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Steve Jobs shocked the electronics industry by delivering a 33 percent thinner iPad.  (Source: AFP)

Samsung will soon release its own Galaxy Tab-branded competitor in the approximately 10-inch form factor, but price, size, and battery life may be issues.
Company says it's hard at work trying to make the changes necessary to stay competitive

It looks like Apple bought itself a bit more time atop the market with the announcement of the iPad 2.  With Android tablets coming on strong and competitors like HP's webOS and Microsoft's Windows 7 waiting in the ranks, all eyes were on Apple March 2.  The company delivered an impressive device that shrunk the form factor, increased the processing power, maintained the battery life, and according to numerous unconfirmed reports, will double the amount of RAM to 512 MB.

The iterative hardware improvements weren't much of a surprise to the electronics industry.  What seemed to take them aback was the form factor.  Lee Don-Joo, executive vice president of mobile devices at South Korean device maker Samsung told South Korea's publicly funded Yonhap News Agency, "We will have to improve the parts that are inadequate [in our tablets]. Apple made it very thin."

The iPad 2 is an incredible .35 inches thin -- approximately a third of an inch.  That's approximately 33 percent thinner than the first-gen thickness of 0.5 inch and thinner even than the 0.472 inch Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Samsung's Galaxy Tab was the first major Android tablet to be billed as a possible "iPad slayer".  However, the device was quite different from Apple's in its strengths and weaknesses.  While packing superior hardware, it featured a smaller 7.0-inch (diagonal) LCD screen and debuted at nearly $900 USD without contract.  Those factors caused many tablet buyers to stick with the iPad, which had an entry level Wi-Fi-only price of $499 and 9.7-inch screen.

Today Motorola has taken up the Mantle of "iPad killer" with its new Xoom dual-core Android "Honeycomb" tablet.  But Samsung is hungry for mores success of its own, and will soon release a new Honeycomb 10.1-inch tablet of its own, pricing on which hasn't been confirmed.

Mr. Lee comments, "The 10-inch (tablet) was to be priced higher than the seven-inch but we will have to think that over."

To put things in perspective, between October and December Samsung sold 2 million Galaxy Tab devices, while Apple sold 15 million iPads between April and December.  That gap becomes more noticeable when you consider how far behind Android devices have left the iPhone in the mobile market.

The iPad 2, like the first generation model, doesn't exactly pack the most incredible hardware in the world.  What it does do, however, is offer an impressive form factor and equally noteworthy battery life.  Both of those marks were complaints about the recent Xoom -- it was too bulky/heavy and the battery life fell short of promised figures.

Both metrics are even more critical to tablets than they are to some other mobile devices like laptops.  While you can always plug in a laptop, you seldom run a tablet plugged in, so battery life is essential.  And while your notebook computer rests comfortably on a table or your lap, you actually hold the tablet, so weight becomes a major issue.

And what is equally surprising is that price may be the key thing keeping the iPad as the top selling tablets.  Apple has a long-standing reputation of delivering high-end gadgets, which -- according to some -- are more than a bit overpriced.  But with the iPad it has delivered a more minimalistic hardware set and a remarkably low hardware price.

When it comes to tablets, it's still Apple's game to lose.  If it can maintain its mobility edge (battery life, form factor) and price edge it may be able to hold on to its lead even as Android brings out the big guns processing power-wise.

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Ummm, what?
By Alexstarfire on 3/4/2011 10:51:27 AM , Rating: 1
The Xoom weighs as much as the original iPad and has better battery life (except for the video playback for one person which even they admitted no settings were given) in more than 1 situation. Perhaps I'm failing to see how battery life and weight are actual problems when they meet or exceed the original iPad. I would like to see some battery life tests on the iPad 2 to see if it's really the same as the original too.

Funny how the original iPad wasn't considered bulky with bad battery life but something equal to better is. How does that make sense?

RE: Ummm, what?
By mead drinker on 3/4/2011 11:30:31 AM , Rating: 3
Funny how the original iPad wasn't considered bulky with bad battery life but something equal to better is. How does that make sense?

Because it was released some 9 months ago, meaning it existed well beyond that through R&D stages and the same manufacturer has bested itself one year later. As a result of their efforts, they have raised the standard. And while I agree with the notion that "the original iPad wasn't considered bulky with bad battery life" as these adjectives are pretty drastic, I do believe that Apple has reason to improve of them regardless. These "marginal" improvements over the years have an incredibly profound cumulative effect.

RE: Ummm, what?
By Alexstarfire on 3/4/2011 4:41:34 PM , Rating: 2
I think you missed my point a little bit. I'm not saying it's not good to improve upon weight or battery life, but making something lighter doesn't automatically make the previous iteration bulky which is pretty much what they are saying here.

RE: Ummm, what?
By MDGeek on 3/4/11, Rating: -1
RE: Ummm, what?
By Alexstarfire on 3/4/2011 4:34:25 PM , Rating: 3
I went with the numbers on the Anandtech article in which only the battery life for video playback was in question. In that article, link provided in this article, they say the Xoom gets 2 hours more battery life while browsing on 3G. I can't say much about the video playback seeing as how every mention of it only references what 1 guy got. Though, same could be said for the battery life times that I'm referencing.

I find it odd that an iPad could get better battery life out of video playback than browsing the web. Not saying it's not happening, but it seems to me that it'd be using up more power on 3G than it should.

RE: Ummm, what?
By omnicronx on 3/4/2011 4:48:37 PM , Rating: 1
I find it odd that an iPad could get better battery life out of video playback than browsing the web.
Not really that odd, web browsing is quite CPU intensive.. Most devices these days have dedicated video processing on die.. (i.e I'm guessing video requires far less CPU resources)
Not to mention web browsing requires constant use either the wireless or cell antennas to access content.

I'm pretty sure their video power benchmarks are for local content only too, the battery life is not as long if you are streaming content in my experience.

RE: Ummm, what?
By Alexstarfire on 3/4/2011 6:52:26 PM , Rating: 2
I would agree if it weren't for the fact that it's the only device with better battery life playing video than web browsing. Not that others aren't close, but still.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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