Sadly my little video camera is currently being repaired, but from side-by-side testing the new tablet is very quick to cold-boot, taking less than half the time of the old tablet. So that's great. They both come out of suspend pretty much instantly. I played around with the Quadrant Standard synthetic benchmark used in the previous review but had a lot of trouble getting consistent results, on both tablets. However in general it seemed the new one has a slightly slower CPU score, but faster memory and video performance.
I still think synthetic benchmarks are a bit pointless on tablets, with real-world usage being more important. With my camera out of action I can't make a "general usage" video like I did last time, but this new one seems just as capable as the old one, with perhaps slightly smoother on-screen action. I played around in YouTube, Angry Birds, Google Maps and various other apps and in this seat-of-the-pants testing it seems very usable.
The screens themselves are quite similar, but after using them side by side the newer one does seem slightly sharper and overall better, although the old one is a little brighter. But unless they're side by side it would be difficult to claim one as better than the other - apart from the more standard resolution of the new one.
Left: older unit - Right: newer unit
The usable viewing angle of both tablets is less than my phone, but not terrible. In fact all you can really say is that both screens are fine but not spectacular, and certainly not a patch on some of the high-end screens like the iPad 3. But in terms of usability they're good enough, and when I was "testing" Angry Birds Star Wars this evening on the new one, it does look very sharp, vibrant and smoothly animated.
They're both fingerprint magnets and very reflective - and both fairly woeful in direct sunlight. I was testing the cameras outside (see photos below) and the reason why the photos are not framed as identically as I'd like is that I simply couldn't see well enough on the screen, particularly when at an angle so as to be out of the way of the front camera. Using the back camera, which you will generally use unless teleconferencing, and being straight-on to the screen does make it usable outdoors. But don't expect to be able to sit either of these tablets on a table in direct sunlight and browse. Find some shade. Having said all that, below are some shots of the new one in evening light indoors showing it can look pretty good. The slight moire effect in the photos is not visible in real life.
The 3G-equipped newer tablet has some more phone-like settings out of the box including the dialer app, a signal strength indicator and warning you if there is no SIM card present on boot. I moved the SIM from my Galaxy S2 and installed it into the tablet at home and got no signal. Signal is patchy at my place, but the SGS2 is generally ok to recieve an SMS, if not make a call reliably. So I drove to a nearby main-ish road and parked there. I could make a call using the tablet but data seemed extremely slow. For comparison I put the SIM back into the SGS2, set up a WiFi hotspot and connected the tablet to the phone via WiFi. This meant we were using the 3G connection of the SGS2. This was fine. I set up the Play Store, installed some apps, played a youtube video, ran Speed Test, etc. This was with the phone resting on the passenger seat and the tablet resting on my lap against the steering wheel. Putting the SIM back into the tablet gave us the same flaky connection as before. I actually experimented with winding the car windows down and resting the tablet on the sill and was able to get one good run with Speed Test, but I couldn't repeat this. Strange. I ran out of time for testing this so I'm not sure if my one is faulty, or I just had flaky reception, or what. But certainly it was a lot more reliable running via WiFi through the SGS2 than using its own 3G hardware.
The GPS takes about 10 minutes to get its bearings when you first turn it on out of the box, but that's not unusual in my experience. After that it gets a lock quickly enough, including after being powered down. It seems slightly less accurate than my SGS2 phone's GPS, but it was only reporting a few less metres of accuracy in GPS Test in the same locations.
Walking around outside it got as low as 7M accuracy which is reasonable enough. It'd be annoying if you were hunting for a particularly difficult geocache or doing high-precision surveying, but given most GPS information is used for "where's the nearest Thai restaurant" or "how do I drive home from here" it'd be fine.
These are a definite improvement over the previous unit. Here's some sample shots on an overcast and stormy afternoon - I think the sun popped out just as I took the "new - front" one, so that's unfairly a bit brighter than the others. But it's clear the new ones are sharper and higher resolution. Don't get me wrong, they're not brilliant cameras, but if they're all you have on you, they'll do.
Left: old back camera - Right: new back camera
Left: old front camera - Right: new front camera
So, not quite as short as I'd hoped, but here's my thoughts after a day. The first point is that it's most definitely not simply the previous tablet with GPS and 3G units installed. The specs are similar on paper, but the new one has a slightly better screen, seems slightly smoother for video/games and has better cameras. You lose an HDMI port and gain GPS and potentially-flaky 3G. Personally there's no compelling reason for me to change to the new tablet - and the new charging plug is annoying for me.
But in terms of a cheap way to delve into the world of Android and tablets, with get-it-locally convenience and easy warranty, it seems like it would be hard to beat - although I'm not entirely up to speed on the zillions of other options out there at the moment. If you're really dependent on the 3G functionality I'd hold off until other people report on how theirs work, or until I can do some more experimenting here. If you can fall back to WiFi it seems fine. So I'm not going to give it a glowing recommendation, but if you've got $250 burning a hole in your pocket and really want an Android tablet today, and if you can find one, it's really not a bad option at all.