The Samsung Galaxy Tab tops the list of Android tablets, but still falls short of the iPad 2. (Courtesy of Samsung)

The hardware on the tablet is great; it’s sleek and light with a great screen and is easily the best Android tablet I’ve played with so far. But what I — and non-Apple manufacturers, apparently — keep running up against is the iPad question. With the number of applications designed for tablets on Android, there’s just no comparison.

Through no fault of Samsung’s, head-to-head, this tablet isn’t the iPad 2’s equal — though it comes closer than anything else I’ve seen out there.

Price: The 32 GB version of the WiFi tablet will be $599; the 16 GB version will be $499. Samsung provided a 16GB version for this review. Verizon is already taking pre-orders for a 3G version of the tablet, due out sometime this summer. The LTE version will be $529.99 for 16GB and $629.99 for 32GB.

Specs: The Galaxy Tab has a 10.1 inch-screen, an NVDIA Tegra 2 dual-core 1 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, weighs 1.3 pounds and is .33 inches thick. It has a 2MP front-facing camera, a 3MP rear-facing camera with an LED flash. The tablet runs Honeycomb, Google’s Android 3.1 tablet-optimized OS with more Samsung TouchWiz features planned in the future.

Speed: No complaints here. The boot-up time on the tablet is great, The dual-core processor does its job, loading Web pages, playing video, and I never had a problem running multiple apps at once. Even graphics-intensive games ran well and looked great with no noticeable lag.

Ease of Use: The Honeycomb interface has fixed a ton of bugs with its latest update, making the Galaxy Tab 10.1 more stable than its nearest competitor, the Motorola Xoom. Samsung is going to add some more elements of its TouchWiz user interface to the tablet at a later date, but right now the Tab is running a pretty pure version of Honeycomb.

The speakers on the Galaxy Tab were fine, if a bit tinny. I wouldn’t make it my primary way to listen to music, but it at least managed to keep from being annoying when watching YouTube videos. And the tablet has a great screen that, while a tad oversaturated at times, makes it a very watchable device.

Video did seem to give the battery life a hit — I got about 6 hours of battery life out of the tablet when I watched a lot of video, compared to about 8 hours when I used it for lighter fare.

I tend to like smaller tablets that fit well in a purse or pocket, but even with the larger screen size, the tablet was light enough that I almost forgot that I was carrying it around in my briefcase. Its slim profile made it easy to slip into larger bags and it survived some quality time thrown in with my keys without a scratch.

Versatility: As with every Android tablet, this is the weak point for the Galaxy Tab. There just simply aren’t enough apps that look great on the tablet in the ever-growing Android Market. Until the Android Market catches up to the Apple App Store, Android tablets just aren’t competitive with the iPad.

The Tab does have pretty good cameras, however, setting it apart from most tablets I’ve tried. Your pictures still aren’t going to be stellar, but at least they won’t be grainy. As for the camera software, the Tab offers some good editing options. The video is nothing to write home about and suffers from the lack of a zoom option.

The Galaxy Tab also has a problem when it comes to ports — it just doesn’t have any. Okay, that’s not entirely true, since the tablet comes with its own proprietary 30-pin dock connector and a headphone jack, but that’s all it’s got to offer. No USB, no HDMI and no SD card slot, as I pointed out in my first impressions, means that Samsung missed an opportunity to get one over on the iPad.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for the best Android tablet, this is the device for you. But if you’re looking for the best overall tablet, the iPad 2 is still king.

Anything I missed? Let me know in the comments.

Related stories:

Galaxy Tab 10.1: First impressions

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 available June 17

PHOTOS: Tablet wars intensify