Not an easy topic, and i am sure fanboys from both groups will hotly dispute any negatives that you point out. Frankly speaking the decision between either is very dependent on the user, since both are very capable (and expensive) devices. So lets take me give my view on various aspects of usage,
Size and Handling : If we were to say the Galaxy being considered as a overgrown gorilla phone 🙂 is fairly a valid statement considering the Touch UI still has to much phone it in than a true tablet. However the overgrown gorilla phone is definitely more light and carry friendly compared to the whale like IPad 🙂 Though the larger IPad screen definitely is a superb magazine reader, the fact remains that currently it is tad to heavy for long periods of use, as the balance is simply not there. The Galaxy tab in comparison is a lot more balanced and ideal for this purpose, though a slightly larger screen would have made this perfect (hint- LG with their 8.9″ G-slate/Optimus Pad may have the ideal solution assuming they have perfected the balance of the device). Do note that both run the same resolution, so there is no difference in the pixel sizes, though the upcoming range of tablets are all set to boost the pixel size (though the IPad2 rumored specs say the screen res will remain the same, though nothing wrong with the current no of pixels!)
Expansion: The IPad currently comes in 3 different capacities 16/32/64GB and this is important, as you need to decide how much space you really want, since you cannot load and play content from any external media such an SD card or USB stick. The Galaxy in comparison has an microUSB slot built-in that supports upto 32GB microSD cards. So in addition to the built-in 16/32GB memory you can expand it. However note the issue, even if you expand the Galaxy its going to top off at 64GB, so while the flexibility is there you really don’t get any additional space. However the advantage is that you can load and play media from any microSD card, so you can have multiple cards, or use cards from your friends to play content, which is gives it the advantage.
Communication: The IPad 3G version comes with the ability to use an microSIM that means you can connect to net without the need of an WIFI router. While most reviews talk about the fact that the WIFI is faster, this will be applicable for countries where WIFI is freely available.
However for most asian countries this will not hold true, and 3G is more important and accessible. In my country (Sri Lanka) the speeds on the 3G connections can average around 1-2Mbps, and for the same price you only get 1Mbps on fixed lines, so 3G is a better alternative. The Galaxy too supports 3G and though both the IPad and Galaxy Tab offer high speed supports you may find that your provider will not be able to provide sustained speeds at these levels. However the place where the Galaxy out does the IPad is again in the area of BlueTooth, as its has the newer spec, and also has no restrictions. The BT on the Galaxy Tab is just like any phone (not Apple!) so you can transfer files, explorer, etc unlike the rather limited voice only and limited device connectivity supported by the Apple BlueTooth support on the IPad.
Camera and Communication: Not really a comparison, as the IPad gets slammed big time as it does not even have a front facing camera though it ports a mic to allow voice calls. While having a normal camera may not be essential for a Tablet, the front facing camera i think is fundamental considering the price of these devices, and that these are pitched as the mobile devices you may have with you. The Galaxy front cam allows the video calls, and since its a normal phone you can use it for standard video calls over 3G as well. The back camera is a 3.2 MP pixel and is of average quality, but surprisingly the flash that is included is very powerful and does very well indoors. However i would have liked a bit more mega pixels in the camera, since you may need to take photos of white boards or books and here the mega pixel is important and 3 MP has insufficient detail for this purpose.
However not everything is sweet, as the most popular call software Skype is poorly implemented on Android, and is also now not available for many devices and regions, while this issue is not there with the Ipad/Apple iOS or for that matter even Symbian! While Fring is available, the lack of a proper skype implementation i think takes the home advantage of the front camera.
Being able to take calls on your Tablet is something i feel is not that vital, since you would need to carry a mobile in addition to your tablet as the tablet cannot be carried for all events. Hence while this is an advantage, I think its not vital and would be fine without it. If samsung could have done this and reduced the price of the Galaxy tab i am sure the number of devices sold would have been far greater.
PDF support: I included this as a separate criteria as i felt it was important, and maybe its just me as i read a lot of material in PDF format. Here while the Android platform has many PDF readers the PDF reader on the IPad is far smoother and better implemented. You notice that you can flip through pages (and the page is rendered) much faster on the IPad, and also the loading time for a PDF is significantly better on the IPad. In addition the zoom feature is a lot smoother on the IPad, and hopefully the HoneyComb Android upgrade will improve this on the Galaxy Tab (and other Android tablets). And again here is where i felt the 7″ form factor being insufficient specially for magazines, and the IPad 9.7″ screen a lot more suited as you could read the content with no zoom needs.
Microsoft Office support: Again since these tablets are more than simple ebook readers, you will end up having to view and possibly edit MS office documents. Here there is not built-in product provided by Apple on the IPad, while Samsung bundles software that allows you to view and edit documents, so definitely something that again makes the Galaxy a better option.
Multimedia: I covered this in my individual review, as here the Galaxy wins as it supports more formats natively including Divx/Xvid than the IPad. The Galaxy form factor also makes it use the full space for wide screen content, while the IPad will have the two black streaks that reduces the effectiveness of the larger screen space.
—- to be continued