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Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 (P5100) Review

Live photos of Galaxy Tab 2 10.1

Contents:

  1. In the box
  2. Introduction
  3. Design, dimensions & controls
  4. Screen
  5. Battery
  6. Connectivity
  7. Memory & memory cards
  8. Camera
  9. Performance
  10. OS, interface & menu
  11. Navigation
  12. Messaging & phone calls
  13. Applications
  14. Web browser
  15. Multimedia
  16. Conclusion

In the box:

  • Tablet
  • Power adapter
  • USB cable
  • Warranty coupon

Introduction

Last year, the South Korean company introduced two Android tablets of the Galaxy lineup Tab 8.9 and Tab 10.1. And this year they showed Tab 2 7.0 and Tab 2 10.1. At the presentation of these tablets, practically every journalist was seeking to know what are the differences between the "old" devices and the "new" ones. I guess everyone who thinks of buying one of those products by Samsung wants to know the answer to this question. So, I will try to give a brief explanation of the differences between the Tab 10.1 and Tab 2 10.1.

First, to avoid any new conflicts with Apple, Samsung decided to change the design: this time we have speakers on the front panel, on both the right and the left sides of it. Second, the Tab 2 has a memory card slot, which was obviously missing in the previous model. Third, instead of the NVIDIA chipset it now features the one by Texas Instruments, and I believe this is the right decision. Fourth, both the Tab 2 7.0 and Tab 2 10.1 are able to make phone calls right out of the box. What I disliked is that the camera has no autofocus. The price for the "first" Tab with Wi-Fi starts from 16,000 rubles, and for the version with 3G from 20,000 rubles. The Wi-Fi version of the "second" Tab costs 15,000 rubles; the 3G model is 20,000 rubles.

Whichever way you look at it, I think the new models seem to be a bit better choice, for at least the prices are a little lower and the memory is now expandable with the microSD card slots.

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Design, dimensions & controls

Unlike the previous model that resembled the Apple gadget quite a lot, the design of the front side of the Tab 2 has been changed a little: now it has a thin semi-glossy dark-grey stripe going along its edges and speakers covered with metallic grids on the sides. The rear panel is made of matt light-grey plastic.

The dimensions of the Tab are: 256 x 175 x 8.6 mm; the weight is 565 g. As for the Tab 2, we get 256 x 175 x 9.7 mm and 588 g. As you see, the new model is a bit thicker and heavier. Probably, this is caused by the presence of the two speakers on the front side. And just for another comparison, the new iPad is 241 x 185 x 9.4 mm and 662 g.

As always, the build quality is very good: there are no creaks or free play; the back cover doesn't sag. The materials aren't that soiled, so fingerprints and other traces can only be seen on the screen surface, but they are easily removable. Unfortunately, among other accessories I haven't yet seen any cases for the P5100, as most likely the ones for P7500 won't suit, for there are no openings for the speakers.

The front panel accommodates the front camera and the light sensor. The sensor ensures fast reaction and smoothly adjusts the level of the screen brightness. The power button, the volume rocker, the microSD slot, the standard 3.5-mm audio jack, and the regular SIM card slot are all on the top of the device. On the bottom we have a microphone and Samsung's proprietary socket. The main camera is in its place on the rear side.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and iPad2

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, Samsung Galaxy S 3 and LG 3D Max

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Screen

The screen diagonal is 10.1 inches, with the dimensions of 217 127 mm; its resolution is the same as that of the Tab 10.1 1,280 800 pixels (150 ppi). The screen is capable of rendering 16 million colors. The matrix is of the PLS-LCD type (one of the variations of IPS matrices Plane to Line Switching); it features a capacitive sensor supporting 10 touches at a time. The sensitivity of the screen is perfect. Thanks to the Gorilla Glass protection, it's practically impossible to produce scratches on the screen surface with any sharp things (the CorningGorillaGlass website still has no information about the model).

The screen ensures maximum viewing angles, but the image acquires slightly violet shades and loses brightness a little when you tilt the screen. The brightness level is manually adjustable or you can switch to the automatic mode and make use of the light sensor on the front panel. The general brightness level is quite high, but a little lower than that of Apple's tablet though. The brightness adjustment range is wide, and you can set it to a very low level making it comfortable to watch movies or read books at night.

