Is it a worthy competitor to the iPad?
When I first got to experience the Tab at a Samsung press event, I certainly was drawn to its sleek looks and finish. On the hardware side, the Tab comes with 16GB and 32GB models along with a MicroSD slot for further expansion. You’ll find the same Cortex A8, 1GHz Hummingbird CPU found in the Galaxy S, which can get a tad bit slow at times on the Tab.
Unlike the Galaxy S, the Tab does not come with that incredible Super AMOLED screen. The 7” display is considerably smaller than the iPad, though it is slightly thicker at the mid-point of the device. This smaller size brings with it it’s own problems which I’ll delve into later on. The Tab runs Android 2.2, so for anyone loyal to the Android following, you know that you’re getting the latest/greatest.
Like most android devices, the Galaxy Tab has a row of four buttons at the bottom of the device -Menu, Home, Back, and Search. The problem here is that firstly they aren’t buttons, but touch-sensitive areas that would light up to show that they had been pressed. This is perfectly fine, except the buttons then automatically dim out after eight seconds. In well lit areas, you won’t have any problem finding them again, but if you’re surfing the web from the comfort of your bed and don’t want to turn on a light, then you’re in for trouble. I often found myself groping around the wrong edge of the Tab, simply because there was no clear way to differentiate on which side the buttons were on. I searched high and low in the options for some sort of feature to increase the timeout for these lights, but couldn’t find anything to help out.
Apart from the size and operating system, there are a few glaring differences between the Tab and the iPad. Remember how when the iPad was announced, hundreds of skeptics branded it as an ‘oversized iPhone’? Well, the same goes for the Galaxy Tab – it looks exactly like an oversized Galaxy S phone. But unlike the iPad, the Galaxy Tab can actually make and receive phone calls. Yes, you heard that right – the Tab supports MMS, GPS, 3G, and even video calling (more on that later) as would any regular phone.
The other difference between the two devices is the inclusion of a forward-facing and rear camera on the Tab, with LED flash. The rear camera is a neat 3.2 megapixels, and firing up the Camera application produces a beautiful full-screen preview for you to frame your photo correctly. Thanks to the front-facing camera you can also make video calls, but this has to be done over the carrier network and not over wi-fi, so you’ll easily tear through your data package in a matter of minutes. When I tested video calling with another Galaxy Tab, the resulting call was actually quite impressive. The audio was perfect, and the video was a little chunky but still very watchable.