How I use my Galaxy Tab 10.1

Here at Android Central we review new devices all the time, but one question we're commonly asked is what devices we purchase for ourselves.  Sure, playing with a shiny new toy is great, but what do we buy for ourselves, and what uses do we find for them?  This will hopefully be the first in a series of articles where we attempt to answer that question. 

After the break, I'll try and explain what made me pick the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (it certainly wasn't the name), and how I find it fits into my everyday life.

The Tab wasn't the first Honeycomb tablet I purchased.  Back in May, I was lucky enough to nab an ASUS EeePad Transformer in one of the 15-second windows it was available online.  I loved the Transformer, but the device I received had some faulty parts and I had to grudgingly return it.  After I got the money refunded to my card, I was all set to buy a new Transformer the second one became available, but by that time I was signed up to go to the Reader Meetup in New York, so I decided to hold off and check out what the retail version of the Tab looked like.

After messing around with the Tab at the meetup, and re-reading Phil's review of the Google IO version, I decided to pick one up the day it launched nationwide.  It's not that I hated the Transformer.  I still think it's a great piece of hardware.  But I didn't see myself getting the keyboard (which was still back ordered at the time) and I loved how thin the Tab was and how it felt in my hands.  I'm a firm believer that there is no "best device" for everyone, but I felt the Tab would be the best tablet for me.

Picking up a tablet, I didn't know exactly how I'd use it.  It's not a full featured as a laptop, or as portable as my phone, but in a gray area somewhere between the two.  I wanted a honeycomb tablet because I wanted to go through my email and type out more than a sentence or two without having to boot up my desktop.  If I was being honest, I mainly bought the Tab because it was something new and I wanted something shiny.  After using my Tab for nearly two months, I can safely say it's not a toy.

The Tab is now my primary device for web browsing, email, and Twitter.  I know that I could do all these things on a laptop as well, but a laptop wouldn't give me a two day battery life or anything nearly as light without paying at least twice as much.  The browser on the Tab, after the Touchwiz update, flies through the websites I read daily, and with apps like "Read it Later" I'm consuming more content than ever before.

Gaming on a tablet is a brand new experience as well.  When I had just an Android phone, I might play Robo Defense or Angry birds every once in a while, but with a tablet it's hard not to play one of the dozen or so games I have on it at least once during the course of a day.  The larger screen size just makes things look better, and that's even before you start playing Tegra II-optimized games.

The only thing the Tab can't really replace is my Kindle.  When Apple first announced the iPad,

Steve Jobs made it a point to showcase iBooks and how amazing reading on a tablet would be.  My Tab has Kindle, Nook, and Google Books software installed on it, but the only time I really use them is if I'm going somewhere and I don't want to take both my tablet and the Kindle with me.  For me, E-ink is a better reading experience.  I find I can get through chapters a lot faster on my Kindle, and my eyes don't feel any strain.  I know that some of our other writers swear by reading on their tablets, but the technology isn't quite there yet for me.

The more I use the tab, the more I uses I find for it.  Thanks to the speed improvements in the Touchwiz update, I'm finding it easier to type long-form content, and the Quick Office app lets me write a chapter or two of my story, and then save it to edit later on my desktop.  The Calendar face-lift also has me using that app more, though I'm still pretty bad at completing things by their due date.

A tablet isn't for everyone, and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 isn't the tablet for everyone who wants a Honeycomb device.  There are a handful of really nice devices on the market, with more promised in the coming months, each with a unique set of features you might prefer over what the Tab offers.  As someone who didn't really 'get' the point of a tablet before, I'm find myself continually impressed with just how much I can get done on one. 

I'm not claiming that the Tab is perfect.  There are some apps missing that shouldn't be (such as an optimized Google Voice and Google+ app), and writing a post for Android Central on it is still impossible (and none of that is really the tablet's fault, I suppose), but I can go days between turning my computer on.  The last time I remember doing that, I thought that a 6GB hard drive would take a lifetime to fill. 

