After reading about the Samsung Galaxy Tab for what seemed like years (JK, it was only two months) I never thought it would come to the carriers much less to my house. I have owned the Archos and Augen versions of the mythical Android tablet and for my money, I believe Samsung got it right and all this without a proper tablet OS.
Initial impressions and walk-around:
The Tab is just as tight as my iPad in terms of fit and finish. The piano black framing that borders the screen is much like the iPad and you will have the smudges to prove it. The rear of the device is also finished with shiny black plastic that makes it positively slippery so a case is definitely recommended for day-to-day use. The only thing that shows is the rear camera and accompanying LED flash. The sides are clean with only a microSD, SIM slot (on my T-Mobile model), and volume rocker. The top is home to the prerequisite 3.5mm headphone jack and it is flush and not recessed in any way for ease of use. Even though the proprietary charging port looks like an Apple one, don’t be mistaken, it is not. The battery is not removable my normal means and will need to be replaced only by exchanging the whole device.
I was not sure of the seven-inch screen but it is just as crisp and clear as anything else I have seen. The resolution is high enough to watch uploaded movies as well as whatever you may find on YouTube, etc. I have been using my Tab for a week now and haven’t even used my iPad since. While I am certainly bias towards Android, I will and have buy Apple devices when they look like they will do the job. And that was exactly why I purchased my iPad: it did the job for six months, that is until I got the Tab.
Main reasons I prefer it: true multi-tasking, widgets, official Android Market, side loading of apps, microSD, Android 2.2.
Those of you who have Android 2.2 on a phone, don’t expect anything different even with Samsung’s light TouchWiz UI. It’s barely there. Yes, it’s like a big phone but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. When I wake up in the morning, it is already running Twitter, AndChat for IRC, Gmail, and work email. These services are actually running in the background and will update just like Android. This is the MAIN reason for me using it over the iPad. Even with iOS 4.2, the Apple does not keep state, in that every time I pick it up I have to reload the apps. After a while this definitely gets old. Tab – 1, iPad – 0. Widgets are the same here on the Tab as other Android phones, but they are definitely welcome.
I have owned other tablets and even though I tried, if they don’t have access to the Android Market they are almost useless. Not saying that it can’t be done in a few steps but there’s a lot to be said about ODM integration and support. In fact, I have mine running the hacked Skype app that allows calls of 3G and it is useful as a phone sometimes. The microSD is absolutely freeing in the way I can eject it, throw it in a reader and put movies/music down on it without any sync’ing. Not to mention the fact that you can actually add more storage capacity on the fly. The Tab comes with 2GB for onboard OS storage and 16GB for internal storage, THEN I put a 16GB microSD in for a killer 34GB total onboard.
It is very portable. Seven inches may well be the new Black when it comes to default tablet sizes. It is easy to carry around and use with one hand as well as type in portrait mode just you do with your Android/iPhone today.
(Almost forgot to mention that included with the T-Mobile version and your rate plan you will get a true wireless access point and not an ad-hoc app. In other words, even other Android devices can see and connect to it).
As you can see in the above picture, the Tab fits perfectly in side of my dashboard and acts as a perfectly good GPS. And even though, it’s sideways, here’s the speed of T-Mobile‘s 3G:
- The speaker is a little low for using in an open room but odds are most people will use a wired headset and/or desktop speakers.
- Without a case, the Tab is very easy to drop and it will slide off anything with an angle.
- The battery life is a so-so seven hours but given the fact that it is running continuously I will give it a pass. I would rather have a good seven hours instead of middling ten hours experience.
- Qik, Fring, and Yahoo! Messenger did not work very well using the front facing 1.3mp camera but a Skype API could fix that for good.
Should you get this device? Not sure. I did, but many people don’t have use for a netbook, a second laptop, much less for a redundant tablet device that can mirror your phone. Tablets are finally coming into their own and look very sleek compared to my HP Tablet PC circa 2005, but I am afraid that the bad economy will keep them as luxury devices in the short term. We’ve come a long way but no doubt most consumers are already looking for the next big thing on Android and it looks as if that will be 3.0. I am perfectly happy with the Tab but am eager to see what Google will do with a true tablet OS, 3.0, and hardware that will take full advantage of it.