The Samsung Galaxy Tab is a worthy rival to the Apple iPad. Android 2.2 is a great operating system, it adds a camera and phone capability, 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 real negative for us was the price. Pros: Android 2.2; lightweight; speedy for browsing, screen rotation and other tasks; battery life Cons: Price; zoom in and out could be jerky
Android 2.2, 1GHz Cortex A8 processor, PowerVR SGX540 graphics card; 512MB memory, 16GB storage, Micro SDHC slot up to 32GB RAM; 190 x 120 x 12mm, 385g; GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G, SIM card slot; standard video recording, HD video playback, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, 3.0-megapixel rear-facing camera; 1,024 x 600, widescreen touch-screen display
The Samsung Galaxy Tab went on sale in the UK in November, and while it may feel as though we’ve been bombarded with new tablet models this year, this is one of the few devices actually available to purchase at present.
The Tab runs Android 2.2 and is clearly fashioned to be an iPad rival but in a smaller form factor. Measuring 190 x 120 x 12mm, compared to the Apple tablet’s 243 x 190 x 13mm dimensions, it’s about three quarters the size of an iPad. But the obvious trade-off is the 7in screen compared to 10in from Apple.
At 385g, the Tab is around half the weight of the iPad and here we really felt the difference. When using the iPad for anything longer than a few minutes the device started to feel really heavy and is best suited as a lap computer. Whereas we had no problems holding the Tab over long periods to browse the web or input text.
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 to 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 an update of any new instant messages, emails or Skype chats, and users can also control the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, sync and brightness settings from the menu.
The Tab comes pre-loaded with a wide selection of apps, many of which will be useful to the business user. There’s a daily news briefing, voice search and ThinkFree Office, a Microsoft Office compatible document viewer that lets users view, save and organise files such as Word and PowerPoint.
The voice search app works pretty well, although it recognised longer phrases better than short terms like ‘V3’. You can search across the web, social sites or Android apps using the voice tool.
We tried out the free trial version of ThinkFree Office, which is limited to viewing Microsoft Office or Google docs. However, business users will no doubt benefit from splashing out the £9.22 for the full version, which adds Adobe PDF support and the ability to create docs.
For email, the Tab offers a Gmail app pre-loaded, and you can also sync with Imap, Pop3 or Exchange accounts.
Although Samsung isn’t pushing social media with the Tab, unlike devices such as the BlackBerry Torch where all your social feeds can be viewed in one place, 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.