AS THE saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. However in the competitive Tablet PC world, that could invite, well, legal repercussions.
In the case of Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, the alleged infringements brought up by Apple have resulted in injunctions being granted that have prevented the sales of the Tablet in several countries. The patent lawsuit claims that Samsung "stole" the touchscreen technology as well as the look and feel of the iPad 2, amongst other things.
Not taking sides, we decided to take a closer look at the Galaxy Tab 10.1 to see for ourselves what all the fuss is about.
Many of Samsung's offerings closely matches the Apple device but we noticed that in some aspects, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 edges out its closest rival.
Immediately apparent is the slimness of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 - at a mere 8.6mm thick it is 0.2mm thinner than the iPad 2. It tips the scales at 565g, which is 36g lighter than its Apple rival. The screen also features a higher resolution of 1,280 x 800-pixels compared to 1,024 x 768-pixels on the iPad 2.
Of course, being an Android Tablet, the device supports Adobe Flash in the web browser. Also available are customisable home screens and widgets; as well as a tighter Google accounts integration.
Running the latest Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) operating system and powered by the new Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 strikes an ideal balance between being a productivity device - to work and surf the Web - and a portable entertainment unit.
In terms of size, the device is not bulky at all compared to other Android 3.0 Tablets in the market. In fact, it feels just right in the hands.
IMHO, this is a great example of what all Tablets should look or feel like.
Located on top are the power and volume buttons as well a 3G SIM card slot while the bottom is home to the proprietary 30-pin connector. There is no physical or fixed softkey home function like in Froyo OS-based devices. Instead, the home softkey appears or disappears (as well as rotates accordingly) depending on the application that you are running at the time.
Also missing are the USB port and SD/microSD card slot. If you need to use any of them, the respective dongles are sold separately.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1's screen is bright and clear, and is highly viewable even from a side angle.
The two side stereo speakers complement the display, offering clear audio without the need to resort to plugging in a pair of headphones.
In fact, the good audio quality makes watching movies or playing games quite an enjoyable experience on the device.
Like any touchscreen device, the display is a fingerprint magnet so you will need to have a wiping cloth nearby to keep it clean and shiny.
The 10.1 comes preinstalled with Samsung's TouchWiz UX user interface, which literally puts more colour into Honeycomb.
The UI boasts a good selection of customisable widgets as well as the Social Hub that aggregates all your social network feeds such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn under one thread.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 features a four-way accelerometer and gyro (as a comparison, the iPad 2 only has three) that allows the device to respond faster with quick swiping and rotations, among others. This definitely comes in handy when you play fast-moving games.
However, in our experience, the touch-screen still needs a little more work. It can be a bit fussy occasionally and you need to tap it a few times before it registers any response.
Also, the screen rotation sometimes gets stuck in one orientation and we have to switch the Tablet off and on to get it working again.
The camera on the Tab 10.1 offers about three times more megapixel power compared to Apple's iPad 2 rear camera.
Typical of an Android Tablet, the camera features some handy extra features, including white balance control, timer as well as basic effects like black-and-white and sepia. You can also shoot 720p videos.
We found the camera to be fine for shooting videos but slightly disappointing when it came to photos. Still images turned out to be a bit washed out especially under dim lighting conditions. The LED flash also does not help much when the subject is slightly far away.
However the good news is that the overall quality of the pictures looked marginally better than what we got when using the iPad 2 camera.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 ships with a 7,000mAh battery, which lasted about nine hours on a single charge.
Except for a few hiccups, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is right up there with and even outperforms its archrival, the iPad 2, in some areas.
But the dealbreaker could be in the amount of applications available for this Android device. Currently, Android's app offerings fall short of the number that is available for iOS, especially those that are tailor-made for a Tablet.
Understandably this is not Samsung's fault, and furthermore Apple's App Store has been around for much longer than its competitor. So there's every possibilty that the Android Marketplace will grow given time.
However, one thing's for sure, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is leading the pack among the Android 3.0 Tablet contenders currently available in the local market.