Samsung is ready to go toe-to-toe with the iPad 2 – for real this time.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1, redesigned based on the super-thin, amped-up specs of Apple’s new tablet, will show up on the shelves of the Best Buy store at Union Square in New York City on June 8. The rest of the country will see the tablet start to show up on June 17; it’ll be available in Best Buy stores and online, and from Amazon, Tiger Direct, Newegg, Micro Center and Fry’s Electronics.
Releasing the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in limited locations might be a bit of a PR stunt to create big lines for photo opportunities, especially because the New York launch will have limited quantities of the tablet, but Samsung (005930.KS) has put a lot of power into the tablet in order to bring it up to fighting strength even without manufacturing a little hype. Running on Android 3.0 Honeycomb and featuring a NVIDIA (NVDA) Tegra dual-core processor – plus a thinner design than even the iPad 2 – the Galaxy Tab 10.1 looks to be the first major competitor for the iPad 2.
I know, I know, that’s been said before. The Motorola (MMI) Xoom also looked as though it could stand up to the iPad, and while that device hasn’t exactly done poorly, it still isn’t really the Android answer to Apple’s (AAPL) juggernaut. But at least on paper, if there’s a tablet that can be held side-by-side with the iPad 2 and win some of the comparisons, it’s the Galaxy Tab 10.1
Apart from being thinner, Samsung’s redesigned tab features a 3-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel camera up front. According to Samsung’s press release, it will also launch with full Adobe (ADBE) Flash Player compatibility, something critics faulted the Xoom for when it was launched with Flash to be added later.
We heard earlier this year that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 wouldn’t use a straight Android Honeycomb interface, and it appears that speculation was correct. The tablet will incorporate something called 'Samsung TouchWhiz UX,' which “includes a ‘Mini Apps’ tray of commonly used features such as task manager, calendar and music player, which can be launched while other major applications are already in use,” according to Samsung’s release. It’ll also include a 'Live Panel' menu that will allow users to customize the tab’s home screen with “digital pictures, favorite web sites and social network feeds.” Users also get the use of a service called ‘Allshare’ that lets the Galaxy Tab 10.1 transfer content to other DLNA devices, like monitors, digital cameras and HDTVs. Even better, the new tab will be able stream content from a DLNA TV as well.
As for pricing, Samsung is making sure it can stack up right beside the iPad 2: $499 for the 16GB model, $599 for the 32GB. One thing not mentioned in the press release, however, is a 3G-capable Galaxy Tab 10.1. Whether those details just aren’t available yet, or that there won’t be a 3G version, isn’t quite clear, but it seems odd that Samsung wouldn’t be putting out a 3G iteration of its new tab when wireless carrier support has become an industry standard. There’s also no mention of the rumored 4G LTE Galaxy Tab.
We’re hoping to get hands on the new Galaxy Tab (maybe at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles next week), so check back for first-hand impressions of whether Android has finally found a way to stand up to the iPad.