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Published June 13, 2011
While the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is awkward in use as a camera due to its size, it takes really nice 3 megapixel still photos and shoots very respectable 720p HD video with its main camera, which features autofocus and an LED flash. I was particularly impressed by the quality of the audio recorded with the videos.
The user interface on the camera is different than the one found on the Motorola XOOM, and I prefer it. It is easy to quickly change settings like white balance or flash mode as needed. It's also easy to switch to the forward facing 2 megapixel camera at any time for photos or video, but the forward facing camera requires a lot more light to snap a usable image. It works fine for video chatting, though, which is its primary purpose.
Watching 720p HD videos on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a good experience since they run at full resolution on the Tab's touchscreen display. Naturally you can watch third party video content on the Tab as well, and it plays quite smoothly thanks to the Galaxy Tab 10.1's dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor and stereo speakers.
Android 3.1 Honeycomb offers users an all-new music application. Navigation can be a little non-obvious at first, as is the case with many new tablet apps, but once you mess around with it for a short while, you understand what is going on. The app offers a very cool looking 3D rendered scrolling flow of album covers in the New and Recent section of the device, which I love, but offers nothing similarly interesting for the album, artist, playlist and other views that it offers. I don't see why the cool interface should be restricted to that one section, especially one that I really have no use for.
At least the audio quality that the app and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 put out is good. The built-in speakers won't replace a good stereo system for output, but they perform better than the rear-facing speakers on Motorola's XOOM at least. I also want to mention that it is pretty easy to build playlists directly on the Galaxy Tab 10.1, and tracks can be rearranged with a simple drag of the finger.
Samsung has equipped the Galaxy Tab 10.1 with a 7000mAh battery. While I've not been pounding the Tab as much as the XOOM when I first got it (when Honeycomb still had that new car smell), I've been using it a fair bit for photos and videos and during the video tour I shot of it. Overall I am pretty pleased with the results, and can easily see the tablet lasting a few days on a single charge with pretty solid use - just like Motorola's XOOM. I should point out that the Tab takes quite a time to charge, though, and it is not capable of charging from a simple USB port on a desktop or laptop computer.
I really admire that Samsung was able to react so swiftly to changes in the marketplace between the time it initially announced the original, thicker Galaxy Tab 10.1 and time that it was to come to market. The company's ability to scrap the old design and push out something that outdid Apple's iPad 2 in mere months is inspiring.
The new Tab 10.1's hardware really is lust worthy, too. It is so thin and comfortable to hold, the widescreen display looks fantastic, and it all weighs next to nothing. The Android 3.1 operating system that powers the tablet, though, still leaves me somewhat underwhelmed. I had high hopes for the TouchWiz flourishes that Samsung showed on Honeycomb at CTIA this year, but unfortunately they did not make it to the production device.
In any case, the Tab 10.1 is a device worth considering for existing Android smartphone users as well as the general population. It just needs more applications, and that's something that Google has to work on.
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