Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is pleasant to use, but for the £385 retail price, an Apple iPad or top-shelf netbook might be better
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is an excellent little Android 2.2-based Web surfing device that also delivers a great experience for most web applications.
But I sure wish it was larger, closer to the 9.7-inch screen offered by Apple’s iPad. I’ll circle back to that.
I tested a Tab from US operator Verizon Wireless, which is selling it now at a serious price: $599 (£385) sans contract. Users may also choose to buy an access plan with a monthly data contract.
The device is equipped with a 3G radio, so it picked up the Verizon network from the start. There is also a Wi-Fi radio, which I used at home for an app. More on that later.
Powered by a 1 GHz processor, the device sports an enhanced TFT display with 1,024-by-600 resolution that measures 7 inches on the diagonal. The gadget weighs a delightful 13.5 ounces and is about a half-inch thick.
Storage capacity is 512MB of ROM, 592MB of RAM, 2GB of user memory, accompanied by a preinstalled 16GB microSD card, which supports up to 32GB microSD card.
Shortly after powering it on, I was pleased by the crispness of the screen and familiar icons and the virtual keyboard, a much larger version of the ones I tested on the Motorola- and HTC-built Android handsets I’ve tested in the last 12 months.
The Tab feels like an oversized Samsung Galaxy S handset, such as the Fascinate, Captivate, Vibrant or Mesmerize, those Android smartphones with 4-inch screens and only a virtual keyboard as the access point.
But this was no 4-inch screen; typing anything on this keyboard was fast and I could use two thumbs to type emails and text messages.
While I was concerned about this platform from the outset because Android 2.2 is not optimal for tablets the way Android 2.3 reportedly is, my fears were quickly allayed.
Pleasant browsing experience
I easily accessed YouTube (the sound on the Tab is fine), Facebook for Android, Twitter for Android, Gmail, Google Search, Google Maps, Google Latitide, Google Places, the Flash-laden ESPN.com, and a multitude of other websites.
Samsung offers the Media Hub app preloaded for instant access to movies and TV shows, as well as the Amazon Kindle e-Reader app for books and ThinkFree Office, which lets users easily access with Microsoft Office applications.
I was able to call up one app or website, then open up to three more browser windows to run multiple apps at the same time like I can on a desktop or netbook. This is huge for me.
Anything running Flash worked well for me, though I note that if you leave the Tab untouched for just a few seconds, the screen goes dark, which is somewhat annoying. This is meant for saving the strong, 4000 mAh battery, which lasted a whole day with moderate-to-heavy use.
Fantastic battery life, no matter what I surfed or what app I accessed. I got more bang out of the Tab than my Lenovo ThinkPad or Eee PC netbook.