Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Review: Samsung's Second-Child Syndrome

Samsung delivers its third-generation tablet: the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. Does it become the undisputed Android-based alternative to Apple's latest? Or did Google's Nexus 7 change the game too drastically? The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 tackles both tablets head-on.

Today's tablets aren't the clunky first-generation rectangles they were two years ago. They're sexier, sometimes slimmer, and almost universally more powerful. Potent graphics hardware is being used to drive higher resolutions and better display performance as vendors scramble to figure out what'll get curious consumers to open their wallets amidst difficult economic circumstances  .

Apple raised the bar with its third-generation iPad, implementing a 2048x1536 LED-backlit display. But it wasn't the first company to push higher-quality tablet screens. That honor goes to Samsung and its Galaxy Tab 10.1, which we reviewed in Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1: A Second-Gen Android Tablet. Before "the next iPad" launched, the Tab 10.1's screen was our hands-down favorite. 

Now also in its third generation, the Galaxy Tab family is being positioned as a mainstream alternative to the stylus-equipped Galaxy Note 10.1. Without the Galaxy Note’s doodling capabilities, the Tab looks like it's aimed at anyone shopping for an Android-based alternative to the iPad.

Specifications
Length
Width
Height
Screen Size
Resolution
Aspect Ratio
Weight
Google Nexus 7
7.8”4.7”0.41”7”1280x80016:100.75 lb.
Apple iPad 2 (3G)
9.5"
7.31"
.34"
9.7"
1024x7684:3
1.33 lb.
Apple iPad 3 (3G)
9.5"7.31".37"9.7"
2048x1536
4:3
1.46 lb.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1
10.1"
6.9"
0.4"
10.1"
1280x80016:10
1.3 lb.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
10.1"
6.9"
0.34"
10.1"
1280x80016:10
1.3 lb.


The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is physically similar to its predecessor, retaining the predominantly matte silver theme shared with Samsung's other tablets. However, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is noticeably thicker than the Tab that came before. Clearly, not all tablet companies are feeling pressure to slim down their designs as they evolve.

A thicker iPad disappointed us a little when Apple launched its newest iteration, and we're feeling the same thing about Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. The difference is that the third-gen iPad is actually heavier than its predecessor, while the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 weighs exactly the same as the Galaxy Tab 10.1, making a slightly bulkier chassis somewhat easier to accept.

Top: Power, Volume, microSD, IR blaster, headphone portTop: Power, Volume, microSD, IR blaster, headphone port

Bottom: Data/Power PortBottom: Data/Power Port

The Galaxy Tab 2 carries over most features, with a few exceptions. Samsung includes the same 3.0 MP rear-facing and 2.0 MP front-facing cameras. However, the LED-based flash is gone, making low-light photography nearly impossible. On the other hand, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 now features an infrared blaster, in addition to a much-requested microSD slot that alleviates the constraints of limited internal storage space.

FrontFrontBackBack

The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 appears to be built to the same durability standards as its predecessor. Samsung still employs a plastic shell, which is now painted silver instead of the two-tone metallic grey-and-white scheme used before.

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  • joytech22
    Honestly I was extremely surprised that Samsung didn't significantly beef up on Hardware specs.
    When I saw it on the shelves I thought the store clerks labeled the specs wrong.

    To my horror, they were correct.
    I don't know what the hell Samsung was thinking, if they were purposely pulling that stunt so that the Galaxy Note 10.1" would look more appealing they sure succeeded but sadly for them, I snagged a Nexus 7 earlier on.
    18
  • samwelaye
    correction: at the end of the conclusion it says "Moreover, we can't forget the awesome Nexus 7, also armed with 16 GB, selling for a modest $149", this should be $249.
    10
  • Other Comments
  • joytech22
    Honestly I was extremely surprised that Samsung didn't significantly beef up on Hardware specs.
    When I saw it on the shelves I thought the store clerks labeled the specs wrong.

    To my horror, they were correct.
    I don't know what the hell Samsung was thinking, if they were purposely pulling that stunt so that the Galaxy Note 10.1" would look more appealing they sure succeeded but sadly for them, I snagged a Nexus 7 earlier on.
    18
  • thomasjm52
    ahahah is the time when i say... "those specs were in my brick phone back in 1995! Fail Samsung"
    -9
  • samwelaye
    correction: at the end of the conclusion it says "Moreover, we can't forget the awesome Nexus 7, also armed with 16 GB, selling for a modest $149", this should be $249.
    10
  • pckitty4427
    I think Samsung went easy on the hardware so people buy the Note 10.1.

    The Tab 2 should be seen as a budget tablet, and the Note should be seen as a high-end tablet.
    3
  • killerclick
    It's very hard to log in to Tom's Hardware using a Nexus. Seeing how some of the writers are fans, you'd think they'd notice a thing like that.
    1
  • belardo
    So who would buy this? Why did they bother with re-doing the hardware... might as well stuck on 4.0 on the previous model.
    3
  • blazorthon
    pckitty4427I think Samsung went easy on the hardware so people buy the Note 10.1. The Tab 2 should be seen as a budget tablet, and the Note should be seen as a high-end tablet.


