Tablets are gaining popularity and are sure to be a major trend in 2011. The first real contender was the Apple iPad which set the stage for other manufacturers to get a piece of the action. Samsung recognized the need for a tablet to compete against the iPad and came up with the Galaxy Tab. The company has had great success with its Galaxy S phones and kept the branding the same on the Tab. Samsung chose the Android platform for the Tab which gives the iOS and Apple haters another option when choosing a tablet. We got our hands on a Verizon branded Tab that allows for data on the network when there is coverage. Will the Samsung Galaxy Tab live up to expectations? Find out after the jump.
The Galaxy Tab is the perfect size for a tablet. With a 7-inch display, the Tab fits comfortably in the hand and can easily be placed in your back pocket, assuming you don’t wear skinny jeans. Overall, the Tab’s dimensions are 190.09 x 120.45 x 11.98 mm. Its weight is perfect at 380 grams so it is easy to carry around without adding too much extra weight. The size is something that we love when comparing it to the iPad because it just feels so right when you hold it in your hand. Surprisingly, we have not missed the larger display on the iPad since the Tab does a great job utilizing the 7-inch display.
The hardware itself is really solid. The front of the Tab has the 7-inch display, a front-facing camera, a light sensor, and four touch sensitive buttons that will bring up the menu, bring you home, bring you back, or allow you to search. The back of the device is a nice rounded plastic with a Verizon and Galaxy Tab branding on it. The back also has a 3 megapixel camera and an LED flash. The Tab uses a proprietary charging port that looks like the iPad charger but is different. Around the edges there is the power/sleep button, volume toggle, speakers, microSD slot, microphone, and 3.5mm headphone jack.
The display on the Galaxy Tab is really sharp and vibrant. It has a 7-inch 1020 x 600 TFT display, which is less impressive than its Galaxy S phone counterparts. When watching videos or playing with the device the colors stand out as being very sharp and the text very crisp. The touch screen itself is very responsive and does not have much lag. This responsiveness may have something to do with that 1GHz processor inside the Tab.
The Galaxy Tab has a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera and a 3.0 megapixel rear-facing camera. The front-facing camera is nice but still does not have much of a use since the video calling technology is still not wide spread enough. For some reason, Skype video calling will not work on the Verizon Tab and obviously FaceTime is not compatible, however Qik is a viable option. The 3.0 megapixel rear-facing camera has auto-focus and an LED flash. Our picture results were decent, but not all that impressive. We have attached a short gallery of images taken with the 3.0 megapixel rear-facing camera below:
The Galaxy Tab has 2GB of internal memory and 16GB microSD card pre-installed in the Verizon version. Memory is an important aspect of the Tab because it has many multimedia functions. If the 18GB that comes with the device is not enough, you can buy a 32GB microSD card to have a total of 34GB.
Since the Tab we have runs on the Verizon network, it uses CDMA technology and does not utilize a sim card. Since it lacks a sim card, its international capabilities are restricted to Wi-Fi only. The Verizon network does great justice to the device as it has most areas covered by EVDO internet speeds, but the device is lacking the 4G LTE capabilities. The Verizon network gave us average download speeds around 1232 kbps, and upload speeds at 868 kbps in the Boston area.
The Galaxy Tab runs Android 2.2 and uses TouchWiz 3.0 to enhance the operating system. Android 2.2 was created for phones but has been ported to the Tab and looks great. However, other tablets are surfacing, like the Motorola Xoom, that run Android 3.0 which was created for tablets. Still, Android 2.2 with TouchWiz does a great job running on the Tab and does not lack any visible capabilities.
Anyone who has ever used a Samsung Galaxy S phone will be familiar with the TouchWiz UI on the Tab. We like this UI because it adds some organization to the core Android platform. We’ve always thought that TouchWiz looks a bit like iOS in the way that is displays the applications with square shaped icons and the grid organization.
The core of the phone is the Android platform. As mentioned before, the Galaxy Tab runs Android 2.2 Froyo, unlike its U.S. Galaxy S phones, which will allow for Flash. That capability is a huge advantage over the iPad which will likely never have it.
Samsung preloads some applications on the Galaxy Tab that adds some features and capabilities. The Samsung Media Hub allows users to rent or download new release and classic movies and next day television shows. The movies range in price with older ones costing $9.99 to own and $2.99 to rent and new releases running at $17.99 to own and $3.99 to rent. Television episodes cost $1.99 to own and keep on your Media Hub account. You can always see what you have rented and downloaded in the “My Media” section of the application.
Another application that comes preloaded on the Tab is the Daily Briefing app. This application has four different screens that can be changed by sliding left or right. The first tab will give you the weather from AccuWeather.com, the second window helps you keep track of your stocks with Yahoo Finance, the third window gives you headlines from Associated Press, and the final screen is a schedule.
My Files and Task Manager are two applications to help keep track of what is on your device and what is running. My Files will let you explore and manage the files on your device. Task Manager will show you what applications are currently running, see what applications you have installed, manage the RAM, and give you a storage summary.
ThinkFree Office is a Microsoft Office compatible office suite. You can easily manage documents from Microsoft Office programs like Word or Excel. You can also create an account with ThinkFree and access your online storage anywhere.
Digital Frame will give you options to use the Tab as a clock, digital picture frame, and music player. This one is pretty self explanatory, it will play a slideshow of images on the device or play music you have stored.
Samsung revamped the Calendar and Contacts applications with TouchWiz. The calendar looks more like a physical planner and allows you to view events in day, week, month, or list mode. The Contacts application has two columns with one showing the contact’s name and the other showing the contact’s information and previous interactions with the person.
Verizon also adds its own applications to the Tab to enhance the customer experience. Backup Assistant will sync your contacts with the Verizon server in case you ever change to another Verizon device. The My Verizon Mobile application gives customers access to their Verizon account where they can check their usage, bill, etc. V CAST Apps is basically Verizon’s app store and it is billed to your Verizon account. V CAST Music is essentially Rhapsody with Verizon branding, allowing you to buy music. V CAST Song ID will identify songs by letting the Tab hear what is playing, similar to Shazam. VZ Navigator is Verizon’s paid alternative to the free Google Navigation application that is also preloaded.
The Galaxy Tab is a great alternative to the Apple iPad that has been dominating the tablet market. At $499.99 on Verizon with month to month service, the Tab is priced similarly to other tablets on the market. Verizon offers a few plans including at $20 a month for 1GB of data, $35 a month for 3GB of data, $50 for 5GB of data, and $80 for 8GB of data. All of the data plans do not require a contract and can be dropped and added at any point. The Tab’s small size and Flash capabilities alone give it an advantage over the iPad, but it may be difficult to pull loyal customers from the Apple fan base. When deciding whether to buy this tablet, it is important to keep the 4G tablets in mind. The Motorola Xoom will run Android 3.0 Honeycomb and will be compatible on Verizon’s 4G LTE network.