Digital Life: Move over, iPad -- there's a new tablet in town. . .
A challenger app-ears: The 10.1v can capture video and good stills unlike the iPad
More than 12 months after the iPad hit the street, viable rivals are emerging only now -- all hell-bent on knocking the Apple tablet off its perch.
That's because major players such as Google needed to dramatically rewire its Android phone software to function effectively with the bigger screens of tablets.
The award for the first tablet to surface with this new Android software -- codenamed Honeycomb -- goes to the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1V.
You may remember Samsung tried its hand at tablets last year with the seven-inch Galaxy Tab.
It didn't sell very well, not least because its software and screen size were underwhelming.
But Samsung has learned its lesson well and ensured that, on pure specs alone, it outguns the iPad 2 on many counts.
Bigger screen, higher resolution, more RAM, proper camera -- the 10.1V has them all.
It all adds up to a speedy tablet with a gorgeous 10.1-inch screen.
It also has the ability, unlike the latest-released iPad, to capture good-quality stills and video.
The 10.1V can't quite match Apple's design flair -- or battery life -- but though it's appreciably thicker than iPad 2, it's equally light and comfortable in the hand.
Hit the on-switch and the Galaxy Tab boots up into the totally unfamiliar world of Google's new Honeycomb software.
Whereas Apple chose to make the iPad work exactly like the iPhone, Honeycomb will take a lot of getting used to, even if you're a veteran user of Android phones.
You might even conclude Honeycomb is something of a work in progress.
Despite pretty pseudo-3D graphics and slick animations, the menu system is sometimes unintuitive and inconsistent.
On the other hand, it's far more flexible than Apple's rigid approach, enabling you to collect important information -- new emails, weather, Twitter updates, etc -- right smack on the home screen.
Honeycomb's biggest disadvantage lies in its lack of downloadable apps.
The tally of apps written specifically for Honeycomb barely reaches into the hundreds versus the 65,000 available for iPad.
Nonetheless, the 10.1V can run most of the 200,000 apps aimed at Android phones but few look good on the big screen.
Despite these reservations, the Galaxy Tab 10.1V marks an impressive debut for Honeycomb.
It's a little rough around the edges but will undoubtedly improve with free software updates.
The 10.1V comes in just one version -- 16GB with Wi-Fi and 3G -- but costs a little less than the corresponding iPad 2 at €570, or €440 with a typical €20pm contract with Vodafone.
www.vodafone.ie/df/ mobilebroadband/ devices/galaxytab-demo