My first few days with a Galaxy Tab 2

Posted: October 13, 2012 in Android, apps, computers, hardware, iPad, reviews, software, technology
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’m an Apple fan, that should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me or this blog, but what may surprise you is that i’m enjoying using a New Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1″ tablet that I won from attending a product show recently.  I know I was surprised when I got the call, and if I didn’t know the sales rep well, I would have been skeptical about winning it, almost as skeptical I was that I’d enjoy using an Android based tablet.

But, in all honesty it’s not bad.

It is no New iPad, but it is a good challenger for the previous Apple tablet the iPad 2, with maybe a few pluses to cancel out the negatives on the old balance sheet.

The connector, although it looks like the Apple 30-pin connector, is not the same.  Look closely at the photo below, it is as if someone took the innards of the connector and flipped it over and slid it back it.

Why not make it the same as Apple? Probably copyright issues, and we all know how well that went for Samsung vs. Apple recently.  Although as they say the show ain’t over until the fat lady sings, and when lawyers gets involved, that fat lady can be waiting in the wings a long long time.

unpacking, no wasted space

the USB charge sync cable

the connector, it’s not like apple’s

But I digress, again, as so often happens.  Back to my new toy.

Gotta say, the keyboard leaves a little to be desired.  The tablet is too narrow to type well in landscape mode, and when in portrait mode I find it still just a little wide to thumb-type, even with my long thumbs.  (insert shaved ape joke here) Without spending any real time with many tablets, this may be true of all, except for the split keyboard in the iPad which moves the keys off to the sides.  Something Samsung should steal from Apple.  Might as well, what are they gonna do? Sue them?

The predictive text drove me nuts too.  I like autocorrect, but personally can’t stand suggested words popping up across the screen as soon as I start stringing two letters together.  Very distracting, but that’s just me, some I’m told like that feature.  It took a little digging but I found how to turn it off which made my typing less stressful.  It’s buried in the keyboard settings.

um, what? it is plugged in.

makes connecting to a Mac easy

your files, all pretty like.

You’ll want to download a little 6.5 meg file called”Android File Transfer” to make it easy to connect your Tab 2 to your Mac.  But remember to check a few settings to eliminate your frustration.  Once you plug in the tablet, in the bottom right corner you will see a USB symbol showing you have a USB device connected, it will tell you it is connected as a media device, click it and it will take you into Storage Settings / USB PC connection.  Change from Media device (MTP) to Camera (PTP) and it should mount the Tablet and then open the Android File Transfer App.  It may give you an error the first time after changing the setting.  Just reconnect it.  The setting seems hidden, because if you go into the regular Settings button, there is no way of getting to this function.  You need the tablet plugged into a Mac for it to show up and enable you to change it.  Goofy.

Apparently if you are running windows, you don’t need any add-ons, but my house is pretty much all Macs with a growing number of Samsung products so the App is a necessity on my MBA.

AutoCad on a tablet.

One thing I’ll be trying out and stress testing this tablet with is AutoCad WS. It’s a great way to share your drawing files (.dwg) with anyone and any device you log into your account with. I’ve used it previously on my iPhone but found the screen too small to actually be very useful for anything other than quickly checking a drawing on site by zooming in to a specific area in question. With it running on a tablet, it actually becomes a useful program.

books and magazines, pretty & functional

data usage, easy to understand

There are many good things about the Android OS, besides the cute names, this tablet came with Ice Cream Sandwich for instance, and is a pretty reliable operating system so far, similar to Apple’s they make it easy for you to send reports in to developers when problems occur. For instance the Weather Channel app crashed every time i opened it on the first attempt, but then the second time worked fine.
Updating of apps can be either manual or automatic, I’ve got about half set to each side of that fence just to see how it works and if it slows down the tablet at all with autoupdating.
As expected, the Galaxy Tab 2 works great at playing media, and using the Android File transfer makes it easy to copy files from your computer to it for easy viewing. My daughter likes to watch it in bed for instance, so I loaded up a few TV shows she missed.

SD card & internal memory

playing media.  dead easy

This tablet has something that the iPad is sorely missing, a Micro SD card slot. With an internal memory of only 16gig, this is a great way to store large amounts of data (up to an additional 32 gig), and copying files off the SD card is an easy way to transfer data too. I had an old micro SD card lying around so i tried it out. Worked like a charm, and as it turned out it was filled with old photos and music from the Blackberry it used to live in.

If you have a Samsung Smart TV like we do, the ability to watch media on the big screen is so easy using the “AllShare” feature of the tablet.  AllShare works with any DNLA devices, and also lets me see the media on my MacBook Air when i have it set up as a server.  (See my previous blog about Twonky for that) And if you want to get real Star Treky with it, you can use the included Peel Smart Remote app to control your TV and associated set-top boxes, DVR’s, etc.  (i had to update it out of the box to make it work with our Bell satellite box, probably due to the age of our particular model.)  If nothing else, its fun to freak out the kids by turning it on from across the room nowhere near the actual remote.

copying files from SD card

wifi speeds

With this model being WiFi only (a 2G/3G model is available is you want to spend the extra money) I wanted to see how fast the connection speeds were to my router, and even when the internet was being used by others in the house, the tablet got a good connection everywhere around the house with impressive download/upload speeds when tested.

reading, kindle app

This is where a tablet shines over a phone, even the newer larger iPhone5, having a screen the size of a real paperback book makes reading so enjoyable, and the Kindle app for Android is as much of a pleasure to use as it is on every device I’ve tried it on. Clean, clear and easy on the eyes.
Speaking of eyes, the screen is clear and crisp and uses Gorilla glass so I’m hoping it is as strong and durable as I’ve heard.  especially since as with any touch screen device, it gets messy and needs cleaning often.  The cameras are decent although nothing you want to try to use as a handheld camera. It’s only VGA on the front camera (meant for video conferencing) and 3MP on the rear facing camera. Pretty low specs in that regards, which is unfortunate since the rest of the specs are quite impressive.

All in all, even if I hadn’t gotten this one free and had actually paid for the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1″ I would say it is worth the money.  Especially if you like to find a tablet that costs a little less than an iPad.

If the Android market could get organized, and by that i mean standardize a little more on screen sizes, resolutions, hardware and become more “iPad-like” they could be a real contender in the market.  Maybe not enough to topple Apple’s commanding lead in the market, but definitely a more windows like alternative.

tcg

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