Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1-inch: The iPad 2 of Honeycomb tablets

A First Take of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Honeycomb tablet.

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Editor's note: The full review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 can be found here .

If there's one thing I've realized in my short stint covering tablets, it's that apparently there can never be too many Honeycomb-based products in the wild. Today, at Google's I/O conference, the company gave away 5,000 Wi-Fi-only Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1s . CNET was fortunate enough to have a few good men in the field willing to wade through cell phone belt holders and short sleeve button shirts to get us one.

Design and features
The first thing that struck us upon taking the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 out of its box was its slight profile. In fact, when lying next to the iPad 2 we honestly can't tell which tablet is thicker and unfortunately we don't have a micrometer handy to get down into the business of microns.

Weight-wise, the 10.1 is lighter than the iPad 2, weighing 1.24 pounds compared with the iPad 2's 1.32 pounds.

Taking another page from the iPad 2's school of sexy tablet building, the 10.1 has one of the cleanest designs we've seen on a tablet. From the front, its 10.1-inch screen is surrounded by a 0.75-inch black bezel and a silver aluminum outline at its edge. In the top middle sits its 2-megapixel front-facing camera.

On the top edge, from left to right is the power/sleep button, volume rocker, and headphone jack. A single speaker adorns both the right and left sides and the universal connection port is found at the bottom, right beside a microphone pinhole.

There are no USB or HDMI ports. And, try as we might, we couldn't find ports for either SD cards or SIM cards.

The back of the 10.1 sports an 8-megapixel camera at the top and cheap kitchen wallpaper spread over the rest. OK, it's not wallpaper, but that was the first thing I thought of when I saw it. It's actually a black-and-white drawing of an 80-something Android robot host that could very well be marching into battle. Oh Google, you and your warmongering.

It's the feel of the plastic back (and not necessarily the cartoon robots of death) that are the most disappointing aspect of the 10.1's design. It doesn't feel as solid as the iPad 2 and as a result doesn't feel as conformable in our hands.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a Google Experience tablet, meaning it uses the base version of the Honeycomb OS with no customizations to its interface; however, Samsung does include its Samsung Apps, um, app. Samsung Apps gives you access to the company's own app store.

Performance
This is Samsung's first tablet with a 10.1-inch screen and it looks fantastic. The Samsung Super PLS-based display, with its 1,280x800-pixel resolution, produces a clear, crisp image, with a wide viewing angle that looks great when Web surfing or browsing the app store.

The tablet includes the Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual Core and navigating feels just as zippy here as it did on any previous Honeycomb tablet.

By post time, we didn't have a chance to see what movies and games looked liked on the 10.1, but look for that and battery life results in the full review, coming soon.

Conclusion
The Honeycomb experience doesn't change much, whether it's on the Xoom, G-Slate , or Iconia Tab. The Transformer's OS was the most changed, but at the end of the day, it's still Honeycomb. So, honestly, as a reviewer, it's a little difficult to get excited about yet another Wi-Fi-only Honeycomb tablet with no real unique software or hardware features. I know what to expect from Honeycomb and there are no surprises here. It's still a fast OS, with plenty of customization options.

Given the level of Honeycomb tablet homogenization that has occurred, I'm more interested in the tablet's look and feel than anything else. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 impresses with its lightweight, thin design, and minimalist form factor. That, coupled with a huge and beautiful screen, make for a well-designed tablet.

The 10.1 was actually publicly shown before the iPad 2 was, so by me calling it the iPad 2 of Honeycomb tablets, I'm simply stating that from a design standpoint, it has more in common with Apple's tablet than other Honeycomb tablets. That's a compliment of the highest order. The iPad still has the sexiest, smoothest form factor of any tablet.

That's not for everyone though, so those looking for a tricked-out Android tablet with all the fixings won't find it here. What you will find is a elegantly designed tablet for those who don't need a tons of connection options. Yeah, a lot like the iPad 2.

No word yet on when we'll see cellular versions or a price just yet. There will be 32GB and 16GB versions of the tablet when it becomes available on June 8. Look for a full review soon.

 

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