Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 IBTimes/Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 was unleashed across the U.S. on Friday as the company's latest entry in the tablet market. Those who snagged this lightest tablet to date can probably testify to whether it was worth it or not, but here are some reviews that suggest how and why Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the best among the Android tablets, and yet lags behind Apple's iOS-based iPad.

Samsung originally unveiled a version of Galaxy Tab 10.1 in February, a month before Apple released its slimmer iPad 2. Samsung's Vice President Lee Don-Joo publicly commented that the iPad was very thin and that the Korean technology giant would improve its inadequate wares. Over a month later, Samsung had a completely new 0.33-inch thick Tab 10.1 to compete with iPad2 on price and size.
In reality, however, while some may call the new Galaxy Tab 10.1 the iPad2 of Honeycomb tablets, it has not yet even tied with the real iPad.

The Galaxy Tab ships with the most recent version of Android Honeycomb 3.1, which, as claimed by Samsung, is much more stable than the original 3.0 running on its nearest competitor, the Motorola Xoom. Things did seem to operate at a subtly brisker pace, Engadget stated. Animations were a pinch quicker, and transitions were ever-so-slightly faster. Web browser performance was noticeably better. Android OS is evolving well, it seems.

The Tab is one of the first to use Samsung's new panel technology, Plane to Line Switching (PLS), which offers a 10% greater brightness and viewing angles twice as large as the more traditional In-Plane Switching (IPS) panels used by iPad. The Galaxy Tab offers a higher resolution of 1,280 x 800 compared the iPad's 1,024 x 768, on the wide10.1-inch screen.

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a minute 0.01 inches thinner than iPad, with a finish of only 8.6-millimeters thick. More than its thinness, however, its weight is noticeably different, and you can feel its 1.24 pound slimness distinguished from the 1.33-pound iPad.

The light body of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 was made possible by plastic construction. The Tab is solidly constructed, with a durable finish that should resist scratching. Compared to other tablets with aluminum backs, the Tab is less slippery, making this tablet one of the most comfortable to date.

If we consider the fact majority of tablet users would buy protective covers which can vary in design, the weight and size of the tablet may not be the decisive factors after all. Also for those who prefer the metal casing on the iPad, the Galaxy Tab may feel a little cheap.

The battery life of the Tab cannot beat that of iPad 2. While some users could reach a little under 10 hours with Wi-Fi on, display brightness at around 65%, a lot of video usage on the iPad2, the Tab lasted shorter than 6 hours. In general, the battery life of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is weaker than that of the iPad 2, which can endure for 10 hours and 26 minutes of non-stop video playback, much improved from the original iPad.

Cameras do not offer the best quality, which may be well expected for the tablets, though the Galaxy Tab 10.1 sports two cameras, a 2MP front-facing one and a 3MP rear-facing one with an LED flash. It is decent for taking stills and video, while video is restricted to 720p, giving iPad 2 a sharper output.

The contrast in versatility between the Android Market and Apple App Store secures the throne for the iPad 2. While the Android Market offers a well-organized and easy-to-use interface, some key features are missing. According to PCMag, the apps are not grouped in any discernable way and some free apps are simply horrible. If you want a rich experience in utilizing the apps, there is nothing that can satisfy you like Apple. With 425,000 apps, Apple App Store is unbeatable by the Android Market with 200,000 apps. In making a more paid-app friendly app store, Apple has seized the developers' hearts so far. Apps from the same developer available on both Android and iOS have significant differences in performance and artwork. Google has to strive harder in setting the platform for developers to create quality apps.

To be slim and light, there surely was some sacrifice - the Galaxy Tab offers a 30-pin dock connector and a headphone jack, but is missing USB, HDMI, and SD card slot, making the Tab lag way behind the iPad. The speaker for the Tab is tiny as well, not the best for loud listening.

Overall, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has received the label of best in the Android market and not a match for the iPad.

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 comes in 16GB and 32GB versions, but the memory is no upgradable. The prices are $499 and $599 respectively, Verizon offers the Galaxy Tab 10.1 with its 4G LTE connectivity for just $30 more each, with a 2-year contract.

Here are some video reviews: