About half a decade ago, Samsung was just another name in the crowd when it came to mobile phones. Nokia’s dominance knew no bounds, which made it difficult for other manufacturers to be heard in this cut-throat segment. Fast forward to 2010, and the tables had turned with Samsung emerging as the new superpower in the mobile space. Apple’s gamble with the iPad paid off well and since then no one has been able to really tap that success. Google seems to finally be getting their act together with the Honeycomb 3.1, and all that’s needed is some well-designed hardware to complement it.
So far we’ve seen Acer and Motorola’s attempt at a tablet, but none of them really grabbed our attention. Samsung’s Tab 750 or 10.1, as it's known internationally, had a very rocky start. With Apple slapping copyright infringement notices for ‘impersonating’ the iPad’s design and banning sales from certain countries, could it be possible that the company saw the Tab 750 as a real threat? That’s what we are about to find out.
Design and Build
As soon as you unbox it, the lightweight and slim profile will put a big smile on your face. The Tab 750 is the slimmest 10.1-inch tablet in the market and the lightest as well at just 565g. Despite the low profile, it doesn’t feel like a cheap toy in anyway. Samsung have achieved this by using plastic for the chassis instead of aluminium. Now, before you cringe at that thought, it’s a very high quality plastic that doesn’t creak if you apply pressure. It has a good finish as well as all the ports and buttons line-up perfectly in their grooves. The glossy screen features an 800 x 1280 pixel resolution and Samsung have used a PLS TFT display with Gorilla Glass to make it scratch-resistant.
Feels really good in your hand
The power and volume rocker buttons have good feedback and you can easily find them even in the dark. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack and a slot for the 3G SIM card. The Galaxy Tab 750 comes with stereo speakers that are placed on either sides in landscape mode. This makes sense, since when you watch a video, you get a proper stereo sound. Down below, we have a very iPod’ish 30-pin connector for charging and transferring data. Not sure what made them go with this, rather than a standard microUSB port. Notice that there’s no memory expansion option, so you’re limited to the built-in storage, which is 16GB. The rear portion has a 3MP auto-focus camera with a single LED flash.
Looking good in white
The Galaxy Tab 750 is available in white and black trims. In the box, you get the data cable and charger, a handsfree kit (even though there’s no telephony functions), extra ear-tips and a USB Connector for on-the-go functionality.
Samsung has launched the Galaxy Tab 750 with Android Honeycomb 3.1 and has ported their TouchWiz UX UI over as well. This puts it ahead of the curb compared to the Xoom, as far as out-of-the-box functionality is concerned. Where stock Honeycomb is a bit dull and boring even, TouchWiz is a lot more colourful and lively.
The redesigned notification bar is a lot more user friendly
Navigation is quick and painless thanks to the dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor under the hood and 1GB of RAM. Now and then, we did notice some intermittent slowdowns, but nothing a little update can’t fix. AnTuTu gave me an overall score of 4210, while Linpack dished out 20.3 MFLOPS for single-threaded run and 38.1 for the multi-threaded run. The scores are a bit low, since the apps aren’t optimized for Honeycomb 3.1, I think.
Unfortunately, the apps in the dock can't be customized
The TouchWiz UX UI is borrowed from the Galaxy S II, only modified a bit for the larger screen. Samsung has included a bunch of different widgets and wallpapers for you to choose from. You can fine tune the widget by adjusting its size as well. You also get a little icon dock at the bottom, which gives you quick access to Task Manager, Calendar, World Clock, Pen Memo, Calculator and Music. You can access these apps at any time, no matter what you’re doing since the bottom bar is always visible in Honeycomb.
Some new additions to the 'Settings' menu
Samsung has also installed their own icon set and have modified the notification tab, which makes it a lot more user friendly. What used to be tiny toggle switches on the stock Honeycomb for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. are now bigger and easier to spot. In ‘Settings’, Samsung have added the ability to connect to Kies, their syncing software, via Wi-Fi. There’s a new ‘Mode’ option in the brightness setting, which lets you choose between Dynamic, Standard and Movie. This changes the colour tone of the display. Power saving mode lets you manage the battery life. Finally, we have motion settings that enable cool tricks like tilt zooming.
It’s pretty clear that amongst all the Honeycomb tablets in the market, Samsung has done the best job of customizing it and making it, if anything, better to use.
The stock audio and video player are a bit disappointing, as per Samsung’s standards. We were surprised to find that the Tab only recognized MP4 files, it didn’t read AVI or MKVs, which is strange since the mobile version of TouchWiz does. The music player is designed with a split-screen view, making it easy to sort your music. One particular addition that we really liked was ‘Folder View’, which shows the folders of all your albums. Once you start a song, a ‘Now Playing’ column pops up on the right. The good thing about this player is that everything can be found on a single screen; there’s no going back and forth.
Neatly designed music player
Sound enhancements are also present in terms of an 8-band graphic equalizer and sound effects. The bundled pair of earphones is decent, but it sounds better with some good buds like EP630s.
Stock video player has SRS effects, but sadly only supports MP4
The default video player offers 5.1 channel enhancements through headphones, which improve the quality greatly. Here, you can adjust the colour tone and something called ‘Outdoor Visibility’. The latter option boosts the contrast and brightness, so it’s easier to view under sunlight, but fails quite badly. Other than that, the Tab 750 will easily do 1080p videos through the stock player provided the format is supported.
The Galaxy Tab 750 is a quad-band GSM tablet with full HSDPA and HSUPA 3G support. Along with Wi-Fi ‘n’, we also have Bluetooth v3.0. Samsung goes one step further with Wi-Fi Direct and dual-band support. While there’s no NFC support, we do have USB on-the-go functionality. The Tab 750 also has TV-out through an optional AV cable, however it does not have MHL support. The tablet won’t work by simply connecting it to the PC, you’ll need the USB drivers from Samsung first, which we thought were unnecessary. Since Samsung uses MTP (Media Transfer Protocols) to connect, the Tab shows up as a media device instead of a removable disk.
Stock Honeycomb browser at work
Samsung bundles a bunch of Internet ready apps like eBook, which can read ebooks, as well as PDFs. There’s also Gmail, Maps, Latitude, SocialHub and YouTube. Using the bundled USB adapter, you can plug in a pen drive and access files directly off it. It doesn’t support hard drives, though, as understandably, they require more power to run.
Polaris Office comes bundled along for productivity. Pulse is a nice little app that gives you news from around the globe in all categories like entertainment, sports, politics, etc.
The bundled eBook reader
Pen Memo lets you scribble notes using a stylus or your finger.
The Tab 750 features a 3MP primary shooter, which is not the best on the block. We found the overall quality to be strictly average for out-door shots, while indoors were slightly worse. You do get a lot of customization options like ‘Shooting Modes’, which include Smile Shot, Panorama and Action Shot. The smile shot works ok, but the panorama mode does not.
The menu animations are really slick
The tablet manages to stitch the images well enough, but the pictures end up being quite blurry and if you move too slowly, it doesn’t stitch it well. Other options include a timer, Exposure settings, Scene modes and White balance.
Outdoor pictures look decent but not a lot of detail is captured
It can record video in 720p format, which is surprisingly smooth and jerk-free but the sensor picks up too much noise, especially indoors.
The 750 is fitted with a 7000 mAh Li-polymer battery, which in our video drain test dished out nearly 8 hrs of continuous SD video playback. This was with the brightness set to medium. When using it for browsing the internet over 3G, playing a few games and some videos, it should easily go two days without charging.
After using the tablet for a few days, it really tends to grow on you. If I had to recommend a 3G tablet that’s not an iPad, then the Samsung Galaxy Tab 750 would be right on top of that list with the Motorola Xoom coming in a close second.
At Rs. 33,999, as the best price according to Samsung’s website, it’s a good option to consider. It’s lightweight, slim and TouchWiz UX replaces the dull and drab Honeycomb UI for something that’s a lot superior, both functionally and cosmetically. If you’re buying a tablet purely for content consumption and prefer streaming your content then the built-in 16GB storage won’t be a problem. If you plan on dumping all your movies and TV shows on to it then you might want to look at the Xoom for its larger built-in storage and the ability to expand it further. If productivity is what you’re after than the Asus Transformer fits the bill as it’s the only one that ships with a keyboard dock.
Besides the wonderful features Samsung has blessed the Tab 750 with; it does come with its share of shortcomings. The first and very obvious is the lack of expandable memory support. The camera isn’t particularly great. Other little things include no ‘true’ mass storage function, limited media support through TouchWiz and the minor sluggishness in the UI.