Samsung Galaxy Tab: The first real iPad competitor
My review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab on Verizon:
The Samsung Galaxy Tab fits in my pocket.
Let me say that again: Samsung's Galaxy Tab, the first credible Android tablet -- and iPad competitor -- to hit the market, actually fits in my front pants pocket. That simple fact alone makes me consider the Galaxy as a much more portable and mobile device than its larger competitor, the Apple iPad.
The Galaxy tab is easy to use with one hand, while the other hand holds it. It's not too different than holding a paperback book, in fact. It weighs about 0.8 pounds -- or little less than half the weight of an iPad.
To me, setting aside certain differences in software and hardware, the potential Galaxy Tab customer will do well to know how they plan to use this device. Do they think they'll just keep it mostly at home as an easy/quick access device to the Internet? Or will they be bringing on the go with them a lot, and potentially subscribing to a wireless access plan?
I, for one, have an iPad and use it 90 percent of the time at home. Thus, I want the bigger 9.7 inch screen on the iPad for easier reading and watching videos. However, the 7-inch form factor of the Galaxy Tab is appealing for me, for the simple fact that I'd like to have something like this to slip in my Dockers. And no, I don't carry a man purse.
The Tab starts at $600 for sale by most wireless carriers. PC World has a great breakdown of prices among AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint. Take your pick.
Here's what else I like about the Galaxy Tab:
* The overall fit and finish of Samsung's hardware is very good, very solid. They've done well with it. It isn't sexy chic, like the iPad. But it feels good in the hand.
* The screen is bright, vivid and all around gorgeous. My eyes are just drawn to it. * It's got front and rear facing cameras that shoot video (the iPad doesn't have cameras yet, but look for next year's model to catch up.)
* Awesome contact and calendar integration with Google and Facebook. Your Google and Facebook contacts and calendar items (i.e. birthdays of all your friends) gets sucked into the device's Calendar app. VERY COOL.
* Other Google software, i.e. Maps and Places, are a unique, location-based offerings that you won't probably won't get on non-Android devices.
* It plays Flash video/animation. In the few sites I experimented with it on, Flash worked. But I've heard it's a battery drain. And the sites often take some time to load up. I'm not convinced that Flash-based content yet "works" in the mobile environment.
Here's what I'm so-so on about the Galaxy Tab:
* The web browser is meh. It just doesn't feel as responsive and as precise as the mobile Safari browser on the iPad. On some sites, such as BaltimoreSun.com, it kept forcing me to view the mobile site, when I wanted to read the main site.
* There are a lot of pre-loaded Samsung and Verizon apps to choose from, some of which just appear duplicative and confusing. There's a "Gallery" app, a "Video" app, a "VCast App", a "VCast Music" App, a "Music Player" app, and a "Media Hub" app. Huh?
* The Android Market apps that you download generally don't make use of the entire 7-inch screen. They're sized for the smaller mobile phones. That means you have wasted bands of black space around the apps you're using. Kindof a bummer.
* General navigation using Android's latest software iteration, "Froyo.", or 2.2. Here, I have to show my bias for the simplicity of Apple's iPhone/iPad software, which is so easy a baby can use it. Android's screens add a minor layer of complexity, but it's a layer nonetheless. You have a home screen, where you can navigate left or right to find your apps and widgets. Then, you also have an "apps" directory that allows you to navigate more pages of apps. I just find it a little too much for my primitive brain. Maybe I need more brain cells.
Honestly, this Galaxy Tab is the first Android device that I've actually really liked and would strongly consider buying. The iPad indeed has a competitor. But Samsung and the carriers would be wise to work on dropping the price into the $500 range, to compete with Apple's iPad entry at $499.
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