There may have been plenty of tablets announced at CES earlier this year but it's out here at Mobile World Congress that we've really been able to get our hands on the latest Android 3.0 touting touchscreen devices. And the first that we found ourselves getting to grips with is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
As its name suggests, Samsung's latest tablet eschews the 7in form factor of the original Samsung Galaxy Tab in favour of a 10.1in screen, and frankly, we don't like the change. While there are advantages to larger tablets, and we're certainly not saying you'd walk around with a 7in tablet in your pocket with any regularity, the 7in Tab's more portable and easy to hold form factor really struck a chord with us.
That accepted, for a larger tablet, the Tab 10.1 is lovely, and Samsung has clearly thought about its usability. Gone is the glossy plastic back of the 7in version to be replaced by a rough textured back that will wear much better. It's also sculpted such that there are dips in its surface where your fingertips sit. Its advantage in grip is subtle at best but it's a start.
From the front it's a fairly attractive device with a thin bezel and, thanks to Android 3.0's onscreen navigation buttons, no buttons to break up the glass expanse. The chassis is plastic, so lacks perhaps that final dash of quality but this is countered by a weight of only 599g.
Round the sides you'll find 'surround' speakers (which sound quite impressive), a microphone, a SIM slot and power button. However, you get neither a microSD slot for expanding storage or a microUSB socket. Instead of the latter there is a proprietary dock connector for charging the device and transferring data to and from it. With regards the former, instead you get inbuilt capacities of 16GB and 32GB, which is adequate but we really would've liked to see at least a 64GB option as well.
The screen isn't AMOLED, as you might have expected from Samsung, but is instead an LCD panel. However, it's a very nice example with great viewing angles, bold colours, deep black levels, and thanks to a 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution, superb sharpness. We'd say it's one of the best tablet screens we've so far seen at the show.
When it comes to raw specs, there's a dual-core Samsung processor powering things along, which is the same as that found in the Galaxy S II. Key to this processor is its quad-GPU, which offers a huge amount of graphics grunt. Combined these make the Tab feel lightning fast, with smooth menu transitions, fast app loading times and impressive looking graphics in games.
However, as with dual-core smartphones, the actual advantage of that second processor wasn't abundantly obvious, as for instance Android doesn't have visual multi-tasking like the BlackBerry Playbook, whereby you can see multiple tasks running at once. What we can say is it felt infinitely faster and more responsive than the 7in Tab, which suffered a great deal from slow down when running multiple apps.