The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is already one of the best Android Honeycomb Tablets, but Samsung hopes its new TouchWiz software update will create more distance between this slate and the rest of the Honeycomb field. The goal: make the experience more intuitive (less click) and more visually appealing. Samsung also debuted a bunch of new accessories. Here are the highlights.
Live Panel: Live Panel is a collection of widgets and small applications that reside on the home screen. Samsung's goal with the design of the home screens is to mimic a rich magazine layout. The weather widget is pretty cool, and you'll also find a social networking widget, just like on Samsung's Android phones.
Mini Apps Tray: Pressing an arrow at the bottom of the screen brings up the Mini Apps Tray, which includes mini apps like Task Manager. This app is great for killing active apps. You'll also find Calendar, world clock, Pen memo (use your finger or capacitive sytlus to take notes), Calculator, and Music Player for changing tracks. Our issue with the apps tray is that it doesn't seem like you can change any of the choices.
Quick Panel: Samsung's update for the Tab 10.1 gives you one-click access to Wi-Fi, Notifications, GPS, Sound, and Auto Rotation all right from the settings area on the right side of the screen. This eliminates menu digging. You just scroll to the right to see more options. This area uses bigger, brighter fonts than the stock Android experience.
Swype and Resizable Keyboard: Typing is now easier on the Tab 10.1 with Swype support, which allows users to type with one hand by tracing a line between letter. You can also resize the keyboard, which should result in faster thumb typing.
Find my Mobile: Under Location and security you'll see a new setting called Find my mobile. This allows the tablet to be located. You then go to SamsungDive.com and sign in with your account info. From there you can track and control your device remotely. So, yes, the Tab 10.1 has Find My iPhone-like functionality now. If you lose your tablet around the house, you can have it ring remotely.
Samsung Music Hub and Social Hub: The new Music Hub powered by 7digital allows you to download millions of tracks, and it has a slick UI. Samsung has redesigned its Social Hub for tablets, bringing together Facebook and LinkedIn. With Facebook you can respond to posts. A separate tab on this screen is Messages, which now integrates push capability for Windows Live and Yahoo.
Samsung Media Hub: This new hub for the Tab 10.1 is also tablet optimized, where you have the option to rent as well as buy. You can rent in HD or SD. Under TV you can browse by network view or date of airing, to make sure you're getting timely content. Samsung lets you re-download the content on up to five Samsung devices (if you have a phone for example) without having to pay again. Bonus: you can use HDMI output to output content on the big screen.
We're assuming DLNA sharing doesn't work, but will check.
Business Features: Samsung is launching a collection of services to help businesses deploy and manage the Tab 10.1. Features include Microsoft ActiveSync EAS v.14, VPN (via Cisco AnyConnect and F5 SSL VPN), and hardware encryption. The Tab update will also support Sybase Afaria device management and group work collabroation tools like Cisco WebEx. Last but not least is Wi-Fi printing.
New Accessories: To help round out the Tab 10.1, Samsung is rolling out a bunch of accessories, including a new Bluetooth/keyboard case combo ($149), an HDTV adapter ($39.99), keyboard dock ($79.99), SD Card adapter ($29.99) and a USB adapter for plugging in peripherals like USB drives and keyboards. A $59.99 hard case can be used for viewing content or typing. Last but not least is a new capacitive sytlus ($19.99), great for using the new notes mini app.
Overall, the Tab 10.1 is looking like a much more well-rounded tablet. Stay tuned for hands-on impressions. Our Tab 10.1 just got a fresh update.