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Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1"
Tablet is Android's long awaited (true) answer to the iPad 2

South Korean gadget maker Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (SEO:005930) was one of the first to deploy a major Android tablet, releasing the 7-inch Galaxy Tab.  The small tablet wasn't exactly the "iPad-slayer" the market had been waiting for, but it occupied a unique niche in the food chain.  Now Samsung is stepping up to the plate, releasing a 10.1" direct challenger to the iPad and looking to go strong, where past competitors like Motorola Mobility Solutions, Inc. (MMIstruggled.

surprisingly slick iPad 2 design forced Samsung back to the drawing board.  It responded by trimming over 2 mm off its design.  In its new form, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a mere 8.6 mm thick -- 0.2 mm less than the iPad 2.  And with 4G wireless connectivity, it weighs in at 595g -- 15 grams less than the iPad 2.

The tablet’s construction is also apparently high quality.  Referencing the "Limited Edition" test builds that Google handed out to attendees of its I/O developers conference Engadget writes:

The consumer model is a spitting image of the LE variant, save for the motif on the rear; the one you'll pick up this month has a glossy white plastic rear, while the LE model had a glossy white plastic rear... with an Android army adorning it. Weight's the same, size is the same, build quality is the same. It's a tremendous thing to hold, and it truly oozes quality from corner to corner.

PC World adds:

In my hands-on testing, the Tab 10.1 achieved perhaps the best design compliment an Android tablet could hope for--often being mistaken by passers-by (including Apple iPad users) for an iPad 2.

Engadget seems to be the only ones who benchmarked it thoroughly, thus far.  They say the tablet's 7000 mAh battery offers 10 hours of battery life when playing video at 65 percent brightness.  That's only 0.5 hour less than the iPad.

Both the iPad 2 and the Galaxy Tab 10.1" should be similar in processing power as both pack dual-core ARMv7 proprietary CPUs (ironically Samsung manufacturers and likely helped design the iPad 2's CPU).  The one advantage the Galaxy Tab 10.1" has is it packs 1 GB of DDR2 memory, versus a mere 512 MB in the iPad 2.

The 16 GB model is priced the same as the iPad 2 for the 16 GB model with Wi-Fi only -- $499 USD.  As with Apple a 32 GB model ("the one with the bigger GBs") is available for $599 USD.  And Verizon will be offering 4G-equipped models for $130 USD more than their respective Wi-Fi counterparts -- the same premium as with the iPad 2.

The Galaxy Tab carries a minor update to Honeycomb -- Android 3.1.

Engadget concludes:

[T]his is the best Honeycomb tablet to date, and lucky for you, the one's available to purchase! Only time will tell if the Android Market will prove to be as well-stocked as the App Store, and if you're willing to wait, this here slate provides a world-class Gmail experience, better handling than the iPad 2 (in our humble opinion, anyway) and a higher resolution display.

PCWorld chimes in:

Whether you go Wi-Fi only or opt for a connected version, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the first Android tablet that makes a credible, and successful, run at competing with Apple's iPad 2. It matches iPad in most every way-design, price, and even that intangible IT factor. Where it falls short lies is in sacrificing ports, but that alone isn't a dealbreaker; heck, Apple's been doing that from the outset. Google's Android Market continues to make it more difficult to find tablet-optimized apps than Apple's App Store does, but again, that may not be a dealbreaker. If neither of those constraints phase you, then the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is one of the top tablets you can consider buying today. And it becomes the flagship Honeycomb tablet for showcasing what Android 3.1 can do.

Note, the reviews all around were much more positive than with the Motorola Xoom, and better even that the somewhat warmly received original Galaxy Tab (7-inch model).

Sounds like the wait was worth it -- Samsung may have a winner on its hands.  That would certainly be a godsend for the struggling Android tablet market.

Comments     Threshold

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By Raiders12 on 6/9/2011 8:43:45 AM , Rating: 2
Its just a shame that no matter how technologically advanced or similar any tablet or personal device is compared to an Apple product, it simply won't sell as well. Apple is too embedded in the mainstream hipster/cool kid/mom/dad/dog/cat crowd. I for one research and purchase/build my computers and seek out better alternatives than Apple. This tablet is quite intriguing though.

RE: Shame
By Tony Swash on 6/9/2011 12:52:23 PM , Rating: 2
Its just a shame that no matter how technologically advanced or similar any tablet or personal device is compared to an Apple product, it simply won't sell as well. Apple is too embedded in the mainstream hipster/cool kid/mom/dad/dog/cat crowd. I for one research and purchase/build my computers and seek out better alternatives than Apple. This tablet is quite intriguing though.

Let's think about that for a moment.

On the technical front see my previous comment but to reiterate: tech specs don't matter. What matters is discernible advantage or disadvantage to the consumer. So if any given 'superior' technical component or spec actually results in no real world advantage then normal consumers see no advantage in having it.

You mention products being similar, I assume you mean technically similar - made from similar components, similar in size and weight etc. But again you need to look at this from the consumer point of view and ask what is similar, what is best, what is better. A typical consumer might ask the following sort of reasonable questions about a tablet:

How many tablet optimised apps does it have right now?

How polished is the OS and UI?

How familiar is the OS and UI - is it just like my iPhone or Android handset UI?

Where can I go to meet some helpful retail staff that will let me play with the tablet and patiently and knowledgeably answer my questions?

Can I just import all my music and media content from my iTunes library into this tablet?

If I have bought music from the iTunes store how easy is it to get that music onto the new tablet?

Is it easy to connect this thing to my Mac or PC and sync my data?

And here are questions that will be asked once iCloud, Lion and iOS5 are all released in September:

If I take some photos on my iPhone or Android will they just appear on this tablet without me doing anything?

If I edit a document on this tablet will my edits just appear on the copy on my iPhone or Android handset without me doing anything?

If you pose such questions, reasonable questions that a normal sort of consumer would pose, you realise that although it possible to get a positive answer on many of them for the Android tablet not all answers are good (very few tablet optimised apps for example) and some require the consumer to work too hard, to know too much, to wrestle with too many technical complexities. Getting stuff out of iTunes and across to an Android tablet, buying new content, getting you photos from your tablet to your handset. All these things can be done but doing them with an Android tablet is just so much more kludgy than doing them with i-devices. And that's not a surprise, it's the result of Apple's very specific integrated design philosophy where it controls all levels of the value and function stack and it ensures they all work together very well.

It will be interesting to see how Android (and other non-iOS tablets) sell. Without the vested interest of the well established mobile operator channels they may find it harder than selling Android handsets. Time will tell.

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