An iPad killer at last?

Ah, Android tablets. Like diets, each new one promises so much and delivers disappointment. Looking at the crop of Android-powered tablets we've seen so far, it's not hard to see why: though the Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom, Asus Eee Pad Transformer et al all have their charms, none of them have the raw loveliness of the iPad. And in the tablet market, where no-one is buying one pretending they absolutely need one, loveliness matters.

But now all this might be about to change. Samsung have just been showing off their new tablet, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 - and it's getting some admiring looks. 'It’s a beautiful tablet that hits the sweet spot for design, weight, size, and thickness,' according to journalist Chris Zeigler. 'Frankly, I might say this is the first large tablet I’ve seen that goes head-to-head with the iPad 2 for industrial design and profile.'

Tech blog Gizmodo puts it more straightforwardly still, simply calling it 'The first Android tablet built for humans.'

What's so special about it? Well, it's thin - crazy thin, on a par with the iPad 2, it seems - and the bezel (frame) area around the screen is unusually thin. And like the iPad, it eschews lots of ports and connectors for one single proprietary Samsung connector in the bottom. This might not be as good for users as built-in USB and HDMI, but it looks lovely.

Of course, the tech journalists raving about the Tab 10.1 might be a bit biased - they were all given one free yesterday at Google's I/O developer conference. Google wants to get the hardware out there so people can get on with making apps for Honeycomb, the tablet version of Android that powers the Tab 10.1 as well as the Motorola and Asus tablets. The Tab 10.1 given out at I/O sported a gorgeous white Android pattern on the back, as well as an apparently largely un-tampered with version of Honeycomb. By the time the Tab 10.1 makes it to shops in a couple of months' time, we suspect the back'll be black and the software will be sludgy with Samsung customisations. Still, this looks like it could be the Android tablet to finally challenge the iPad. Though we have said that before...

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