Apple’s iPad dominates the tablet space, but with next week’s release of the Galaxy Tab, Samsung has something that might just bring the fight.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab has impressive looks and specs. It’s decked out with a huge 7 inch capacitive touchscreen that looks fantastic from nearly every angle, and beneath the hood is technology similar to that in the company’s high-end Galaxy S mobile phone, namely a 1GHz processor and 16GB of memory, with a microSD slot for boosting storage to 32GB.
The tablet exchanges the phone’s rear 5 megapixel camera for a 3 megapixel jobbie, but this is still the highest resolution camera to found on a tablet, and comes complete with autofocus and an LED flash. It shoots stills and video at 720×480.
A front camera is supplied for video calling from the Tab, and this provides a resolution of 1.3 megapixels.
Design-wise, the screen dominates the device, with the 7 inch 16:9 display sitting within a simple black frame and underscored by four touch buttons. These light up when the device is on, giving you access to the menu, home screen, back button, and search. White plastic on the back provides a stark contrast to the face of the tablet, but with just the camera, flash, and device information, it maintains a clean look.
The periphery of the Tab provides good connectivity, incuding a SIM card and microSD slot, headphone jack, microphone and docking port. Stereo speakers and buttons for power and volume are also located here.
In the hand
While it doesn’t have the quality ‘heft’ of the aluminium-clad iPad, Samsung’s plastic Tab does feel well built. Unlike the iPad too, the Tab is compact enough for you to carry confidently in one hand – though the exterior is so slick and glossy it oftens feels like it will slip out of your hands.
Typing on the device can be achieved in either portrait or landscape modes, and with the vibrating “haptic” function switched on it provides a nice level of feedback – something lacking in the iPad.
With Android 2.2 (Froyo), you’ll have access to voice-to-text services (provided you’re connected to the internet). This means Google will attempt to translate what you’ve said into text for documents, messages, and search terms.
The mail client is different to that in the Galaxy S phone, and we like it. In portrait mode, you’ll find messages just scroll downwards, but switch to landscape and the screen presents as a proper mail client, with your messages listed on the left and the one you’re reading in a large panel on the right. From here, you can compose messages pretty easily or even jump into a phone call by hitting the phone icon (yes, it’s a phone too, but more on that later).
Battery wise, we had a fairly good run. Samsung rates the 4000mAh battery for seven hours of video playback, and that’s not too bad. We averaged a day and a half from a charge, with activities including surfing the web over 3G, using WiFi, an hour’s worth of phone calls, watching a 25 minute video, and generally investigating features and menus on the device. If you’re a heavy user, you will be recharging this every day, but light users should be able to go for up to three days between charges.
Adobe Flash has also been catered for, making for a better web experience than offered by many other tablets.