Samsung Galaxy Tab
Reviewed By: EngadgetSamsung Galaxy Tablet
After a week of painful teasing, Samsung has come clean about its Galaxy Tab 7-inch Android tablet. We got the nitty gritty specs, along with some quality time with the device, and we like what we’re seeing on both fronts. Follow along after the break as we break it all down, including some hot hot video of the thing in action!
Samsung Galaxy Tab Hardware specs
* Android 2.2 running TouchWiz 3.0 * 7-inch TFT LCD with 1024 x 600 resolution (WSVGA) * Weighs 380 grams * 1GHz Cortex A8 processor * 16GB or 32GB internal storage * microSD expansion for up to 32GB additional storage * Front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera and rear 3 megapixel camera with flash * 4,000mAh battery * 3G data / voice (there’s a speakerphone and Bluetooth for phone calls, but no earpiece) * 5GHz dual-band 802.11n WiFi * Standard back color is white, carriers might offer different colors * Full HD video playback * There’s a 30-pin dock connector on the bottom that allows for HDMI, USB, and docking accessories (a car dock at least is plotted)
Lots of question marks. The tablet will be out in Europe first, possibly with Italy as the first to nab it, and the US will come later down the line. Also, while the version we played with is obviously GSM, we don’t have any confirmation on a CDMA version, or which carriers might be scoring the device on either side of the pond. We’re also completely in the dark on price.
Samsung Galaxy Tab Hardware impressions
There’s hardly a surprise to be had when it comes to the hardware. It’s excellent looking (though a tad on the “safe” side), solidly built (none of the seeming fragility of the Galaxy S here), lightweight (but not Kindle light), and glossy to the max (your iPad would be proud). The screen is fantastic, though Samsung has managed to make this LCD look just as oversaturated as its AMOLEDs, and we’re particularly enthused at the relative pixel density the screen gains over its iPad competition and the multitude of WVGA 7-inch Android tablets out there. Capacitive touch response is just as brilliant as the iPad’s, and the processor doesn’t seem to have much distress keeping up with the UI. There is a feeling of relative chubbiness due to the screen to thickness ratio, despite the fact that the Tab is just as thin or perhaps thinner than the iPad — we suppose the new Kindle has terminally spoiled us on this front. Still, it’s a device that’s much better suited to supporting with a single hand than the iPad, and seems to squarely best that competitor when it comes to all things e-reading.
By all accounts Android isn’t really “ready” for tablets. It’s still a phone OS being questioned to do a huge screen job, but while we could see room for improvement, we’d say Samsung has shored up enough of Android’s deficiencies with its own custom skin and apps to make the OS thoroughly palatable in this form factor. TouchWiz 3.0 still does have a bit of a “iPhone for kids” flavor to it, but props to Samsung for the depth and consistency of its UI layer.
What’s more impressive are the apps Samsung built specifically to take advantage of the screen size and resolution, including a very attractive calendar app, an email app that has a dual pane view in landscape (of a style that seems unapologetically borrowed from the iPad), a similar messaging app, a Media Hub music store and player (not aimed at the US, most likely), an e-reading launcher app (that points to PressDisplay for newspapers, Kobo for e-books, and Zinio for magazines), and more. A custom dialer app includes fancy contact browsing and a video call button right up front. Samsung supports the UMTS video calling standard, but since that’s not a thing in the US, we’ll have to look to third party providers such as Qik to get our video calling on.
On the third party front, Samsung says that apps which were developed within Google’s UI guidelines should scale up correctly, but others might need to be reworked. We’ll have to see for ourselves how well Joe the Plumber’s apps handle the new resolution, but we don’t have much reason to dread it so far — the few apps we saw that looked to be scaled up instead of 1024 x 600-specific looked and worked just fine.
We’ll have to see if a non-Apple company can convince consumers to buy something once viewed so frivolous as a tablet, and the right usefulness of Android in this form factor will require more time with the Tab to really discern. A lot rests on the shoulders of developers, as usual, to make or break this quasi-new platform, but for Samsung’s part we reckon the company has set the gold standard for Android tablets, and might have just enough differentiation, quality, and moxy to set its 7-inch contender up against Apple’s 9.7-inch juggernaut.