Exploring a new Galaxy

OK, this post is a little bit out of scope of the blog. But some people asked me to share my experiences with my brand new Samsung Galaxy 10.1N tab. So, here we are.

Features

My version has a double core 1 Ghz CPU (as the iPad2), 1 GB RAM (iPad2: 512MB), 32 GB SSD, 3G and WiFi.  The Galaxy tab 10.1N screen is just brilliant, crystal-clear, HD ready, with high luminosity, and it precisely and quickly reacts on gestures. The screen resolution is 1.280×800 pixel, so slightly higher as for the iPad2 having 1.024×768 pixel. In contrast to the iPad, the Galaxy 10.1N has a 16:10 sized display (iPad2: 4:3). This is better for watching videos, but appears quite tall when used upright.

The Galaxy tab has a high quality case, and is very slim (0.9 cm) and very lightweight (565 g compared to iPad2 with 600 g). So, size and handling is at least the same as for an iPad2.

Additional features include GPS, a gyro sensor, a speed sensor, a compass, a light sensor, and a plug for earphones. The tab has no slot for SD cards, which might be the only hardware downside from my perspective.

The Galaxy 10.1N runs with Android 3.2 and gives full access to the Android App Marketplace as well as the Samsung AppStore. BTW, all apps mentioned below are for free.

File transfer and management on the device is – in contrast to the iPad – without any limitation. File managers like ASTRO do the job. BTW, there also is an SMB add-on for ASTRO Filemanager which allows to include network resources.

The whole device feels very speedy in behaviour, like wiping and zooming, loading and opening web pages, opening apps, moving between desktops, working with the screen keyboard, and so on.

Apps in use:

ASTRO Filemanager, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Adobe AIR

Connectivity

The connectivity is just excellent. Much better than e.g. with my laptop which has much stronger hardware (but Windows :-P).  I so far could quickly and without troubles connect to any open WLAN. Same for UMTS connection via Vodafone … inconspicuously and reliably does the job. Handshaking between Wireless and Mobile (depending on particular network availability) perfectly works in the background. Bluetooth keyboard also worked instantly. But unfortunately I failed to get my Sony Ericsson bluetooth headset connected so far.

For sync, data transfer, and battery charging there is a cable with a proprietary connector at the device and an USB plug at the other end. You just plug it into the USB port of your PC and the tab is instantly embedded as a drive. Two drivers are needed (device, modem), one of those (for the device) was autodetected by Windows 7. Installing Kies makes your live easier, as is includes both drivers.

Now, you can move all kinds of files from it and to it. Samsung offers two complementing tools, Kies and AllShare, for managed file and data transfer via cable or wireless. For pure media sync (with iTunes e.g.) the marketplace provides additional apps, please see below.

Apps in use:

WiFi Analyzer, Samsung AllShare, Samsung Kies

Mobility

The Galaxy Tab 10.1N can be loaded via the associated USB cable, either via a socket conector or a PC’s USB port. In my environment, the battery load of the was sufficient for up to 6.5 hrs (about an hour less for video).  In power save mode with 1-2 short sessions max per day, the tab survived for at least 5 days. It then still had 75% battery load but I stopped the trial as I couldn´t stand it anymore not using it. 😉

There are apps for Dropbox, STRATO HiDrive, Box, and other cloud services. At least HiDrive worked much better for me on the Galaxy tab as on various desktop PCs. I can quickly connect and the performance is really good.

Apps in use:

Dropbox, STRATO HiDrive, Evernote, Google Maps, Google Streetview, various public transport information sources, Barcode Scanner, eBay app, TeamViewer client

Security

The screen is autolocked and password protected. Alternatively, you can unlock by individual gesture.

Unfortunately, there so far is no Truecrypt for Android. But other apps offer at least data protection by encrypting parts of your library. The app SeekDroid allows you to remotely locate your Galaxy in case it might be stolen or lost somewhere on this planet.

Apps in use:

SeekDroid Lite, Gallery Lock Lite, TS 2 Hide

Photo & video capture

The tab has two cameras. One at the back, 3.2 megapixel with an led flash and able to capture HD video. And one on the front side 2 megapix. Picture quality is not better as with the iPad2, but – honestly spoken – would you use a tab for taking pictures or shoot a movie? It is important for me to have on the one at the front side for video chat. And one at the backside, mainly for scanning or shooting documents.

Apps in use:

Adobe Photoshop Express, QuickPic, PicsArt, Picasa

Communication

Talking about camera. Skype works instantly, with video (via front side camera). For email there are apps for Google accounts as well as for (generic) others. In addition, there is a variety of free apps for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, Yammer, IM, WordPress blogging, and so on and so forth.