  • Nice write-up. This could be another good series for AC.
  • Agreed. Nice write up.
  • Awesome write up. I also never saw the point in a tablet until recently messing with one. I'm going to be getting a xoom soon I don't need anything but wifi so I'm hoping that will work. Any thoughts guys?
  • I guess if you're into your tech then tablets are simply the next 'must have' gadget :-) I was looking a the Samsung Galaxy, love the design, specs etc BUT I've been reading a lot of comments from users who have reported a 'touch bug':-(. The screens freezing and really unresponsive. Pretty gutted, but I don't know if I am confident to part with the cash. What other tabs did you have in mind?
  • Just remember that any problem with a product will be amplified online. Most people don't post if everything is going as expected (or even going well). We talk most when we have something negative to say :) I haven't experience the touch bug, and neither has anyone I know. I don't doubt that some people might have this problem, but it's not something super widespread.
  • Just bought a Galaxy 10.1, I am a newbe to Android systems. So far what a great experience. Everything just works. I have downloaded and installed my first few apps, now I have to be selective in what I load next, there is so much. My primary use is using Team viewer to monitor and support remote desktops from my couch, car, office desk, wherever, what a pleasure.
  • Mr. Baumen, We seem to gave a bit in common. I purchased the Transformer, but was lucky enough to get a nonfaulty one, but was tempted by the tab 10.1. I also to prefer e ink reading to reading on the tab, so I sold my nook color to buy a Nook touch. I saw your devices pic, and was like hey, he's still rockin the OG incredible too! And finally, and I'm sure you'll dig this, my name..... is Jason. The keyboard rocks for the TF by the way, I was given one for fathers day. If any one has been on the fence about getting a tablet, I highly recommend either of the two mentioned in this article.
  • Stan?
  • Great article! I love my tab 10.1. What I was surprised by is the fact that I actually prefer reading using the nook app on the tab over my first generation nook (except in the sun of course). I set the color scheme to a yellowish page and it feels almost like I'm reading a book. I think that I prefer it because of the larger screen, resulting in me not having to hit the next page button every 30 seconds. Anyway, good write-up; I would like the continuation of this series.
  • Honestly I would rather surf with my Core i7 XPS 17 vs a tablet that has a much lower res screen, worse speakers and the inability to play a lot of content that is Flash heavy.
  • I'm not aware of your personal needs for flash but fyi the tablet should support it (but I'm not 100%), and I'm sure as they continue to update Flash the experience will get better and better. To their credit Adobe does update the Flash software on my phone quite frequently.
  • surfing the web on your laptop is fine but I'm sure you don't carry it with you everywhere you go. with my 10.1 it slips in my backpack and its so thin an light, I have to keep checking just to make sure its still in there. as for lower res screen worse speakers blah blah blah, you're comparing a laptop to a tablet which is pretty dumb. and I have yet to find a flash site that my 10.1 cannot play but if you have an ipad, you'll find plenty.
  • I enjoy reading and seeing (video) what the pros use for themselves. I know you must see and handle every device out there so it would be fun seeing what you bought for your personal use. (BETTER BE ANDROID)
  • My only video camera is my phone right now :/ But I use a Galaxy tab, a Dinc, the Kindle, and then an HP computer that I added a different graphics card and power supply to. /disclosure.
  • Thank you for this nice article. Interesting how you prefer your Kindle to the Kindle app. I moved from a Sony e-ink reader to an Android tablet & haven't looked back. But the Sony e-reader had no integrated store. Been using Android tablets since late December 2010 and find its becoming my preferred web, twitter & news consumption device. Correctly done flash heavy web sites no particular problem for me, but continuing to abhor those darn JavaScript menus that's so popular now.
  • Was your sony reader using one of the new "Pearl" screens? That's the biggest thing for me. I have a Kindle3, and the newer screens are higher contrast to the old screens, and it makes a big difference.
  • I am also using my Tab more & more as my main device.
    Only problem I have is finding a keyboard input method that works well. Currently using the A.I.type keyboard, but it still needs work. Any suggestions?
