This is the one tablet I’ve had my eyes on since it was announced by Samsung a few months back, it was then half killed-off by Samsung in favour of their thinner Galaxy Tab 10.1. I say half killed-off as the Galaxy Tab 10.1v was picked up by Vodafone in a number of countries including Voda Australia. Lucas, Geoff and myself all purchased the tablet for $729 so don’t think this review is going to have any bias towards either Samsung or Vodafone, not that we take part in that crap anyway. Hit the break for the full review.

Pros..

  • Extremely lightweight
  • 8MP camera that shoots 1080p video
  • Brilliant screen with excellent viewing angles
  • Quadband 3G for use on every Aussie network and HSPA+

Cons..

  • The LCD panel bleeds light from the edges
  • Stereo speakers lack bass
  • Google Apps force close at random points in time
  • Honeycomb still needs work done

Hardware..

So what we’re dealing with here is the older and thicker version of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1. In reality there isn’t much of a difference between the two; each has their own pros and cons. The 10.1v measures in at 10.9mm thick which is 2.3mm thicker than the 10.1 and 2mm thinner than the Motorola XOOM. It is also 130 grams lighter than the Motorola Xoom and 5 grams heavier than the 10.1. It weighs in at 600grams and is really, really light in hand, which is quite a welcome surprise after using the heavy Motorola XOOM for 2 weeks before getting the Galaxy Tab 10.1v. The Galaxy Tab 10.1v is powered by Tegra 2 clocked at 1GHz on each core, killing any lag that would ever occur.

Display..

The 10.1v has a 10.1″ (didn’t already guess it?) display with a resolution of 1280×800. 80 of those 800 vertical pixels are used for the system bar that sits permanently at the bottom of the screen, leaving the 1280×720 (HD) resolution for displaying content when in horizontal orientation. When using the display at a normal distance it’s almost impossible to make out any obvious pixels, which is perfect for reading and watching content. The screen is also really responsive and is capable of 10 simultaneous finger presses. Impressive.

There is however a problem with a majority of Galaxy Tab 10.1v’s where the LCD panel is actually bleeding light from parts of the screen. The bleeding isn’t at all obvious in normal use during the day and most of the time at night. However when it is dark and you show a dark image or video, the bleeding can be seen pretty clearly. You can read more about this issue in the post we wrote earlier.

Build..

It’s clear Samsung have done everything they could to keep the 10.1v light but maintain structural integrity. The back and silver bezel around the sides of the device are all plastic, with the rear having a slight bend when you push on it, making it easy to see why Samsung were able to make the 10.1 thinner. The front panel however is covered entirely by what could possibly be Gorilla Glass, meaning it’s extremely hard to scratch. There are stereo speakers on the left and right sides of the device, with the power button and 3.5mm headphone jack situated on the left hand side. The top is where you’ll find the volume rocker and microphone. On the right hand side is where you insert your SIM card and on the bottom you have Samsung’s 30-pin connector which has a multitude of uses, if you have the expensive adapters. For people wondering, it is the exact same connector as that of the original Galaxy Tab.

Overall the Galaxy Tab 10.1v feels really light, maybe even a bit cheap when you first pick it up. But once powered on, it feels like an awesome piece of kit.

Camera..

The main reason I purchased the Galaxy Tab 10.1v over the 10.1 is that it has a massive 8MP camera instead of a 3.15MP camera, and it’s capable of shooting pretty legible 1080p (Full HD) video at 24fps. There is also a single LED which comes in handy for those darker shots. In reality there aren’t a lot of times when you’re going to need to shoot a 1080p video on your Tablet or even use it as a camera if you have a point-and-shoot or a good smartphone on you, though it’s always a nice extra to have. We’ve included some video and photos taken on the 10.1v below for your perusal.

[nggallery id=77]

There front-facing camera is 2MP which is more than you’ll ever need. The video taken with this camera is very fluid and doesn’t appear to be very compressed and looks nice on YouTube at 480p. The microphone also picks up sounds quite clearly. When using the front-facing camera for Gtalk Video Calls, it looks really good and is really smooth.

Battery..

When you have a massive 6860mAh battery, the usage times are going to be pretty good, and they are. With Wi-Fi on, listening to music periodically and everything syncing (4 Gmail accounts, Facebook, Twitter), I easily pulled 3 days of usage, which is absolutely insane. Both Lucas and I went to Sydney for 2 days and not once charged the battery of our Galaxy Tabs, even after some pretty intense use. This is certainly going to be the benchmark for tablet batteries.

Connectivity..

With a quadband radio tuning in to bands 850/900/1900/2100MHz UMTS, it’s got you covered for use on every single network in Australia. This means you can buy it from Vodafone (like I did) and use it on Telstra’s NextG network (like I did, also). It’s also a proper HSPA+ device, meaning it can download at a theoretical speeds of up to 21Mbit and upload at 5.76. In reality I got a top download speed of 12Mbit and upload of 2Mbit whilst in the CBD of Sydney on Telstra’s network.

