First of all we should say this is a test of the US Galaxy Tab 10.1. The UK product is expected to differ in unspecified ways. We'll update this with a full test of the UK product as soon as it's available.
If tablet computing is a percentage game, Samsung is doing everything it can to work the odds. The Tab 10.1 is 2% thinner than an iPad 2, 8% lighter and yet squeezes 25% more pixels on its luscious widescreen display. However, our tests show that it’s also 11% more juddery when scrolling graphics and has a sluggish on-screen keyboard that is 92% more annoying than Apple’s.
The genius of Honeycomb is that it puts almost everything Android can do on a single screen. The control is intoxicating but unless you’re disciplined, each of the five home screens can quickly become a Piccadilly Circus of eye-popping widgets, icons, and animated tickers. The multi-tasking column comes to the rescue, flipping between most live apps in under a second.
Quick as a Flash
Dual-core innards let the Tab 10.1 fly through games, both native apps and Flash games (yay!) in the browser. Maps twist and turn smoothly even with several heavy layers such as satellite and traffic. The gyros and accelerometers work well, although the Tab takes a beat longer than the iPad 2 to switch orientations when rotated.
Review continues after the break…
Honeycomb 3.1 adds USB support for MP3 players and digital cameras, so it’s a shame that Samsung opted for only an Apple-esque, minimalist headphone jack and custom 30-pin docking connector – no USB, no HDMI. Sound quality from the stereo speakers isn’t too bad and the 3MP/720p camera shoots fine (when it’s not crashing).
While there's no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a fine device, it's these omissions and, ironically, the feeling of Apple-like minimalism that seem to hold it back.