Most helpful positive review
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A slightly better tablet than an iPad 2, but with a few drawbacks
on June 17, 2011
Although I bought this for my wife as a birthday present during pre-release sales in NYC, I've since used it far more extensively than her so I've purchased a second Tab 10.1 from Amazon for myself. As a background, I also have a good amount of experience using a Motorola Xoom (none with the other Android tablets though) and an iPad 2. Anyway, here are my thoughts comparing the Tab 10.1 with the iPad 2. I won't do a comparison with the Motorola Xoom (which, as of writing this review, is the Tab 10.1's major Android competitor) as the two products are really similar. I'll leave the Xoom/Tab 10.1 decision to you. Here are my thoughts:
Operating System/Interface/Web Browsing - Slight edge to the Tab 10.1 running Android 3.1 (Honeycomb). This may just be more of a personal preference as I don't like products (like the iPad 2) which are locked down. I feel a company has no right to tell a consumer how he/she is allowed to use a product (as Apple does with theirs). Anyway, Android 3.1 OS is blazing fast and going along with the Android Open Source Project's philosophy, the OS and by rote, the Tab 10.1, is ultimately configurable. Out of the box, you can easily personalize an Android 3.1 tablet any way you want, and if you can't, there is free software out there to let you do it -- there is no hacking/jailbreaking required. The Tab 10.1's interface is also a lot cleaner than the iPad 2's which can get downright cluttered the more apps you have installed. I'll also note that there doesn't seem to be a discernible difference in the actual speed/performance (loading pages, etc) of the two products. So, we're pretty even so far, but Tab 10.1 clearly gets the edge for one thing -- Flash. Enough said.
Battery life - Strong edge to iPad 2. Both the Tab 10.1 and the iPad 2 are rated for 10 hours. Keeping the screen at about 75% max brightness, I seem to get between about 7 to 8 hours on the Tab 10.1 and 9 to 10 hours on an iPad 2. This may be a result of the screen brightness as I've noticed the Tab 10.1 has a slightly brighter screen at 100% than the iPad 2. Regardless, the iPad 2 has better battery life.
Resolution/Screen - Strong edge to the Tab 10.1's 1280×800 screen vs the iPad 2's 1024x768 one. If you think this is negligible, you are very wrong. This means the Galaxy Tab 10.1 screen has a 30% greater resolution than the iPad 2. You'll notice this difference in every thing you do -- not just when watching movies and photos. The increased resolution causes much less eye strain especially when reading webpages. Additionally, the Tab 10.1's widescreen aspect ratio seems to work a lot better for watching anything in HD. It's a shame the iPad 2 uses the dying 4:3 aspect ratio as there is a lot of wasted real estate on the screen in the form of black bars when watching anything in widescreen. With the Tab 10.1, the screen is entirely filled with video.
Cameras - Strong edge to the Tab 10.1. The Tab 10.1 blows the iPad 2 out of the water here and it's not even close. The Tab has a front-facing 2.0 megapixel (vs iPad 2's 0.3 megapixel) camera and rear-facing 3.0 megapixel (vs iPad 2's 0.7 megapixel) camera. Sure, you're never going to replace your P&S/SLR/video camera with a tablet, but it is nice to have a camera on there that can take a decent picture/video when you're in a pinch.
Portability - Even. The Tab 10.1 is a negligible 0.03 lbs lighter and 0.2mm thinner than the iPad 2.
Cachet - Strong edge to the iPad 2. Apple has a monopoly on this, it seems. Apple is just the trendier product. Odds are nobody will look at a Galaxy Tab 10.1 and think "Wow, that looks really nice. I need to get me one of those." I'm not saying the Tab 10.1 is ugly, but the brushed metal finish on the iPad does feel and look a bit nicer.
Price - Even. I'm really surprised Samsung didn't undercut the iPad 2 prices, even by $50.
Is this the iPad 2 killer as has been reported here and there in the media? Honestly, no, but that's more because most Apple consumers purchasing iPad 2s are brand loyal -- not necessarily looking to buy the best product. I really wish I could rate the Tab 10.1 with 4.5 stars. For reference, if I were to write a review of an iPad 2, I would give it a 4 stars. Giving the Tab 10.1 5 stars seems a bit too generous as I feel the lack of an SD slot and slight plasticky feel are noticeable drawbacks, as is the price (which isn't lower than an iPad 2 with the same amount of memory). And giving the Tab 10.1 4 stars seems a disservice as I feel that it is ultimately an outstanding tablet and, in my opinion, definitely has an edge over the iPad 2.