Software..

Software is the area where the Galaxy Tab 10.1v had most of its issues. Honeycomb in its current form (3.0.1) is buggy, it’s not major but there are some problems with the Google Apps and Market. I’ve had the Gmail app force close on me countless times without warning and the Market will sometimes not even download the app you want. Lucas has had far fewer force closes on his Gmail app and he says that his Market works quite well, so it’s certainly not a widespread issue.

There are currently very few apps made for Honeycomb, I mean there is lucky to be 20 or 30 good Honeycomb apps available on the market. Hopefully the Android 3.1 update will push developers a little more to make apps for this great platform. The apps that are made for Honeycomb (Plume for example) look absolutely amazing and make great use of the extra screen real estate. There are some aps that will crash when you try to launch them as well, or will crash when you try to go to a certain part of the app like we found with the Facebook application.

I know a lot of people have complained about the placing of buttons on the home screens such as the app drawer button being in the top right and the back and home buttons being on the bottom left, when in reality this isn’t a problem at all. Once you’ve become accustomed to the positioning of all the buttons, you don’t even notice the distances apart.

Overall Honeycomb is a massive leap in the right direction for Android on tablets, it just wasn’t fully executed before being put onto the actual devices. With the introduction of Android 3.1, I don’t see why Google can’t fix the small amount problems we had with the software. The only other thing it needs is apps.

Benchmarking..

  Quadrant (Higher = better)
Galaxy Tab 10.1v 1983
Motorola XOOM 1823

Conclusion

Having used the 10.1v for a good period of time now, I’m having no regrets about my purchase. I feel it’s mainly aimed at early adopters given that it was a limited edition variant on the 10.1 and with quad-core tablets hitting the market by the end of the year, this beast is going to be kicked down the ranks in six months. If that isn’t a problem for you and you just want a tablet that works well, then I would choose this over the XOOM. It’s lighter and it feels much better in the hand and crashes a bit less. Having said that, it’s not the hardware holding these devices back, it’s Honeycomb. Google are hoping to address the current issues with the release of Android 3.1 and for the sake of the early adopters like Lucas, Geoff and myself, I hope it fixes the bugs.

The XOOM and Galaxy Tab 10.1v are the start of the real Honeycomb tablets, so it’s mainly early adopter stuff for now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mknell Marc K’Nell

    Very good review but I am still tossing up get the Galaxy Tab 10.1v or get the Xoom

  • MrSimtang

     Good review, but I might wait a year for an Android tablet. Seems like Honeycomb has a lot of bugs to be addressed and apps won’t be optimised for use until further down the track.

    Might just wait until the Ice Cream Sandwich tablets launch.

  • MrSimtang

     Good review, but I might wait a year for an Android tablet. Seems like Honeycomb has a lot of bugs to be addressed and apps won’t be optimised for use until further down the track.

    Might just wait until the Ice Cream Sandwich tablets launch.

  • Thang

     6860mAh battery?!??! My laptop only has a 5770mAh battery and I’m sure that it has to run stronger hardware :(

  • Dsmith6182

    Good review. Currently trying to decide 10.1v or Xoom. Biggest question is Samsung support for the device considering the new 10.1 tab comes out shortly. Xoom also on Next G which is a big plus. Vodafone reception where I live is not the best.

    An article comparing both devices would be great.

    • Anonymous

      The device is quad band and unlocked as mentioned in the review. Mine runs fine on Telstra, Optus or Voda. Obviously Telstra is the fastest. I recommend you check if the Telstra Xoom is HSPA+ 21, otherwise it is potentially a little slower than the 10.1v. HSPA+ has less latency and faster top speeds than HSPA 7.2 or 14.4. You will only notice it on NextG at the moment though. Where you use the device is also a factor.

    • boars

      Another thing to take into account is no micro USB on the tabs, which makes me sad. I have a 10.1v, which coincidentally will be going back tomorrow for repairs… the screen is dieing,.. after 2 /3 weeks of use :/ otherwise I have been enjoying it… although really they are all quite nice … would be gread to have some memory expansion capability but eh it was cheap on a plan.

  • Nozx

    Ive had confirmation the 10.1 being sold at my store next month…excited much? Yussss

    • Level380

      details?

  • Xoomer

    Just got my Xoom. It has a 2 Megapixel front facing camera not 1.3 as stated above. I was put off the Galaxy 10 inch tablet because of the bleeding and also being immediately out dated by Samsungs need to make a thinner tablet.

  • Anonymous

     Just mirroring what Buzz has said. Minus the screen bleed it is a lovely device that is really portable. Having used an Iconia Tab, you DO appreciate 600g compared to 700+g. I get occasional force closes too, but nothing that has detracted too much from the overall experience.   I’ve had it for a few weeks now and I can honestly say it the the best multitasking device I’ve ever used. In that time it has not chugged even once. I put that down to a full 1GB of ram giving plenty of headroom and 2 processing cores at work.

