I remember standing in the audience of Samsung's CTIA press conference as it announced, for the first time ever, pricing and availability of its unreleased Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 8.9 before shipping. The smartphone (and early tablet) industries have gone this long without having to really compete based on price, mostly because in North America the carriers subsidize much of the cost. If every device costs $199 under contract, why get carried away with details like how much it actually costs?

The Galaxy Tab however was playing in a different space. While Apple ultimately caved to the pressures of carrier subsidies with the iPhone, the iPad remains completely unsubsidized and its followers buy it by the millions. The magical price point is $499 and it was at Samsung's CTIA press conference that it announced it would be matching Apple's $499 price point, and even dropping slightly below it for the 8.9-inch version.

At the time it seemed like a bold move, enough to give Honeycomb the fighting chance it needed. The Galaxy Tab would be thinner and lighter than the iPad 2 but competitively priced as well. This wouldn't be another Xoom.

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

Then ASUS showed up. At $399, the Eee Pad Transformer not only offered a different usage model to the iPad and Galaxy Tab, it brought a lower price tag as well. Availability has been slim thanks to component shortages, but with the Eee Pad selling for $399 the Galaxy Tab at $499 all of the sudden seems overpriced.

2011 Tablet Comparison
  Apple iPad 2 ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Motorola Xoom WiFi Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
SoC Apple A5 (Dual ARM Cortex A9 @ 1GHz) NVIDIA Tegra 2 (Dual ARM Cortex A9 @ 1GHz) NVIDIA Tegra 2 (Dual ARM Cortex A9 @ 1GHz) NVIDIA Tegra 2 (Dual ARM Cortex A9 @ 1GHz)
Display 1024 x 768 IPS 1280 x 800 IPS 1280 x 800 1280 x 800 PLS
NAND 16GB 16GB 32GB 16GB
Dimensions 241.2mm x 185.7mm x 8.8mm 271mm x 175mm x 12.95mm 249.1mm x 167.8mm x 12.9mm 256.6 x 172.9 x 8.6mm
Weight 601g 695g 730g 565g
Price $499 $399 $599 $499

Based on specs alone you'd be right. Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 has the same NVIDIA Tegra 2 tablet SoC inside, 

1GB of LPDDR2 and 16GB of NAND on-board. You get a 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 PLS display and 802.11n WiFi support. It's worth pointing out that we're now well into the month of June and NVIDIA continues to be the only SoC vendor shipping in Honeycomb tablets. Samsung originally had plans to ship its own Exynos SoC in the Galaxy Tab but Tegra 2 remains the port of choice for all Honeycomb vendors at this point. Whether or not NVIDIA can win twice in a row with Ice Cream Sandwich later this year remains to be seen.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (left) vs. ASUS Eee Pad Transformer (Right)

Where Samsung gives you something more for your money is in build quality and form factor. While Eee Pad Transformer feels surprisingly good for a cost reduced tablet, it doesn't feel nearly as slim or portable as the Galaxy Tab 10.1. It's no wonder Samsung went back to the drawing board on this one, the result is something that in many ways feels better than the iPad 2.

Apple still gets the nod in terms of quality of materials. The aluminum back of the iPad 2 is unbeatable. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 however feels lighter, a bit more rugged (I'm less concerned about scratching plastic than I am marring aluminum) and a little more comfortable to hold as a result. Against the Eee Pad there's no competition. I can live with the Eee Pad, but I much prefer the feel of the Galaxy Tab 10.1. The new Tab just feels like a device from this year - a compliment that, until now, I had only given to Apple.

