Review Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v Tablet/MID
Big brother. Samsung stocks up and now adds a big series member to the market with the Galaxy Tab 10.1v. The 10.1 inch screen (1280x800 pixels), a fairly slim plastic case, the Nvidia Tegra 2 dual core chip and Android 3.0 are the key features of the latest tablet PC.
The Samsung 10 inch tablet was debuted to public for the first time at the Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona at the beginning of the year. Samsung was neither present at the following CeBIT 2011 in Hanover nor was there a sample in view on the simultaneous road show, but the mobile communication provider, Vodafone, had a device under its counter. Talking about Vodafone: The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v is exclusively distributed by Vodafone with hardware branding on the device's flipside in Germany until now. However, the device doesn't have a SIM lock.
In terms of hardware, the current monotonous fare is given. In addition to a glossy 10.1 inch screen with a native resolution of 1280x800 pixels and 160 dpi, Nvidia's Tegra 2 System-on-a-Chip (SoC) based on ARM and a 1 GB RAM work inside. A memory capacity of 16 GBs is available ex-factory for music, movies, applications and other content. You aren't spoiled for choice in the UMTS field of this tablet because there is no WiFi model available in the array.
Before we come to the price, the device has another nice feature: It has an 8 megapixel camera with LED flash and auto focus. The recommended retail price for this complete 16 GB bundle is steep 660 euros. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v is however available for starting at 550 euros at various retailers, in the latest price comparison. Thus, it is again within limits and can compete with the Apples iPad 2. But, is it worth "cheating" for?
The tablet presents itself in "metallic silver" after unboxing. The anthracite, silver and black colors make a modern and, at the same time, plain impression that appeals to us. The feel also makes a good impression and isn't marred by the used plastic. A small flaw on our sample is the bezels irregular gap in the area of the volume rocker. A bonus point is the rubberized, textured flipside that also provides perfect ergonomics with two depressions. It prevents the device from slipping easily out of your hand. HTC's Flyer Tablet or the Apple iPad 2 with aluminum part look more high grade, whereby this basically remains to be a matter of taste.
The Galaxy Tab remains within the limits for a 10 inch device with dimensions of about 24.6x17x1.1 centimeters and a total weight of 576 grams. In comparison, the Motorola Xoom or the iPad 2 are a bit heavier with 730 grams, respectively 601 grams. The 10.1v can't be carried around in your pants or jacket pocket and holding it gets unpleasant faster in contrast to the smaller HTC Flyer, with a 7 inch screen (430 grams). The case's stability doesn't leave anything to be desired. It can only be twisted marginally and no crackling or creaking can be perceived.
The case's sides don't reveal any surprises and many interfaces aren't installed. Apart from the usual headphone out, for connecting a headset, there is only a 30 pin port for charging the device or connecting an adapter. The matching set, model EPL-1PLR, for a USB port and a card reader cost around 30 euros and has to be bought separately. Basically, we particularly miss a card reader for microSD or SD memory cards, besides an integrated USB port. The newer, and at the same time slimmer, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 with Android 3.1 (without "v" for Vodafone) can't score in this field either.
There is almost nothing left to be desired in terms of communication options. Besides WLAN standard 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 is also supported. Samsung currently doesn't have the short range transmission revisions 3.0 +HS or 4.0 in its repertoire. In addition to both these options, you can also access the Internet on the move with the Galaxy Tab 10.1v since a 3G UMTS module (HSPA+) is built in. A nice feature in this regard is the so-called tethering. The tablet acts as a mobile modem and allows other devices (e.g. laptops) to access the Internet.
The tablet can also be used as a large pedestrian or car navigation system thanks to the built-in GPS module with GPS-A support and digital compass. In addition to navigation via Google Maps or the corresponding navigation app that is pre-installed, there are also more professional solutions available on the Android market. For example, the mobile navigator from Navigon among others. The app, including maps for D-A-CH costs about 50 euros in contrast to the free map navigation.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1v has two cameras installed for snapshots, video recordings or video telephony. The primary camera is the 8 megapixel webcam on the case's flipside. It has an auto focus and is supported by an LED flash. The corresponding app offers a big live image and many settings. For example, various white balance settings, color effects or scenario modes are available. The picture's quality is impressive, whereas the digital zoom soon finds its limits. Less expensive digital cameras with optical zoom for under 100 € have a clear advantage here and in performance. A nice feature is the focus modes, with which macro pictures can be made, for example. The camera also proves to be generous in making videos and allows recordings in 1080p (1920x1080 pixels, Full HD). However, lower resolutions (720p and a special format for YouTube) are also available depending on the intended use.
The front camera is located over the screen and for use in landscape mode. The lens excels most netbooks with a resolution of 2 megapixels and supplies an adequate picture quality at the same time. All in all, a good combination, that the newer Galaxy Tab 10.1 to be released this month doesn't have.
