the apps screen or turn the Tab 10 into a really nifty tablet. The big deal is allegedly the addition of Samsung's TouchWiz interface—another contribution to the fragmentation of the Android user "experience".

Partner deals will add Amazon Music Cloud Player and Kindle apps from Amazon and Zynga's Words with Friends apps.

Apps that aren't on the tablet include video and UPnP / DLNA players or local and networked file browsers. I just don't get how Android tablets can be pitched as multimedia devices without including video players.

Audio

I used the supplied cable to connect the Tab 10 to a Win 7 machine to copy over my set of test media files. The .MP3 and .M4A test music files were copied to the Music folder, where the Music app picked them up and played them, but did not add missing meta information.

I still marvel at how loud and clear the tiny speakers are that they fit into these things, but don't wonder why there isn't much bass (or even mid-lows). If you like your music with plenty of mids, then you'll be thrilled with the sound from the Tab 10.

The Pandora app installed without problem and worked like a champ.

Video

Since the Tab 10 has the same Tegra 2 chipset as the Acer A500, I didn't expect any difference in video playback between the two. The first time I opened the Browser, I was prompted to install the missing Flash, which I did, with version 10.3.

One of the alleged advantages Android tablets have over the iPad is that they play Flash content in addition to the HTML 5 that the iPad supports. So I hit some of my usual sites to see how this worked. All videos were played full screen.

Site Type Content Quality Frame Rate
NY Times HTML5 David Pogue's Xoom review Sharp Full - no drops
ABC.com Flash Castle episode Sharp Full - no drops
CBS.com Flash Late Late Night show clip A bit soft Full - no drops
NBC.com ? 30 Rock episode Blocked Blocked
Fox.com Flash Glee episode Flips between soft and sharp Mostly full, w/ occasional lows
Netflix   Not supported - -
Hulu   Not supported - -
Web video playback test summary

Flash isn't all it's cracked up to be on Android tablets. Yes, you do get to watch Flash ads and access the clueless sites that depend on Flash for navigation and key content presentation. But if you're primarily getting an Android tablet in hopes of using it to watch website-based TV, you may be disappointed. The only way you'll know is to try one out.

I moved on to the set of video files I copied into the Tab 10's Video folder. Since Samsung didn't see fit to include a video player, I loaded up MoboPlayer, which had worked for me when testing the Acer. But MoboPlayer didn't work as well on the Tab 10, refusing to play the Apple 720p trailer.

So I downloaded the VPlayer trial, which at least played all files with the results summarized in the table below.

Format Content Quality Frame Rate
640x480 MJPEG 30 fps Canon digicam SD AVI Sharp
Bad, streaky color
Full
H264 MPEG4 1280x544 24 fps Apple "720p" trailer Sharp Full - no drops
H264 MPEG4 1280x720 23.980275 fp Blue Man Group "Up to The Roof" video Sharp Low
H264 MPEG4 1920x816 24 fps Apple "1080p" trailer Sharp Low
H264 MPEG4 1280x720 30fps Canon digicam HD AVI Sharp. Audio out of sync Low
Local video playback test summary

These results are disappointing, to say the least, especially since Samsung specs "Full HD video playback (1080p) @ 30 fps". But a 1280x800 screen can support 1080 only via interpolation, which would make it 1080i, wouldn't it?

At any rate, the Tab 10 couldn't even play 720p content like the Blue Man Group video at full frame rate. There is probably a magic combination of player, codec and frame rate that will make the Tab 10 (and other Android tablets) shine. But since Samsung doesn't even try to provide a solution here, you're on your own.

I took a few indoor shots with the rear camera and they looked like the shots I've taken with other Android tablets. Laptopmag has some insightful comments in its review and Engadget's review has a gallery of sample photos if you'd like more details.

Closing Thoughts

I haven't looked at that many Android Honeycomb tablets, but they're already blurring into sameness. Given that manufacturers use the same processor and don't screw up cheap out and use a screen with poor viewing angles as Viewsonic did on the gTablet, you're left with little differentiation.

The way I parse out the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is that it's a iPad2 poseur, without the apps and content choices to justify its $500 price. You can get everything that the Tab 10 does for $100 less with the ASUS Transformer, as long as you don't mind a bit more weight and don't need to impress people on airplanes or in the office. The Transformer comes with built-in microSD and mini HDMI connectors instead of expensive and inconvenient dongles, too. And there's that handy keyboard dock.

No folks, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 won't kill the iPad2. But for those who feel that $500 is a fair price for a 10" Android tablet and don't mind the ability to expand memory or lack of HDMI out, at least for now, it's the sleekest choice.

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