Samsung’s Galaxy Tab has been leading the rumour mill for iPod competitors, and today we went hands-on with it, before anyone else in Australia.
It looks very much like a super-sized Samsung Galaxy S smartphone, and unsurprisingly, employs a similar set of internals to the Galaxy S: a 1GHz processor, 16GB of internal memory with microSD expansion of up to 32GB, Android OS, GPS, and WiFi 802.11b/g/n.
Differing slightly from the Galaxy S phone is the version of Android and the camera. On this device, Samsung is using a 3 megapixel camera with LED flash on the back, while a 1.3 megapixel camera on the front will let you capture photos and video, as well as make video calls. Android also receives a boost, with the Galaxy Tab running 2.2 and one-upping every Android handset currently available in Australia.
It also provides native Flash support.
That’s right, this iPad competitor supports Flash 10.1, a format used widely by websites but totally unsupported by Apple. And it runs well on the Tab. We tested the device with a few Flash websites, including our very own Home Entertainment Buyers Guide magazine website, and it ran beautifully.
In the hand, the Galaxy Tab is very comfortable. At 380 grams, it doesn’t weigh down the hands in the slightest. The 7 inch multitouch screen is very responsive, no doubt helped by the speedy 1GHz processor under the hood. While it works as a tablet, we’ve also been told that it can also function as a phone – you need only plug in a headset to the top-mounted 3.5mm headphone jack, or connect wirelessly with a Bluetooth headset.
Samsung is including the excellent Swype keyboard functionality from the Galaxy S, as well as AllShare for multimedia transfer and SocialHub.
New to Samsung is ReadingHub, an application that picks up on newspapers from all around the world and – with a subscription – allows you to download newspapers from anywhere you happen to be. We tried this out and found that pretty much every Australian newspaper was already supported, something that’s sadly missing on the Kindle and iPad. We checked The Daily Telegraph on this Galaxy Tab and found it easy to read, with the simple pinch-to-zoom mechanics that multi-touch allows making the experience all the better.
According to Samsung, ReadingHub could be rolled out to other devices, including the Galaxy S, later on down the track. Right now though, it’s Tab specific.
Sadly, we had to give the Galaxy Tab back, which was a shame because it leads the pack of iPad contenders we’ve seen to date. It shapes up strongly against the Apple’s tablet too, with Flash support for a better web experience than the iPad offers, a fast processor and brilliant high resolution AMOLED screen, plus inbuilt photo and video capture, which the iPad also lacks. The only criteria on which it fairs poorly is apps – there’s nothing yet that equals the variety found in the Apple ecosystem.
Samsung advised us that the Tab would be available by Christmas, but that pricing wouldn’t be set until closer to release date. If Samsung were to follow its usual form, however, the Tab will be a price leader in the category – we’re guessing at a swing tag of $599.