The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 offers two cameras – a 3.2-megapixel camera on the back and a 2-megapixel user-facing sensor for video calling and taking pictures of you pouting. With autofocus and an LED flash onboard, the main camera is capable of harvesting reasonably-quality shots – far better than you’d get from the awful iPad 2 cameras. The 3.2-megapixel snapper can create photos up to 2048×1536 pixels, and 720p video.
However, like most low-end smartphone camera shots, the main lens can’t capture huge amounts of detail and colour reproduction is lacking – with photos looking slightly washed-out. On our test shoot we were blessed with fantastic shooting weather, but you can still see these deficiencies in action. The sky isn’t as vivid a blue as the real thing, and zooming-in on these shots shows they don’t offer enough detail to print out at a decent size.
In trickier, less well-lit conditions, the Galaxy Tab 10.1’s camera’s pictures become grainy and soft. The autofocus also starts having real trouble honing-in on objects. Turn the flash on and this will improve – as it’s a tiny lamp rather than a real Xenon flash it helps out with focusing significantly too – but its throw is fairly short. Do you really want to use a tablet like a (really not) compact camera though? Answers in the comments below.
Something that tablets definitely should be good at is video playing. And yet so few are. The Eee Pad Transformer and iPad 2 can’t play very many video codecs out of the box – but the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 sure can.
It can play MKV files, Xvids or DivX videos, and handles HD content with ease. It did however fail to play our high bit-rate 1080p MKVs, plus a couple of other MKV files. Although not perfect, its video skills surpass all the other big-name Android Honeycomb tablets currently available. We have a hunch Archos’s G8 101 may beat it on codec support in the months to come, but its screen is not a patch on the Tab 10.1’s.
Battery life is impressive too. In our video test, where we disabled Wi-Fi and set the brightness to auto in a fairly well-lit room, it lasted for 8 hours 49 minutes playing a standard def file. Using a 7000mAh rechargeable battery, it has a slightly higher capacity than the 6520mAh Acer Iconia A500 and 6500mAh Motorola Xoom. The iPad 2 trumps it here though.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 beats all other 10in Android Honeycomb tablets in respect to form factor. It’s slimmer and lighter than them all, without sacrificing battery life or power. It doesn’t cost any more either. At £399 for the 16GB, non-3G version the Tab is on-par with the pricing structure of rivals like the Motorola Xoom and Asus Eee Pad Transformer. However, it doesn’t offer everything. Connectivity is relatively poor – lacking HDMI out, DLNA, expandable memory and a non-proprietary USB connection. It helps the Tab 10.1 stay beautiful, but is a compromise some tablet fans will find hard to live with.
Slimmer and lighter than an iPad 2, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 proves that Android tablets don’t have to be iOS’s ugly sisters. It tops off a svelte design with a brilliant screen, decent battery and comfortable-to-hold back. Aside from limited connectivity, its faults are wider Android problems rather than things to level at Samsung and its design team.
Score in detail
Battery Life 8