Small box, small scope of delivery. This describes the scope of delivery ex-factory well. In addition to the tablet, you'll only find the matching power adapter with a German power plug, a USB cable, earbuds in different sizes and the usual documentation. We would have hoped for at least a cover or bag for transportation at a price beyond 400 euros. Besides Samsung, many third parties offer the omitted extras and have to be bought separately.
Samsung grants a warranty period of 24 months on the tablet ex-factory and is thus on a good average for a consumer device.
Operating the tablet is done exclusively via the touchscreen and the virtual QWERTZ keyboard, whose appearance manner can be altered in system settings. It appears automatically when needed ex-factory. The keyboard is sufficiently sized with a key size of 15x13 millimeters in horizontal use, respectively 9x10 millimeters in vertical use, and you quickly accommodate to the input devices. A divided keyboard, as Microsoft presented in Windows 8, would generally increase the ergonomics though. But there are a few extensions for this on the Android market. A look into this area would be worthwhile, in our opinion.
The buttons underneath the screen disappear with Android 3.0 and only the power button and volume control are maintained as haptical components. The actual controls for the operating system are in the lower status bar and allow jumping to a higher level (e.g. from a program to the home screen) or going a step lower. The third icon in the trio opens a multi-tasking sidebar that allows fast switching among opened applications. Other haptical or virtual buttons aren't needed due to the modified operating system.
Various sensors simply are a must for tablets. For example, a gyroscope that detects movement in three directions and allows automatic rotating of pictures or game control. Switching from landscape to portrait mode is quite fast, but there is a short waiting time. The gyroscope works without delay in games. Among others, a digital compass and brightness sensor also belong to the sensors. The latter is hidden beside the front camera and enables the automatic screen brightness control depending on the ambient conditions.
Samsung uses a 10.1 inch screen with a diagonal of 25.6 centimeters and high-gloss layer for the image rendering. The tablet is within the usual range with a native resolution of 1280x800 pixels in a 16:10 format. Alike the Apple iPad 2, Samsung also uses an IPS screen. This technology makes itself noticeable especially in view of viewing angle stability, which we deal with later on. Connecting an external display isn't directly possible since there is no port and thus a corresponding adapter for the 30 pin connector on the device's bottom would be the best solution.
State of the art LEDs are responsible for the illumination. We will look at their performance closer with the tool, Gossen Mavo Monitor. The screen that Samsung has selected is impressive with a maximum brightness of 314 cd/m2 and a similar average. Another bonus point is the low brightness deviations and the resulting good illumination rate of 92 percent.
The other measurements confirm the up to now positive picture of the screen. The black value of 0.39 cd/m2 is low and the contrast convinces. Together with a good focus and pleasing colors, it has the perfect requirements for rendering movies or games. We have to omit rating the reproducible color spectrum due to the operating system. In view of the tablet's price, it is likely only suitable to an extent for photographer's image control. However, only the ICC profile could show this.
The screen's good illumination is an advantage in outdoor use, whereas the high-gloss surface is a strong adversary for this. Reflections can be seen in maximum brightness and with an indirect light source, but the device can still be used to a certain extent. Direct sunlight is also this device's weak point and the content becomes illegible. A possible solution would be matt display protection foils which can be bought separately.
The viewing angle stability is impressive thanks to the use of an IPS screen. Rendering on the horizontal and vertical plane remains stable even in narrow angles and is only marred by a slight brightness deterioration in the maximum. We couldn't determine an inverting or fading of the reference picture.
The popular Nvidia Tegra 2 (Tegra 250) System-on-a-Chip (SoC) based on an ARM processor works inside the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v. The power of 1 GHz is distributed on two cores with this solution (dual core), which is supported by a 1 MB cache. Since it is a so-called SoC, the most vital hardware components, such as processor, graphics, GSM and UMTS module, as well as the chip set, are placed on one block. Many tablets from other manufacturers that are delivered with Android 3.0 also come with the Nvidia solution. Examples would be the Motorola Xoom, the Dell Streak 7" or the Acer Iconia Tab A500 Tablet/MID that we have tested extensively.
We looked closer at the processor's clock rate behavior with the tool, CPU Spy, available in the Android market. In addition to the maximum output of 1000 MHz, the system regulates the rate depending on the requirements. 608 MHz and 216 MHz, which save energy and increases battery life, were frequently used in daily use. An internal 16 GB SSD memory and a 1024 MB DDR2 RAM belong to the system's other core components.
The Tegra 2 SoC's good performance in interplay with Google Android 3.0 is confirmed in the benchmarks. Our sample takes the top position on the comparison chart in BrowserMark with an overall score of 93250 points. Comparable configurations follow at a fairly short distance. The difference increases after the Acer Iconia Tab A500, though. The difference to the Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101 is about 17.9% in this test (76540 points). This picture is confirmed in the Google V8 benchmark and the tablets / MIDs with Nvidia's Tegra 2 is almost on a par. The Fujitsu Stylisitic Q550 with Windows 7 OS secures itself a clear victory in this test and the difference to the 10.1v is 63.1% (591 points).
