The new Samsung Galaxy tablet was launched for retail in South Africa on Monday.

It is touted as the world’s thinnest mobile tablet to be released to-date, with many tech commentators saying that it’s the first real competition to Apple’s market-dominating iPad.

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 measures just 8.6 millimetres in thickness and weights just 595g to ensure outstanding mobility, portability and comfort in the user’s hands.

Powered by the Android 3.1 Honeycomb operating system, Samsung says that the tablet offers faster and smoother transitions between different applications, more intuitive navigation to and from home screens and broader support of USB accessories.

Last week, South African internet and cell phone expert Arthur Goldstuck, told Business Day that he believes that Android is the mobile operating system of the future.

“Any phone can use the Android software, unlike Apple [iPhone] and RIM [BlackBerry], which are specific to their phones. This means that many manufacturers can produce a cheap smartphone and they can all communicate,” Goldstuck said.

The tablet’s 10.1-inch touch screen display with WXGA 1280 x 800 resolution is centred inside a narrow bezel to enhance the wide viewing angle and delivers vibrant colours and crisp clarity.

“The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a remarkable example of Samsung’s constant innovation, demonstrating our dedication to designing products of the highest standard, ensuring they fit the unique needs of technology-savvy people wanting to lead a smarter life,” said George Ferreira, Chief Operating Officer for Samsung Electronics Africa RHQ.

“We have combined our innovations in design and display with an intuitive user experience, creating a new class of products that will lead the tablet market.”

The tablet allows users to customise the home screen with digital pictures, favourite web sites and social network feeds.

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 supports Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n connectivity to deliver rapid mobile Wi-Fi download speeds and reduce data transfer times and includes a Nvidia Tegra 1GHz dual core application processor for powerful gaming and multimedia performance.

The tablet’s ultra-thin design does not sacrifice battery life, with up to 10 hours of continuous video play on a single charge.

Unlike the iPad, the device supports Adobe Flash, which is required for web features such as YouTube. It also features a 3 megapixel rear camera and a 2 megapixel front camera, and high quality speakers are positioned on the right and left side of the tablet.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 retails between R7,000 and R8,000, around the same price as Apple’s iPad 2.

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