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Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Touchwiz Lightning Review: Google Tablets Transformed?

Illustration for article titled Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Touchwiz Lightning Review: Google Tablets Transformed?

The funny thing about the small army of Android tablets that've come out over the last few months is that they've all been nearly exactly the same, software-wise. With TouchWiz, Samsung's the first to tweak Google's Honeycomb to its own, different whims.

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Note: This is the same hardware as the developer tablet given out at the Google I/O event earlier this year. For a more in depth review of the hardware, click here.

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While stock Honeycomb opts for a darker, colder, more futuristic feel, Touchwiz UX is bright and inviting. It wouldn't look out of place at a family breakfast table. Settings menus and keyboard are now a whitish-grey. Fonts have a cleaner appearance. The weather and news Live Panes aren't terrible. There's even a dedicated icon on the status bar for screenshots (something Android didn't previously have built-in support for). Overall, everything is just easier on the eyes, if less stylized.

No Like

The Touchwiz UX is ultimately superficial. It opts for flourishes rather than revamps. If you had fundamental issues with Honeycomb before, this won't do much to change your mind. Beyond the homescreen and settings menu, there's not much that feels different. There's also a dock bar full of Samsung-developed mini-apps/widgets that stays hidden until you tap the arrow icon on the status bar that will bring it up. But most of these apps are inconsequential at best.

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Last Word

It's not like you'll have a choice of whether or not to use the Touchwiz UX (unless you already have a Galaxy Tab 10.1 and opt not to update your software). But if you're on the fence about whether or not this skin ruins the Honeycomb experience, know that it doesn't. In fact, it doesn't change much at all. just makes the OS look much better.

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Specs
Samsung Galaxy Tab
Screen: 10.1-inch, 1280x800
Processor and RAM: Dual-core 1GHz Tegra 2, 1GB RAM
Storage: 32GB
Camera: 3-megapixel, 720p video (rear); 2MP (front)
Battery: 7,000 mAh
Price: $600

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DISCUSSION

I have to weigh in with the dissenting opinion and state that this looks really amateurish and plain compared to stock honeycomb. It's not a huge change, but it appears that every pixel they touched looks worse now than it did before.

Also, can I really be the only person who thinks the gray system bar completely defeats the purpose? When it was black it blended in with the bezel to give you the impression of hardware buttons. The gray bar is just going to stand out, especially if you're trying to watch a movie or play a game.