The iPad has truly revolutionized the way we use and think about computers. Most people were laughing at the idea (and judging by the previous failure of tablet PCs and slates, which have been around for about a decade now), but they soon realized that it’s actually happening. Apple, with their strong user base, good marketing and good product, obviously, has once again done something that no company could do before.
The iPad can be used by anyone, it looks great, it’s very easy to use and can do most tasks a normal user would want: surf the Web, watch TV shows, movies and listen to music, edit documents, etc. Of course, other manufacturers noticed the huge market that just opened before them, and they started working on their own tablets. The first ones to come out with a (very) similar device were actually unknown companies in China, who started making and selling copies of the iPad, in smaller and even bigger sizes, and running on the free and open source Android OS.
The bigger manufacturers thought that was a good idea, and created their own Android based tablets. The first one to announce such a device was Samsung, with their Galaxy Tab, rumors of which have been around ever since the iPad was officially declared a big success. And now, about a year later, the rumors came true and the Galaxy Tab has been officially announced and set for release. The new tablet is pretty impressive, and has a lot of strong points that will make it a good competitor to the iPad.
The Galaxy Tab comes in a 7 inch format, which is smaller than the iPad’s 10 inches, and more comfortable for mobile use, as many polls show (Apple themselves said they’ll release a 7 inch version this winter). The device is very easy to hold in one hand, thanks to its 375 grams of weight and 11.9 mm thickness. The build quality is high – the device is made of durable plastic with scratch resistant Gorilla glass covering the screen.
The hardware specs are also impressive: the Samsung Galaxy Tab has a 1 GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor (with the fastest video chip on the market, available only on Samsung devices, the PowerVR SGX540) and 512 MB of RAM, which will be more than enough for most tasks, and should be enough for a future Android 3 upgrade. There are 16 or 32 GB of internal memory, depending on the model (poor Sprint users in the US get only 2 GB) with the possibility to extend it using an external micro SD card (up to 32 GB supported right now). It also has 2 cameras, one on the back for taking photos and one on the front for video calls (you can switch between them of course, but the resolutions are different). The 3 megapixels of the back camera are more than enough to take decent shots, but you sure will look weird when doing so with a pretty giant (for a camera) device.
The OS is of course, Android 2.2, which supports Flash inside the browser and gives you the ability to do pretty much anything with the help of over 100,000 various apps on the marketplace. The screen is a strong point of this device. Samsung has always been known for manufacturing high quality LCD panels, and the 1024×600 widescreen unit inside the Galaxy Tab doesn’t disappoint – it’s bright, has a great contrast and very vivid colors.
Other specs include support for HSPA (7.2 and 5.76 Mbps download/upload), Bluetooth 3.0, DLNA, Wifi b/g/n, and integrated GPS. The 4000 mAh battery should last for 4-6 hours of constant use, which is a bit on the low side (to be fair, the iPad has 2 such batteries inside, which doubles the lifetime), but maybe a software patch (for better app and processor frequency handling) could fix that.
Overall, the Samsung galaxy Tab is certainly a worthy competitor to the iPad. It is much more portable, and gives the user more freedom of use and more features (video calls using Skype is one of the best examples). The performance is very high, and it should be able to handle most tasks you can throw at it.
If you’re in the market for a tablet, you should definitely check out some of the mobile offers you can find for the Galaxy Tab.