The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the successor to Samsung's original 7-inch tablet. It's also arguably the best Android Honeycomb tablet yet released. It combines gorgeous looks with a fantastic screen, and, in purely technical terms, manages to out-perform the iPad 2, although it lags way behind in the number of dedicated apps and games available.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is available with 16GB or 32GB of storage, with prices starting at around £400. A 3G version is expected shortly.
Guide to the review
This is an in-depth review, so here's a list of the various sections, for those who are interested in a particular area of the Tab 10.1:
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 vs iPad 2
There's no point in beating around the bush -- Apple currently has the tablet market well and truly cornered with the excellent iPad 2. It's a less than ideal situation for Google and its tablet hardware partners, but the one positive thing about having a dominant rival is that you at least know what you're out to beat -- and beating the iPad 2 is exactly what Samsung has attempted to do with the Galaxy Tab 10.1.
Samsung has gone to great lengths to stress that the Tab 10.1 is thinner than the iPad 2.
Almost every aspect of this tablet seems to have been designed in order to score points over the iPad 2. It's slimmer and lighter, and has a higher-resolution screen and better cameras. The Korean manufacturer has unquestionably crafted a truly dazzling piece of hardware.
The Tab 10.1 is incredibly light, and won't cause arm-strain during prolonged YouTube sessions.
But, just because the Galaxy Tab 10.1 betters other Android tablets doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to be to everyone's tastes. Just as many iPhone users can't abide Android phones, there are likely to be individuals that find the Galaxy Tab 10.1's convoluted menu system to be a turn-off rather than a turn-on.
Honeycomb is arguably more versatile than Apple's iOS software, but, by the same token, it's far less intuitive. Many options are buried deep within the menu system, which makes it awkward to use in a hurry. It also lacks the smoothness of iOS.
Despite the Galaxy Pad 10.1's muscular, 1GHz, dual-core CPU, the transition between home screens is often accompanied by stuttering animation, and we also noticed lag when moving between applications.
Should I buy a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1?
Basically, we'd give the same recommendation here as we would to any prospective smart-phone purchaser. If you want a device that works with the minimum of fuss and you aren't bothered about having complete and utter control over its functionality, then the iPad 2 is the tablet to go for, just as the iPhone is the mobile to go for.
But, if you like your technology to be more flexible and adventurous -- and also don't mind a little lag and the occasional crashing application -- the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is more likely to float your boat.
Tinkering around with the various settings will be a process familiar to Android phone users, but iPhone veterans may find it all overwhelming.
Of course, you may not even have decided whether a tablet is really what you're after. Although these ultra-mobile devices handle many of the tasks one would normally associate with netbooks or laptops, their capability is limited.
Drumming out an email, browsing YouTube or doing some online shopping are all activities that fall comfortably within the remit of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, but editing a home movie, touching up a digital photo or dealing with multiple documents and spreadsheets are tasks that are less suited to the mouse-free, touchscreen-only interface.
If you're in the market for a device on which you can play games, watch movies, read books and generally entertain yourself from the comfort of your sofa, then a tablet like the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the ideal solution. For anything beyond that, you may wish to consider a laptop or netbook.
Thanks to Google's suite of dedicated apps, it's easy to perform basic computer tasks such as sending emails, uploading videos and keeping your calendars in sync.
Google Maps is another app that looks like a million dollars when viewed on the Tab 10.1's enormous screen.
If you've got a Google Mail account, then the Galaxy Tab 10.1's Gmail app will allow you to keep on top of your correspondence.
The app uses a multi-pane interface that displays all of your emails on one side of the screen and the main body on the right. It's a system that mimics the one used in Microsoft Outlook, and shows how the increased size of a tablet's screen, as compared to that of a smart phone, can make for significant time savings.
Multi-pane viewing in Google Mail is a real time-saver.
Email and documents
If you're looking to use the Galaxy Tab 10.1 as your main email device, it's worth noting that the Gmail app currently only supports image attachments. It's possible to attach other items to emails, but you'll need to use a third-party app, like Linda File Manager, to do so.
Should you be handling files such as text documents and spreadsheets, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 comes with Polaris Office pre-loaded. This surprisingly robust application allows you to create, edit and manage Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents on the fly. It even allows you to upload your precious files to cloud-based storage, although you'll need to sign up to a Box.net account to use this service.
Polaris Office allows you to create and edit documents and spreadsheets, as well as upload them to cloud storage for safekeeping.
Editing documents using nothing but a touchscreen isn't the most elegant way of doing business, but, if you're seeking a simple way of making small amends or managing your files when you're out of the office and away from a computer, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 should prove an able part-time substitute for your trusty laptop.
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