  • I haven't used that one, but I've used Swype, Thumb, Swiftkey, and stock keyboards. Between them I prefer Thumb keyboard. Word prediction is fairly accurate, and I like the skins it has. with that + my case, I can type pretty fast if I need to.
  • Excellent thanks - will give it a Go!
    Great review :-)
  • Interesting! I'm a Tab 10.1 owner as well, and my experience closely mirrors the author's, with the exception of email and typing-related activities. Though I have SwiftKey X on my tablet and phone (appropriate versions) I find I prefer typing on the phone, since it winds up being thumb typing anyway, and the tablet is too big, even in split-keyboard mode. Needless to say, I don't do much typing on either. Jason, which keyboard do you use, and how do you type on your Tab?
  • Thumb Keyboard. holding the device and typing is a pain, but using my case (the official samsung one) and setting it on a flat surface (or on my lap) makes typing a lot easier. Wouldn't want to write a novel on it, but I can type out pretty lengthy pieces that way.
  • If you really want to type you need to get the Samsung external keyboard. I use it regularly and type long documents, letters, take notes during meetings, etc. I use it with the Catch application often and of course QuickOffice and Word to Go. I have found the physical keyboard invaluable as far as using my tablet to type. Check it out. I promise you will not be disappointed. And like you Jason I LOVE my Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 32GB. I also got mine on the 1st day it was available from Best Buy. It has become my everyday device and has almost replaced my laptop. I use it for consuming the web, paying bills, reading (I don't like it much for reading Kindle e-books), music, movies (occasionally), Google Maps, etc. It is a great device and a good compliment to my Galaxy S Android phone.
  • Great review, but what I really wanna know is what you thought of Ghost Stories as a follow up to Changes?
  • It was interesting. The ending of changes was really surprising to me. I feel Ghost Story is setting up a pretty big shift in the story. Don't want to say more here to prevent spoilers. If you want to discuss it more, hit me up on Google+ For everyone else, if you're looking for an action packed series about a sarcastic wizard, read the Dresden Files!
  • I still find the value proposition for most tablets to be underwhelming. Research is showing that people are not using them as portable devices, but mostly at home. That makes sense as a smartphone is much more portable, and if you're standing on the street trying to figure out where to go via Google maps, it's a heckuva lot easier to get the smartphone out of your pocket instead of the tablet out of your bag. Most tablets continue to have rear cameras, GPS and 3g/4g connectivity. This drives up the cost of the tablet with components that don't fit into typical use cases for these devices. The biggest exception to this is the Nook Color. The NC is great for consuming content, including books, news, videos, music, games, etc. It also functions well as a web browser and has some useful apps (such as Evernote). It doesn't include the costly cameras, GPS and cellular radios, it's much more portable than the 10 inch tablets (I put it in a jacket pocket or the pocket of my cargo shorts), and it only costs 250 bucks. Assuming the research about using tablets mostly at home is true, it seems that a lot of people are buying a tablet with expensive features and components that they'll hardly ever use. It's hard to see the value in that.
  • Thanks for the article as I am going to buy the 10.1 tab. Only problem I have is that here in hong kong decided to tell everyone it will be released on the 16th. Unfortunately it still hasn't been damn released yet. I don't know what they are doing here but I feel a newer b will come out before this one does... Maybe should just buy one from the states.....
  • I had the same experience, except I started with the $279 viewsonic g tablet. That didn't workout so well, the difference in display quality was an order of magnitude better with my galaxy tab. Plus for all the bad press we read about honeycomb in other not to be mentioned blogs , it's light years better than running a 2. version of the Android like the viewsonic did.
  • Hey, love the write-up. I had a Xoom for about 6 days when they first launched before returning it (mostly weight-related), but I've had a Tab 10.1 since a couple days after launch and I love it. I find myself in several discussions about "so...what's the point of a tablet again?" with people, and I love reading others' opinions on it. Quick question -- what is the case you use for it? I love the little Galaxy Tab logo on it (would probably stave off at least some of the "oh, is that an iPad?" questions), and need a case for mine.
