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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  • Belard - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    As others have stated... Apple *IS* the gold standard for which Smart phones and tablets have to compete.

    I own an iPad-1, there was nothing on the market that was as good as an iPad. iPad2 was sold out (in a day). I have a Samsung Galaxy S Phone.

    I am NOT impressed how Google / Samsung / At&t handle the Froyo updates. I am even LESS impressed that Team-Google made Android more difficult to use in some ways... like did they hire some from MS to make Android STUPID?

    Archos? Really? Its not HALF. Its $320 vs $500. It has a single camera... the $400 ASUS Transformer kill it. Archos is rated so-so, a bit of a failure rate, very slow, not-great screen sensor, low-res screen.

    Uh, many charts do compare various Tablets. The HTC Tablet is a 7" model and it sells for $500 (gee, just like the iPad2). And not just that, it is shipping with Android 2.4?! Even Creative tablets (7 & 10") have Android 2.2!!

    Hrel: Correct me if I am wrong... everyone in the USA has a right to buy an Apple product? Is there a GUN being held to anyone's head to buy an Apple iPhone, iPad or i-anything?

    It is UP to Samsung and other Android makers to create the market for people to BUY an Android tablet.

    So, why be pissed off that people are buying iPads? Enjoy your Archos... nobody will take it away from you. (really!)

    I don't like iTunes. I finally had a need for an MP3 player (I workout in a gym) and I looked at the $45 iPod. I have no issues about the quality, etc... but I hate iTunes. I don't want to deal with all the conversion crap and I have lots of OGG files.

    I checked out 4 major stores (Frys, Walmart, CompUSA, Microcenter) ... theres a HUGE iPod selection, then off on another isle or side, all the rest. I saw:
    Mostly cheap $15~40 no-name cheap junk. (reviews were horrible)
    SONY = $60~120, nothing small enough for my needs.
    Philips and RCA = $25~60, bulky - custom software... Philips = junk.
    Hey, for $20 - I could have bought a iPod Nano-4th gen clone... :P

    Finally found a SanDisk Clip... it has a clip, size of an iPod Shufflt with a tiny screen for $30... with FM-Radio, Audio recorder...

    Point is, nobody really tries to compete against iPod... and MS has finally gave up on Zune. But there are some options there.
  • Jamestownsend - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    Are you that ignorant as to say that apple hs been behind on evey front? Use honeycomb tablet for two weeks and then use an ipad and see how behind the ipad is. Watch the all things digital interview with the CEO of adobe. The only tablet that does flash well is the playbook...and we all know how crappy that is...android is really good...but compared to iOS, its obvious that the operating system is a huge resource hog.. Then they decided to put flash on there, which is fine since its optional, but why put a feature that buggy on a product that people would be paying for. You can tell just how much they love their customers from a move like that. The ipad is running lower spec'd hardware (except for the GPU) and offers a much smoother experience than what you can get on any android tablet. Very behind. The reason why all of these android devices are soo "ahead" of apple's in terms of hardware is because they have to in order to compete. Of course, apple haters exist, that's why devices like the XOOM is still selling, but comparing build quality of an ipad to anything made by ASUS...wtf? or arc hose? archos was a good device before the introduction of the ipod touch. now its nothing more than a cheaper alternative. The same goes for the ASUS. HTC, motorola and the rest are doing a good job. But the problem isn't the hardware, its the software...that's where the ipad wins. Its obvious though...look at sales records...
  • fteoath64 - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    Considering all its weaknesses the iPad's user experience is very good no doubt. But Apple is a closed system and people has to live with it. Yes, there is jailbreak and Cydia but nothing like HoneyComb's openess (with all its issues).
    A lot depends on what one expects from a tablet. I agree that iPad has better overall appeal while HoneyComb appeals to the technologically sophisticated user.
    This gives room for people to grow in either going from iPad to HoneyComb or vice-versa. This is the choice offered by Google. It is a good thing. What is good for one might be bad for another and vice-versa, so the choices enable us to switch or migrate to what we really wanted. Because tablets are a new concept, users tend to only understand what they wanted with it only when they have used one for some time.
    In the Android space, there is space yet for the ultimate tablet which will come by the end of this year. Apple will no doubt try very hard to match and exceed some of its abilities and it has the luxury of dropping the price which will lessen the appeal of newer Honeycomb tablets.

    Heck, we might see some premium tablets coming with Sapphire crystal class and even 18carat gold plating but they will be niche market items.
  • jllcmu04@hotmail.com - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    Thanks for a great article. I am developing an application for a non-profit and have decided to choose an android based tablet for managers to view real time information. The problem is... which one to choose? I have a water proof covering that will fit most any tablet so that's not the problem, but price and longevity are critical components. Any ideas about which of these would be recommended?

    Thanks in advanced!
  • anandtech02148 - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    its nice to see we're getting some worthy hardwares for our bucks in the next 6months, and i'm holding out for that one tablet, maybe i'll hold out till window 8 tab comes out.
    Android is sleazy. Google is evil. the apps i've seen on these annoying "DROIDS" are all plug into some kind of marketing statistics, or ad wares that users are turning a blind eye.. I do not trust Android, after reading this article i dislike it 10 times more. Frankly Apple IOS is more trusting than what google has to offer these days. heck even Microsoft.
  • qupe - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

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  • stm1185 - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    Is that there is very little reason to even own a tablet.
  • kenour - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    16:9 ehh... Surely you mean 16:10.
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  • xype - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    "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"

    Uhm, it's not hard to "respond quickly" if you're one of the main suppliers. Samsung likely knew a lot more and a lot sooner about the iPad 2 than anyone else.

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