When announcing the iOS 4.2 update yesterday Steve Jobs once again took the opportunity to lay into the tablet competition, saying:

“Once again, the iPad with iOS 4.2 will define the target that other tablets will aspire to, but very few, if any, will ever be able to hit.”

Unlike iPhone, which got iOS 4 back in June, iOS 4.2 is a generational improvement for iPad, which has been stuck on iOS 3.2 since it debuted back in April. Multitasking, folders, AirPrint, AirPlay, threaded email, unified inbox, and more (see our complete iOS 4.2 for iPad walkthrough for all the details).

While RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook, HP's webOS PalmPad, and no doubt a legion of future Android 2.3 and 3.0 tablets are waiting in the wings, only the Galaxy Tab has shipped to date (not counting Windows Tablet PC or Archos, which are different in kind).

I had a chance to try out the Bell version of the Galaxy Tab over the weekend and came away thinking it doesn't really compete with the iPad at all. That's not to say no one will buy a Galaxy Tab -- 600,000 have reportedly been sold in the last month --but at 7-inches and running a thinly skinned version of Android 2.2 Froyo, it felt more like a big Galaxy S phone than a distinct tablet device.

That's poetic given the early, laughable statements about iPad being a "big iPhone". The difference between a 3.5-inch and 9.7-inch screen is tremendous, far more than that between a 4-inch or 4.3-inch and a 7-inch screen, and it shows when you look at the differences between iPhone and iPad app UI (Twitter for iPhone vs. Twitter for iPad, for example).

Sure, Angry Birds for 4-inches can upscale 7-inches without too many problems, but when we talk about non-game apps, especially from really conscientious developers, what you get at 10-inches really is a different class of software.

I would probably get a Droid X or Galaxy S rather than a Galaxy Tab because the overlap between the Android phone and current Android tablet is just tremendous and at $600+ unsubsidized (and carrier locked!) the Galaxy Tab doesn't seem to offer as much value over a top-tier Android phone. I certainly wouldn't buy both (though I'm sure some Android aficionados have and will).

However, I have an iPhone 4 and I still got an iPad (and I suspect hundreds of thousands if not millions of other people did as well) because the difference in iPad apps significant.

Of course, the difference on other platforms may become more significant in 6 month when the aforementioned RIM, HP, and Android tablets really get going. HP webOS especially looks to be doing something really interesting with Enyo frameworks and scalable UI. Of course, that's about the same time iPad 2 will be hitting the market, and iOS 5 will be previewed...

If you've tried both iPad with iOS 4.2 and the Galaxy Tab, let me know your thoughts.