In contrast to the previous models, the settings of the Tab 2 10.1 don't have the Screen Mode option, but there are settings for the font style and size: very small, small, regular, big, very big.

Under open sunlight, the screen fades by about 50%.

Maximum screen brightness of Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 (top), teXet TM-9720, and Ritmix RMD-1030 (bottom):

Minimal brightness:

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Battery

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 sports a Li-Pol battery of 7,000 mAh. The manufacturer claims up to 10 hours of talktime and up to 2,000 hours of standby. These numbers are close to those I was able to get in practice. For example, the tablet was able to work for 7 hours playing movies at maximum brightness and the sound transmitted to the earphones. In general, the battery life of this tablet is quite good: in the normal mode of usage (automatic brightness level, 3G and Wi-Fi internet access for about 3 hours each, an hour and a half of watching a movie, a couple of hours of listening to music, and taking pictures for an hour), the P5100 was able to stay alive for almost 8 hours. Even at maximum load (high brightness level, games, benchmarks, etc.) the battery lasted for 6.5 hours.

This tablet is not USB-chargeable (there is a small red cross over the battery indicator), which is logical: "re-filling" a battery of such a big capacity could take a whole day if using weak current. Charging from the regular power network takes about 3.5 hours.

The power consumption management section of the settings provides a few options:

  • CPU: to limit the maximum performance
  • Screen: to use low power level for the screen
  • Background color: to change the background color in the email application

A bit lower, we see a brief description of every option. During the two-week period of using the tablet, I wasn't able to see any considerable difference whether the power saving mode was turned on or off.

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Connectivity

The tablet operates in 2G (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) and 3G (HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100) networks. The HSDPA+ speed reaches 21 Mbps, HSUPA up to 5.76 Mbps. Now we can make phone calls out of the box. The sound can be transmitted to a wireless headset.

The full essential set is available: Bluetooth 3.0 supporting A2DP, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n (Dual-band) with the Wi-Fi Hotspot option), and USB 2.0 (proprietary socket).

To be able to use accessories like USB hubs, keyboards or mice, you will have to buy a special adapter, which is certainly not very much convenient, but unfortunately Samsung decided to follow Apple's way.

No issues related to the connectivity of this device have been found during the entire testing period.

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Memory & memory cards

The device has 1 GB of RAM; about 700 MB are available, and about 400 MB are free. There are 16 GB of internal flash storage (the settings show only 4.6 GB). The recording speed is up to 15 MB/s. The microSD slot supports cards of up to 32 GB.

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Camera

The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 has two cameras: 0.3-MP front camera with deep sharpness, and the 3.2-MP main one with fixed focus and no flash. I'd like to remind you that the previous model has a 2-MP front camera, while the main one features autofocus and an LED flash there.

The main camera is not bad. The maximum image resolution is 2,048 1,536 pixels. The color reproduction is natural; the white balance is almost ideal; the pictures are quite sharp. If you take a photo of a text from an A4 page, the text will be quite readable.

The camera records 720p (1,280 720 pixels) videos at 30 fps.

Still image interface: on the right photo/video switch, shutter activation, gallery; on the left switching to the front camera, shooting mode (single shot, smile shot, panorama), timer (off, 2 to 10 s), brightness (from -2 to +2), settings. The positions of the icons can be changed. scr31 - scr33

Still image settings:

  • Self-portrait
  • Scene (none, landscape, night, sports, indoors, sunset, dawn, autumn colors, fireworks, twilight, flash light)
  • Exposure
  • Timer
  • Effects (none, shades of grey, sepia, negative)
  • Resolution (640 480, 1280 720, 1024 768 2048 1536)
  • White balance (auto, daylight, incandescent lamp, fluorescent lighting, cloudy)
  • Grid
  • Memory
  • GPS tag (on or off)

Video mode interface: on the right photo/video switch, shutter activation, gallery; on the left switching to the front camera, video recording mode (normal, MMS), timer (off, 2 to 10 s), brightness (from -2 to +2), effects, settings.

