10 days ago, I bought a tablet (and my first Android device, BTW). Since nearly all of my tech is from Samsung and I was mostly satisfied with all of it, I picked the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 instead of the Asus MeMO Pad. Possibly a mistake.
The hardware of the device works as expected. The touchscreen is very responsive and all tested apps run well (only exception here is Google Currents, but I blame the app for that). The battery lasts around 7 hours of heavy usage. That’s okay, in my opinion.
From the 1 GB RAM, only 687 MB are visible. Obviously the OS is taking the rest. With all the preinstalled bloatware (not deletable!) and some background processes that are installed by apps (another thing that you can’t change!), I’ve not even 200 MB of available RAM. That makes the (pseudo-)multitasking quite pointless, since Android silently kills apps in the background when it runs out of memory – people report that often not even their music player stays active!
I don’t want a device that I have to manipulate (root) to get full control. Root access should be an option in the menu – period! Unrooted, Android feels a bit like Windows – every app installs some background crap that slows everything down and is a potential security/privacy leak. Avast mobile security offers a firewall, but to use it you need.. yep, root access.
Since there is a upgrade to Jelly Bean available by Samsung, I planned to upgrade yesterday. But cause it’s not available via Wi-Fi, you have to use Samsung’s ‘Kies’ to upgrade and that’s an experience that you wouldn’t wish your worst enemy (if you are a nice person).
Though Android is of course Linux based, Samsung’s “fabulous” ‘Kies’ software is only available for Windows and Mac (and, no – it doesn’t work with Wine). But since I have a WinXP jailed in the cellar.. um, in VirtualBox, I mean.. that didn’t seem to be a real problem, just an annoyance.
So I installed ‘Kies’ and started it, connected the Tab 2 via USB and started waiting. WinXP does recognize it (somehow), but stops then while reporting “found Samsung SMP device”. After 5+ minutes ‘Kies’ shows an error message that it can’t connect. It asks you to restart the Tab 2, but that changes nothing.
Next, I googled for around ~4 hours and tried different things (reinstalling drivers, reinstalling ‘Kies’, trying to connect wireless and more). Nothing worked, but it was interesting to see that hundreds of people were writing about their problems with ‘Kies’.. since months and with dozens of different Samsung devices.
However.. on one website I found a crucial hint: It told to turn off ‘USB debugging’ in the ‘developer settings’ of the Tab 2. It was already turned off in mine and so I turned it on. (yes, I like to do the opposite of what people want me to do ) And, yeah, that worked! WinXP recognized the device finally and ‘Kies’ was able to connect to it. It even showed the available firmware upgrade, BUT I was told that I first have to update ‘Kies’ itself (made sense, since the install was already an hour old..). To my surprise, I was still able to connect it again after the update.
Now, I was able to start the firmware update.. after downloading the update to the PC, ‘Kies’ complained, that I would have to recharge the battery first (was at 56%). The following hour of waiting didn’t really make me happier, or more patient and so I started another try with 88% battery. Same result – still not enough for ‘Kies’. Another 30 minutes later: 99% battery, connected, upgrade started, battery test passed(!).. YES, now it will finally give me Jelly Bean.. NO, after the passed battery test this “excellent” piece of software simply disconnected from the device. Since then, further tries no longer show that an upgrade exists. At least, the Tab 2 wasn’t bricked. Since I thought, that at least SOMETHING would have happened, I rebooted the Tab 2, tried the Wi-Fi update option again, but nothing had changed.
After now ~8 hrs, I had enough. In my first rage I planned to give it back, but I will simply root it in the next days. Sure is, that the overall likeliness that a new device I buy is from Samsung did go down from over 80% to below 5% – for phones and tablets, it’s exactly ZERO!
*UPDATE: I had just posted this article as I saw a notification on my Tab 2 that it is downloading an update package. And yes, it was the upgrade to Jelly Bean – and no, I’ve no idea why it suddenly worked that way.
However, since that raises Samsung’s chances to sell something to me again, I can’t say how much, cause I won’t forget the day with ‘Kies’..
The upgrade to Jelly Bean is great. Everything seems to be even faster now and most important: The WiFi connection is more stable now.