It could well be the best Android tablet on the market, but is it any match for the Apple iPad 2, which is currently considered the best tablet to buy right now? We put the two tablets up against each other to see who comes out on top of the table pile.
It's head to head time….
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1: Build I Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 review
At only 545g, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is lighter than the iPad 2 and it's slinkier as well thanks to tiny dimensions, giving us the perfect feel in our hand for pick up and play. Samsung opted for minimalism over connectivity so there's no USB, media card slots or anything else spoiling the sleek design. We will berate Samsung for not adding a metal back, relying on cheaper plastic instead. The only hardware buttons are the on/off button and volume with everything else navigated via the ultra responsive multitouch interface. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 wasn't exactly all guns ablazin' from off, taking longer than expected to boot but was instant on from idle.
Apple iPad 2: Build I Apple iPad 2 review
Though slightly heftier than the Samsung Galaxy, when lifting the iPad 2 out of the box, you almost feel like you're handling Grandma's best china- such is the skinniness of the 8.8mm frame. Remarkably though, the tablet retains a very sturdy feel. It's not the least bit fragile and there's zero flexibility. It's a piece of engineering that defies physics. Fifty-six grams heavier than the Samsung Galaxy, the one-handed grip on the iPad 2 is slightly uncomfortable. The thin edges on this model actually make it difficult to keep a steady hand and you have to adopt an awkward reach-around approach to access the volume and screen switches.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1: Screen I Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 review
It was when we first picked up the Galaxy Tab 10.1 that everything just made sense. The 10.1-inch 720HD screen is a smite bigger than the competition but it isn't about size - it's literally about the motion in the ocean - and, try as we might, we couldn't catch the gyroscopes and accelerometers out. Multimedia playback on the screen is abundant clarity from every angle and it is one of the brightest mobile screens we've seen.
Apple iPad 2 Screen I Apple iPad 2 review
While we were blown away by the original iPad's 9.7-inch 1024x768 LED-backlit display, we were hoping this would bring a version of its iPhone 4 Retina Screen. Now it hasn't, we're a little disappointed. While indoor performance is still great and colours are truly vivid for gaming, photos and videos, in the post-Retina Screen world, text still isn't quite as crisp as we'd like and it's still pretty useless in sunlight. It also attracts a lot of finger marks.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1: Battery I Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 review
The only connection is a dock connector that plugs in to a USB port or into an AC Adapter for charging. That's very slow charging - our review unit took nearly four hours to get back to maximum charge but the powerful 7000-mAh battery lasts for up to nine hours on light use. These tablets take up too much juice to charge over USB but Samsung gets points for adding drag and drop simplicity. There's no bloatware install in the order of Apple's monopolistic tendencies with iTunes and it also plays Flash codecs - take that iPad.
Apple iPad 2 Battery I Apple iPad 2 review
In terms of battery life, we got around 6 hours of near-solid Wi-Fi surfing, downloading apps and playing games, which is very respectable. The extra processing power doesn't seem to be provide any supplemental drain on the battery and it takes a mere 3 hours to fully recharge .
Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Features I Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 review
Despite Samsung's commitment to social networking, it's not comprehensively integrated. It does have a Social Hub to manage and sync all of your networking trails and includes Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. Samsung has also added an e-readers and Music Hub to rival iTunes with tracks set as 99p a pop and £5.00 for a popular album. We weren't that impressed with Samsung's own apps store.
The apps hawkers at the Samsung marketplace have got nothing extra to sell you won't already find much more off at the Android Market. Tablets can live or die by their eco-system and most are a bazillion miles away from a fair fight with Apple. That said, we did get Dropbox and the Evening Standard app are great. Yes, there is Angry Birds in HD, you casual gamer, you. On paper the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10 is unsurpassed with only the TouchPad offering 200Hz more on its processor. Here you get a 1Ghz dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processor combined with NVIDIA 's Tegra 2, which accounted for the fact this can fly through graphically intensive HD apps games like, Galaxy on Fire 2 without breaking a sweat.
Other goodies include 1GB of memory, a 3MP rear and 2MP front camera that's fine for the bundled Google Talk. If you want Skype you have to download it. The rear camera is slow to take shots and the focusing seems more like a lucky dip but it can handle excellent 720 HD video recording and 1080 HD video playback.
Apple iPad 2 Features I Apple iPad 2 review
A quantifiable improvement comes with the new dual core 1GHz Apple A5 processor, replacing the A4 by offering twice the power. If you thought this thing was nifty before, then wait until you get a hold of the iPad 2. Such is the speed of response when you touch the screen that you'll think 'did I even touch that yet?' It almost pre-empts your commands. The T3 iPad Edition opens instantly, while images render much faster than before. The heftier apps, like the new GarageBand (an essential download, the highlight of which is the different response from piano keys depending on the sensitivity of your touch - enabled by the accelerometer and a huge leap forward) still take a short while to open, but not noticeably so.T3.com loads and renders quickly over Wi-Fi, while pinch-to-zoom re-formatting is definitely quicker.
YouTube performance is great, while downloading music, movies and podcasts is rapid. Of course the other change comes with the addition of cameras. FaceTime video calling is now available for iPad and while the quality won't blow you away it does the job. The rear-facing camera is passable, offering decent snaps in good conditions, but drab colours and limited detail the rest of the time. There's 720p video recording on board, which comes in really handy for the brilliant iMovie app, but the iPad 2 has to be the most ridiculously shaped video camera of all time.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 video I Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 review
Apple iPad 2 video I Apple iPad 2 review
Unlike the HP TouchPad, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 provides not only in functionality but also on the looks front, sporting a design which truly feels like a rival to Apple's latest and greatest. Sadly however, and much like the TouchPad, the Galaxy Tab lacks in apps, both from Android and Samsung.
As a standalone tablet the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is by far and away the best Honeycomb tablet out there, offering style, speed and substance at a price that doesn't make your eyes water. What it lacks in however the iPad 2 does not, making it just shy of the mark and leaving Apple once again with a tablet that has the substance to back up its sleek, good looks.