What You Get
The tablet is about the size and weight of a hardback book, although its rather thinner. It comes packaged with a data cable and a charging plug (the data cable doubles as the charger cable). There is also a headphone set (the device takes a standard headphone jack). That's all that comes in the box.
Charging & Battery Life
The tab is pretty much ready to go - mine didn't need charging - so there's none of that frustrating waiting around before you can start playing. There's a good day's worth of play in a full charge - maybe more, depending on how much you're using it. It doesn't take long to charge, though although you may want to be charging it overnight for use during the day.
The instruction booklet is rather small and only just detailed enough to get you started, after which you'd be well advised to seek out the full manual from Samsung's website product support page. It's easy enough to find, is actually quite readable and it does provide a lot of useful information that will help you get the most out of the tab.
If, like me you're a tablet novice and are more used to the "IBM" format of most keyboard operated laptops and desktops, you will need to spend some time mucking around getting to know the tablet and familiarising yourself with the operating format. For instance, you don't need to "turn off" apps when you've finished with them. Simply return to the home page and the app will remain dormant in the background. However, the whole thing is pretty intuitive and it won't be long before you're doing Loop-the-Loops and Immelmann Turns.
Apps & Capabilities
As for apps, the tab comes with lots of them preinstalled and with access to a couple of app stores (including Samsung's own) where you can download plenty more for free or for good money. I downloaded Angry Birds - I've never encountered that game before and I'm hooked! I also downloaded Skype so I could talk to my brother in Australia and a couple of flight trackers so I could watch him fly home and pick him up from the airport on time.
The tab has several movie and music players, ereaders (including a Kindle app), email and social networking apps, an internet browser (you have full web access) and several memo apps. There're also a couple of map/navigation apps - the tablet has a built in GPS, which is independent of the wifi - your tab communicates with sattelites! How cool is that?!
Also, there is an QuickOffice app which allows you to create and edit word processing, powerpoint and spreadsheet documents. It's compatible with MS Office formats but the conversion from Excel into QuickOffice spreadsheet in particular is very patchy and the spreadsheet functionality is extremely limited. I bought (for a few quid) Documents-To_Go which is a similar and slightly better MSOffice clone.
Interfacing (inc. Bluetooth problem fix)
The Galaxy interface cable is a USB connector at the far end and a proprietary plug at the tablet end.
Setting up a WiFi connection is easy. The Galaxy automatically searches for nearby networks and then prompts you for a passkey (if it's a secure or private network), which you only need to supply once. I will say that the strength of the connection varies from room to room and the Galaxy does struggle to make contact at times. My daughter's iPad has the same problem, so I suspect that it's my WifFi, not the tablet (see Accessories).
Data input is by an on-screen keyboard, of which there are several different formats according to your preferences.
As you probably know, there is no mouse. All that sort of stuff is done via the touch screen which requires you to learn a new "language". That said, it is easy to cope with although I found my fat fingers are a little bit clumsy, especially when trying to select some of the smaller icons or hyperlinks, so a stylus would be a good idea. However, you CAN zoom in on the screen to make these targets bigger and easier to hit.
An inbuilt gyroscope allows you to rotate the tab through 360 degrees and view the screen in portrait and landscape mode. I have found it a little slow to respond - although it's more of an irritation than a real failing.
You can also interface via Bluetooth. Now, I was having a terrible time trying to get this to work - try as I might, I couldn't get my laptop or moby to send a file TO my Galaxy - for some reason the sending device kept complaining that the transfer had failed or couldn't be honoured, despite the fact that the device could SEE the Galaxy. Then I discovered that I could send a file FROM the Galaxy TO the device with no probelm, and that miraculously cleared the pipeline and allowed 2-way traffic. Sorted!
Screen & Speakers
The 10" 1280×800 screen is crystal clear and the colour and resolution are impressive - very impressive. This is demonstrated by Samsung's default wallpapers which are vibrant, sharp and colourful. I've recently been using the Tab to watch movies in bed. Great!
You can scroll between five 'virtual' screens which maximises your workspace and you can personalise it with your own wallpaper or Samsung's own.
The speakers are tinnier than Robbie the Robot; adequate for for casual listening at normal levels but rubbish at elevated volume. But then if you wanted hifi, you'd have bought a hifi. You're much better off with a decent pair of headphones.
And the competition? Well, I'm not much of a one for counting diodes or doing detailed research, I'm afraid so I can't say too much. However, my daughter has an iPad (I refused to buy one of them on basic principals) and as far as I can tell there's nothing much between the Galaxy and Apple's offering. Maybe some of the detailed functionalities will differ and the price will vary according to the weather/moon-phase etc etc, but that's pretty much all.
Interestingly, a British High Court judge recently ruled (Judge Colin Birss - July 2012) that the Galaxy isn't as "cool" as the iPad*. Now, that for me is all the validation I need to go out and buy a Galaxy.
I didn't do much research into the other 10" tabs either, but if you want an iPad, but don't want an iPad (if you see what I mean), this has to be a strong contender.
I bought (and would advise that you do too) a protective case or cover
of some sort, a screen protector
and perhaps also a stylus
You can also buy a USB adapter set
that allows you to interface with USB sticks and SD/MSD Cards (although you won't need the latter on the Tab2).
Update: I have now purchased a Huawei E586 broadband hotspot
for my Tab. This allows me to connect to the internet anywhere without the need to rely on my home or someone elses wifi signal. To make it work you also need to buy a sim card (eg: this Three 3GB mobile broadband SIM card
- a great way to make your WiFi Tab truly mobile!
Admittedly, all these accessories turn this sleek racy tablet into a bit of a logistical nightmare, but it's a small price to pay, in my humble opinion.
Basically, there is all you need here and more to supplant your laptop... Throw it away!
Well, no. Don't. Even the best tablet is probably unlikely ever to take the place of a decent laptop, but it makes a very fine, lightweight alternative, with a few basic limitations (screen size, of course, storage space, and the on-screen keyboard is a little crude).
I really think I could get to like this!