From a design perspective, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is superb. It's impressive from any angle, and anyone that holds it will immediately be turned on to the form factor. Most tablets have external chassis that lack any major design cues; most are adorned with an excess quantity of plastic, shoddy buttons, and a thicker frame that just looks subpar when placed beside the forerunner of the group.
But what sets the Tab 10.1 apart right away is its size. At just 8.6mm thick, this slate is slimmer than the iPad 2, which demands a double-take right there. Furthermore, Samsung didn't skimp on build quality and materials. While there's obviously plastic in use here, none of it feels flimsy in the least. The entire body is rigid and comfortable to hold, and it really feels as the unit was solidly put together. That's a rarity when looking at slates these days, regardless of manufacturer.
Samsung has opted for a more simplistic take with this slate, and that includes the button layout; there aren't many things to poke and prod here. There's a media connector (Samsung's version of Apple's Dock Connector) along the bottom, with a volume rocker, on / sleep button along the top and two speaker ports on the sides. The 3G edition will also include a SIM card slot. Outside of that, it's just 10.1" of glossy screen (and a small outside bezel) to stare at.
The screen itself has a 1280 x 800 resolution, which is par for the course when it comes to Android tablets. But Samsung's display choice is really worth praising. It's easily one of the most crisp tablet panels we have witnessed to date, right up there with the IPS display on the iPad 2. Viewing angles are awesome, and motion scurries no ghosting. It's a beautiful display to consume content on, which is a real boon given that you'll likely consider one of these units if you're in the mood to consume a lot of content.
The speakers here aren't anything to write home about, but they're adequately loud and work just fine on simple presentations and for showing off a YouTube clip or two. Taking advantage of the 3.5mm headphone jack is recommended when you can. The display does a decent job of rejecting most fingerprints, and while it's glossy, the glare isn't nearly as bad as on some other mobile displays that we have seen recently. It's also worth noting that the multi-touch experience is really exceptional here; the horsepower within, combined with a great panel, makes for a terrific experience.
The back of the device isn't anything spectacular, and it's certainly far less enthralling than the rear of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 Limited Edition that was handed out at this year's Google I/O conference, but it's subtle, classy, and it fits well with the overall motif. All in all, the Tab 10.1 rivals the iPad 2 in the design department, which seems like a major success in and of itself.