Unbanned: hands-on with Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1

Samsung Australia was handed a win this week, with the courts overturning an earlier ruling banning the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and allowing it to be sold locally. With that in mind, we’ve just been handed Samsung’s iPad competitor and can now tell you what you can look forward to.

The Apple iPad 2 on the left, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 on the right. So close in thickness, it's scary.

Easily one of the most svelte tablets we’ve seen, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is barely a shadow of the Galaxy Tab 10.1v that graced our shores earlier in the year.

Lighter than the iPad 2 and just a hair thinner, it’s one device that leaves you feeling impressed. While it lacks the aluminium that makes the iPad feel super sturdy, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is no slouch, adopting a brushed plastic back, giving it some sense of grip.

It’s very comfortable in the hands too, thanks to curved edges and a very good weighting that makes the tablet quite well balanced when held with one hand or two.

The 10.1 inch screen is kept in place with a black frame and covered by a layer of Corning’s scratch-proof Gorilla Glass, adding to the quality.

We’ve previously reported that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is similar to the 10.1v released earlier this year, complete with the same Nvidia Tegra 2 processor gracing many other tablets, 1GB RAM, Bluetooth, WiFi, Google Android Honeycomb, and a 10.1 inch screen.

Because of these specs, the tablet can hold its own, though with a new Nvidia processor around the corner, it’s a little bit behind.

The camera has taken a bit of a drop from the 10.1v however, going from an 8 megapixel rear camera to a 3 megapixel model (above), while the front camera stays the same with 2 megapixels.

Unlike other tablets, though, Samsung hasn’t left you with much room for upgrading. Our model had 16GB of storage, but the unit lacks the ability to upgrade it, with no SD or microSD card slot.

Also of note is the port on bottom: still the same proprietary connector we first saw on the original Galaxy Tab, one that looks very similar to Apple’s iPod docking connector but is different.

We should mention that our model lacked any modifications by Samsung to Google’s Android Honeycomb OS, making it a pretty stock-standard Android experience. This isn’t bad, but we weren’t able to experience Samsung’s Touchwiz interface that we’ve heard so much about, the same style of overlay that appears on the company’s Galaxy S2 smartphone.

Samsung hasn’t yet told us which model will hit Australia when it’s released in the next week – stock-Android or Samsung TouchWiz – but physically, we can say that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a nice tablet, designed and well weighted for comfortable use.

We can definitely see why Apple is concerned about the Galaxy Tab 10.1, as it’s easily one of the best iPad competitors we’ve seen.

UPDATE (December 2, 2011): It might be a week longer until we see the Tab makes its way to retail shelves. Samsung said today that “The High Court of Australia has granted a stay until December 9 to allow it to consider whether to accept Apple’s application for special leave to appeal. Samsung believes Apple has no basis for its application for leave to appeal and will vigorously oppose this to the High Court.”