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Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 review

Mahananda Bohidar September 18 | Updated on September 26, 2013

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As a brand, the Tab has been around for almost three years now. Ever since the slightly bulky, very first Tab by Samsung, the company has steadily upgraded this line-up of products. Some updates have been interesting enough, while others have gone by without having made any waves. The latest in this line-up is the new Galaxy Tab 3, which we had on our test bench for a couple of weeks. Here’s how it fares.

Build

The Tab 3 311 which we had on our desk looks decidedly ‘Samsung’ – shiny, white plastic body and a thin white bezel running around the screen. There are two versions of the Galaxy Tab 3 – a 10.1-inch one and an 8-inch one – we picked the latter.

The 8-inch might turn out to be a decent size for some people to read on. Except, when you are reading stuff on it in the portrait mode, the buttons end up being a bit out of reach for you. The power and volume buttons are on the top right. The only physical button on the fascia is the home button, flanked by two virtual ones – Settings and Return.

One thing that works for the Tab 3 is its weight. Weighing in at about 316 grams, the Tab 3 was in my satchel throughout the two weeks that I used it and not once did the weight bother me.

Apps

Running on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, the Galaxy Tab 3 311 has a heavy overlay of Samsung’s proprietary user interface. Usually the first thing we do is get rid of the bulky widgets placed on the homescreen by default. But if you’re considering this as your first tablet, you might want to give the widgets a try to see if they are to your liking.

Like the previous-gen Note, the Tab 3 supports multi-tasking with features like Dual View. It basically lets you view two apps in a split-mode on the screen simultaneously. However, there are a certain number of apps which are not compatible with this mode.

The usual host of S-special features were pre-loaded on to the Tab. Not that we really need to use any of it. There’s S- Translator, which provides instant translation through voice recognition and via text on applications including mails and SMSes. This works both ways - from speech-to-text and text-to-speech. This is a big plus if you are a frequent traveller or if you’re planning a vacation to a foreign country.

S Travel similarly provides real-time local information and helps you with information regarding your local destination including table, hotel and ticket reservations.

Now, despite the 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, we could see the Tab visibly slow down every once in a while. Sometime, you would have to wait just those 2-3 seconds longer for an application to launch. At times pulling down the notification bar to check for updates would take a couple of seconds more than it should. Apart from this, the device never really froze during usage. But neither was it lightning fast during the process of our review.

Multimedia

We watched a bunch of Modern family episodes on the Galaxy Tab and as far as viewing videos goes, the Tab didn’t disappoint. The form factor lends itself to a decent viewing experience. The only downside was the volume level. With most of the audio and video we played, the sound was just about audible to me. So, in case you have a friend or two over to watch something, better have those speakers handy. This is despite Samsung’s Sound Alive for audio playback and Dolby Surround for videos.

Considering the Tab sports a 5-megger at the back we weren’t exactly expecting stunning images from the Tab 3. Even under decent light, the colours were almost always compromised and the images a bit grainy. Low-light snaps too were a bit disastrous. Then again, it’d be foolish to expect to use a 5-meg on a tablet as your primary camera. For quick snap-and-share, this could do the job.

The Tab 3 is powered by a 4,450mAh battery which would stand the basic tasks that indulge in on a tab for an entire day. But, we had massive movie and video marathons on it and on a complete charge it easily lasted more than 6 hours and still had some juice left. This is pretty impressive for a Tab its size.

The Galaxy Tab 3 311 has an internal storage of 16GB and it lets you expand memory and supports a microSD card up to 64GB.

Verdict

By now, the market has been flooded by so many companies manufacturing so many variants of the personal tablet device that it becomes increasingly difficult to tell one from other.

While the overall functionalities of the device group remain broadly the same – reading, internet usage, watching movies, writing emails and so on, it takes an extra edge for a device to stand out amongst the crowd. While the Samsung Tab 3 offers enough features for basic usage and more, it unfortunately doesn’t really stand out when it comes to performance. Stronger traits such as a good display and a great battery life, however, do hold enough allure for it to be an option for a beginner’s buy.

Rs 25,500

Love – Lightweight, good display, decent battery

Hate – Average audio, occasional lags

Published on September 18, 2013

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