The Galaxy Tab 10.1 uses Wi-Fi to get online, with Bluetooth 2.1 waiting in the wings for more modest amounts of data transfer. There's no cellular connectivity at the moment, but a more expensive 3G version of the tablet is due for release soon.
During our tests, the tablet's wireless talent was obvious. It managed to out-perform handsets such as the Google Nexus S and Sony Ericsson Xperia Play in terms of signal stability, and it was even able to grab a solid connection through several thick walls. This is all down to the Galaxy Tab 10.1's dual antenna and support for 802.11b, g and n Wi-Fi.
You can connect the tablet to your PC using the bundled USB cable, which also doubles as the charging cable when inserted into the included wall plug. You'll want to use this method when it comes to transferring HD movies, music and other data onto the tablet's internal memory.
Camera and video
This is yet another area where Samsung has clearly attempted to out-do Apple. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 has a 3-megapixel rear-facing snapper, which is technically better than the one on the iPad 2.
The rear-facing camera has an LED flash and can capture 1080p video.
It boasts an LED flash for low-light shooting situations, although the results are predictably inconsistent -- be prepared for plenty of washed-out images. The front-facing camera has a 2-megapixel resolution, and allows you to conduct video calls using certain applications.
The Tab 10.1 is capable of capturing a decent image...
Both cameras are also capable of capturing video footage, with the rear-facing one shooting video at a 720p HD resolution. 1080p recording would have been welcome, especially when you consider that the Samsung Galaxy S2 supports it, but it's hardly a deal-breaker.
...but some pictures can look washed-out.
While the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has the tools to commit those tender family moments to memory, actually using it as a photographic device is less than ideal. As we've seen with other tablets, the large size makes it tricky to line up quick shots, and it's hard not to feel a little silly when you're snapping out in the public with a device the size of a small book.
You'll also need to download Samsung's Kies software, as it's possible that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 won't be recognised by your computer without the required drivers. There's no CD included in the box so you'll have to grab the Kies installation file from Samsung's website.
It's possible to use Kies to send items to the tablet and make sure everything is synchronised, but it's a fussy and unnecessarily awkward procedure that's made all the more pointless by the fact that all Android devices come with USB mass storage connectivity as standard. Once you've grabbed the drivers, you can just treat the Galaxy Tab 10.1 as an external drive and manage your data that way.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1's prospects for expansion are lamentably poor. There's no way to boost the device's memory with SD cards, and the lack of a USB port means you'll have to splash out additional cash for a dedicated USB connector. The proprietary connector on the bottom of the tablet is also a disappointment -- we'd have hoped for a universal micro-USB connection, as seen on almost every mobile phone these days.
We also noticed that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 wasn't keen on charging via a pure USB connection, which could prove irksome if you happen to misplace your wall charger attachment.
Thanks to the inclusion of a three-axes accelerometer and gyroscope, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is incredibly good at detecting motion and movement. This makes it brilliant for driving games or any title which makes use of the accelerometer, as the device is able to accurately translate your movements into on-screen action.
3D games run especially well thanks to the dual-core chip.
Unfortunately, just as Honeycomb-optimised applications are thin on the ground, the same is true for games. The big-hitters like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja are all present and correct, and Gameloft has supported Android tablets with titles such as Asphalt 6: Adrenaline, Hero of Sparta and N.O.V.A., but most other titles are merely Android games that have been stretched to fit the massive 10.1-inch display. Needless to say, the effect isn't always attractive.
Gameloft has already released a handful of tablet-compatible games, including the brilliant N.O.V.A.
One should be grateful for tender mercies, though, as there are a great many shoddy Android games that simply do not function on the Galaxy Tab 10.1.
Angry Birds has been optimised to run on the larger tablet screen, and it looks amazing.
Using the aforementioned USB host connector -- which isn't included in the box and costs extra -- it's possible to connect up your USB joypad for a more traditional gaming experience. You can also use applications in the Android Market to link up a Nintendo Wii remote controller via a Bluetooth connection.
Gameloft's Asphalt: Adrenaline 6 makes good use of the Tab 10.1's accelerometer and gryoscope.
Combine this feature with one of the many retro gaming emulators available for Android, and you've got yourself an eminently portable gaming system. We tested the tablet with the superb Sega Mega Drive MD.emu and Super Nintendo Snes9X EX emulators, and both performed admirably.
Retro emulators are available on the Android Market and work well on the tablet's 10.1-inch screen.
Despite the obvious appeal of Angry Birds in HD, it's painfully clear that Android Honeycomb lags way behind Apple's iOS when it comes to proper tablet-focused games. The iPad has thousands upon thousands of games available for it, while the number you can play on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is pitifully tiny by comparison.
While the mobile Android Market is fast catching up on the iPhone App Store, it's hard to see the gulf between the tablet editions closing quite as swiftly. This is worth bearing in mind if you're looking to do much gaming on your Galaxy Tab 10.1. If you want a flood of amazing games to download from day one, the iPad 2 is the sane option at this stage.
The Android Market for tablets is far more usable than its mobile counterpart.
With a mobile device like a tablet, robust battery stamina is a must. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 boasts a 7,000mAh power cell -- a slight improvement over the 6,600mAh variant in the iPad 2 -- and it's good for around 8 to 10 hours of general use.
This figure fluctuates depending on what activities you partake in, but, on the whole, we were pleasantly surprised by how long the Galaxy Tab 10.1 was able to last between charges. During our tests, we watched HD movies, played games, surfed the Web and downloaded plenty of apps, and, despite the heavy demands we were placing on the battery, we managed to get close to 8 hours of use before recharging.
One thing to note is that the battery takes a good few hours to fully recharge -- presumably because it's such a high-capacity cell -- so you'll want to plan your charging routine before taking the Tab 10.1 on long trips.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is unquestionably the best Android Honeycomb device we've seen, despite the lack of memory expansion options, the disappointing plastic back and the occasional bouts of judder. Still, given the generally modest nature of the Android-based competition, such a commendation is hardly surprising.
In a battle with the Apple iPad 2, the results are less clear. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 has a higher-resolution screen, better battery life, a more versatile operating system and more powerful cameras, but it simply can't match Apple's tablet when it comes to application and game support. Still, if you're an Android user already, you're likely to feel more at home with the Tab 10.1 than the iPad.
Edited by Charles Kloet