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Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Hands On

Much of this improvement, though, we suspect is down to the new version of Android that the 10.1 is running. Unlike its phones and the 7in Tab, Samsung has left the 10.1's installation of Android untouched, rather than add its TouchWiz UI over the top. We'd still really like to see the 7in Tab devoid of TouchWiz to see how it would run but speaking to a Samsung rep it was confirmed that while that device would be getting an update to 2.3 Gingerbread (but not 3.0), it would always retain its TouchWiz styling.

As to the changes that Android 3.0 brings to the table, it amounts to quite a lot. As already mentioned, the physical buttons that adorn the bottom edges of Android phones have been incorporated into a bar that runs along the bottom of the screen. This moves to the virtual bottom whichever way you hold the device, so you always know where to prod.

Joining the Home and Back buttons in the bottom left (the menu button is now top right) is the multi-tasking button that brings up a list of the programs you have running on the left side of the screen. These show thumbnails of what you have running in each app, though they're not live, unlike on the BlackBerry PlayBook where you can have a video literally playing in the background.

As to the homescreens, Google has suprisingly decided to add a semi-3D feel, with it looking almost like you're viewing the inside of a cube and rotating the flat surfaces of the cube in front of you. It could have been a disaster but thanks to speedy rendering, it works well.

You can't have apps in proper windows for true multi-tasking but you can however adorn the various homescreens with a plethora of sizeable widgets for an almost desktop-like experience. Certainly it at least trumps the iPad in this regard.

There are numerous other tweaks throughout the interface but for the most part, apps have just been given the obvious tablet-centric enhancements, with email, messaging and settings having dual panes. Nonetheless, from our breif time we felt it was on par with the iPad in terms of ease of use, and on extra abilities it's several steps ahead.

However, just like the iPad, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 can't make calls. While microphone and speakers are included, they're for VOIP and video chat only. For the latter of those you can take advantage of front facing camera, which is joined back a rear facing 8-megapixel one that includes an LED and autofocus. It was difficult to truly assess its quality but from what we could tell it was about on par with most other smartphone cameras. HD video is also available , just as the device itself can playback Full HD video.

There's no official word on price (though we get the impression it'll be pricey) but we can tell you that it will be exclusive to Vodafone and that it will be arriving in March. Frankly, we can't wait.

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