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

Samsung's Third-Generation Tablet Gets Refined

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.

SpecificationsLengthWidthHeightScreen SizeResolutionAspect RatioWeight
Google Nexus 77.8”4.7”0.41”7”1280x80016:100.75 lb.
Apple iPad 2 (3G)9.5"7.31".34"9.7"1024x7684:31.33 lb.
Apple iPad 3 (3G)9.5"7.31".37"9.7"2048x15364:31.46 lb.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.110.1"6.9"0.4"10.1"1280x80016:101.3 lb.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.110.1"6.9"0.34"10.1"1280x80016:101.3 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 port

Bottom: 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.

Image 1 of 2

Front

Image 2 of 2

Back

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.

  • 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