Last night we got an opportunity to to attend the unveiling of the first real tablet contender to Apple’s iPad–the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Having had an iPad for some time now and getting a hand on with the Tab tonight, I can assure you that tablets are here to stay and the market is going to be huge. So strap in and read on to hear what Samsung has to offer…
For those unfamiliar, the Samsung Galaxy Tab is a 7-inch pocketable tablet with an Android Froyo operating system. Obviously, we haven’t really covered the Android operating system in detail before because they compete with Blackberry. But with tablets and Google TV on the way, the Android operating system is becoming relevant outside of the cell phone arena. I won’t take the time right now to give you a thorough tour of the basic Android operating system. Rather, I will focus on the hardware offerings and carrier details for now.
The Tab has only been made possible by the success of the cross carrier launches of its Galaxy phones.
Like the Galaxy phones, the Tab will be released on all major U.S. carriers–making it available to all who want one, unlike Apple’s iPad. The carriers will likely subsidize the cost of the Tabs when signing up for data plans, but those plans have not yet been released. Surprisingly, Samsung says that all the Tabs will be on 3g networks (I could have sworn I heard them say 4g earlier in the evening). This is surprising because Sprint has been pushing 4G like its nobody’s business for a while now. It just doesn’t make sense why Sprint would restrict the Tab to slower 3g speeds.
Because tablets are largely media consumption devices, Flash is really important. A lot of content is encoded in flash–both games and videos. When Apple decided to take its own road and nix flash, they crippled the iPad for free media content and required users to purchase any real media. But the Samsung Tab ran Flash beautifully using Adobe Flash player 10.1. They did a demo with video on MLB.com and played some pretty neat and complex flash games.
But even allowing flash, it seems like Samsung might be playing a little bit of an Apple game. In my hands on later in the evening Hulu mysteriously didn’t work because it wasn’t optimized for the device. What makes this fishy is Samsung’s next announcement…
The Samsung media hub is another digital content retailer where you can buy movies and tv shows optimized for your screen size. The content is promised to be at market rates and include fairly new movies.
One of the biggest letdowns of the evening was the camera; 3 megapixels on the back and 1 megapixel on the front. Blackberries have been rocking 3-megapixel cameras for a long time now and the Torch was a whopping 5 megapixels built in. For a larger and more expensive device (prices have yet to be announced but I can guess), I expected at least 5 megapixels.
In our hands on, we got mostly what we expected–a larger android experience. Like other Samsung devices, the Tab uses swype (which we will cover in more detail another time) which allows a user to type with one hand fast and easily. However, the Tab does not resize the keyboard when in landscape mode; it keeps a narrow keyboard in the center of the screen. Very odd and something that may be fixed before launch.
All in all, what we hear so far is very exciting. I am assuming that there will be some polish and software tweaks before the official release. But we like what we see so far. The Tab is a pocketable tablet that you can really use on the go.