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Apple iPad 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1: Performance speeds

The iPad 2 of Honeycomb tablets, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, takes on the iPad 2 of iOS tablets, the iPad 2.

Now playing: Watch this: Performance speeds: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 vs. Apple...

Can the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 best the iPad 2 in my grueling performance speed tests? Read on to find out. And please check out the full review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 for more of an all-encompassing view of what it has to offer.

Once again, I take you into the murky bowels of CNET Labs to deliver hard-hitting performance test results for tablets. Well, I guess "hard-hitting" is a relative term. Let's try "light-touching." I guess I'd just like to avoid getting raked over the coals for promising too much, because if I've learned anything from Scotty from "Star Trek," it's to never overpromise. Actually, he was more of an underpromiser, but I shouldn't take my humility too far, lest it come back to take a significant chunk out of my backside. So, we'll go with "moderate-groping." Moderate-groping test results! Yes, that sounds appropriate.


In previous speed test posts, I used three or four Web sites to test the Web speed of tablets. This time I went for something more well-rounded. This test not only included Web-page-loading speed, but app download and photo upload speeds as well. Eventually I'd love to get some kind of game performance test in here, but I'm still working on that.

Site-loading speed is one of the simplest attributes to evaluate, and it's a test many users can immediately relate to. I'm a greater fan of these real-world Web tests--involving going to actual sites--than of synthetic benchmarks.

This time, we used a different site for the test: NBA.com. Each tablet was connected to the same closed network with no other devices on it, with the router about 5 feet away. The test began the moment we pressed Go, with the iteration ending when the blue progress bar on each tablet disappeared. We used iOS 4.3.3 for the iPad 2, while the Tab 10.1 is running Android OS 3.1, with the HTC Flyer running Android OS 2.4. Flash was enabled on both Android tablets.

Although in the video you'll see only one iteration for each test, we actually ran each test several times; over those runs we got results consistent with what you'll see here. Also, we cleared each tablet's browser cache before each iteration of the tests.

App download
We used Angry Birds Seasons (ABS) to test app download speed. The iOS version was 17.8MB, while ABS for Android comes in at 17.9MB. So, yes, the Android version is slightly larger, but we believe this small difference would have a negligible effect on download speed, if any.

In the video, you'll see that we stopped the clock on the iPad 2 the moment the progress bar disappeared. On the Tab 10.1, we stopped it after the game was installed. This is to account for the fact that there's no way to confirm when downloading ends and installing begins when getting an app in iOS.

Photo upload
Since I was drafted into the tablet beat, I've gotten a large number of requests to test the speed of uploading a photo to Facebook. I've hesitated to institute such a test, based on my preliminary findings (using Facebook in the wild) which suggest that pics can be uploaded very quickly to Facebook. But, due to the overwhelming popularity of the act of uploading pics, I've acquiesced.

For those of you who enjoy arguing over 2-second differences, I wanted to point out one last detail. We used each tablet's camera to take the pics uploaded during the test and, as you probably know, the iPad 2's rear-facing camera doesn't take as highly detailed pics as the Tab 10.1's does. This indicates that the Tab 10.1's photo is likely larger than the iPad 2's. Now, on to the flame war-inducing completely innocuous results.

Oh, but please make sure to read the following paragraph before you go any further:

As much as we'd love for these tests to be completely relevant for everyone in every situation, that's nearly impossible. We tested these tablets under specific conditions in a "free" environment. The network was closed, but we can't account for noise from other networks interfering. This is a snapshot of performance in our testing environment presented in a way that we thought would be entertaining; however, your results may vary.

NBA.com Apple iPad 2| Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1| HTC Flyer
Speed (in seconds) 8 5 5

Facebook photo upload     Apple iPad 2| Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1| HTC Flyer
Speed (in seconds) 2 4 5

App download speed Apple iPad 2| Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1| HTC Flyer
Angry Birds Seasons (in seconds) 17 21 25

Tested specs Apple iPad 2| Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1| HTC Flyer
Maximum brightness 432 cd/m2 331 cd/m2 379 cd/m2
Default brightness 176 cd/m2 181 cd/m2 99 cd/m2
Maximum black level 0.46 cd/m2 0.39 cd/m2 0.39 cd/m2
Default black level 0.19 cd/m2 0.26 cd/m2 0.11 cd/m2
Default contrast ratio 926:1 696:1 900:1
Contrast ratio (max brightness) 939:1 848:1 971:1


The biggest takeaway from these test results is that the relative speed and performance of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the HTC Flyer, and the iPad 2 are quite comparable on at least a couple of fronts. All three are zippy tablets with fast Wi-Fi components.

The Facebook photo upload and Web-site-loading tests are so fast that their usefulness as an evaluation of speed is very limited. The iPad 2 won the Facebook test and the Android tablets conquered in Web speed, but when you're talking about a difference of only 2 or 3 seconds, the significance must be questioned. Still, these results were gathered under best-case-scenario Wi-Fi conditions, and it's likely the tablets' speeds would be compromised on a busier network. So in that respect, it's good to know what your baseline expectations should be.

Also, although there wasn't a huge speed difference in downloading Angry Birds Seasons on the tablets, the fact that the app takes about 20 seconds (give or take) to download is interesting if for no other reason than that it shows how much the portable gaming market has changed in the last few years. The fact that you can purchase and begin playing one of the most popular games around in less than 30 seconds on a device not made by Sony or Nintendo speaks to where portable gaming is now and where it's likely to go.

What these tests demonstrate is that both Honeycomb and iOS tablets are speedy enough to easily handle the most common tasks and that purchasing decisions at the moment should be based more on app availability, price, and included features. We'll see how things pan out over the next year, though.