Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1v is a Vodafone exclusive variant and includes different features and specifications to the recently announced Galaxy Tab 10.1.
As with the iPhone before it, Apple's iPad shot to instant success when it was released last year, prompting a quick reply from competitors like Samsung. Apple's success defined consumer expectations for what a tablet computer would look and feel like. Samsung has taken Apple's template and added its own flavour to it; keeping the iPad's 10-inch display and glossy black bezel, but covering the rear of the device with a textured plastic and moulded this grip to best fit your fingers when holding the tablet in landscape view.
The curved rear-facing grip on the Galaxy Tab feels fantastic.
The basic shape and size isn't all that's borrowed from the iPad, however; like Apple, Samsung opts for a sealed device with no replaceable battery, no microSD card slot and no HDMI or micro USB ports. In fact, there are only three ports on the 10.1v: a headphone socket, a slot for a SIM card and a 30-pin charging port.
The 10.1-inch LCD display looks brilliant, even though it doesn't share the AMOLED tech of Samsung's Galaxy S phones. Its 1280x800 (WXGA) resolution looks crisp and sharp, and the colours are bold and vibrant. We've even found the screen mostly visible in sunlight, though the ultra glossy glass over the panel can make it difficult not to see yourself reflected along with your email.
Samsung has done a fine job delivering an attractive tablet that is comfortable to use, but the real star of this experience is Google's Honeycomb operating system. Those familiar with Android will see similarities with the software of their phones, but it also feels like a completely new experience, for the better.
The stock Honeycomb experience offers five user-customisable home screens with a persistent notifications bar along the bottom. In the bottom left of the screen, regardless of orientation, you'll find software navigation keys; Back, Home and Multitasking, plus a fourth Menu key within apps that require one.
Unlike the iPad version of iOS, Honeycomb takes full advantage of the screen real estate, with quick access to messages and settings in the bottom right of the screen. Navigating the home screens and app drawer is made even easier, just touch the left and right sides of the screen rather than swiping your finger across it.
Not quite 'appening
The only disappointment we've had with Honeycomb so far is the way that a majority of apps render on the larger screen. When Apple launched the iPad it had the forethought to add an app scaling tool, doubling the size of iPhone apps to fit the iPad's display. Google only goes halfway in this endeavour, with some apps filling up the whole screen, while others look ridiculous boxed into a corner of the viewing area.
But even those that do use the entire screen mostly fail to resize the content in the apps for optimal viewing. Facebook and Twitter, for example, open in full screen mode, but each entry is almost too small to read without squinting. Here's hoping these major apps get a tablet-focused update quick smart.