    That'd be a better way of looking at this if this new Galaxy Tab was priced more modestly. At this price, is is not a good deal. It's not horrible, but this is disappointing. It is only $100 cheaper than the Note, but it has maybe half of the CPU performance (if that) and is otherwise disappointing in a variety of other ways.
    2
  • ender699
    Instead of half-baking the Tab 2 they should improve the Tab 1 experience, which is woefully inadequate: I just contacted Samsung support which confirmed that even 1 year after launch there is still a problem connecting GT-P7500's to PC's using Samsung KIES (BTW never rooted it!!!). Result is I'm still on android 3.1. Over the air update does not seem to work either. Also, they could not confirm ICS updates, and even hinted that there may never be one! As a customer I feel seriously let down, shame on Samsung!
    4
  • blazorthon
    killerclickIt's very hard to log in to Tom's Hardware using a Nexus. Seeing how some of the writers are fans, you'd think they'd notice a thing like that.


    What is difficult about it? I have no trouble on my Android phones, but I don't have a Nexus of any kind, so I'm not sure if they have some sort of problem with Tom's that I'm not aware of.
    -1
  • killerclick
    blazorthonWhat is difficult about it? I have no trouble on my Android phones, but I don't have a Nexus of any kind, so I'm not sure if they have some sort of problem with Tom's that I'm not aware of.


    When I try to leave comment when not signed in, the form asking for my username and password is being incorrectly repositioned, and on the Nexus (but not on Gingerbread), the focus is being returned to the username field after every keypress even if I'm trying to enter the password.
    0
  • blazorthon
    killerclickWhen I try to leave comment when not signed in, the form asking for my username and password is being incorrectly repositioned, and on the Nexus (but not on Gingerbread), the focus is being returned to the username field after every keypress even if I'm trying to enter the password.


    Did you try using a different browser and/or making sure that you're viewing the desktop, not mobile, version of Tom's?
    0
  • kartu
    If you walk into a store you'll see Samsung's tablet still has vastly superior screen. That including alternatives with higher resolution.
    2
  • chesteracorgi
    I just (2 days ago) received the N7 16 GB tablet. Compared to older tablets it is the first one that I would consider to be a serious contender, if not altogether better than the iPad. JB is smoother than ICS (I also have the Samsung GSIII) but, because it lacks flash support has its own downside.

    I'm sure that the 10" form factor has its uses, but the 7" screen of the SGIII is much more comfortable to hold withone hand to watch video and/or websurf.

    I looked at the Fire HD before settling on the N7, and rejected it because of the form factor (it isn't comfortable to hold in one hand) and the conscription to the Amazon eco-system under a heavily modded ICS.

    While I am not enamoured of Google Play, it is more open than either Amazon or ios. The fact that much of Amazon's content can be played on the N7, while the Fire HD has difficulties with native android apps is another reason that I think that the N7 is the major challenger to the iPad.

    It would have been ni8ce to see Samsung offer a better, more competative, tablet. From this review it looks like Samsung put out the Tab2 as a stop-gap, and not a real competator.
    2
  • dthx
    I'll never understand how Samsung manages to obtains such decent market shares and profits!
    There are a few companies like Asus for example who "think different". They take the risk of proposing products that are either original or either well built or cheap (sometimes both in the same product)... but Samsung has absolutely nothing special to offer and yes, their tablets are pale copies of the iPad. Don't get me wrong, I hate Apple's methods (and I am not so convinced by their products), but Samsung is even worse and clearly not here to save us from the evil Apple: they just make huge margins by selling us overpriced and uninspired stuff backed by some good marketing.
    4
  • Anonymous
    This article is a bit disappointing. Not very thorough.
    IR blaster for a wicked universal remote with TouchSquid: Galaxy Tab 2 10.1: yes Nexus 7: no
    HDMI output: Galaxy Tab 2 10.1: yes Nexus 7: no
    MicroSDHC slot with 64GB card support: Galaxy Tab 2: yes Nexus 7: no
    Jelly bean? Reliable reports have it coming out very soon for the Galaxy Tab 2 and Galaxy S III.

    It is great to be excited about the Nexus 7. It is a fine device.
    These are like two women, beautiful for different reasons.
    3
  • GabZDK
    Samsung really screwed up the Tab 2 didn´t they?? Cause this one is really their fault, guess they thought that after Apple´s lawsuit everyone would buy their products just to be against Apple. Sorry Samung, you need to put more effort on your products, especially with the actual competition
    1
  • freggo
    thomasjm52ahahah is the time when i say... "those specs were in my brick phone back in 1995! Fail Samsung"


    That's one hell of a brick you had back then :-)
    4
  • dalethepcman
    blazorthonDid you try using a different browser and/or making sure that you're viewing the desktop, not mobile, version of Tom's?



    These are good recommendations, and they do work, but it would be nice if the stock browser displayed properly. Not sure why someone down voted you, but I gave you a thumb for it.
    0
  • markheber
    The aspect ratios in the chart were strange. One was a reduced fraction and the other was not, they should have been the same.

    Either:
    16:10 and 16:12 or,
    8:5 and 4:3
    -1
  • belardo
    Problem with all 16GB Nexus 7 tablets (besides you only really have about 12GB to use) - is that when you have less than 3 and especially 2GB of memory left, the performance becomes too slow to operate.

    I think adding memory may help... so store all photos and media on an SD Card.
    -2