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Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1: A slim and sexy Android tablet

JR Raphael | June 9, 2011
Samsung's new tablet is the thinnest currently available -- but is it actually worth buying?

Prerelease previews indicate the TouchWiz-enabled Tab will have a redesigned e-mail app and a revamped system settings menu as well.

So are those modifications good or bad? That depends on your preferences. Some people think manufacturer-added skins like Samsung's TouchWiz enhance the software and make for a better experience; others, myself included, tend to view them as unnecessary clutter with unfortunate repercussions. User experience aside, manufacturer-added skins have the potential to cause delays in future Android upgrades, since manufacturers have to spend extra time baking their modifications into each release before it can be distributed. The fact that Samsung decided to temporarily remove its TouchWiz UI from the Tab in order to get the 3.1 update ready fast seems to reinforce this notion.

Samsung says it hasn't yet determined how the upgrade will work and whether users will be given a choice to stick with the stock Honeycomb experience. Consider, though, the extra time and expense it would require for the company to support and upgrade two separate paths of software for the life of the device. Anything's possible, but that certainly doesn't seem probable.

(Incidentally, someone from Samsung told PCWorld that the company may let users "opt to use elements of [TouchWiz]" after the update. I suspect that means you might end up being able to knock out things like the widgets and added apps but would be stuck with the OS-level modifications. We'll find out for sure soon enough; for now, the take-home message is that there is no guarantee.)


Cameras, multimedia, and more

Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 has a 3-megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash and 720p-quality HD video recording. The Tab also has a 2-megapixel front-facing camera for video chat, which can be accomplished through Google's preinstalled Google Talk program or through any number of third-party utilities. A gyroscope, accelerometer, ambient light sensor and compass are also all on-board.

The Galaxy Tab has stereo speakers along its side edges, about an inch and a half from the top of the device. I found the sound quality to be decent -- better than most mobile products, but still a bit tinny. The speakers on the Xoom, for instance, produced a fuller and richer sound to my ears, though their placement -- on the back side of the tablet -- is undoubtedly inferior.

In terms of connectivity, the Galaxy Tab is pretty limited. A headphone jack sits on the top edge of the tablet, alongside the power button and volume rocker. The bottom of the unit has just a single port for Samsung's proprietary charging/connection cable. The cable -- included with the tablet -- allows you to connect the unit directly to your PC, where you can access it like an external hard drive and drag and drop files as you wish.


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