During one of the last TDL mobile shows Jose (twitter) made the comment that he was disappointed he never got me to try an alternative platform. This isn’t because I refuse to try other platforms but simply that with a family I don’t have the luxury of a limitless gadget budget so I stick to what I know works for me. Fortunately the company I work for purchased four Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1” devices so I’ve been lucky enough to use one. I’ve not used it long enough for a review so these are just my first impressions of using both the tablet and Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).
The hardware feels solid to hold and the weight of 587g doesn’t feel heavy which makes for comfortable use both standing and sitting. The dual core 1ghz processor hasn’t shown any signs of impacting the experience using any of the standard applications, games or watching videos in HD via YouTube. I’ve found the quality of the screen to be very good and the resolution of 1280 x 800 hasn’t left me wishing for more. I fully charged the device but I won’t judge battery performance since any new gadget doesn’t reflect normal use patterns but after an extended time tweaking and playing the charge was at roughly 60% so acceptable in my view.
I was more interested in trying out Android first hand since my impressions have always been based on reviews or the experience of others. There was a learning curve of course but generally speaking my previous experience of using Windows Phone allowed me to discover gestures needed to control the system. The biggest change was the amount of customisation options for the home screens (as it turns out my belief that I hated multiple home screens holds true) with a choice of either application icons or “widgets” (Androids version of Live Tiles). These widgets come in all shapes and sizes so take up different amounts of space on each home screen and some can be resized as required. I still much prefer the Windows Phone / Windows 8 approach where the application icon is the widget (live tile) instead of having to make a specific choice. I’ll make the comment that while installing new apps resulted in a slew of icons being added to the home screen this isn’t any different to how Windows 8 will behave so I don’t feel this was a negative experience.
The standard applications for mail, contacts, etc, are all capable although I find it odd that Gmail and other email accounts are handled by separate apps. This was really where I came up against obstacles and made me realise that choosing a tablet, or mobile phone for that matter, should be primarily driven by the platform you have chosen (Google = Android, Apple = iOS, Microsoft = Windows Phone / Windows 8). I’m sure this doesn’t apply to everyone but during my short time with the Galaxy Tab I found trying to configure and access Microsoft’s platforms was a compromise. I think if you dabble in other eco-systems then those compromises are acceptable but for services you use daily it’s a worthwhile consideration. I do maintain a Google account for experimenting with their services and these certainly integrated easily and provided a feature rich experience.
I’ve also discovered that I’m not entirely sure where a pure tablet device fits into my computing needs and more than ever I can understand where a device like the Galaxy Note works as both a smartphone and tablet. I found that most tasks I carried out on the tablet I’d be just as comfortable doing on my smartphone although I will admit the increased screen size does improve the experience.
This is where my excitement for Windows 8 draws me back away from purchasing an Android or iOS device because I do feel that the new devices based on Microsoft’s latest OS are capable of more seamlessly morphing away from just consumption devices. This is especially true for the Microsoft Surface where the stand and keyboard are part of the device, so no need to go hunting for the dock or other accessories to turn them into creation mode.
I’d certainly recommend the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 to anyone in the market for an Android based tablet but this isn’t for me. At least I can get Jose off my case now. 🙂