The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 features a 10.1in screen (one naming mystery that's easy to solve) using a PLS panel. This stands for Plane to Line Switching, and is Samsung's take on IPS, the screen technology seen in the iPad 2.
Both types of panel are geared towards providing excellent viewing angles, and the Tab performs superbly here. Viewing angles are great, contrast is excellent and colour reproduction is very vivid. Perhaps too vivid even - it seems to be trying to recreate the saturation levels of its famed AMOLED screens of old here.
You don't have full control over the screen's saturation levels, but you can pick from Dynamic, Standard and Movie display modes. Movie helps to tame the colour a little. The built-in media player offers additional colour tone options - Normal, Warm and Cold - as well as an additional Outdoor Visibility mode that blasts up brightness and colour saturation for a more powerful image.
You'd never want to use this indoors - it borders on horrible - but comes in handy outdoors as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 uses a glossy screen, attracting fingerprints and reflections like a magnet attracting paperclips. Every mainstream tablet rival uses this screen type though.
Using the automatic brightness setting the Tab keeps its backlighting fairly muted. It judges the screen brightness using the light sensor on the front, just to the left of the more conspicuous camera lens. Go manual and turn up the backlight and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has retina-scorching brightness potential. This will in turn kill the battery life, but is useful for giving the screen additional "pop" for use in bright sunlight.
At 149dpi, pixel density is higher than the iPad 2's
The tablet's screen is roughly on-par with the Apple iPad 2's screen in pure quality terms, and trumps it on resolution, with 1280x800 pixels on hand instead of 1024x768. On the downside, so many of the apps and games available to the Tab don't make use of this additional resolution, as we've already complained about.
The touchscreen is capacitive, which responds directly to your finger rather than a stylus. There's an occasional software hitch in scrolling, which is down to Android Honeycomb rather than the Galaxy Tab 10.1, but otherwise the screen is excellent. It can cope with at least 10 separate points of contact (we ran out of fingers after that) and responsiveness is top notch.
Not satisfied with the navigational benefits of a great capacitive touchscreen, Samsung has also plugged-in some motion-based nav commands. Within the browser and gallery, you can zoom in and out by tilting the device forward and back when your two thumbs are pressed on the screen. You can also move icons between home screens by pressing them and tilting the Tab from side to side.
Both of these motion-based gesture command work well, but they don't consider one crucial thing - the touchscreen gestures they attempt to replace are already fantastically convenient and intuitive. The pinch-to-zoom gesture is one of the top UI innovations of the touchscreen revolution. You can turn the gestures off if you end up using them accidentally though, so the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 loses no points for what's merely an attempt to distinguish itself from the competition.
There's an accelerometer and gyroscope on-board, so like most tablets the Tab 10.1 will auto-rotate depending on how it's held. It was commendably quick and reliable here. And like the gestures you can turn this feature off if it gets on your nerves.