Video shooting settings:

  • Front camera recording
  • Video recording mode
  • Exposure
  • Timer
  • Effects
  • Resolution (640 480, 720 480, 1280 720)
  • White balance
  • Grid
  • Memory
  • Default settings

Photo files provide complete EXIF info:

Video file specs:

  • Format: MP4
  • Video codec: AVC, 12000 Kbps
  • Resolution: 1280 x 720, 30 fps
  • Audio codec: AAC, 128 Kbps
  • Channels: 1 channel, 48.0 kHz

Album:

Main camera photo samples:

Front camera photo samples:

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Performance

This is where the major changes have been made. Samsung decided not to use the NVIDIA Tegra 2 chipset and installed the OMAP 4430 by Texas Instruments. Technological process 45 nm, CPU instruction set ARMv7, graphics accelerator PowerVR SGX540, dual-core Cortex-A9 CPU running at 1 GHz. This chipset represents the fourth OMAP generation featuring a hardware multimedia accelerator, IVA3, with programmable DSP that enables 1080p Full HD video encode/decode.

TI OMAP 4 uses ARM-Cortex A9 cores with the SIMD command processing module (also known as NEON) that ensures considerable performance improvement, in a number of cases outrunning the Nvidia Tegra 2 Cortex-A9 with its non-vector module for real number processing. Besides, it also uses a dual-channel memory controller LPDDR2, comparable to the single-channel Nvidia Tegra 2 controller.

I've tried practically all the latest resource-demanding games on the Tab 2 10.1, including Shadow Gun, Real Racing 2, and NFS Shift HD, and they all worked without any issues. Only Modern Combat 3 showed some slight lagging.

Brief technical info:

Performance benchmarks:

NenaMark 2

Antutu

SmartBench 2012

Quadrant Standart

CFBenchmark

Porshe Benchmark

KFSBenchmark

PowerBoard

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OS, interface & menu

This tablet runs one of the latest Android ICS versions 4.0.4. The firmware version is P5100XXLE3, kernel 3.0.8-583334-user, build IMM76D.P5100XXBLE3. You can find a detailed review of Google Android Ice Cream Sandwich here. Samsung's TouchWiz shell is used as an interface extension. I have to mention here that this UI still hasn't been "cured" from those slight lagging occurring when you scroll through the virtual screens. Frankly speaking, it's not so funny anymore, as this situation has remained unchanged from the earliest tablet versions of TouchWiz, and they still can't fix this obvious bug. What is interesting is that any other interface extension works perfectly, whether it is Yandex.Shell or Go Launcher.

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Navigation

The tablet is equipped with a GPS navigator. Its specifications are usual for the majority of tablets. No issues have been found during the tests. The following applications are installed for collaborative operation with the GPS module: Addresses, Maps, Locator, and Navigator.

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Messaging & phone calls

This device allows you to send text messages and make calls like from a regular smartphone. Samsung's standard keyboard is used for typing. You can switch between the languages by tapping on the globe icon. Voice and handwriting recognition functions are also available for text input. The keyboard has a special button to run the clipboard.

The dial panel is huge; it appears from the bottom of the screen if you hold the tablet in the portrait mode, and from the right when in landscape. The phone application has a few tabs: Keys, Log, Favorites, and Contacts. All the options are practically the same as in the "old" tablets. By the way, the SIM slot is for regular cards and not for those microSIM cards becoming more and more popular nowadays. The vibration alert is available, too.

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Applications

As any other Android-based tablet, this one also has the Android Market. Here's the list of the applications installed by default:

AllShare. This is for transmitting multimedia files to DLNA-certified devices

ChatOn.

GameHub.

E-Mail client.

G-Mail client. When an account is added, the application gets automatically adjusted for receiving and sending email messages

Google Talk.

Google+.

Polaris Office. Mobile office solution allowing the users to easily read and edit files of various document formats in the mobile environment.

S Planner.

Ubank.

Yota Play Video Service.

Youtube.

Addresses.

Video.

Gallery.

Voice Search.

Stickers. Making on-screen sticky notes.

Notes. Making handwritten notes.

Calendar.

Calculator.

World Time.

My files. It allows you to create folders, to delete, copy and cut files. This is a very convenient file manager.

Alarm Clock. Time, alarm volume and signal are all selectable.

