Hands on. Samsung Galaxy Tab. iPad killer…or what?

I spent a week with the Samsung Galaxy Tab and quite enjoyed my experience with the first “real” challenger to the iPad to hit the market.

The 7″ tablet is comfortable to hold in the hand and it’s bright 1024 x 600 screen portrays colours naturally..as long as you don’t use the powersaver option..it gives the screen an ugly yellowish cast. I didn’t see the need for the powersaver option I didn’t have any battery life issues with some pretty heavy usage. However plan on charging it every day.

First the obvious comparison with the iPad..it is almost half the size..and half the weight which makes it a great ebook reader. Unlike the iPad no calesthenics were required to find a comfortable way to hold the device for a long read. There are lots of screen brightness, black level and contrast adjustments so you can find the most comfortable display for reading under any conditions. And then there are the cameras. The rear facing camera took good pictures even under poor lighting conditions. I didn’t try the front facing camera or make a video call. Hype aside, I don’t know anyone who actually uses the feature on their iPhone.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab comes with the Android 2.2 operating system and a number of apps are included but there is a huge selection in the Android Marketplace. Most are designed for phone sized screens but still look pretty good on the much bigger Tab screen. I loved the Calendar app..it is versatile and works really well on the larger screen. For some this could be THE selling point.

The email app is great in landscape mode, awkward in portrait. There were no problems setting up and using it with my Exchange 2010 server. The screen size also lends itself to the easy consumption of snippets of information such as News and Weather. I used a couple of Office type apps such as Documents To Go and found that dealing with business documents worked well and was comfortable.

I also tried out the Google Navigation app in my car and it worked really well. The graphics were good, the routing seemed to be accurate. As usual, the turn by turn directions had some interesting pronunciations for our French street names. Overall a good app to have and a heck of a lot cheaper than the nav packages for cars that run around $2000. You will want to plug the Tab in..the GPS eats the battery.

If you plan to use the Samsung Galaxy Tab to browse the web..forget it. The screen just isn’t big enough and the browsing experience is nowhere near that of the iPad.  It is OK for a quick phone number lookup but the screen size soesn’t allow enough data to be displayed for comfortable browsing.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab is available from Bell for $649.95 with a $50 rebate if you sign up for the Tablet Flex plan ($20 for 500MB, $35 for 5GB) Rogers sells for $539.99 on select 3 year plans. Based on my experience on the Rogers network, (it was painfully slow) I would buy from Bell which in my real world tests, was at least twice as fast.

Which brings me to my biggest beef. Why Samsung chose to sell exclusively through wireless carriers is beyond me. The idea of signing up for a three year plan is going to be a big deterrent and I don’t think Rogers and Bell know how to sell this kind of device to the consumer market. Do you think a rep at  either company is going to tell a client they can do most of what they want to do with this tablet on WiFi..I don’t think so.

Too bad, because I really like this device. I think it will appeal to business users because of the email, calendar and document handling. The poor browsing experience will likely hurt it in the consumer market. A WiFi only version at a lower price and wider distribution might help.

Is the Samsung Galaxy Tab an iPad killer. No..because it is not an iPad. I think the soon to be crowded 7″ Tablet market will be an interesting one but, the price must come down to the $300 range.  At this point they will attract customers looking for a full featured ebook reader.

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4 Responses to Hands on. Samsung Galaxy Tab. iPad killer…or what?

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