  • It's the official case from samsung. It's a little pricey, but it fits the Tab like a glove, and it's great for proppingit up to type on. I ordered mine through samsung's website. It seems most stores don't stock them :/
  • Ok, I found it, thanks! I need to get more cables anyway (the one that came with it is so short!), could get this at the same time. Meant to say in my first comment, I agree on the e-reader. I carry a Nook with me unless I don't have space, as it's more pleasant to read on. Though, reading on the Tab hasn't been bad, either, just not as good I'd say as the e-ink
  • As a 10.1 owner I also love it. I prefer reading on it as well, I use sepia and turn the brightness down. The only time I use my Kindle is when I know that I'll be in the sunlight; can't beat e-ink in in sunlight. While I love the 10.1 I can't always say the same for Samsung. They seem to have some software issues. Can't use Kies with a Mac and Lion software. Unable to sign in to with my Samsung account; nor can I set up the same features in settings on the 10.1. So far they don't have answers. I've managed to work around some of the issues with software downloads from other vendors. That being said I'm still glad that I have a 10.1.
  • great writeup... hope this writing series continues
  • Tablet help me quit world of warcraft!!! I have the tf with keyboard, don't use the keyboard but I don't regreat getting it since it help me keep the tablet running nonstop.
  • Oddly, the Touchwiz update has slowed mine to make it mostly useles. I'm working on rooting it now so I can restore it to 3.1 vanilla honeycomb.
  • ayou tried a factory reset? I always reset my devices after an update.
  • Why is typing a post on android central impossible?
  • The software we use isn't touch friendly.
  • Nice write up. I was just saying lastnight to a fellow techy, that you guys should do a post lanch review. To see if meets all the hype. I have a 10.1 also that i picked up during the staples deal.
    Now im always losing my phone around the house and never use my qx10 samsung laptop.
  • I LOVE my Galaxy Tab 10.1 (my girlfriend also loves hers) - We could not live without the device.. Both of us had iPads but kept getting annoyed whenever we wanted to see a full version of a site and it was not displayed correctly on that thing.. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 has been a great experience for us both.. We actually save TONS of time using Pulse instead of browsing to each individual website, so we wont even use a computer for checking blogs/news/etc, it just takes too long and we can knock it all out in minutes with pulse, etc. The screen is hands down the best out there, blows away iPad2, etc. etc. I don't know how people use those ipads with only 1024x768 resolution.. After using this tablet and honeycomb, any iOS device just seems like a kids toy or fisherprice made it.. Anyway good write up, and one more thing I would like to mention is that the tablet can be almost too convenient because there are things I find myself doing on it that I could do faster if I walked in and turned on my desktop, so its become a discipline of knowing what those things are and forcing myself to the desktop. To summarize.. Tablet = GREAT/ALMOST PERFECT - read only device (News, Blogs (pulse), Reading emails w/ short responses, etc. etc) Desktop/Notebook = Great for when you have heavy writing/entry things to do. Once you can balance between the two and force yourself to use the right one for the job, you can save SOOOOOO much time!! Which is what we are all wanting more of anyway!
  • I bought a Kindle "3" WiFi last summer on launch day. Stopped using it two days after I bought a Galaxy Tab 7" a few months later. Read literally nearly a hundred novels on the Tab 7 since I bought it. But now I've greatly reduced my Tab 7" usage since I bought the Tab 10.1, even for ebook reading. It's light and wieldy enough for long term use...not quite as comfortable as the uber light 7", but a slightly better reading experience, and it's worlds better as a surfer and content consumption device. As for the Kindle, the eInk is nice, the battery life is amazing, but the experience overall pretty much sucks. Slow page refresh (I'm a fast reader), and a horrible interface for browsing my large library. And with a properly set up reader on either Tab (Aldiko 1.x on the Tab 7, Moon+ Reader on 10.1) I find it easy on the eyes for long term reading, many hours at a shot. I should also add I keep my interior on the dim side, so that's a big negative right there for the Kindle. I have the same cover you do, with the light, but that frankly sucks compared to a good backlit display.
