To the test – Samsung Galaxy Tab
by Keris Lahiff
Upon opening the box, the response is unanimous: ‘ooh shiny’. Yes, the Samsung Galaxy Tab is stunning with its black bezel screen and sheer white plastic back casing but beyond its pretty exterior, what does this tablet offer the consumer?
Unfortunately for Samsung, the Galaxy Tab can’t simply answer ‘what can it do?’ As the first true Android tablet worthy of mention, and coming after Apple’s groundbreaking tablet release, it has to answer ‘what can it do better than the iPad?’
At approximately half the size of the iPad, the Galaxy Tab differentiates itself as an in-your-pocket kind of tablet. But is its size to its advantage or disadvantage?
Well, according to Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, the size is not ideal. “Human fingers are too big to be able to accurately hit icons on a screen that size,” he said of the seven-inch Galaxy screen, compared to the 9.7-inch screen on the iPad. Trust him to say that though.
In practice, the Galaxy’s handheld size is a pleasure to hold, has no trouble dealing with chubby fingers (and a vast improvement from typing on an iPhone) and is easy to read from. Plus, the smaller size means a lightweight device, weighing in at 380 grams (half the weight of the iPad).
How does it handle?
In terms of the Galaxy’s functionality, it certainly delivers, if not in a very déjà vu manner. The floating apps and slidey-finger movement feels a little too Apple-y to be original. However, this is where its ease of use comes into play. By not diverging from the standard, the Galaxy is easy to operate as soon as you pick it up. The external buttons, four of which are located at the base of the unit, are simply touch screen graphics, not punchy like the iPad, and so an accidental bump can send you back to the homepage.
Like an oversized smartphone, the Galaxy allows the user to make calls and with a three-megapixel camera enabled with LED flash (something not built into the iPad), it means the user can do pretty much anything on the spot. However, the exclusion of a standard USB port, a common exclusion in tablets on the market, is plain frustrating when on the road and in need of imported documents.
One fun function is the Swype typing tool. This allows you to swipe your finger to type, rather than lifting to input individual letters. The microphone typing tool, on the other hand, is a little more hit and miss. It’s more suited to simple sentences – ‘Run, see Spot run, run Spot run’ – rather than anything too technical.
On the plus side, the Galaxy is compatible with Flash video, a function restricted from Apple products.
However, the thing freaks out when using the browser. While playing around with it, it froze in Google – and while the frozen display remained crystal-clear and stunning, overall not a great look Samsung.
With no physical off-on button, the question remained as to how to reboot. Best just to give up and let it sit there until it righted itself from its tantrum – eventually it did so, you know, guess that’s a plus.
One final minor gripe (or major if you’re in the business of being time-poor) – it takes a fair while to charge. For example, at 11:36am, we recorded it at 14 per cent charged. By 12:28pm, it had meandered up to 33 per cent.
How much is that tablet in the window?
Before you know how much it is, let’s first look at its value. What’s the verdict on the Galaxy Tab? There’s no doubt it’s impressive and is certainly the only real contender to the iPad at the moment (although Motorola’s Xoom is expected at the end of the month). But is that enough to justify a purchase, especially given the tablet market is likely to explode in 2011?
The answer to that is up to you and the size of your wallet. Its recommended retail price is $999, which seems a little steep so if you’re in the market, it pays (or rather, saves) to shop around.
Published on: Tuesday, February 15, 2011