By Paul Gorski
U.S. Cellular (USC) recently began selling the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 tablet, and I used the tablet for almost two weeks. It took me a few days to appreciate the strengths of this tablet, but I now see why some people like their tablets so much. Since my revelation stems more from the experience rather than the hardware, my review will focus on the experience first, the hardware last.
I have phones and other devices from multiple cellular phone carriers, and I have always been impressed with U.S Cellular’s pricing, service and customer support. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 supports U.S. Cellular’s fast 4G LTE data service, and it did so nicely in the Rockford region. This tablet comes in Wi-Fi-only versions from other vendors, but I suggest getting the Wi-Fi/4G LTE model. I found the 4G LTE Internet connection very handy, more so than I expected. I was able to check e-mail, get mapping directions, and stream movies via Crackle and YouTube, even when a Wi-Fi signal was not available. If you are an existing USC customer, you may add the tablet to your existing data plan for only $10. That is a very good deal.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 ships with the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system, with Samsung’s TouchWiz interface modifications. I am not a huge fan of past Android OS versions, but 4.4 was a pleasant surprise. Menus make sense, and navigation is intuitive. It only took a few minutes to set up the tablet and surf the net.
Downloading and installing software was easy via the Google Play store, which is great, because I had to download a new browser, as Chrome was very slow. Many people like Chrome; I do not, and I tried not to let my bias get in the way of me evaluating the tablet. I downloaded the Opera browser. Opera is nearly the same as Chrome, so it should have performed the same, but Opera was quite perky on this tablet. I used Opera to surf the Internet, and that worked for me.
My son watched YouTube videos via our home Wi-Fi network with no problems, and he downloaded and played many games. He said the games performed well in general, but were not as fast as he expected. I explained that while this was a brand-new tablet from Samsung, it is a midrange tablet in terms of hardware.
The hardware specifications for this tablet are good, not great. However, for great you will have to pay quite a bit more. I think Samsung has delivered a solid product at a fair price. The tablet has a 10.1-inch screen, 16 GB of memory, and 1.2GHz Quad-Core Snapdragon processor. Add to that front and rear cameras and a battery that lasted almost 10 hours with regular use. Samsung placed some standard Android OS controls on the frame of the tablet, instead of on the touch screen. It took a few days, but I became comfortable with the control layout and the tablet was easy to use.
I did not truly appreciate this tablet until I used it on a bus ride home from Chicago. The tablet’s light weight and small size allowed me to hold it easily in my bus seat. The Wi-Fi and cellular data connections worked well, toggling between Wi-Fi and cellular data, depending which signal was stronger. I still prefer a laptop with a keyboard and trackpad, but I see why many people like their tablet computers.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 tablet combines decent hardware with the solid Android 4.4 KitKat operating system and excellent customer service from U.S Cellular. Visit a local U.S. Cellular store to see this tablet. Compare it with other tablets at the store or view them online at: http://www.uscellular.com/tablets/index.html. This just might be the right tablet for you.
Paul Gorski (www.paulgorski.com) has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple Iie.
Posted Aug. 12, 2014