As mentioned, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 looks very similar to the iPad 2. In fact, Apple has an ongoing case against Samsung claiming that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringes on similar Apple technology/patents used in the iPad 2. From its high end quality materials to the elegantly designed curves and exterior, Samsung borrowed a page from Apple’s design handbook. As mentioned, the Galaxy Tab’s 8.6mm thinness is one of it’s most notable feature.
Under the hood, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is more similar to the Motorola Xoom rather than the iPad 2. The Galaxy Tab’s 10.1-inch display is another feature worth noting on this Samsung tablet. It has the same resolution - at 1280×800 - as the Motorola Xoom, but with a much better display quality. As a top LCD panel manufacturer, it comes as no surprise that Samsung made sure the Galaxy 10.1 is equipped with the best in the world.
As with the Motorola Xoom, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is equipped with an NVIDIA Tegra 2 SoC with a dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 CPU. It also has 1GB of RAM and users can choose from either a 16GB or a 32GB variant. The Tab 10.1 also has two cameras, a front-facing 2.0MP camera for video chat and a 3.0MP rear camera with an LED flash.
Unlike the Motorola Xoom and like the iPad 2, the Galaxy 10.1′s very obvious downside is its lack of a standard USB port and HDMI out connectivity. You do get a proprietary USB cable to plug the device to your computer, which is more difficult to replace immediately in case of damage or loss. Also, Samsung sells adapters for connecting the tab to an external monitor via HDMI. This could be a good strategy for Samsung, but others might resent the idea of having to purchase a separate adapter for this feature.
Samsung, also like Apple, didn’t bother to include a microSD slot on the Galaxy Tab 10.1.
The Tab 10.1 has a slim power button and a volume rocker at the top left in the edge of the device’s frame. A regular headphone jack is positioned slightly off-center, also at the top. The tablet has a pair of speakers, one on each of the tablet’s short edges. The dual speakers are a nice touch, because it means that you get full left and right stereo audio when you hold the device in landscape orientation to watch a movie.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 ships with Android 3.1, the recent Honeycomb update. As with other Android manufacturers, Samsung is doing its best to create their own stack of applications and user interface customizations to differentiate its tablets from competing products.
There are two pre-installed email applications on the Galaxy Tab 10.1. The first, Gmail, is a new multi-pane version of the popular and fully featured Gmail application seen on Android smartphones. Users are presented with nice views of the folders, message lists, and messages in a very organized and intuitive manner. On top of that, the Gmail client offers features like Priority Inbox and threaded conversation views that users have come to expect from Gmail. The regular email app offers the same paned view as Gmail, and is equally nice to use. It adds multi-touch zooming to the mix, which is a handy feature when you are working with a large, high-res display.
The most glaring downfall of the Android Honeycomb platform is its lack of applications. Compared to Apple’s App store, Google’s Marketplace has relatively few tablet-specific apps available at the moment, and compatibility with older titles can be somewhat spotty at times. While most of the over 200,000 applications found in the Android market will work in full screen mode, some do not, and those that do often perform less than optimally.
The web browser that ships with Android Honeycomb is quite different from the browser we find in Android smartphones. For starters, it offers true tabbed browsing, just as you would find on Google Chrome on the desktop. The Honeycomb browser even supports Chrome’s Incognito mode and will synchronize with Chrome’s bookmarks. Browsing is generally fast and accurate. However, flash coupled with resource-intensive banner ads and videos can make browsing a absolute pain in the neck.
With the Galaxy Tab’s size, using it as a camera is quite awkward. But, it does take really good 3 megapixel still photos and shoots very respectable 720p HD video with its main camera, which features autofocus and an LED flash. The user interface on the camera is different than the one found on the Motorola XOOM. It is easy to quickly change settings like white balance or flash mode as needed. It’s also easy to switch to the forward facing 2 megapixel camera at any time for photos or video, but the forward facing camera requires a lot more light to snap a usable image. It works fine for video chatting, though, which is its primary purpose.
Watching 720p HD videos on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a good experience since they run at full resolution on the Tab’s touchscreen display. Naturally you can watch third party video content on the Tab as well, and it plays quite smoothly thanks to the Galaxy Tab 10.1′s dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor and stereo speakers.
Android 3.1 Honeycomb offers users an all-new music application. The app offers a very cool looking 3D rendered scrolling flow of album covers in the New and Recent section of the device, but offers nothing similarly interesting for the album, artist, playlist and other views that it offers. The built-in speakers won’t replace a good stereo system for output, but they perform better than the rear-facing speakers on Motorola’s XOOM at least.