Whatever the reason for the new look of Samsung’s tablets, it’s clearly a good new direction for the company: The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is a much more original-looking tablet than previous Galaxy Tabs, and it’s an attractive one at that. The 10.1-inch display is surrounded by a small black bezel that is every bit as fingerprint-prone as the screen itself. Surrounding the bezel is a gray edging that covers the sides of the tablet, and peeks slightly out onto the face as well. as you hold the slate in landscape mode (as the logos indicate you should), there’s a camera lens above the display, a Samsung logo below, and long, thin, silver speaker grilles on either side. The Tab 2 will certainly never be mistaken for an iPad, and whether that’s legally required or not it’s a good thing for Samsung.
The silver back has a brushed metal look, and though it’s plastic it’s quite smooth without being slippery or feeling cheap. Samsung never uses particularly high-end materials, but it builds its tablets really well, and the Tab 2 feels sturdy and solid, without any bending or creaking to speak of. The sides of the tablet are completely empty, which is a nice look but not entirely practical — I wish the company had carried over its penchant for placing power buttons on the right side of its phones.
Most of the Tab’s ports are crammed up on top, save for the standard Samsung dock connector on the bottom. The top of the tablet has a power button and volume rocker, which are located so close to each other that I nearly always pressed a different button than I was aiming for. Next to those are a covered microSD slot that lets you add up to 32GB of storage to the 16GB or 32GB of internal memory, an IR blaster, and a headphone jack. The headphone jack is located right in the middle, which is a bit odd — your headphone cable will always naturally go either on top of the screen or directly underneath it, and it’s awkward either way.
The Tab 2 weighs 581g (1.3 pounds) and is 9.7mm (0.38 inches) thick. That’s lighter, but thicker, than both the iPad and the Transformer Prime. The differences are tiny, though, and I certainly didn’t notice the Tab feeling particularly big or light as I used it. It’s a nice, svelte tablet, though because it’s so large it’s tough to hold in one hand for any length of time; 7-inch slates in general are much better suited to that.
Dimensions (in.) Thickness Weight (lb.)Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.110.1 x 6.90.381.3Motorola Xyboard 10.110 x 6.90.351.32Acer Iconia Tab A51010.4 x 6.90.401.50Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime10.4 x 7.10.311.29Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.110.1 x 6.90.341.20Apple iPad (2012)9.5 x 7.30.371.44
The two silver speakers along the side of the display output impressively loud, clear sound for a mobile device. Some of that is certainly due to the fact that the sound is actually coming toward you, whereas most tablets have speakers on the side or back that direct audio away from you. The speakers are also set high up on the tablet as you hold it horizontally, so your hands won’t get in the way. There’s not much in the way of a stereo effect, but it’s loud and good enough for watching YouTube videos or feeling more immersed as you play games.
The Tab is available in black or white — my review unit was black. I like both looks, though, and really like that there’s a gray stripe around the edge regardless; it lends a bit of flair that uniform tablets don’t have, especially on the white model.