  • Some questions where do u store your cables or your thumb drive since u have no SD slot how do charge device and watch tv with mhdmi or how do charge with thumb drive connect. I just don't get it.besides its iPhone style its really nothing on the xoom thrive or tranny they have more to offer.
  • I was going to answer this, but I won't. This kinda stupid "my dog is better than your dog" arguments help no one. You don't see the point of the tab. I get it. That's why I said it's not the tablet for everyone. I'm not bothered by any problems you brought up, which is why I said it was the best device FOR ME, not the best device FOR EVERYONE That's the great thing about Android. You can get your device with a billion connectors, I'll get something I like and we can both be happy. I'd hope you would try to do the same.
  • Understandable but its like every one is treating the tab as the god almighty just because its thin and light weight. But to get that you have sacrifice something.
  • It's only a sacrifice if we use those features though. Almost all of my large files are in the cloud, so I don't need a ton of space. I have 20+ constant apps and a fluctuating number of apps I'm testing on the device, 3+ movies that I rotate as needed, and I still have 70% of my 16GB memory free. an SD slot wouldn't be used. I have a internet blu-ray (and soon a revue) so I'm not that worried about streaming it on my TV since I can do that with my other devices already. If those things are needed for your use cases, than get the transformer, it's a great device. But they're not for me. So with the Tab, I get the parts I want in an insanely thin package with some great custom software to boot. Every choice means you're giving something up, and we've detailed the benefits of those other devices in their reviews. I don't want to write 3-4 paragraphs every time I talk about why I chose a device, listing each little difference between them. That's why we have device reviews and spec sheets. :)
  • And what you sacrifice is worth it for what you get, for many of us. I had a Xoom that wasn't worth the weight. I had a Transformer that wasn't worth the weight, width, display issues and creaky nature. Both had removable storage and standard ports, but it's not that big a deal for me. I have a Tab 7 with 16Gb internal and a 16Gb SD card, and it's never come close to being full, nor has my SGS1 or SGS2. On both my 10.1 and the 7, 32Gb plus the cloud storage is plenty, the fact that I CAN use an external USB if needed to xfer to the 10.1 is just gravy. So yeah, giving up the "rarely-used" SD card slot and even more rarely used standard USB port for half the thickness and a third less weight is worth it to me.
  • Respect your usage patterns, just want to relate another. For me, a SD card is essential. I have the 7" Tab since the day Verizon released it last November, and it has yet to be attached to a computer. I use it almost daily to watch videos while out that I transfer to the device via the microSD card 98% of the time (find it easier than attaching whole device), or downloading videos using andSMB from one of the NAS's the other 2% of the time. My usage pattern relies so much on the SD card that I upgraded the 16GB that came with the Tab to a 32GB. There is no right / wrong, as the author indicated, it is what works for you. I respect that a SD card is not needed by many, but for my needs, external SD card is essential. I have the Xoom, and really missed the SD card functionality which the Xoom did not support when launched.
  • I'd have to agree with the stupidity of the charging issues. I use my Galaxy tab 7.7 a lot, and use a standard pc/usb connected wireless 101 keyboard and optical mouse combination. I love the tablet, but there's no way to keep it charged while I use it; then I have to discontinue use while it's charging; I just can't deal with the touchscreen for any kind of serious data entry or typing. The mouse works wonderfully with the system, and allows me to easily select text and other functions that are nearly impossible using the touchscreen. I've looked at the technical data, and see no reason at all why Samsung shouldn't have provided charging inputs/cables with the 30pin usb adapter, or the hdmi adapter etc. I think they rigged the standard usb cord the way they did, as the usb specs allow for only 1 amp per usb port, but the samsung uses 2 amps. I've seen a lot of aftermarket usb connectors that say you can charge and sync at the same time; but that does not solve my issues with using accessories without draining the battery, and runs the risk of burning out the usb power source on the laptop, etc. The only clear solution I've seen is to purchase a 'breakout' adaptor to fit the tablet's 30 pin connector, and to solder together my own adaptor. I've got the schematics... Pretty simple. So why not supply it as a standard accessory? I'd rather just buy one, it's neater that way.
