The first tablet with Verizon’s LTE network has been released, and it isn’t the Motorola XOOM. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 now has some added 4G LTE speed to its WiFi only brethren. We have gotten some time to play with the LTE version of the Tab 10.1, and we have come away very impressed. Of course, the tablet was already released in August, and was a hit then, so adding LTE can only make it better. Does that 4G LTE addition make it the best Android tablet in the market? Read below and find out.
What you See
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is by far the thinnest Android tablet to date. Measuring in at 8.6mm thick, the Tab 10.1 looks razor sharp and ultra-portable. The design will leave you breathless the first time you hold it in your hand, whether that be because you are holding your first Honeycomb tablet or because of the tablets overall design.
The front of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is as plain as it gets. You have a 10.1″ 1280×800 resolution display placed right in the center of about 3/4 of an inch of black bezel. Located just above the screen is a 2MP front-facing camera for all those gtalk video chats we’re sure you’ll be wanting to have. At a first glance the front of this device is very bland, just like every other tablet on the market. That is with the screen off though, which hopefully won’t be too much.
The edges of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 are rounded and minimal, keeping the sleek design that Samsung is looking for. The left edge is where you’ll find your power button and volume rocker. At first you would think the buttons would be difficult to press at times, since they are only barely lifted out of the tablet, but your fingers quickly adjust. At the bottom of the tablet you’ll find the proprietary connector that allows you to charge and connect the tab to your computer. The right edge is mostly barren, with only a small hole for one of the speakers to be seen.
The top of the Tab 10.1 continues the trend with your standard 3.5mm headphone jack, but also includes your 4G LTE port. Hopefully the 4G card is already inserted, because it is painful to get the mini-SIM card into the small space. Other than that the device has no other ports though, which is sad seeing that this is one of the biggest selling points for Android devices. If you want to use an HDMI or USB cable, you’ll need to buy a separate add-on that connects to the proprietary connector at the bottom.
The back finishes off where the rest of the tablet began: smooth and minimal. You’ll find your array of logos, including a big 4G LTE tag (in case you didn’t already know it was 4G compatible). The back is mostly covered by plastic (either grey or white depending on what you buy), but at the top you’ll find a silver strand poking into the fold. There you’ll find a 3MP camera with flash located in the center.
What’s Under the Hood
While the Galaxy Tab 10.1′s outside may have it looking much more sleek than the slew of other Honeycomb tablets out right now, the innards are mostly similar. You’ll find the same Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, and set of memory (choice of 16GB or 32GB). NIVIDA has had some time to tune their Tegra 2 chip since its first foray on the XOOM, and with the updates to Honeycomb both match perfectly together. The chipset and thinness of the tablet do cause one problem though: heat. You’ll find when watching videos or playing Tegra 2 optimized games that the back of this tablet will get very hot. Let it rest for a couple of minutes and everything will cool down quickly though.
The biggest addition to this tablet and really the reason to get this over its WiFi only version would be that 4G LTE radio inside the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Of course you’ll need to pay quite a bit each month to use Verizon’s supercharged network, but it’s worth it to be able to take out your new toy and show it off to the world. If you want to maximize their surprised and jealous looks, this tablet is the way to go.
Memory may turn out to be an issue with this tablet. Like we’ve stated, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 doesn’t contain any ports other than the proprietary connector. Once you run out of internal storage, you won’t be able to add storage using a mini-SD card unless you buy another add-on. With all the music, movies, and apps you’ll probably want to store on this multimedia beast, your memory will evaporate quickly. Either look into getting into some of that new fangled cloud nonsense, or think about getting the version with more storage.
While all of the Honeycomb tablets to date have the same 10″ 1280×800 resolution display, there is a noticeable difference with the Galaxy Tab 10.1. We did a little comparison between the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Transformer, and we were thrown back by how much better the Galaxy Tab’s screen looked. The colors looked brighter and everything simply popped out more. This may be due to the Galaxy Tab 10.1′s default lighting, which does run a little high at times, but even when setting the screens brightness to its lowest setting you could still see a difference.
Just like we noted in the section above, this Honeycomb tablet does not stray from the usual set of two cameras: One in the front and one in the back. The key difference is that the rear-facing camera is only 3MP, whereas other Honeycomb tablets stick to around 5MP. The front does have a nice bump up from the usual though, with a 2MP camera that adds a better resolution when you’re video chatting with your pals (although you will notice some pixelation). We’re assuming that is what you’ll normally only use the cameras for anyway, with the occasional snapshot from the rear camera.
The rear camera does come with an assortment of options, including click-to-focus, multiple shooting options, and a timer. You can also record video up to 720p HD quality. The camera software has been slightly altered from the original Honeycomb version though, and we have been unable to find a way to zoom the camera as of yet.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a pure Honeycomb device… For now. It is running a mostly untouched (although we have noticed the camera app is slightly altered) version of the tablet optimized Android OS, up to Android 3.1. There is an update on the way though that will change all that pure Google nonsense, with Samsung looking to put a ‘touch’ of TouchWiz UI over the Android 3.2 update. As of writing this the update is not complete though, with no indication from Samsung on when the update will be complete.
Our experience while handling the tablet was smooth throughout, and the device quickly panned through homescreens while switching through apps with ease. We did notice that when first turning on the device, there was a couple of seconds of delay where the screen would stay blank. There were numerous times when we would push the button more than once and the tablet would never turn on because of this.
So how is the battery life of a tablet with 4G LTE, when phones with LTE have sub-par batteries? You should probably expect the same thing. There is a 6800mAh battery hidden somewhere in the Galaxy Tab 10.1′s thin shell, which would normally give it around 8 hours of general use, including some video watching, game playing, and browsing. Just like smartphones, when you add an LTE radio, the battery is strained more than usual. When you are fully on the 4G LTE network, expect your battery life to drop a couple of hours, with our best performance clocking us around 6 hours. Your best option is to turn your WiFi on as soon as you get home, where you’ll maximize your battery. Plus, you won’t waste away that precious data your paying for.
There is an easy method to root and gain a recovery image on the LTE version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Don’t expect any ROMs to come out though. With Honeycomb source still under lock-and-key, developers cannot make custom ROMs to get the most out of your tablet. There are a few kernels for overclocking, and you can always remove the small amount of bloatware that is located on the tablet.
Note-I did not root this device, this is just information I have collected for anyone that would like to know about it. As a warning, rooting your device voids your warranty and you may permanently damage the tablet by doing so.
Verizon’s version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 takes one of the best Honeycomb tablets on the market and makes it better by adding 4G LTE speeds. You’ll be free to take this tablet anywhere and show it off, but as much as you’re paying for it you may not let it leave your house. Frequent fliers or people that just don’t like having their toys stuck inside may find the extra cost of the LTE version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 worth it. Specs alone make it the best tablet out right now, so it is definitely worth you at least checking out.