Gaming: It is starting to also look better in the field of gaming with the appearance of Android 3.0 and Nvidia Tegra 2 SoC. There are numerous 2D and 3D games of the most various genres on the Android market up to now. The available app "Tegra Zone" fuses games for Nvidia Tegra devices in an attractive portal. The array has become quite extensive in the meantime, whereas there still is no section for smartphones and tablets on this market. A few applications, respectively games are thus not modified and are projected or only fill out a part of the screen. Apple has this section in its app store. There aren't any problems in terms of performance since the games are modified for the Android operating system.
Video playback: Rendering high definition material is an exasperating issue for energy saving hardware. The device can record videos in 1080p (1920x1080 pixels, Full HD) thanks to the 8 megapixel webcam and also render these. Accordingly, local videos are also played smoothly in low resolutions. A drawback is the lacking support of standard formats. AVI and MKV files couldn't be started in the test. WMA audio files aren't supported, for example.
In contrast to Apple devices, Android based devices support the playback of flash videos in the browser. Rendering runs smoothly up to a resolution of 720p (1280x720 pixels), whereby 1080p can't be displayed and the video jerks visibly. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v isn't an exception and is within the frame. Nvidia's next generation, named Nvidia Tegra 3 alias Kal-EI, is supposed to remedy this. The technology demo "Glowball" shows a prospective on the performance.
Since the device doesn't have a fan, it works absolutely silent. This corresponds to a constant ambient noise of 27 dB (A) on our meter.
27 / 27 / 27 dB(A)
||27 / 27 dB(A)|
min: , med: , max: Voltcraft SL-320 (15 cm distance)
The temperature development is an important criterion in a tablet / MID because it is mostly held in the hands and only placed on the table occasionally in contrast to a laptop. We could record a maximum of 29.8 degrees Celsius on our sample's flipside at room temperature. The temperature increase is felt subjectively, but the hands aren't usually in this corner. Overall a good impression that subjectively ranges from cool to lukewarm.
A stereo speaker is located on both the right and left for sound rendering. Contrary to expectation, the sound can still be described as acceptable. The high pitches are rendered clearly and even the maximum volume has been selected pleasantly. The deep pitches only exist to an extent, but together with a slight bass it doesn't sound too treble-heavy. Higher quality speakers, headphones or a headset connected to the 3.5 mm stereo jack make a better quality possible. The port's transmission is flawless.
The new computing units in mobile devices present themselves as smaller, faster and more energy saving. The Nvidia Tegra 2 SoC is no exception and is specified with a low power loss (TDP) of only 1 watt. This results in a maximum idle power consumption of 6.7 watts and a peak of 8.2 watts during load in our measurements. The tablet is within an acceptable range for a current tablet / MID with that and consumes less than a netbook on average.
|Off / Standby||0.15 / 0.6 Watt|
|Idle|| 3.3 / 5.9 / 6.7 Watt|
/ 8.2 Watt|
Key: min: , med: , max: Voltcraft VC-940
The consumption rates paired with a 6 cell lithium polymer battery and a capacity of 6860 mAh are good prerequisites for long battery runtimes remote from the outlet. The Galaxy Tab 10.1v achieves an impressive result of 13 hours and 5 minutes with minimum display brightness and disabled mobile technologies (flight mode). However, the CPU clock is also reduced in this mode and the tablet is only suitable for working to an extent. The happy medium is the assessment "surfing via WLAN" where a good display brightness and the WLAN module are enabled. A runtime of 9 hours and 35 minutes is still an impressive result which allows working comfortably, surfing, reading or watching movies. The possible battery life declines further when the tablet is used as a gaming machine with maximum display brightness and enabled WLAN. The peak is reached after 5 hours and 16 minutes in this load scenario and a power source is needed. You need a bit of patience for recharging the battery due to a time of over five hours.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v leaves a basically positive impression that is only marred by a few drawbacks. Bonus points are the modern case, the haptically pleasant plastic, the wireless and sensor equipment and the Nvidia Tegra 2 (250) System-on-a-Chip solution's performance. This is opposed by the virtually non-existent connectivity, the scope of delivery on an economical level and the 10.1 inch screen's high-gloss surface.
The fact that Samsung doesn't use a modified user interface and only offers it under the name of "Touchwiz" for its own device, Galaxy Tab 10.1 without "v" is too bad. You also have to accept the Vodafone logo on the device's flipside since it is a version for this provider in addition to this point. Another minus point is, in our opinion, the lack of support for formats such as AVI or the MKV container.
Otherwise, the emissions and runtimes still have to be mentioned positively. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v (without SIM lock) is currently available for about 550 euros and thus gets slimmer competition from its own company. However, only our test device has an 8 megapixel camera.