It's hard enough to look at any 10in Android tablet without instantly comparing it to Apple's iPad 2, but it's virtually impossible not to do so with Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1. Aside from the widescreen form factor, every part of this sleek Android Honeycomb 3.1 tablet's look is geared to go head-to-head with Apple's iOS big boy. It ensures one thing though - this is the best-looking Android tablet yet.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 proves that it's not only Apple that can produce truly lovely hardware. Miraculously, this tablet is lighter and thinner than the iPad 2, at 8.6mm thick and 565g. These trimmed-down figures, 15g lighter, 0.2mm thinner, are too slight to notice in real life usage, but competing with an iPad 2 on these fronts is something no Android tablet has managed previously.
It's very thin and light but, like every large tablet, it's not hugely comfortable to use one-handed for extended periods. The screen surround is plastic too, rather than the metal seen in some other top-end Android tabs, but this doesn't lead to a remotely cheap feel. It only extends a few millimetres around the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1's sides. The back uses a soft-touch finish, which is more comfortable in-hand than a hard metal back. This tab is an absolute joy to hold.
There's a definite seam along the border between the black back and the silvery sides, but aesthetically the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a triumph.
Samsung's adoption of something approaching Apple's design philosophy has also resulted in some serious connectivity compromises. It comes with 16GB of internal memory, and there's currently no way to increase this. There's no memory card slot, and no USB socket. The only connectors on-board are the proprietary dock socket, used for charging the tab and connecting to a PC, and the 3.5mm headphone jack. Compare this to the Asus Eee Pad Transformer with its miniHDMI and microSD card slots and you start to understand the cost of a design as pure as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1's.
Samsung lets you combat this lack of connectivity with accessories. Other than the USB cable and power adaptor, none are included in the box, but an HDMI adaptor is on sale for £30. A multimedia dock and keyboard dock are also available - the latter won't turn your Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 into a netbook though, it's much more like the keyboard dock for the original iPad. Surveying the total of what's available to the Tab, bundled or otherwise, it's actually less flexible than an iPad 2 in some respects, as there's currently no way to up a memory card (the Apple Camera Connection Kit allows this).
In real-world usage the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 still wins the flexibility fight - plug it into a computer using the USB cable and you can drag and drop files freely into the 16GB of internal memory. After the OS and pre-installed apps have had its way with this storage, there's a reasonable 13GB left to play with.