Product Samsung Galaxy Tab
System Specifications 1GHz Cortex A8 processor, Powervr SGX540 graphics card, 7-inch display (1024 x 600), 512MB memory, 16GB storage, Micro SDHC slot, Android 2.2, 190 x 120 x 12mm, 385g.
TABLETS MIGHT be all the rage at the moment, but as it stands there are actually precious few models available to buy. This will change over the coming weeks and months, but at present UK punters don't have a huge amount of choice. Thankfully, though, it is possible to get your hands on the Samsung Galaxy Tab that we have here.
Any new tablet will instantly draw comparisons with Apple's Ipad, but with a 7-inch 1024 x 600 screen compared to the Ipad's 9.7-inch 1024 x 768 version, the Galaxy Tab is a fair bit smaller. And at just 385g it's nearly half the weight of the 3G version of the Ipad. It's also compact, measuring 190 x 120 x 12mm. All this makes a real difference in day-to-day use and, unlike the Ipad which had our arms aching after just a few minutes use, the Galaxy Tab is great for extended browsing sessions.
The Tab runs Android 2.2, offering wireless tethering and Flash support, a big one-up on the Ipad. The latest Google mobile OS is certainly speedy, and any task carried out on the Tab runs smoothly and quickly, from screen rotation through web browsing to opening and switching between apps. The Tab features a pull-down menu that you can drag down the screen to open. This includes updating of any new instant messages, emails or Skype chats, and users can also control the WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, sync and brightness settings from the menu.
The Tab comes pre-loaded with a wide selection of apps. The voice search app works pretty well, although it recognised longer phrases better than short terms like ‘INQ'. You can search across the web, social notworking websites or Android apps using the voice tool. For email, the Tab offers a Gmail app pre-loaded, and you can also sync with Imap, Pop3 or Exchange email accounts.
Unlike devices such as the Blackberry Torch where all your social feeds can be viewed in one place, Samsung isn't pushing social media with the Tab. However, it's a pretty painless process to download and set up your social accounts on the Tab. We used the Skype, Facebook and Twitter apps, and they all worked as expected with speedy updates.
Using the web on the Tab is a pleasure. Pages load up quickly and the screen rotates very smoothly depending on whether you want landscape or portrait mode. The standard Android browser offers a multi-window option, which makes it easy to scroll through any web pages you have open. A slight niggle is that zooming in and out is a bit jerky and certainly not as smooth as on other touchscreens that we've used. It also takes longer to reformat to fit the space.
The touchscreen took a bit of getting used to as it's not quite as sensitive as devices like the Iphone, and so required a firmer push when trying to bring up the virtual keyboard to enter text into a search bar for example.
There are two text input methods offered on the Tab - the standard Qwerty layout and Samsung's Swype method. The keys are a rectangular shape, with the height about twice the width, and we found it quite easy to type without making too many mistakes. The width of the device meant it was comfortable to input text while holding the Tab in the hands, without having to place it on a table or lap.
We didn't get on so well with the Swype method, which lets users write a word by tracing their finger over the letters on the keyboard. We found it fiddly to use as so many of the words and patterns required you to select from several word choices, meaning it was generally quicker to just type out the word in the first place. However, it's a matter of personal taste, and those that don't like it can simply disable it.
Another area where the Tab beats the Ipad is its phone functionality. You can use the Tab as a normal mobile phone, although you either need to use it as a speakerphone or have a headset plugged in. We can't really see the phone connection as being a big selling point for the Tab. However, calling quality was good.
The Tab features a GPS receiver, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, while a SIM card slot on the side of the device means it's also capable of 3G connections. A 1GHz Cortex A8 processor powers the device and is helped out by a Powervr SGX540 graphics card. For storage, there's 16GB of internal flash memory and a Micro SDHC slot that accepts cards up to 32GB in size. There's also 2GB of internal storage for apps.
The Tab offers video recording and HD video playback. The 1,024x600 resolution gives the screen a widescreen aspect ratio and media quality is crisp and clear. There are 1.3 megapixel front and 3.0 megapixel rear-facing cameras. Shots were of good quality and it was easy to share video files and pictures through the on-screen menus.
To see the Galaxy Tab in action, take a look a the video review on the INQUIRER's sister site V3.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab is a worthy rival to the Apple Ipad. It benefits from Android 2.2, adds camera and phone capabilities, and the battery life is excellent. The Tab is also a good size and weight to hold over long periods, and text input is no problem due to the width of the device and the decent keypad. The only real negative for us is the price. µ
Android 2.2, lightweight, speedy for browsing and other tasks, quick screen rotation, battery life.
Price, zooming in and out isn't particularly smooth.