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Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 - The Starlet
By Sidney Wong - 20 Sep 2011
Launch SRP: S$848


A Stroke of Touch Wizardry

With more Android 3.1 Honeycomb tablets flooding the market as of late, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 attempts to stand out from the crowd with Samsung's customized user interface (UI), Dubbed as Samsung TouchWiz, the UI shares a few similarities (and differences) to its earlier counterparts, which were used in smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S II.

Besides running on Google Android 3.1 OS, you will find Samsung TouchWiz UI on the Galaxy Tab 10.1

To give you a quick overview of the TouchWiz's main features, here's an earlier video walk through to shed some light, followed by a quick summary of the seven main features.

The first feature of Samsung TouchWiz is the Live Panel, where you can customize home screens using a variety of widgets.

Shown here is the Program Monitor widget (left) and the Task Manager app (right). Though they are named differently, they perform the same function of closing apps and freeing up RAM on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Apps Tray is the second feature of the Samsung TouchWiz. Tapping on the arrow at the centre will reveal six shortcuts (Task Manager, Calendar, World Clock, Pen Memo, Calculator and Music Player). It would have been better if we can personalize the shortcuts.

 Compared to the standard notification panel (right) that is commonly found on Honeycomb tablets, the one in the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (left) is tweaked to enable users to toggle with more connectivity settings such as GPS, Bluetooth and Auto Rotation.

Besides the Android Market, Samsung has its own app store, known as Samsung Apps. The apps that are found here are optimized for use on Samsung mobile devices.

Samsung TouchWiz features two useful apps which are the Pen Memo (left) and Photo Editor (right). The Pen memo is a note taking app where you can choose the type of brush, color, pen size and theme for entering text. The Photo Editor is a basic photo editing app that let you rotate, resize, crop and add color effects to your images.

Samsung puts the motion sensor to better use with the tilting and panning functions. Tilting lets you zoom in and out of a screen by tapping and holding at two points on the screen, and tilting the device back and forth. Panning allows you to shift an app from one screen to another by tapping and holding onto the app icon, and waving the device to the left or to the right. The video above illustrates our point better.

Although the screen capture function is handy, the placement of the icon near the multitasking tab means that you are more than often to tap on it accidentally.

Generally, the Samsung TouchWiz does its job fairly well on improving on the usability of the Honeycomb user interface. It addresses some of the shortfalls of the Honeycomb interface and adds in several handy features such as app trays, screen capture and enhanced notification panel.

Besides the Lenovo IdeaPad Tablet K1, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the second Android tablet to have the task killer function available out of the box. One of the biggest gripes we have with Honeycomb OS is its inability to close apps from the multitasking menu. Needless to say, we are glad that Samsung addressed this issue in the Galaxy Tab 10.1. However, we feel there is a duplication of functions on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 where the Program Monitor widget and Task Manager app basically do the same thing. Furthermore, they render the multitasking menu useless since users can also switch between apps through the Program Monitor or Task Manager.

It is more user intuitive to have the task killer function integrated as part of the multitasking menu on the Lenovo IdeaPad Tablet K1 (left) compared to that of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (right).

The Samsung TouchWiz falls short in terms of performance when compared to its main competitor, the HTC Sense 3.0 UI that is found in the HTC Flyer and newer smartphones such as the HTC Sensation. Overall, HTC Sense is more polished in terms of the user interface and features. When reviewing the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, we noticed slight lags when navigating the user interface. Animations and transitions were not as snappy as we expect from a tablet that has similar hardware specification as the rest of the Honeycomb tablets. Nevertheless, it isn't a very detracting point and the Samsung TouchWiz is a crucial element of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 which sets it apart from the crowd.

The Good
Slim and light
High resolution display
Good overall performance
The Bad
Slightly sluggish due to TouchWiz UI
Battery performance could be better
Plastic build
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