Speaking of communication. The Android voice control works quite fine, at least with navigation via Google maps.

Apps in use:

Skype, LinkedIn client, Xing client, Yammer client, TweetCaster, SocialHub, WordPress client

Surfin’

Surfing the Web is a great experience with the Galaxy tab. Pages open quickly, zooming works smoothly and fast, Flash-videos are not contricted. The pre-installed browser works quite fine, but I am more convinced by Dolphin HD, who has a better view of the pages, also supports add-ons and voice control, and thus already became my favourite. The app store also offers alternative browsers like Opera Mobile or Firefox.

Apps in use:

Dolphin HD browser (incl add-ons: Web to PDF, PDF Viewer, Evernote, Skitch, WhoIs, Screen Cut, Google Services), Adobe Flash player, Adobe Shockwave player

Music

The tab is able to play MP3, AAC, WMA, FLAC and OGG music files. A sync with iTunes can be done with Kies, TuneSync (wireless only), iSyncr (wireless via add-on) or the doubleTwist player (DRM free only, wireless via AirSync). I still need to evaluate those. Other players in the app store include Winamp and the purchasable Poweramp.

Apps in use:

doubleTwist, iSyncr Lite, Winamp, Shazam, TuneWiki

Video & Movie

The Galaxy tab plays Flash (in contrast to iPad) as well as many video files (via MoBo player, VLC client, MX player or FLV player apps e.g.), including HD video. Unfortunately there is no Silverlight available for Android, so VOD providers who base upon it (like Maxdome), cannot be used so far. On the other hand, YouTube access is an integrated functionality.

Apps in use:

VLC streaming client, MoboPlayer, MX video player, YouTube, Zattoo, WatchTV

Office

Yes, you can also do something meaningful with the Galaxy tab. 😉

The pre-installed Polaris Office opens Word, Excel and Powerpoint files from MS Office 2007 and older. But – to tell you the truth – with limitations. Some features are not properly processed, and more complex Powerpoint slides look distorted. OpenOffice documents cannot be opened at all by Polaris Office, but I found an OpenOffice Document Reader in the Marketplace. Alternative Android office suites include Google Docs, QuickOffice, ThinkFree Office, and Documents-To-Go.

Apps in use:

Polaris Office, Google Docs, Documents-To-Go free Document Reader, OpenOffice Document Reader, Fill and Sign PDF Forms, Mindjet for Android, Wikipedia, Currency Converter, Leo, Google Translator, German Thesaurus, Skitch, Hi-Q MP3 Recorder, Unit Converter

News and Feeds

There is no doubt about it. It is the mission of the Galaxy to keep you up-to-date. The app store offers numerous tools for watching the world. The Android RSS reader Pulse is already pre-installed.

Apps in use:

Pulse, Global News, Read It Later Free, World Newspapers, Google Earth, Google Sky, wetter.com

eBook’ing

The Galaxy tab comes with a pre-installed eBook reader and access to the “Readers Hub” eBook store. In addition, the Marketplace app-store offers various alternative eBook readers, as well as a Kindle reader … I am still evaluating which one suits me best. The crystal-clear screen as well as the easy adjustment of the brightness allow me convenient reading. Noteworthy, the upright 10:16 scaled Galaxy display is closer to the Kindle format (9:16) than iPads 3:4. Beyond that it is a matter of personal preference.

Apps in use:

pre-installed eBook Reader, Kindle Reader, Aldiko Book Reader

What I do not like

Documentation is poor. But most functions are anyhow self-explanatory. There is a handbook for download on the Samsung website, as well as some YouTube videos.

I clearly miss a proper and global “undo” functionality. For example, while I am writing this blog post via the WordPress Android app, a couple of times I accidentally deleted a sentence or paragraph. That has been it! There is no way to undo as I am used from Windows platforms.

Something else I miss is the opportunity to put an apps into a window, and placing various windows on one desktop. Android seems to know the full-screen view only.

And – last not least – I am still looking for the option to have additional desktops. The standard is 5, and each one can be set-up individually. So, I have one for communication, one for latest news, one for music and video, one for camera and picture editing, and one for system maintenance. But I would like to have some more, and I do not really believe that you cannot (because in native Linux it is such easy to do).

I desperately ask you to drop me a note in case you know a workaround for any of those limitations mentioned above. I would greatly appreciate it!

Personal conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy tab 10.1N is a technically mature device. And it is just fun using it. BTW, this blog post was written on it with the WordPress app.

The Galaxy tab is at least comparable to the iPad2, in some technical details even better. But around €200,00 cheaper. So, you have to make your own choice if the pure propagandistic claim “Apple is cooler” is worth 200 bucks.

I made my choice … and all I can say that I am really very happy with it.