Shortly before the holidays, I got my hands on a Samsung Galaxy Tab as offered by Verizon. I have an iPad to which, now that I have 4.2, I’m rather devoted. I also have had any number of Android-based phones over the last year to which I am also pretty loyal. The Galaxy Tab, being both a tablet and an android device, rather split my loyalties.
It’s 7 inches as opposed to the 8.5×11 iPad. I had a really hard time adjusting to the size and at first, I found it to be the biggest detriment. After all, I love the giant size of the iPad. As an Android phone user, I felt like I was just using a giant version of my phone. However, we went to Key West over the holidays and I found the smaller size of the Galaxy grew on me. It fit in my my purse pocket, unlike my iPad, so I could always have it with me. It’s also about the size of my Kindle, making it super easy to use one-handed (and with either hand).
The specs are pretty, um, spectacular: Android 2.2 (FroYo), 1024×600 WSVGA LCD display, accelerometer, Swype included with the virtual keyboard, 1 Ghz processor, 2 GB internal + a pre-installed 16 GB microSD card (supportable up to 32 GB). It supports WiFi, Bluetooth, and 3G. I can’t argue with the specs, and the Galaxy was rather blazingly fast. I could also use it for about two days of moderate use before the battery died, which is a pretty good length of time. I also love the expandable storage and that’s one of the reasons I won’t go back to an iPhone.
The power button is on the top right, which is about the only thing I didn’t like. I think I’ve just been conditioned to the power button located on top. The touch screen was incredibly sensitive, which is both good and bad. I loaded Angry Birds, since it’s an app I can compare across many devices (plus it’s fun). At times, I’d get bumped out of the game because a part of my hand was touching the screen and it sent me out to the main menus. So it is almost hyper-senstive in terms of touch. The screen is beautiful though. On the iPad, I run Angry Birds HD, which is meant to be pretty on the larger screen. However, on the Galaxy, I ran the same version of Angry Birds I run on my phone and it is so much more lovely on the Galaxy, not pixelated at all and finally so easy to see. Because the Galaxy is small enough, upsizing phone apps for the tablet doesn’t lead to the ugliness you see when you upsize an iPhone app to the iPad.
I found the camera to be one of the funnest features of the Galaxy, by far. I’m disappointed in the resolution – only 3.0 MP rear-facing camera, although it has a flash and the standard “camera” features. There’s also a 1.3 MP front-facing camera, but I have to question that a little, only because it flips words around, almost like a mirror. In the below photo, taken with the front-facing camera, we’re wearing Santa hats that say Key West, only you’ll notice the words are reversed as in a mirror image.
However, the Galaxy Tab makes up for the weird mirror-image thing with the panoramic options, which is also found in the Droid X. Using the 3 MP rear-facing camera, you can take an entire panoramic shot and the tablet will tell you where to turn and stop, encompassing an entire area and then stitching it all together for you. This option allowed us to get some remarkable shots on vacation.
Because it’s an Android device, you can more fully customize the screens, using widgets and downloading apps from the Android Market. Thanks to FroYo, which works smoothly on the Galaxy, Flash is incorporated from the get-go. The Galaxy has support for Bluetooth, Wifi, and 3G.
The only other quibble I have about this device is the price tag. Verizon is currently selling it for $600 with month-to-month 3G access. Now, you can use it with just wifi, but it’s still $600. When you look at the price of a comparable (16 GB, Wifi only) iPad, it’s not really the best deal. I really enjoyed the device and in the end, it’s the size that really appealed to me. If the price would drop only a little, I might be ready to trade in the iPad.
Want a full-on comparison between the Galaxy Tab and the iPad? PC World has a great one. I’m glad I got my hands on this a few months after the initial release. Initial reviews were dodgy, but it seems like Samsung has worked out some of the bugs and my review copy worked like a charm.
I’m looking forward to CES next week, where I’m hoping a slew of Android tablets will show up. I have my fingers crossed that, as usual, Apple led the way but Android will diverge from the path with new and creative options.
(Note – I reviewed a device provided by Verizon Wireless, however, all four major carriers are carrying or will soon carry the Galaxy Tab.)
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