Samsung's new tablet is the thinnest currently available -- but is it actually worth buying?
In the realm of Android tablets, standing out from the pack is becoming an increasingly challenging task for manufacturers. With its new Galaxy Tab 10.1 device, Samsung has managed to set itself apart with a quality few have achieved: sexiness.
It weighs about 1.25 lb., making it 6% lighter than the iPad 2 and a whopping 20% lighter than the Motorola Xoom, the current flagship device for Google's Android Honeycomb tablet platform. When blindly holding the Tab and the Xoom flat in your palms, like plates, it's tough to gauge the difference in weight. But holding the tablets individually in front of you, as you would when actually using them, the new Tab's light form is impossible not to notice.
And the Tab 10.1 practically begs to be held. This thing is all smooth curves: Its silver metallic trim forms a gently rounded border around its 10.1-inch screen. The trim extends about half an inch down the Tab's back, covering the rear camera area. The back plate itself is shiny white plastic; a dark gray model is also available.
So the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has a rockin' body; that much is clear. But will it also wow you with its brains? Let's take a look.
Under the hood
Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 is powered by an Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz processor, the same processor used in the Xoom and numerous other high-end Android devices. Like the Xoom, the Galaxy Tab has 1GB of RAM.
As you'd expect, given those specs, the Tab's performance is impressive: I found that swiping through home screen panels was fast and fluid, and apps loaded almost instantly. Resource-intensive games such as the Tegra-optimized Riptide GP and Pinball HD played smoothly, showing off what Nvidia's GeForce GPU can do.
Web browsing on the Tab 10.1 was speedy and hassle-free (aside from some Web sites loading as mobile versions -- a Web development problem that's solvable with a simple fix). With the separately downloaded Adobe Flash Player in place, Flash-based videos played effortlessly in the Honeycomb browser; I watched several clips without so much as a single blip in the playback.
(Flash content on Android, it's worth noting, loads only on demand; as such, you don't end up seeing things like Flash-based ads unless you choose to tap and load them.)
The only performance-related issue I noticed was a tendency for the screen to sometimes take too long to rotate when turning the device, particularly on the home screen. This seems to be a common hiccup with Android Honeycomb tablets, however, and not exclusive to the Galaxy Tab 10.1.
In terms of battery life, the Tab can last a solid nine hours with continuous video playback. For regular day-to-day use, you should easily be able to go a good few days without needing to charge.
The Tab's display
The core component of any tablet is its display, and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 shines in this department. The Tab's 1280 x 800-pixel LCD is bold and vibrant, with brilliant colors and crisp definition. The color-intensive configuration makes the Xoom's screen (also 1280 x 800) look almost muted in comparison.
That said, the Tab's display did seem a bit oversaturated at times. In photos, for instance, skin looked significantly more orangey than it should -- not necessarily a bad thing for the pale among us -- while the Xoom's color representation was far more true to life.
Like any glossy-surfaced gadget, the Galaxy Tab looks worse in the sun. But while the screen appeared more washed out in outdoor conditions, I was able to view images and read text with relative ease, even in direct sunlight. Still, I found the Xoom to generally fare better in bright conditions.
I had no qualms with the Tab's touch-screen responsiveness; it struck me as roughly comparable to that of other high-end Honeycomb tablets.
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