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

Does Samsung's New Galaxy Tab 10.1 Measure Up?

Our chief complaint about the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is its disappointing performance. Last year’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 impressed us with a combination of the Tegra 2 SoC, an incredibly vivid display, and its Android 3.2 (Honeycomb) operating system. Back then, Samsung was pushing forward in a big way. In comparison, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 feels like one feeble step forward and two big steps back.

Yes, the newer Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 enjoys Google's Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) operating system. Under the tablet's hood, however, is an older and slower TI OMAP 4430. This is the same hardware powering Amazon's Kindle Fire, a tablet that also failed to impress up with its performance. The SoC's competitive disadvantage to alternatives like Tegra 3 becomes evident in everyday use, and is impossible to ignore.

Perhaps more jarring is that the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 features an LCD panel that would have been much more impressive a year ago. But in today's tablet market, the newest iPad and Google's Nexus 7 are far more attractive. Before the third-gen iPad emerged, Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 was unquestionably the best-looking tablet. It clearly dominated the Android-based competition with a SuperPLS screen. Although it's comparable to other tablet displays in its segment, the fact that the Galaxy Tab 2 uses a more generic display does not impress us.

Are performance and screen quality deal-breakers? Not necessarily. But we can't help but feel as though the Galaxy Tab 2 isn't much of an upgrade to last year's model, especially with competition from Apple and Google winning our hearts at the 9.7" and 7" display sizes. With that said, Samsung seems to be repositioning its tablet line-up with the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1's introduction. The Galaxy Note 10.1 assumes the high-end position with a $499 (16 GB) price tag, while the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 weighs in $100 cheaper, even with the same built-in storage capacity.

The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 faces strong competition at its $400 price point, though. Apple's iPad 2 and the Transformer Pad TF300 are still compelling alternatives. Moreover, we can't forget the awesome Nexus 7, also armed with 16 GB, selling for a modest $249. Samsung is wielding a knife in this gunfight. The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is a competent tablet. But in today's third-gen market, it's hampered by mediocre performance, a merely acceptable screen, and a price tag that's too high. Sure, the Nexus 7 "only" comes with a seven-inch screen. But if Samsung wants to dominate the budget tablet category with its second-gen Galaxy Tab, the affordable Google tablet could be its biggest competition.

  • 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.
    Reply
  • thomasjm52
    ahahah is the time when i say... "those specs were in my brick phone back in 1995! Fail Samsung"
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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!

    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply