Saturday, November 13, 2010

Samsung Galaxy Tab - Galactic Adventure! Another review from Asia

Thanks to the Apple iPad, tablets have now made a glorious return to the mainstream consciousness, while the big brands have been paying close attention. Where in their earlier incarnations, tablets were targeted at a niche market and came packing a full fledged Windows OS that wasn't suitable for finger-based touch-screen usage, Apple's iPad and the use of their iPhone's operating system (iOS) for the tablet changed the way tablets were viewed.

Taking a page from Apple's book, manufacturers have started using Google's Android OS to create similar 'lightweight' tablet devices, and Samsung's latest 7-inch creation, is a testament to that. The Samsung Galaxy Tab however isn't just a normal tablet loaded with Android OS, but one that comes with a familiar looking interface that we previously saw on the Samsung Galaxy S. This gives it a much more polished look then if the notebook were to just use the default stock Android build. Here's our video preview of the device and its handling for a quick visual overview:-

Having spent time with the unit, we're very much pleased with the device, from its snappy 1GHz Cortex A8 processor, 16GB onboard storage (and another 32GB expandable via the microSD slot), to the Wi-Fi, 3G and voice capabilities. While the TFT-LCD screen doesn't use an IPS (In Plane Switching) type panel nor Samsung's AMOLED, it's still bright and clear enough with pretty decent viewing angles.
Factor in GPS, gyroscope, accelerometer, light sensors and a digital compass, the Galaxy Tab is packed with features for both gaming and navigation. The size of the device, at 7-inch seems just right for the hands too, and with the Tab weighing just half of what the Apple iPad does, it makes the Tab a really portable device that's easier to carry around as we discovered in the course of our review. One more thing before you start looking at the pretty pictures though - don't rely on its 3.0-megapixel camera if you want to take pictures.

Looking all pretty and shiny is the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Note that there is a 1.3-megapixel front facing camera at the top.

Like the iPad, the Tab doesn't have much in the way of ports, and is pretty limited to just the 30 pin port connector at the bottom located next to the speakers.

The microphone is located on the left side of the Galaxy Tab while at the top, you'll find a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Located at the right side, you'll find a micro-SD slot (with an expansion card support up to 32GB) and the SIM card slot. Since the tablet can work as a phone, it's probably a good idea to pick up a Bluetooth headset too unless you want everyone to hear your phone conversation.

At the back lies the 3.0-megapixel camera with the LED flash.

If you're a person who uses an iPad pretty regularly (like ourselves), it may seem to be quite an adventure switching to a smaller, lighter tablet that's running on a different mobile platform. That said, we adapted quite easily thanks to Samsung's custom Android UI that was last seen on the Samsung Galaxy S. While it does look and feel a little like Apple's iOS, it adds a very polished feel to the tablet which we really liked. Also, since the Tab comes with the Swype enabled keyboard, it does help with your typing. Note however, that because of the screen size, it's not as easy to swipe your way through the keyboard, and you're probably better off tapping each letter out the conventional way.

Somehow, this looks extremely familiar. We've seen it before somewhere... the Samsung Galaxy S, yes?

The notification bar gets tweaked with a few goodies that makes using the Tab so much easier.

Since the Samsung Galaxy Tab packs in the latest Android 2.2 (Froyo) version and has Android Marketplace built-in, it means getting apps is pretty easy. Factor in Samsung's own App Store, SingTel's App Store (since the Tab is exclusive to Singtel for now) and the Readers Hub app, this means you're pretty much covered where apps variety and availability are concerned.

A widget to quickly access the Task Manager is located right under the Google Search bar for easier access to closing your unused apps.

Samsung's very own App store, though we could only find two apps available at the moment.

The only problem here however, lies with that some Android apps aren't quite optimized to scale up to the resolution of the Galaxy Tab, which at 1024 x 600 pixels is much higher than the 800 x 480 pixels that some phones have. This leads to scaling issues as you can see from the picture below. Some apps however, like the Android version of Angry Birds, scale perfectly, leaving us hope for app developers to update their apps to fit the Galaxy Tab's resolution.

Not scaling properly means you get weird stuff in your background!

Angry Birds for Android however scales properly with no issues.


Given the inclusion of a Readers Hub for news, eBooks and magazine browsing and SingTel's mobileTV services, entertainment with your Galaxy Tab shouldn't be an issue, but how about watching videos and movies on your tablet device?

The Samsung Readers Hub where you can read, buy and download news, eBooks and magazines.

Like for example, our very own HWM Singapore! Now you can savor the goodness of HWM digitally too.

Since the Galaxy Tab uses a wide screen 16:9 aspect ratio panel, watching videos with the tablet in the horizontal orientation feels comfortable and natural. When held in portrait mode though, you may notice that the screen feels slightly longer than expected, but on a 7-inch device, it still feels handy and usable. If this were a 10-inch tablet or larger, you'll find this aspect ratio looking way too elongated for comfort.

Watching videos on this device feels just right!

Unlike the Apple iPad, the Samsung Galaxy Tab comes with the ability to play Adobe Flash videos out of the box (though this comes at a slight disadvantage of having Flash based advertisements running on your browser). You can however set the Flash plugin to run only on demand, which should help those who are paranoid. We did notice that using the browser with Flash running slows the whole unit considerably, making scrolling on a page a jagged and irritating experience.

It feels more natural to read like this, but note that this is about half the size of the iPad screen while in landscape mode.

Note that the Adobe based Flash ads have been enabled.

Otherwise the built-in Android browser does a fine job, making surfing the web an experience you will find similar to any other Android smartphone. That said, using the Tab in portrait orientation does make text a little too small to read depending on the website. In landscape mode, you'll find a lack of vertical space due to the 16:9 aspect ratio format of the screen that may or may not affect your sensibilities, especially when the keyboard alone takes up half the screen, leaving you with very little screen real estate.


The Samsung Galaxy Tab comes with bundled with ThinkFree for office productivity, and you'll find that it works pretty well. This app allows you to create new documents, edit current ones, and if you have a ThinkFree account, store them online so you can access the documents on any computer. Unlike a mobile phone, there's plenty of space to view and type with, so if you're the type who likes to do your work while away from a desktop, then you're pretty much set.

Reading and editing *.docx Word documents using the ThinkFree app is pretty simple and easy. Note the slightly limited space though.

It's much easier to work in portrait mode, but the screen tends to look a little compressed due to the 16:9 aspect ratio format.

You can also create documents on the fly, like...

A spreadsheet!

Hopefully, the Samsung Galaxy Tab will do as well as the Apple iPad, which lasted for over 11 hours in our battery test. For the Galaxy Tab however, since we couldn't get our hands on the same iTunes clip, we've decided to go with a 720p clip instead. Of course, this will drain the battery faster as opposed to a 480p clip, but from our unofficial tests, the differences aren't that notable. However, moving forward, we'll be using the same clip for all other tablets coming into the lab and we'll have a better comparison set soon enough. Lastly, we left Wi-Fi on but turned off the 3G service since we last tested the basic iPad that didn't have 3G support. Additionally, we can never be sure if all future tablets would come with 3G capabilities by default and we don't want to end up being unable to compare other tablets across the board. Now that you know how our testing is done, let's find out how the tablet performs.

Lasting for 5 hours 41 minutes, the Samsung Galaxy Tab seems prepared for a near full day of use, despite running a more grueling 720p clip. We do have to mention though, while the power consumption scores are near, bear in mind that the screen size is also smaller at half the size of the iPad. The iPad on the other hand sports two batteries compared to the single one on the Galaxy Tab. Other factors to consider are the power efficiency optimization at the firmware level and the different OS used by both devices. With these aspects in mind, it seems like the power consumption figure is a bit on the high side for the Galaxy Tab, thus resulting in quite a big difference in battery uptime.

Finally for our Portability Index test, a simple benchmark test based on a formula where we obtain a ratio derived from a device's battery uptime divided by the product of its weight and volume. If it sounds complicated, don't worry about it, as the final numbers are pretty easy to look at. The bigger the number, the more portable the device is. And looking the graph below, the Galaxy Tab is almost two time more portable than the Apple device despite the fact the battery uptime figures swing the other way around. This is a direct result in the size/weight differences which ranks the Galaxy Tab as a more handy device and it certainly is from actual usage.

Samsung's Galaxy Tab may be one of the first big name efforts to compete with Apple's iPad, and the unit doesn't let you down. During our review period with this tablet, we found ourselves easily setting aside the much heavier and larger iPad in favor of this much smaller and compact device.

However, the Tab still has a long way to go to show that it can dethrone the iPad, mainly because of the Android OS that the tablet uses. Froyo works great for smartphones but let's be fair here, it's not meant for use with tablets. The upcoming Gingerbread (Android 2.3) and Honeycomb (possibly Android 3.0) will have support for larger resolution screens (up to 1366 x 768) and be more tablet friendly. Honeycomb is supposedly being designed for tablets, but how will this affect Chrome OS development which in our opinion seems more like a tablet friendly operating system, is not quite clear at this point of time.

In the Galaxy Tab's favor however, it's a great gadget to carry around. It's snappy, it's fast, and the screen is great for reading or watching movies. You can make phone calls too with this device, though we really, really don't suggest getting this as a replacement for your smartphone, unless you are willing to always wear a Bluetooth headset around on your head.

At the end of the day, if you don't already own a tablet device, then the Samsng Galaxy Tab is one to consider. It's definitely a different machine compared to the Apple iPad, and one that stands out on its own. Given that other manufacturers too are announcing their own versions of an Android tablet, it may be a good idea to play the "wait and see" game, but Samsung's Galaxy Tab strikes us as the one to get for now if you need a handy one. Well, till the next batch of Honeycomb-based tablets arrive.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab is one tablet you can consider getting if you're hunting for a spiffy new tablet.

Price and Availability

The Samsung Galaxy Tab will be S$998 without contract and S$538 with a monthly subscription of S$39 with SingTel's 3G Flexi Lite plan. S$298 with a monthly subscription of S$56 for the 3G Flexi plan and free with a monthly subscription of S$95 for the 3G Flexi Plus. The Samsung Galaxy Tab will be available from SingTel from 13th November 2010.
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Samsung Galaxy Tab review


The story of the Galaxy Tab has been quite a saga, to say the least. In fact, it was actually back in May that we first heard rumblings of Samsung's plans to unleash a 7-inch Android tablet much like its Galaxy S phones, but it was only after months of painful teasing -- including a cruel look at just its packaging on the Engadget Show -- that Sammy finally unveiled the Galaxy Tab to the world at IFA. The Tab certainly packed the specs -- a 1GHz processor, full Flash support thanks to Android 2.2, dual cameras, support for up to 32GB of storage and WiFi / 3G connectivity -- to put other Android tablets to shame, and our initial hands-on with it only had us yearning for more. Without pricing and availability, however, the story was at a cliffhanger. Of course, those details trickled out over the next few months, and here in the US, Samsung finally announced that all four major US carriers would be getting Tabs to call their own. Verizon then finally took the lead in announcing pricing, and revealed that its Tab would hit contract-free for $600 -- Sprint followed with the same no-contract pricing along with a $400 two-year contract option.

Indeed, it's been quite a long journey, but even after all of that, some of the major questions are still left unanswered. Does the Tab provide a more complete and polished experience than all the other Android tablets out there? How are Samsung's specially tailored apps? And ultimately, has a tablet finally hit the market that can rival Apple's iPad? We think it's about time we answer those questions and finally open what might be the most important chapter of the Galaxy Tab story -- the official Engadget review. We knew you'd agree, so join us after the break.


It's getting increasingly hard for manufacturers to differentiate the look of these all-screen gadgets, but Samsung's done a commendable job distinguishing the Tab from the others with its contrasting front and back surfaces. The back of the rounded-off device is coated in white shiny plastic (whether it will remain ghost white over time remains to be seen), while the front consists of a familiar flush black bezel and glass screen. (Note: we were sent the Sprint version of the Tab and there may be slight aesthetic differences amongst the carrier versions.) The screen and bezel do appear less glossy than the iPad -- you'll still want to keep the Windex (or Brasso gadget polish) and chamois close by, though. Speaking of clean, that's exactly how we'd describe the rest of the design -- there are four touch buttons on the front side, a headphone jack on the top edge and a volume rocker, microSD card slot and power button on the right edge. However, we don't see why Samsung couldn't have made room for a micro-USB port -- you have to charge it and sideload content using Samsung's proprietary charging cable.

To be honest, our real appreciation for the device's design comes more in terms of its form factor. Unsurprisingly, 7-inch tablets are much better for one-handed use than larger-screened ones (i.e. the 9.7-inch iPad or 11.6-inch ExoPC), and the 7.4 x 4.7-inch Galaxy Tab is no different. Steve Jobs may not think the size is optimal, but we loved being able to wrap our smaller hand around the 0.83-pound / 0.47-inch thick Tab when reading a book or hold it like a phone and use our thumbs to type on the on-screen keyboard. Sure, it's not as light or thin as the 0.53-pound / 0.33-inch Kindle or 0.48-pound / 0.4-inch Dell Streak, but it's still light enough to hold up in bed without fearing that you'll drop it on your face.

The overall build of the device is top-notch, and though it may appear to some like an enlarged Captivate or Fascinate, it feels more solid than those plasticy phones. We're not saying it's a rugged device by any standard, but it does feel incredibly durable, and we didn't worry too much when it mistakenly fell off the couch. By the way, the Tab's smooth back causes it to slide off things every so often -- so we'd suggest keeping this little guy in a case or nabbing a stand for it. We do wish the Tab had a built-in kickstand like the Evo 4G and Archos 7. Think about it, Samsung.


The Tab doesn't have a Super AMOLED screen like its Galaxy S smartphone brothers, but the 1024 x 600-resolution LCD is still stunning. It's notably better than most other tablet screens we've seen of late, which, of course, means that the first thing we noticed was its stellar viewing angles. (You know us and our hang-up with viewing angles.) Tilting the screen off-axis doesn't cause color distortion and sharing it with a friend didn't require us to make any adjustments.

The display itself is extremely bright and colors appear extremely crisp. While some have complained that it looks a bit oversaturated, you can adjust the color saturation in the display settings to your liking. As with the iPad, it's hard to make out what's on the glossy display in the sun, but when we took to shooting some video around New York City on a sunny day we were still able to make out all the controls. While the Tab's resolution isn't as high as the iPad's 1024 x 768-resolution IPS panel, the screen does have better pixel density, which translate to a crisper e-book and webpage reading experience than the iPad. (You know how some of us feel about pixel density.)

Just like the Galaxy S phones, the capacitive screen is extremely responsive, and as we said in our preview, easily matches the iPad in terms of sensitivity. Not once in the last few days of testing did we have an issue making selections with a light tap or scrolling down the length of a long page with a light flicks. Similarly, the four-way accelerometer is quite responsive in most applications (it tends to be slower in the browser) and quick to adjust when turned. As with the iPad using OS 4.2, there's no physical button for turning it off, but you can do so within the screen settings menu. The two speakers on the bottom of the tablet are noticeably louder than your average smartphone (okay, maybe save for the HTC Surround), but if you're planning to have the Tab rock out a party you'll want to connect a set of speakers.

Software: TouchWiz and Android

As we've said throughout a number of our previous tablet reviews, that nice screen is only as good as the software that runs underneath it. And in the case of the Tab, the software is going to be extremely familiar to anyone that's ever used a Galaxy S phone with Samsung's TouchWiz 3.0 Android layer. As you probably already know, we've never been particularly big fans of the cartoony design of the interface -- it just feels rather kiddie-like -- but it does provide some nice polish for average consumers and on a tablet it adds more to the generic Android smartphone experience.

"Android isn't ready for tablets." Everyone's heard it, and while we'll get into some of that in the next few sections, the Tab's central UI -- the panes, app drawer, home screen, Swype keyboard -- lends itself nicely to the 7-inch screen. Similarly, the sightly re-skinned Android browser scales nicely to the 7-inch display. Is it just an enlarged version of Google's smartphone OS? Yes, but we've never seen anything wrong with that.

Samsung apps

On the other hand, that doesn't mean there aren't core parts of the OS that require tweaks to take advantage of the added screen real estate, and unlike the many others making Android tablets, Samsung has done more than just throw on the stock applications. Below is a rundown of the core apps Samsung has developed specifically for the Tab.

EMail -- The core of the email app looks like those on the Galaxy S phones, but when you flip the display into landscape mode you get a Microsoft Outlook-like pane that displays your Inbox on the left and the messages on the right. We preferred managing and responding to mail in this app over the Gmail app, which is just the smartphone version.

Calendar -- The calendar app is equally as attractive. In landscape mode you can adjust it so your calendar takes up the entire screen or with a similar two pane view that shows a listing of upcoming events.

Messaging, Contacts -- These are pretty self-explanatory. Even though the Tab isn't technically a phone since all the US carriers have restricted its calling ability, you can use the messaging app to send SMS or MMS messages or e-mails to other contacts. Like the others, you've got a two pane view in landscape mode -- you can look at your contacts on the left side and message from the right.

Media Hub - This one has started to pop up on some Galaxy S phones as well, but the Tab is perhaps the best suited to take advantage of Samsung's new movie and TV store / player. At this point there's over 1,000 videos from MTV, Universal and Paramount, and while there is a decent selection of current titles -- we downloaded the Jersey Shore episode of South Park for $1.99 -- you'll come up empty when you start searching for older flicks. Nope, E.T nor Terminator, just to name a few, aren't available. Of course, everything here is DRM-protected so we had zero luck trying to drag it to our desktop. However, you will be able to log into your Media Hub account on up to five other Samsung devices to watch any previously purchased content. Media Hub isn't a bad over-the-air alternative, but at this point we'd recommend buying content through Amazon's Unbox and sideloading it for use on multiple devices.

Note: Samsung also has a Readers Hub app, which contains access to Kobo's e-book store and other reading content, but Sprint's decided not to preload it.

Market and third-party apps

The Tab also comes preloaded with a handful of third-party applications, including Facebook, Amazon's Kindle, and Qik. (There's a "Free Games" shortcut on the main screen which is nothing but a link to Gameloft's site. Uh, not cool, Samsung.) All of those scaled the 7-inch display quite well -- there weren't any formatting issues or pixelation -- however, that experience really depends on the app at the moment. For instance, Angry Birds looked beautiful on the larger screen. Seriously, it looks so incredibly awesome on the larger display that we spent the last four days replaying the game! Apps like Pandora, Facebook, Twitter, TweetDeck, YouTube also scale well, but other apps like USA Today, Engadget, Raging Thunder 2 Lite, and Speed Test don't. The latter apps are still usable, but you've got to deal with an incredibly large border of blank screen around them.

Samsung claims that any app that abides by Google's coding and design standards should work just fine, but even the apps that do scale obviously weren't built or optimized for tablets, so the experience really is like having a larger smartphone. We don't need to tell you how many of these companies could build better tablet apps if given the right SDKs -- we've seen them all do it with the iPad. Of course, the iPad was in a better situation at its launch: Apple had rolled out development tools for creating larger screened apps and a few of them we already available in the iPad app store, but Google has provided no such direction yet. We've heard that engineers at the Googleplex are in fact working on optimizing apps for tablets with the Honeycomb release and possibly rolling out a separate section of the Market, but until that happens it really comes down to trial and error and living with smartphone-sized designed software on a larger display.

Browsing and Flash

For the most part, the browsing experience on the Tab is rock solid -- pages loaded quickly over WiFi and scrolling / zooming on most pages was snappy. When loading a few sites -- like this very technology site -- we did notice the scrolling to be a bit jittery and not as smooth as on the iPad. However, we do like that there's the ability to change the brightness within the browser. But, obviously, the Tab differs from that other tablet with its full Flash support. So, is it everything you've been waiting for? Thanks to its 1GHz processor, the experience isn't as slow as we've seen on other Android 2.2 devices, but we can't really say we took advantage of the feature all that much. While it's nice to be able to load videos within sites and not have to battle that blue lego block, we were repeatedly given the "this video is not optimized for mobile" message when we hit play. Overall, videos played just fine, but Flash definitely slowed down the rest of the browsing experience. What about other Flash heavy sites? Well, as you can see above, Hulu is a dead end -- we got the same error message even when we logged into our Hulu plus account in the browser. (Hulu, please release a Plus app for Android ASAP!) On that same vein, we had no issues loading a Flash game site like Canabalt, but because it was built for mouse and keyboard environments we couldn't figure out how to jump and avoid death by bricks. What does it all mean? The Tab's Flash capability is a nice fallback, but if you've been thinking it's the killer tablet app you should think again. Not to sound like Steve Jobs or anything, but scaled-up smartphone apps and Flash compatibility alone don't create a well-rounded tablet platform -- it's going to take native apps for the Tab to be truly competitive.


The Tab's dual cameras are a big differentiator against the iPad, and we do have to say they both came in pretty handy over the last few days. We warn you: people will look at you oddly when you pull it out and take shots with its giant viewfinder! The 3 megapixel cam with LED flash on the back aren't going to replace your point and shoot, but it did take some decent still shots. There's a few samples in the gallery below: the flash was helpful when nabbing some stills on a darkly lit street and the outdoor pics are quite sharp. The camera interface consists of the standard Android controls, and per usual it handled auto-focus and white balance. Oddly, there's no macro mode, but the panoramic mode was great for taking wide-angle shots -- just make sure to hold it extremely steady to avoid blur. There is also a continuous mode, which will take a sequence of nine shots -- it took us a while to figure out that you've got to hold down the camera button to get it snapping. We should note that the panoramic and continuous modes are limited to taking 800 x 600-resolution photos.

It's a bit of a bummer that there's no HD video recording -- the Tab shoots at 720x480 -- but motion capture is quite smooth, and there were no stuttering issues like we've seen on Galaxy S phones. We should mention here that the Galaxy Tab requires you have a micro SD card inserted to use the camera, so it's a good thing Sprint tosses in a 16GB card. Oddly, we couldn't save anything to the 2GB of internal memory or access it when mounted to our Mac or PC. (If you're interested in the European version, our UK review unit has 16GB of internal storage, which is accessible when mounted.)

The 1.3-megapixel front facing cam obviously doesn't take as crisp or detailed shots, but it's perfectly fine for video chatting, awkwardly posing with a friend, or checking your teeth for leftover lettuce. As you can see from the picture above, we were able to get a video call going using Qik over WiFi, although there was quite a lot of delay and in some cases a serious amount of pixelation. We did attempt to use Fring, but the app hasn't been optimized for the tablet yet, and we couldn't get two-way video calling working. Fring's audio was much better, however.

Performance and battery life

Perhaps the best part about the Tab is that you don't have to worry about the sluggish performance we've seen on other Android and Windows tablets. The entire experience is very snappy, and it kept up with us even when we had four or five applications open. Of course, there were times when it would freeze up -- notably when we had a game of Angry Birds running and we were attempting to test a 720p video -- but chances are you won't be taxing the 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor and 512MB of RAM that much. As we mentioned earlier, Flash videos within the browser took a few seconds to appear and did slow down the general browsing experience, but once we were able to hit the play button they ran smoothly. General video playback on the Tab was also quite smooth -- high quality YouTube videos and local 720p content played beautifully at full screen. Similarly, graphics heavy games like Raging Thunder 2 had no issues running and taking advantage of the accelerometer. If you're looking for how the Tab fares on Android benchmarks, it scored consistently over 14 MFLOPS in Linpack.

So, how about that battery life? It's pretty good. After periodically surfing the web and reading on the Tab for about a day and a half with just 3G on, the battery is at about 20 percent. On our taxing video rundown test, which loops a standard definition video at about 65 percent brightness and 3G off, but WiFi on, the Tab's 4000mAh battery lasted for 6 hours and 9 minutes. That's around the same as some of the other Android tablet's we've tested, but not as long as the iPad's 9 hours and 33 minutes.

3G speeds and pricing

We've been testing the Sprint version of the Tab in New York City and have been experiencing fairly standard upload and download speeds: download throughputs have averaged around 1,043kbps and the uplink around 521kbps. Of course, we're day dreaming that Samsung and Sprint are whipping up a 4G Tab as we speak, but for now you're stuck with 3G versions.

Sprint offers two 3G plans for the Tab: 2GB for $29.99 a month and a 5GB option for $59.99 a month, but is it worth attaching a 3G plan to this device? It certainly makes sense to have mobile broadband baked into the Tab, and the Sprint Hotspot feature, which adds an extra $29.99 a month, could be useful for connecting other gadgets to the interwebs. However, we've always had a hard time recommending netbooks that require a two-year contract, and tablets are a similar beast, which is why the $600 no contact version makes more sense in our minds. While it's more money to pay up front than the contract deal (the hardware is only $400 when you commit two years of your life to Sprint), we think it's a better option than committing to paying a minimum of $720 in data over two years. Compared to Apple's offering, the $600 price is actually $29 less than the 16GB / 3G version of the iPad. Those that don't need 3G connectivity whatsoever are better waiting for the WiFi version of the Tab, which we keep hearing will arrive soon.


After spending the last couple of days with the Galaxy Tab, we can confidently say it's the best Android tablet on the market. Now, that's not saying much given the state of the Android competition, but we can also assuredly say that the Tab is the first true competitor to Apple's iPad. Its crisp display, compact form factor, touch-friendly software and dual cameras undoubtedly have what it takes to win over the average tablet seeker. However, we still have some reservations right now. Google hasn't yet provided any direction on Android as a tablet platform, which means that the Tab is held back by lagging application support and software that doesn't fully take advantage of the extra screen real estate. Remember, that when the iPad launched many developers were already working on tablet specific apps and Apple had an iPad app store in place. Put simply, without that ecosystem and support from Google, Samsung is left to its own devices -- literally. Just today Samsung rolled out an emulator for the Tab that uses the Android SDK and the company says it's working with Google and plans to use future iterations of Android, so we'll have to see what happens -- but for now it looks like the saga of the Samsung Galaxy Tab still has several chapters to go.

Richard Lai contributed to this review.
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