    The cams are excellent, as Buzz said, considering it’s a tablet. What makes the UI so smooth and responsive is Android’s Renderscript GPU acceleration which differentiates it from previous versions. The browser, complete with up to 16 tabs, is also improved. I would however like it to default to desktop pages permanently – there’s some work for you Google.

    It’s main weakness is app availability. This hasn’t bothered me too much yet, but for other people it may be a deal breaker. I suspect after the recent Google IO that should gain momentum. 

    Geoff.

    • Paul_fuji

      Hey Bro, what is the latest IO from Google?

      • Anonymous

        Samsung gave away 5,000 Tab 10.1 devices (slimmer version of 10.1v) to attendees of the IO developers conference. That’s some real incentive to develop great tablet sized apps.

  • Peter

    Just ordered a Xoom from England, glad to hear that the 3.1 update improves it even more Fasinating watching it go all around England before it arrived at Heathrow, it’s on the plane coming over here at the moment.

    Will the the other version of the tab 10.1 be sold over here? To me that is the better of the two.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Dawei.Deng Dawei Deng

       where did you order your Xoom, I wanna see how much it is…

  • CyberGee

    My xoom has had 3.1 OTA update since last Sunday. Seems alot more stable and UI is alot more snapier . My xoom also has expandability 32gb onboard plus 32gb = 64gb total storage compared to 16 gb on the samsung tab. I don’t need any expensive proprietry samsung doc connectors it has standard USB and HDMI. I use a red leather case as a stand in two positions , Typing and Multimedia positions. So the 108 grams is neglgable. In my opinion the Xoom is the best buy at the moment coming to Telstra next week. Telstra will have many accessories for it and it will give it critical mass.

    • Peter

      Just got my xoom. And loving it, how did you get yours to update to 3.1?

  • Nathsgames

    Great review guys! Really want one of these!

  • Paul

    Nice review, Buzz. I didn’t realize the Market issue was well known, I thought it was my fat fingers not hitting the screen properly ;)

  • Glyn Stuckey

    Glad to hear you guys liked the 10.1v, I’m lovin mine too.  I’m just hoping that we’re going to see timely updates from Samsung.

    • http://beaugil.es BeauGiles

      ahahahahahahha. I hope you’re not serious….. 

  • http://twitter.com/biancajjames bianca james

    Quick question – will the 10.1v run TouchWiz? I have a Galaxy S and I’m not overly fond of it. Probably won’t splurge on it anyway, but I might be more inclined to if it didn’t run it.

    • Nathsgames

       HI, the Galaxy Tab 10.1v as with most new Honeycomb tabs, runs solely on Honeycomb, no manufacturer overlays are currently allowed as I understand it, which means no TouchWiz :-)

      I also played with one of these yesterday at a Vodafone store and they certainly feel incredible, although the Honeycomb UI took just a little while to get used to.

      • http://beaugil.es BeauGiles

        They are allowed… though they’re perceived to be unnecessary atop the pretty Honeycomb UI. (HTC has thrown their Sense UI atop Honeycomb for example)

      • http://twitter.com/biancajjames bianca james

        I see…I might pop by the local Vodafone store and have a little play around. Thanks guys!!

  • Level380

    I was hoping for some more meat……  Any pressure been put onto Sammy about the 3.1 update? Some compare shots compared to the xoom or ipad 2 to show the thickness etc.

     

    • http://ausdroid.net Lucas Burnett

      We have emailed Samsung about the 3.1 update but as yet we have heard nothing. This is no new, Samsung aren’t normally forth coming with information. For example, the screen bleeding issue… 

      • Glyn Stuckey

        I’d like to think that Samsung will change for the better, especially given their recent involvement at  Google I/O

      • Level380

        This is the bit that is turning me off the 10.1v, as you guys said in your podcast, this is a limited run. Support will be dropped quick for it due to the small install base. look how the huge galaxy s install base was treated with updates.

  • http://twitter.com/beezageeza Beeza Geeza

     Tempted beyond words.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=621748668 Lindsay Unfunk Freeman

    Guys, Quadrant is optimised or Android 1.5 and so is prone to producing extremely misleading results. Have you tried Antutu? It does a far more thorough test of the system and gives a much more accurate score

    • Ben

      Yeah, I’m not a fan of Quadrant tests. That said, as far as comparative benchmarks go between the two tablets (which both use a Tegra 2 SoC) it still serves its purpose well.

      I would like to know a bit more about the battery. Exactly what sort of usage are we talking about? 3G/Wi-Fi? 100% brightness? General levels of application use? Not that I’d really consider buying this (if I had to get a tablet I’d wait a few months until the kinks are ironed out and I can find a reason to use one).

      Oh and I debate your comment regarding quad-core processors in tablets: the Tegra 2 was available early(ish) last year and didn’t begin shipping until early this year, so it’s impossible to tell whether or not quad-core chips will actually be used when they’re released. My two cents, naturally.