  • Thanks for a balanced review Jason. I have been feeling hesitant about Honeycomb. Also, because of Apple, the Samsung 10.1 is hard to find in the UK. I am interested in the Samsung 8.9 - what do you think about that size? I use a Galaxy S2 and like it a lot. In December 2010 I bought an Archos A70-250Gb. The 800x480 screen is a bit of a limitation, it is also a bit laggy, but basically a good tool. I no longer boot my laptop when my eyes open, sometimes it stays off all day. I wonder what Ice Cream will be like and is it worth waiting for?
  • I'd have to try an 8.9 to be sure, but I enjoyed the size of the galaxy 7, so I'd assume it would be a nice little device. I bought my Tab through best buy and got the buyback. There's always something better coming around the corner, so if you wait for it, there will be something coming out that's even BETTER. Honeycomb is a huge improvement over android 2.x for a larger screen. Some of the optimized apps (Plume) are amazing. I only check twitter on my phone now when I'm not near wifi. The rumors are that ICS will have some nice graphical enhancements, as well as uniform the platform again (phone, tablet, tv) to the same OS. beyond that, it's just speculation. My dream feature is an ICS powered coffee pot that will trigger with my alarm, but I'm a little bias. ;)
  • "every once and awhile" Should be "every once in a while" Very useful article and I enjoyed reading it.
  • Jason, why not try reading comics through the Comixology app? Not sure if you're into them but now's a great time to start as any. In September, DC Comics is launching all new #1s available in both print and digital on the same day. Tons of free comics too. Check it out!
  • Not a big comics fan. I think I've read maybe 4 total. I have a lot of friends who love them, I just couldn't ever get into them. My friends use that app on their Tabs, Xooms, and whatever they have on the iPad though, and they like it.
  • I found your comments about your Kindle interesting. I have a Kindle and recently purchased a B&N Nook - which I immediately turned into an Android CyanogenMod based device - and I found my new tablet easier to read. As I thought about why that was - like you, I assumed that I would continue to use my Kindle - I realized that it had to do with my vision. I am decidedly near sighted, but I find that the backlight increases the contrast more. I stopped using my Kindle for my technical reading (I'm a network/systems engineer) because the PDFs were hard to read when they shrunk down to the size of the Kindle's screen. I could, of course, use the scrolling features of the Kindle but it was more hassle than it was worth. Bottom line is: what's better for any one person sometimes doesn't revolve around their personality and desire for new toys, but around what they need vision wise.
  • Thanks for a solid review Jason. I agree with your comments about Kindle vs tablet. I have a Kindle and purchased a Nook Color which I rooted and installed CyanogenMod. I find reading on the Nook more tiring and not something I can do for very long. Nook clearly has much more capability than Kindle. Kindle is a "one trick pony", but it does that one trick very well in my opinion. Unfortunately, my wife confiscated my Kindle, so I don't think I'm getting it back!
  • I have the same case and I love it.
  • I got the tab yesterday, and I'm not impressed. I think only 1 in 10 apps works. Stuff is crashing all the time, or disappearing. Weird problems signing up for Samsung services, and I've yet to find any way to talk to Samsung about the issues. Regretting the purchase majorly.
  • What apps are you trying? i've installed dozens of applications and besides for root specific ones I haven't noticed any force closes. The samsung service issue is a bug, be sure to check the forums about it. For support, register with samsungs website, and then click on the "contact us" button on your my account page (first one to show up after you log in)
  • from what i can see, theres a lot of touchbug victims around and so far it doenst seem as though samsungs wanted to talk to anyone about it or send out a fix... feel lucky ive not handed over any cash yet and still have time to change my mind to (shock horror) the ipad... certainly if no fix by payday thats who will be getting my custom!
  • I have the 10.1 and it's full of bugs/issues. For example the 'oil slick' that appears under the screen is happening to a LOT of people. No fix from Samsung and tbh there won't be because it's obviously a hardware fault. Video of the oil slick problem: Truly regret buying it.
  • @kwaters - you've experienced the oil slick first hand? this article will interest you (Samsung almost address the issue)