Photo Editor. A simple picture and photo editor that allows you to rotate, cut and mark images, and to apply some unique filters.

Video Editor.

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Web browser

A very good browser supporting up to 16 tabs, tab synchronizing with Google Chrome, and flash playback. I wasn't able to find the settings of the special page scaling sensor in the Tab 2 10.1 model (when touching the screen at two points and tilting the tablet, you can zoom web pages in and out).

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Multimedia

Music player

On the left, you can find the parameters to sort your music files with: albums, artists, genres, folders, composers, and years. The list of albums and songs opens in the center. On the right, you see the music player controls and the list of the music files. If you tap on the album cover in the upper right corner, it will enlarge to half-screen size, and the other album covers will appear on its sides.

The settings can be found in the menu that drops down from the upper right corner. You can use one of the presets: auto, normal, jazz low and high frequencies amplifier, virtual 7.1 system, cafe. You also get an adjustable 7-band equalizer (from 60 Hz to 14 kHz). And there's the Extended tab featuring the following settings: 3D, Bass, Reverb level, Room size, Clarity.

The volume of the sound produced by the two stereo speakers is high: it's quite comfortable to either listen to music or watch movies when the tablet is a couple of meters away from you. The speakers are distanced from each other, so the stereo effect is quite good. The sound volume in the earphones is high, too, and the sound quality is one of the best among mobile multimedia devices.

The supported audio formats are: 3GP, AAC, AMR, ASF, MPEG4, MP3, WAV, WMA, 3GA, AWB, FLAC, MID XMF.

Video playback

The main advantage of the TI OPAM chipset against NVIDIA Tegra 2 is support of the major video formats and codecs in the FullHD resolution of 1080p. To test the video playback abilities of the Samsung Tab 2 10.1, we downloaded some samples from www.auby.no. Here are the results:

  • MKV (1080p, h264, High profile 4.1, 40 bps). It didn't work with the default player. Worked with MX Video Player, but with some serious lagging.
  • MKV (1080p, vc1, ap13, 18 bps, AC3). The default player was able to play the sound, but not the video. MX Video Player worked with some video lagging and with no sound issues.
  • MKV (1080p, h264, High profile 4.1, 10 bps, DTS). The default player played the video, but no sound. MXVP played the video and the sound with no issues, but in the software decoding mode.
  • MKV (720p, h264, High profile 5.1, 3 bps). No problems.
  • MKV (480p, XViD, as15, 1 bps, AAC). It didn't work with the default player, but worked well with MXVP (software mode).
  • MPEG (480p, 5 bps). It didn't work with the default player, but worked perfectly with MXVP.
  • TS (720p, MPEG, AC3). It didn't work with the default player, and with MXVP the sound was outrunning the video.
  • AVI, MP4, FLV, and 3GP all worked with no issues with the default player.

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Conclusion

There's nothing special to comment on: Samsung have produced another good tablet. Of course, it doesn't offer any outstanding hardware or software features, but it's not behind the competition either. The only thing that can make the Tab 2 10.1 get "nervous" is the Apple iPad2, as its price got reduced after the new iPad appeared. Besides, at a little less than 20,000 rubles, you can buy the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101G featuring Tegra 2 and a 5-MP camera with autofocus. And finally, there's the previous generation of the Tabs.

Specifications:

  • Type: tablet
  • Materials: plastic
  • OS: Google Android 4.0.4
  • CPU: dual-core, 1 GHz, TI OMAP 4430
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Internal memory: 16 GB
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi (b/g/n/), Bluetooth 3.0 (A2DP), 3.5-mm audio jack
  • Screen: capacitive, PLS-LCD, 10.1", 1280 x 800 pixels
  • Camera: 3.15 MP (main), 0.3 MP (front)
  • Miscellaneous: accelerometer, light sensor
  • Battery: non-removable, Li-Pol, 7000 mAh
  • Dimensions: 256 x 175 x 9.7 mm
  • Weight: 588 g

Do you want to talk about this? Please, go to our Forum and let your opinion be known to the author and everybody else.

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Roman Belyh (romeowhite@yandex.ru)
Twitter
Translated by Serge Gomelsky (s_gomelsky@mail.ru)

Published — 04 July 2012

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com

 

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