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Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab

I’ve had the Galaxy Tab on loan from Vodafone for about 2 weeks now and have been using it regularly for everything from email to web browsing to portable video playing. I’m not going to focus too much on the Android OS, other than the Samsung customisations, as its a regular Froyo (2.2) experience.

In the Box
Inside the box is the Galaxy Tab, USB lead, manual, 3.5mm headphones with integrated mic, and USB power adapter. Sadly there is no case included, which for a shiny slippery device is a shame as it can very easily be dropped.

The Device
The Galaxy Tab is a powerful tablet with a 1Ghz Samsung Hummingbird processor, 512MB ram and 16GB of flash memory.

  • HSUPA / HSDPA tri-band connectivity
  • Quad-band GSM,
  • WiFi (a/b/g/n),
  • Bluetooth 3.0 and DLNA too.
  • 7″ WSVGA screen working at 1024×600 running Android 2.2 with Android Market
  • 3 megapixel auto-focus rear camera with LED flash
  • 1.3 megapixel front facing camera for video calls
  • 4000mAh battery
  • 1GHZ processor with PowerVR SGX540
  • A-GPS
  • Multi-touch
  • 16GB Memory expandable with MicroSD

Read on for the full reviewThe Tab is a very solid device considering it is entirely plastic without the metal band that is on the Commtiva N700/Viewpad 7. It feels like the thinnest tablet I’ve used to date at 12mm which is 1.4mm thinner than the iPad but 0.5mm thicker than the N700 which oddly feels like a thicker device. This leads to a device which feels extremely comfortable in the hand, and very light allowing you to carry it in a jacket or back pocket without really noticing – which really defines this class of tablet making them more suitable as a companion device than the larger 9″+ tablets that really require a bag or case to take them around.

The top of the device has the headphone jack, on the right hand side (top to bottom) is the power button, volume rocker button and two covered slots for SIM card and micro-SDHC (both are hot-swappable). The bottom side has the dock connector (proprietary Samsung) and the speaker grills, and the left side is empty save for the built in microphone hole. The front of the Tab has 4 ‘soft’ touch activated buttons which are the standard Android ones. There is also a front facing 1.3MP camera, and a rear facing 3MP camera.

The 7″ screen is smaller than the 9.7″ of the iPad, and although 2.7″ might not sounds like much, it means the Tab is actually half the size of the iPad.

Screen
The screen is a nice bright LED-backlit LCD screen running at 1024 x 600px which gives you a slight landscape bias, and is wide enough for decent web browsing in landscape mode. It is protected by a Gorilla Glass display which is great for protection, but provides quite a bit of reflective glare. As a portable device the Tab will see a lot of outdoor and car use and the screen can be difficult to view in these bright conditions.

Usability
Samsung have tweaked the default Android UI and icons feel brighter and with greater contrast. Unlocking the device leads you to the customisable home-screen, with 4 additional screens available to add widgets and icons to.

Web browsing is a good experience, but the Android browser isn’t quite as good as mobile Safari. Pinching to zoom web pages works nicely, but there is a slight lag when compared with the same action on an iPad. The pixel area is only slightly less than on an iPad but definitely feels more cramped. Switching from portrait to landscape also gives a noticeable pause, which is even worse on content heavy pages. Even in the native UI there is a slight lag, and there is no ability to lock the screen rotation which may be an issue for some people. The keyboard on the Tab is very usable, much better on portrait mode where you can thumb type, but I was also able to type reasonably well in landscape mode. However due to the low 600px resolution, when on text entry boxes,  the keyboard takes up a over half the height of the display leaving very little room to select the next entry box.

The U.K./European models have working phone internals, so you can make a loudspeaker call, or if you don’t want to look like Dom Joly you can use the supplied headphones with mic, or pair a Bluetooth headset.

Battery Life
Battery life is good, Samsung has a quoted 7 hours from the 4000mah battery, and in our time with it we found this accurate in normal use. Heavy use of the 3G radio or constant video playback will reduce this down to around 6 hours, but that will still get you through about 3 movies which should be enough for most trips unless you’re on a long haul flight in which case you’ll want some sleep anyway!

Video
Video playback works very nicely on the 7″ Tab screen, and sound through the headset is good. Being Android there is also Flash support so you can use the dedicated YouTube client or even watch web-page embedded videos. Many people are using tablets as ebook readers, and the tab is one of the better examples of this. Its small size and light weight making holding the Tab very similar to a paperback book, and Samsung have included the Samsung Readers Hub which consolidates e-reading applications such as eBooks, magazines, and newspapers. This allows ‘reading’ with unified and intuitive user experience powered by global eReading service leaders, Kobo, PressDisplay and Zinio. More than 2 million books are available. Samsung have also teamed up with WH Smith to offer a free £10 book voucher for use in the WH Smith eBooks App.

Accessories
There are several Samsung accessories for the Tab – a stand case, a media dock (audio and HDMI), TV-Out cable and a keyboard dock. Due to the proprietary Samsung connector, you won’t be able to use other USB accessories.

The Galaxy Tab is available from Vodafone from £399 with data plans starting at £3/month or SIM Free from various suppliers from £360.

http://techonthego.co.uk/2010/12/review-linx-commtiva-n700-galaxy-tab-contender-1372
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