Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Slate Great for Media Consumption

Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a remarkable media-chomping device with a crisp screen in a slim form factor. It's great for sending email and consuming YouTube, movies, books and music.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is an excellent alternative to Apple's iPad 2, the ultra-thin tablet it is designed to challenge in the burgeoning market for lightweight slate computers.

I received the limited edition Tab 10.1 at Google I/O May 10. This 32GB flash memory, WiFi-only tablet has a 10.1-inch display rendering a 1280 by 800 resolution and a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor.

The 7,000-mAh battery is great for longevity. I can report a full day's worth of heavy multimedia, emailing and gaming before charging.

As you can see here, the Google I/O edition is encased in plastic on the back, revealing an army of Android robots and their silhouettes. Cool, geeky. The commercial version will have a black, textured back for better grip. How else the commercial version differs from the limited edition I can't say.

There is a 3-megapixel rear-facing camera capable of recording 720p video, and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera for video chat. Video plays back in crisp 1080p high-definition. The current evidence shows Samsung will sell the Tab 10.1 for $499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB, beginning June 8.

From a hardware perspective, the Tab 10.1 bests the Motorola Xoom, which I certainly enjoyed using back in March.

The Tab 10.1 is a touch less than 1.3 pounds to the Xoom's 1.6 pounds, weighing less than even a touch less than the svelte iPad 2's 1.3 pounds. Whereas the Xoom is fully a half-inch thick, the Tab 10.1 is as thin as the iPad 2 at 0.34 inches.

You might not think that's a big difference from the Xoom, but wait until it's in your hand and lap. You want to be able to carry a tablet with a 10.1-inch screen comfortably in one hand. In my hand, at least, the Tab 10.1 certainly fits the bill.

The software is Android 3.0 "Honeycomb," so yes it's very much like the Xoom in many aspects. Samsung is touting a TouchWiz user interface, but to be honest, I didn't see much difference between from the Tab 10.1 and Motorola's Xoom UI. Update: TouchWiz is for the commercial version only.

That is, both offer the awesome application tray, which sits along the left of the screen to let users multitask and flit from one application to the next, as well as the widgets Honeycomb has become known for.

This includes the deck-of-card style YouTube widget on one of the five home screens of the Tab 10.1, which lets users flip through YouTube videos with a single flick of a forefinger. Super easy, efficient and fun. Notifications stream in from the lower right for Gmail, Google Talk and other applications.

Applications such as Angry Birds downloaded from the Android Market in seconds. The Tab 10.1 leverages Google's cloud, so once I associated my Google account with this device, magical cloud things happened. My Google Music beta count synced up and put my music on the Tab 10.1.

I sit here at my desk and the tablet now alerts me as I get a new Gmail, just as my Motorola Droid X does. I can access Google Maps, where 3D buildings raise up great on the Tab 10.1, and the Map navigation service.

Google Places is awesome here. Scrunched and canned on my Droid X, the restaurant, coffee shop and other options sit in a window on the left, with the Maps in the background.

Tapping pubs, for example, calls up the O Bar and Grill near my house here, possibly because I've rated it via Places' Hotpot recommendation engine from my desktop. The cloud at work, works for me.