Samsung Galaxy Tab review

By on October 27, 2010
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Is it a worthy competitor to the iPad?

Editor's Score
The Verdict:
Although the Galaxy Tab is a good device, it just didn’t live up to my expectations

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.

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A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys hurling fireballs and tinkering with the latest gadgets. Follow him on Twitter as @theregos

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  • khalid

    about flash, and web browsing being better on ipad for not having flash:

    you can switch flash to on demand, where it does not run flash stuff until you click on it (much like flash blocking browser extensions).

    • Ron Saldanha

      As Khalid stated above flash can be swithed off or even an on demand mode, the 2.2 version benchmarks simply blows any mobile browser out the window at the moment (flash turned off and quite close with it turned on if not beating it that way too!) Further more you actually have an option of like 4+ browsers on an android device, some mimimcing chrome on the PC quite well, xscope brower, dolphine, opera etc. Personal opinion all tablets seem to have 0 ergonomics and at the end most peeps end up buying and aftermarket case/keyboard if anything the future looks more in line with a lenevo lepad the perfect hybrid!

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  • Downhill Dude

    Well, not quite a balanced report.

    Most reviews are by guys who have iPads (our have extensively used one). That’s fine, but the problem is that the reviewers now have preconceived ideas of what you use a tablet for, and therefore what criteria are most important, and how you weight them.

    In most reviews, although the Tab is shown to have more tech in it (cameras, mobile access point, DLNA, BT 3.0,Swype, Flash, etc., ultimately the reviewer decides that the increased size of the iPad screen outweighs every advantage of the Tab. They fail to acknowledge that the increased portability of the Tab lets you take it with you far more often (It fits in the inside pocket of my suit jacket, or the back pocket of my jeans). I’m more likely to use my Tab on the train because I can use it with one hand while I hold the overhead rail with the other. If you’re an ebook reader, it makes more sense, as it is half the weight of the iPad, and you tuck it away in the same space you’d tuck your paperback book.

    Around the house, the iPad would be preferred due to its bigger screen (except for reading books), but for anything outside the house, I’d probably prefer the Tab.

    I think there’s a time and place for both products, but you have to watch your own experience-based biases.

    If you want to beam an HD movie (with 5.1 surround sound) from your tablet, wirelessly, you need the Tab. The iPad can’t do it (yet).

  • Downhill Dude

    …and you can play that movie natively in Divx format, if you want. And with no compression loss.

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