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 measures just 8.6mm thick, 0.2mm thinner than the iPad 2. To be honest you really can't tell the difference, both devices feel thin. Ever after holding them back to back it's near impossible to tell that Samsung has built a thinner device. The most tangible difference in feel is the weight, not just in overall mass but in terms of weight distribution. The Galaxy Tab seems to carry the weight a bit better than the iPad, a bit more evenly.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (left) vs. Apple iPad 2 (right)

Now is as good a time as any to point out that although Samsung calls this the Galaxy Tab 10.1, it's really the new Galaxy Tab 10.1. Originally Samsung announced a much thicker version at Mobile World Congress, a month prior to the CTIA announcement. With the much thinner iPad 2 hitting the market after the original 10.1 announcement, Samsung scrapped plans for the original and unveiled the thinner 8.6mm version as the new Galaxy Tab. The original Galaxy Tab 10.1 is now known as the Galaxy Tab 10.1v.

The Hardware
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  • emmib - Friday, June 17, 2011 - link

    Also, Mr Anand, you said that Asus owners would likely regret their purchase in around 4 months. Is that due to Kal-El's imminent release, or sub-par build quality due to its lower cost?

    PS, I'm not being critical in anyway, and I love these forecasts made by people in the know. I'm just curious as I'm planning to buy an Android tablet within the next month or so
  • [insert name] - Sunday, June 19, 2011 - link

    I just joined to say well done!

    This was a very well written article without all the bias and opinionation I've seen on other sites.

    I picked up a link from Whirlpool and I'm glad I did - I'll be back!
  • winterhaven - Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - link

    Best review by far. I especially appreciated the information about the screens.

    For what it's worth, my Galaxy Tab 10.1 is my guilty pleasure. Usually, I am a big proponent of function over form. So I thought the Transformer would be the tablet for me, especially considering the lower price point. But when I picked up the new Tab, I was instantly seduced. I adore the vividness. And I love how easy it is to hold. Sleek is the perfect way to describe it. And the upcoming keyboard case will make it even better.
  • dickeywang - Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - link

    It appears Xoom is still the only choice if one wants to get a 3G version at this point. Wierd, isn't it?
  • paris89 - Saturday, July 2, 2011 - link

    personally i feel like it's everybody opinion on what tablet or phone to buy the main thing i hate is when ppl try make you like a product. my opinion i think that the samsung galaxy tab 10.1 is a nice looking tablet i like the ipad 2 but it is really nutting to be honest the only thing ipad 2 have on the galaxy tab is storage but that my opinion
  • MtnXfreeride - Friday, September 2, 2011 - link

    How is it possible that the Galaxy Battery last even similar let alone worse than the Transformer? With nearly the same specs, except the galaxy has a 6700MAH battery vs. the Transformer with 3XXXmah battery? I owned a transformer and returned it because of defective GPS and the screen was poorly attached to the product creating creaking, there is no way they had similar batteries my galaxy lasts at least 30% longer. Its is night and day a noticeable difference - a difference I noticed before going on line to verify the battery is better.
  • tenambit - Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - link

    There seems to be a point missing here and that is i will be using the galaxy for browsing the web so why would I buy an Apple if half the web sites I use are not available because of Apples lock out on Adobe flash ???
    Seems obvious to me.
    The other thing this is so familiar..wait wait and wait........look its like digital cameras .....if you wait you will never buy anything there will always be improvements down the line .
    What looks great now will look obsolete in 6 months,what looks great in 6 months will be obsolete in another 6 months and so on and so on .
    The thing that you have to look at is why you want this device in the first place.
    Is it to sit in front of the telly and browse the internet and check your email or do you want it to entertain you ,play games.watch movies,download music or do you want it to read e books or check the weather and the news because you cant be bothered booting up your PC, do you want something to carry around and use 3G or $G if your stupid enough to shell out the bucks for connectivity to the networks or are you just using it for wi fi and to move around the house,take it to bed with you and just as a convenience,.
    Work out what your use is,see if it will do it then buy it and forget about feeling sorry for what you have just done..
    Thats technology and thats the way it will always be...............I want an SSD for my PC but I need at least 500GIG so am I going to pay $1500.00 for an SSD or am I going to stick with my HDD.....................pretty obvious to me.
  • netfortius - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    Does anybody know what the WiFi chipset specs / vendor & model are?

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