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Video: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 review

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 feels good in the hands. In its bid to outdo Apple, the Tab’s been craftily designed to be even lighter and thinner than iPad 2 – but by spookily narrow margins: Samsung knows the importance of waving superlative specs under the eyes of undiscriminating consumers.

See also: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 review

Where iPad 2 now weighs a comfortable-to-handle 597g on our digital scales, Samsung’s reprise of plastic for the case rear – now in softer rubber finish – has meant it can shed a few grammes from the blueprint’s weight, to 559g.

In real terms, that 38g is impossible to detect when judging the pair by hand. In fact, the longer body of the Samsung leads some to think it heavier due to a cantilever effect.

Laid down on a flat surface, Tab 10.1 and iPad 2’s thicknesses are indistinguishable to the eye. Our measuring calipers show a 0.15mm – just 150 micron – average difference, in Samsung’s favour: 8.70 versus iPad 2's 8.85mm.

Unlike the 4:3 aspect-ratio iPad that works well in landscape or portrait orientations, the 16:9-widecreen Tab 10.1 is essentially a  landscape device.

Like iPad, it has an accelerometer that can tell how it’s being held and rotate on-screen rendering accordingly. Yet a 16.9 panel used upright in portrait view looks wrong, and feels more cramped when you try reading webpage or text content that way.

Samsung wants you to use it landscape, and puts its name along the bezel bottom to remind you how to hold it. A very Apple-like slot lies below, a 30-pin dock connector for charging and PC syncing.

Note that unlike the iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 must be charged by a separate adaptor, with no recourse to using a computer's USB socket. Charging time is slow. We left a drained Tab 10.1 on charge for seven hours, and it still showed only 80% capacity available.

In place of iPad 2’s mono speaker, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 has smaller stereo speakers placed on its sides near the top corners. This brings some welcome spaciness to the sound, although in actual volume it’s no louder than iPad 2. In overall acoustic fidelity, we judged it a tie.

The touchscreen is well-suited to 16:9 widescreen content: that is to say, films and video. It’s similarly bright at maximum setting, although Samsung’s auto-brightness control leaves it slightly dimmer than an iPad. You can override this easily and set your own preference here.

Thanks to Super PLS display tech, a development of in-plane switching (IPS) technology that gives the iPad 2 such clarity from every angle, Tab 10.1’s display is as clear and colourful, and even renders small text in webpages slightly sharper.

Handily, a gently TouchWiz UX addition to otherwise near-stock Google Honeycomb includes a touch-activated shortcut to useful settings such as brightness, wireless, and battery meter in the screen bottom-right corner.

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