June 17, 2011, 5:54 PM — For a good year now, we've been hearing about devices that would give the iPad a real run for its money, only to find the claims hollow. The closest contender thus far has been the Motorola Xoom, but it suffered too many shortcomings to give Steve Jobs cause to sweat. Now, however, the iPad has its first credible alternative: Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1, a stellar improvement over Samsung's first effort, the awkward Galaxy Tab 7.
Sure, if you're well entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, you'll go for the iPad 2; likewise, if you're happy in the Android camp, you'll go for the Galaxy Tab 10.1. But if you're open to tablet platforms, you have a real decision to make. Depending on your tablet needs, however, you may find your choice made for you, as both tablets have their share of strengths and shortcomings.
[ InfoWorld's Galen Gruman says "Whatever you do, don't buy a Chromebook." | See all of InfoWorld's mobile deathmatch comparisons and personalize the tablet scores to your needs. | Compare the security and management capabilities of iOS, Windows Phone 7, Android, and more in InfoWorld's Mobile Management Deep Dive PDF report. ]
I put both the iPad 2 and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 through a series of tests to determine their respective strengths in areas such as email and calendar functionality, applications and app stores, and general performance, design, and usability. Overall, Android 3.0 coupled with Samsung's tablet design make for a strong competitor in terms of speed and browser capabilities, along with handy widgets to keep users abreast of incoming emails and other such notifications. Meanwhile, the iPad 2 is an admirable update to Apple's original groundbreaking tablet, showing more polish and better security than the Galaxy Tab 10.1, alongside having superior apps.
Deathmatch: Email, calendars, and contacts
For testing these essential business functions, I used personal accounts of IMAP, POP, and Gmail along with a work account of Exchange 2007. Both devices work directly with IMAP, Gmail, and POP; my email, email folders, calendars, and contacts all flowed effortlessly among the smartphones, my laptop, and the server.