Final Words

The new 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab is probably the sleekest looking Honeycomb tablet on the market today. The form factor is really wonderful and given how quickly Samsung introduced it after Apple unveiled the iPad 2, the company really deserves credit for responding to competitive pressure in record time. It's not just a great form factor however. The 10.1 has an incredible screen, competitive features and doesn't really sacrifice in terms of performance or battery life. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is your run of the mill Honeycomb tablet, just better.

A part of me really feels like delivering all of the resolution, performance and overall goodness of the Galaxy Tab in a smaller 8.9-inch form factor is the ticket to ultimate success. The iPad is too big for me to carry around with me as much as I'd like, as is the Galaxy Tab 10.1. However tablets like the PlayBook are too small to really deliver the tablet experience I'm looking for when I'm at home. Keeping the resolution fixed at 1280 x 800 but dropping the screen size by a little over an inch may be enough to really hit the sweet spot.

Ultimately I believe we'll shop for tablets similarly to how we shop for notebooks (or they may end up being one and the same): by screen size. If this form factor really does take off however, we'll have many more decisions to make than just what screen size is best (perhaps we'll start seeing multiple SoCs offered for various performance targets instead of one smartphone SoC playing double duty as a tablet chip as well).

Unfortunately with most Honeycomb tablets today we find ourselves in a difficult position when it comes to making any recommendations. NVIDIA's Kal-El target was originally August, I've heard more recently that the date has slipped to around September. Regardless of the specific month, there's a high likelihood that within the next four months you'll be able to get a much more powerful Android tablet for the same amount of money you'd spend today. With that in mind, I can't in good conscience recommend spending any amount of money on a tablet today if you can wait another two quarters. Remember Kal-El won't really change single threaded performance, but it will improve GPU performance and address the video decoding limitations of Tegra 2 today.

If you have to buy an Android tablet today I'd say the top two choices on my list are the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. The former is an easy choice because of its price and flexibility vis-a-vis the transformer dock. If you want something more portable however, the Galaxy Tab is a much more comfortable device to use. Here's how I think the comparison boils down:

If you're a developer that just needs to have something running Honeycomb to work on today, buy the Eee Pad. It's cheaper and you get the same functionality as you would from the more expensive Galaxy Tab.

If you're sold on Honeycomb and want a tablet running the OS today but don't care about the ability to type on a normal keyboard, get the Galaxy Tab. The Eee Pad dock is a nice feature but it's also another $150 over its base price. If you're not going to use that feature and don't care about the cost savings, then the Galaxy Tab is clearly the better tablet.

Finally if cost is a concern (keeping in mind that you'll likely regret your purchase in another ~4 months), get the Eee Pad. You'll put yourself out less cash up front and hopefully have less to recoup later.


Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (top) vs. ASUS Eee Pad Transformer (bottom)

However, as I mentioned earlier, my overall recommendation is to wait if you can. Smartphones and tablets are operating on a faster-than-Moore's Law curve. As a result you'll see huge performance improvements every 12 months and devastatingly painful upgrade cycles. Given that tablets aren't carrier subsidized, the longer you can wait, the better off you'll be.

Performance
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  • headbox - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    With specs like those, I bet Samsung sells hundreds of these! Reply
  • Omid.M - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    If they sold hundreds, they'd probably shoot themselves. I think you mean hundreds of THOUSANDS :)

    Good review, Anand, but I think this tablet is unfortunately another stop-gap: I think the true Android tablet will be 8.9" form factor and based off Kal-El, and hopefully in LTE form.

    Hardware wise, I don't see much advantage of an iPad 2 over the Tab 10.1, so it boils down to ecosystem and UI philosophy (Honeycomb vs iOS). Well, and SDK; Brian and I have had a brief chat about this :)

    -Omid

    @moids
    Reply
  • bplewis24 - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    I believe the OP was making a point about the lack of consumer interest in android tablets right now, no matter how good they are. Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    I think its a lack of awareness. iPad. Is just all people know, and its well marketed compared to Android tablets. I have impressed many people with the capabilities of my Nook running CM7. Either people aren't convinced of the value of android tabs, or they are too heavily associating them with cell carriers. They might not think they can be purchased outside of a contract. That, or its hard to beat apple marketing. Reply
  • bplewis24 - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    I agree on both counts. The mainstream tech media has played a part in this as well as Apple's own marketing. The bottom line is that Anandtech is one of the few tech sites to give Honeycomb tablets positive reviews. Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    This is really the first one that has deserved positive reviews. The Xoom in particular was garbage. Honeycomb hardware is finally getting there in terms of displays and physical form factor. Once the Tegra 3 gets into Android tablets later this year the hardware will finally give legit competition to the iPad 2. Reply
  • B3an - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    What are you talking about?

    Tegra 3 Android tablets wont be competitive with iPad 2 hardware wise, they will be considerably superior.
    These Android tablets right now, like the Galaxy Tab 10.1 are already more than competitive on hardware. The Tab 10.1 has twice as much RAM, a better screen, and also higher resolution. The only real area where iPad 2 is unquestionably better is it's GPU. But thats about it. Overall the Tab 10.1 wins on hardware.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    Legitimate competition means being superior to the iPad hardware, not as good as or worse than. Otherwise there isn't much point give the app selection and excellent hardware you get with the current iPad. Right now it is a wash or considerably slower, especially when it comes to the GPU as you pointed out.

    Not hating btw, this is objective reality. I think that the conclusion of the article is correct: if you are on the fence then one should wait. The Xoom was terrible, and while the Transformer and Galaxy 10.1 are huge improvements, the real Honeycomb tablets worth getting excited about will be out later this year once Tegra 3 is in them. That and more developers on board is when we'll see real competition in the tablet space.
    Reply
  • PeteH - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    I think it's also worth pointing out that GPU is probably more important to most people's tablet experience than anything else in the silicon.

    So long as Apple's GPU performance continues to exceed what is available to other tablet manufacturers they will have a significant advantage. And since Apple effectively has more silicon available to it at a given price point compared to their competitors (they only have to pay to fab their chips, they don't have to pay a further markup to someone like NVIDIA) it could be very difficult for anyone to catch them in the near term.
    Reply
  • The0ne - Thursday, June 16, 2011 - link

    Sometimes I feel as though Android is the brother to Linux :) If it weren't for phones I think pads wouldn't have a chance. Android needs better and more marketing/PR so consumers are aware of them. My nephews own phones with Android but they'll go huh if you as they what OS. Ask an iPhone user and they immediately know because well, it's iphone :D Reply

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