A Closer Look At The Samsung GALAXY Tab
Following on from my recent article giving initial impression of the Samsung GALAXY Tab, in this article we’ll take a closer look at the device.
The Samsung GALAXY Tab is a new contender in the media tablet space – an area that looks set for big competition over the next few years as consumers and enterprise alike flock to this new phenomena that is mobile tablet computing.
Read any review about tablet computing at the moment and you’ll probably hear about the Apple iPad which is of course the current king of the tablet space but others are nipping at its heels in an attempt to find a foot hold in the ever increasing and competitive arena.
The most promising so far has been the Samsung GALAXY Tab. About a month ago there was almost frenzied activity in the technology press positioning the GALAXY Tab as an Apple iPad killer – which of course it’s not. But then, I don’t think it was ever meant to be. In many ways the Tab has more in common with the Amazon Kindle than the Apple iPad.
Essentially, the Tab is a 7” multi-touch capacitive TFT device with a resolution of 1024×600 pixels. The physical dimensions of the device are around half the size of an iPad and its weight is around 380g (a bit heavier than a Kindle). The screen is bright though I’m not sure how clear it would be in direct sunlight and it does love collecting finger print too so keep a wipe handy.
Inside, its beating heart is a 1 GHz processor and either 16GB or 32GB memory which power the Android 2.2 operating system (that has many internet sites raving), this means it can support Flash Player 10.1.
Also on board is Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 and a slot for a micro SD card. There are two cameras on board, a 3 mega pixel with autofocus and LED flash and a front facing 1.3 megapixel which can be used for video calling. The GALAXY Tab, you see, can work as a phone. In the hand it feels welcoming and the plastic construction doesn’t detract too much.
There are four pretty standard Android buttons at the base of the screen for Menu, Home, Back, and Search. These are flush touch buttons and light up when you touch one – it would have been nice for these to be slightly recessed or bumped so you can feel for them but they work ok.
The Tab feels surprisingly comfortable to hold in the hand – for a device of its size. If you are a regular commuter you might also appreciate it’s smaller size when trying to balance it at rush hour.
In use, the web browser works well. Ah, proper web browsing on a device that doesn’t make you squint and supporting all of the things we have come to expect from our modern web experience. It’s not perfect but it is a relief I can tell you!
Watching video, too, benefits from a larger screen than that currently found on typical Android mobile phones.
Typing on the device is also a pleasant experience with the on-screen keyboard feeling quite responsive especially as you get a little feedback to let you know you have touched a particular key. The multi-touch experience was generally acceptable though, as pointed out by Jason Bradbury, it does feel a little artificial when compared to the native experience on similar Apple devices (although it’s a big step up from the input mechanism on the Kindle).
Where it really comes into its own, in my opinion at least, is travelling. When driving, the front seat passenger can have a map route loaded up with the assisted GPS working to give a good feel for where you are heading. If you have ever tried using a small device for travelling you may have discovered it has some limitations one of which is the tiny screen which lets you see only a small portion of the map. Being able to see a much bigger map area at a size you can actually see makes a big difference.
Any device of this nature benefits from a regular daily charge though it should at least get you through the day under normal conditions (the battery is a 4,000mAh). Charging requires a proprietary connector and, from what I can tell, it can’t charge over USB which means you are going to have to add the mains charger to your travel bag.
Looking around the Android application store you will find a large number of applications that can be downloaded onto the device to extend its functionality and, as is typical of the Android store, it’s a mixed bag. The Samsung App Store is also included although there are only a couple of applications available at the moment. Bear in mind though that some Android applications may not scale too well, but those that do benefit greatly from the larger screen estate.
On the down side it would have been good to see a better camera than a token 3 mega pixel snapper. In this day and age a 3 mega pixel camera almost feels like an afterthought and a 8 or 12 megapixel would feel more fitting. Also, its size means its a bit too big to go into your pocket whilst being a bit too small to be used for real productive type work. One of the real problems I found was the difficulty in seeing the buttons at the base of the device in low light conditions – they light up when you press one but for finding them in the first place – you’re on your own.
ThinkFree Office is a nice addition offering some useful productivity tools however this appears to be a special read-only version which needs an upgrade if you really want to use it.
Overall, the Samsung GALAXY Tab is a good example of a first generation device from Samsung and if it’s anything to go by the next generation will be even more exciting. Perhaps its a little over priced at the moment but that’s probably to be expected given the state of the competition.
To learn more and get some pricing head on over to EXPANSYS: Samsung GALAXY Tab.