Hardware and touchscreen
As the device's name so subtly suggests, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has a 10.1-inch display. It has a resolution of 1,280x800 pixels, which is just enough to put the iPad 2's 1,024x768-pixel resolution in the shade. Furthermore, Samsung's new Super PLS technology provides an astonishingly bright and vivid picture, with excellent viewing angles, making this one of the best displays we've yet seen on a tablet.
But, to achieve this eye-searing degree of luminosity, you'll need to disable the auto-brightness system. We noticed that the Galaxy Tab 10.1's light sensor -- located next to the front-facing camera at the top of the screen -- has a tendency to be rather stingy.
Even in quite poorly lit rooms, the screen's brightness dims right down. Naturally this has a positive side effect, as battery life is protected by keeping the screen on a low light, but, when you've paid almost half a grand on a piece of consumer electronics, you want it to look dazzling.
The Super PLS screen offers excellent viewing angles.
Another issue we noticed was touchscreen latency. Many tablets suffer from this ailment, but there were times when the Galaxy Tab 10.1 was rather sluggish to acknowledge our input. Mercifully it's a fairly rare occurrence, and, for the most part, the device responds promptly to finger stabs and swipes.
If you’ve handled the 7-inch Galaxy Tab, then the chances are you may have reservations regarding the jump in screen size. While the larger screen makes this tablet a little less easy to stow away in your rucksack, the additional inches really do make a massive difference when it comes to the overall experience. It's hard to go back to the smaller display after witnessing this.
Fruit Ninja looks stunning on the Tab 10.1's screen.
Even when placed alongside the iPad 2's stunning screen, there's no denying that Samsung has set a new benchmark in tablet displays with this offering, and, if you're the kind of person who is picky over the quality of their screens, it's worth making note of that fact.
It's hard to believe that there's a 1GHz, dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 CPU beating inside the impossibly svelte frame, but the Galaxy Tab 10.1 packs some serious processing muscle. It's backed up by 1GB of RAM, which is vital when you're throwing around all that data on the screen.
Compared to other Android devices, the Tab 10.1 comes out with an impressive score in benchmark tests (click image to enlarge).
The slim nature of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has forced Samsung to leave out USB ports. This means the tablet isn't capable of taking advantage of Android 3.1's ability to host USB devices such as external drives, mice and joypads. You can buy a USB dongle which links via the 30-pin connector located on the bottom edge of the device, however.
Also absent is the ability to augment the Galaxy Tab's internal memory via microSD or SD cards. This isn't such a pressing issue if you plump for the more expensive 32GB model, but, during our tests, we found the 16GB edition's storage quickly vanished once we'd loaded up a few 1080p videos and imported our music library.
The stock movie player is capable of handling a wide range of video formats and can play 1080p footage.
Should you plan on turning your tablet into your personal media player, you might want to consider laying down a few more sheets for the 32GB version, or looking at rivals like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer.
It's also a shame that no HDMI connection is included, as we would have appreciated the ability to hook the Galaxy Tab 10.1 up to a television.
Media and ebooks
When you're presented with such a gorgeous 10.1-inch Super PLS screen, it's only natural to want to show it off to the best of its ability. The most impressive way of doing this is watching 1080p HD movies. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is powerful enough to ensure flawless playback of video -- something that can't be said of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, which notably struggled with HD footage.
At the time of writing, we couldn't gain access to Samsung's Media Hub application, as it's going to be made available around the same time that the Galaxy Tab 10.1's interface is updated with TouchWiz features. The service will, however, allow you to rent movies and watch them on the tablet in much the same way that HTC's Watch app does on the HTC Sensation.
The company's Music Hub app is included, however, and it attempts to mimic Apple's iTunes with its selection of downloadable songs and albums. You can sample 30 seconds of each song before committing to a purchase, and it's possible to grab entire albums for around £5 a pop. Single tracks cost 99p each.
Samsung's Music Hub application allows you to purchase audio content.
Purchased tracks are downloaded to the Galaxy Tab 10.1's internal memory, and aren't saddled with any digital-rights-management nonsense. Once you've grabbed some choice tracks, you can either listen to them using the tablet's preinstalled media player or transfer them to another device.
The ebook reader is another neat pre-installed app, and could potentially soak up more of your time than the movie and music variants. It allows you to link to your preferred ebook store in order to download books directly to your device and uses a cool 'bookshelf' interface to display all of your tomes.
The ebook reader app allows you to download books from your favourite online store and import existing PDFs.
If you already have a sizeable collection of novels, you can import existing libraries and even PDF files. The text-to-speech option is an interesting feature, although the robotic female voice does tend to grate after a few chapters.
The Honeycomb YouTube app is stunning -- expect to spend a lot of time using it.
The dedicated Android Honeycomb YouTube application comes pre-installed as standard, and it's arguably one of the best apps currently available. The large screen allows you to browse video content effectively, and the cool, curved 3D menu effect still manages to impress us, even though we marvelled at it on the Motorola Xoom many moons ago.
The increased size of the tablet's display allows you to view more content on YouTube.
Playback can be toggled between standard and high definition, and, when you blow the footage up to full screen, it really does look rather scrumptious. If Google can apply the same level of polish to some of its other exclusive apps, that will go a long way to enticing customers over from the iPad.
Next page: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 camera and video