Samsung’s first foray into tablet computing has been greatly hyped over the last few months. Is it really the iPad beater that everyone has been waiting for?
Look and feel
The Galaxy Tab, which was provided by Carphone Warehouse, is 7 inches long and weighs 380g, making it a slim and light tablet – more so than the iPad. It has a vivid Super TFT screen and comes equipped with a SIM card slot, a microSD slot that supports up to 32GB, a 3.5 mm jack for headphones and a microphone.
It has a front-facing 1.3MP camera for video calling and a 3MP camera at the back with a LED flash. The cameras are not that great in terms of quality for photos, but they serve a purpose for video calls.
It runs on version 2.2 of the Android platform, or Froyo, which operates with a touchscreen interface. It’s highly responsive and highly intuitive, making it a joy to navigate.
It has five home screens, one including the "daily briefing" app for the weather, news, finance and your schedule. The Active Applications widget keeps track of what apps are running and also tells you how much RAM they’re using up, which is pretty convenient when you want to boost its speed.
The internet looks great on the vivid screen, and utilises the pinch to zoom actions for navigation. The Wi-Fi only Tab we had was quite fast and showed how much tablet computers shine for browsing the internet.
It has support for Flash 10.1, which Apple controversially left out of its iPad. The keyboard is well spaced out, too, though because of the tab’s size, it may be not quite as easy to type on as the iPad, but it still works well.
One of the benefits that European Galaxy Tabs have over the US versions is the ability to phone people, through a standard call or video call. Both functions work easily enough and the tablet keeps track of all your contacts, chat logs and favourites. While the phone option won’t replace your own mobile, it’s still a nice option to have.
The Galaxy Tab supports Full HD (1,080p) video playback, which looks amazing onscreen. The sound, however, isn’t fantastic, as the speakers are on one side of the tab, causing an imbalance. I’d recommend using headphones or speakers in order to use this as a multimedia device. You can transfer files via Bluetooth or through USB, for which Samsung will have an adaptor.
Apps can be found on the Android market. However, most of the apps developed for it right now have been for lower-resolution smartphones and there were warnings they may not look great on the Tab.
That said, they certainly don’t look too bad. It’ll still take some time before Android tablet apps will come out, which is where it could potentially shine.
The Tab comes with some great apps, such as Thinkfree for editing documents, numerous eReading apps (such as Kobo, Zinio and eBook) and a shooter game called Nova. Google maps comes with the tab too, and looks very impressive onscreen.
I’m not sure if you could call the Samsung Galaxy Tab a full-blown iPad beater, though it’s certainly a strong competitor, if not, an equal. While the Android market still needs a bit of work on tablet app offerings, the Galaxy Tab does have a lot of pluses on the iPad, such as the smaller size and video calling, and it’s a fantastic Android-based alternative to Apple’s current tablet offering.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab is available from €79 on selected bill pay tariffs in Vodafone, O2, Meteor, eMobile, 3 and Carphone Warehouse.