Samsung has reacted to the surprisingly thin and impressively cheap iPad 2 with a confusing new version of its Android tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. It's not to be confused with the identically named Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 we saw only in February, which is not quite as thin but has a better camera. That's right, folks: two different Samsung tablets with the same name.
We've spoken to a Samsung rep, who assured us Samsung will be bringing both Tab 10.1 tablets to market, rather than scrapping the older version we saw last month in favour of the new design. What the what?!
Here's the skinny -- literally -- on the newly announced Tab 10.1. It's impressively thin, measuring 257 by 173 by 8.6mm, making it 0.2mm thinner than the iPad 2, and slightly lighter than Apple's offering at 595g. The first Tab 10.1 we saw was less slim at 10.9mm thick, and was fractionally heavier at 599g.
Packing the same 10.1-inch 1,280x800-pixel display, this tablet will still be running Honeycomb, aka version 3.0 of Android -- Google's mobile operating system -- but has added Samsung's own TouchWiz user interface, which has only ever been a bad move in the past. We'd much rather see a clean version of Honeycomb, especially as it would mean quicker updates.
By slimming the tablet down, some of the high-end components we saw in the earlier Tab 10.1 have been ditched. Whereas the earlier tablet rocked an 8-megapixel camera on the rear, this new Tab has a much less impressive 3-megapixel snapper, which means it's capable of recording 720p video, rather than the 1080p video the first Tab 10.1 could muster.
Whereas the older version came in 16GB or 32GB flavours, this new model also has a 64GB version. Inside, the Tab 10.1 is running on a 1GHz dual-core processor, probably the same unit that's inside the first Tab 10.1 we saw.
Bringing out a new tablet with the same name before the first one is even released strikes us as an extremely peculiar move, and one that's likely to confuse consumers. But it's not hard to guess why Samsung's done it -- the early success and huge hype surrounding the iPad 2 suggests to us that buyers care more about owning a thin and portable tablet than one loaded with hardware and features.
Indeed, Lee Don-joo, executive VP of Samsung's mobile division admitted that Apple's new tablet has caused Samsung to take a long, hard look at its own devices, saying, "We will have to improve the parts that are inadequate."
There's no word on a release date for either Galaxy Tab 10.1, but we'll let you know as soon as we hear something on either version. What do you think? Are you glad Samsung's produced a thinner Tab, or has it overreacted and thrown the baby out with the bathwater? Let us know in the comments.