Sunday, September 05, 2010

Hands On With Samsung's New Galaxy Tab

I've got just about everything Apple makes these days, except that tedious little hobby device the Apple TV.  Other than that, I've got it all.  MacBook, iPad, iPhone, and iPod.  But I have noticed the rise of the little thing called Android.  It's getting hard to ignore and Samsung is now pushing Android into the tablet space in a way that should be taken seriously.

There are a lot of aspiring competitors to the iPad out there.  Few of them should be taken seriously, but this is one of them.  Android is a close second the iOS when it comes to usability and power, but far more open and flexible.   And that growing strength is put to good use in the Samsung tablet.

Yesterday at IFA, I spent some time playing with the new tablet, all the while comparing it to the iPhone I had in my pocket and the iPad I had in my briefcase.

The device looks and feels very nice.  It lacks the drop-dead beauty of Apple's devices - the milled aluminum and glass - but it also seems much more likely to withstand a drop from a height.  I guess, in the crowded atmosphere of IFA, I could have dropped the demo unit and seen if it broke, but that didn't seem like a good thing to do.  I am not willing to test the durability of my Apple devices, given their replacement cost.

As for size and weight, it's pretty nice.  The iPad is magnificently light for a PC but it is tiringly heavy compared to my Kindle for reading.  When I do any extended reading these days, I find myself propping it up in a way that doesn't require being held.  The Galaxy Tab feels light enough to hold for hours.  The tablet is 380 grams, according to Samsung, 100 grams more than a Kindle and about 300 grams less than an iPad.

Like the iPad 3G, the Galaxy Tab comes with a full wireless modem, but you can also make phone calls.  I don't see myself wanting to in general, but it's possible.  Also, because it has both a front and rear camera, you can do video conferencing, but I could not figure out if that was carrier supported or enabled and supported by Skype in Android.

The device has Flash 10.1 running, so I was able to test a couple of video sites.  The result: great smooth video and no indication that the CPU was straining to work properly.  I've heard people complain about the implementation of Flash on mobile devices, but this sure seemed to work fine.

While Samsung can never be, and probably shouldn't aspire to be, just like Apple, the company keeps turning out well executed products. Indeed, of all the gadgets and gizmos I saw at IFA this year far, this is the only one I'd be willing to spend my own money on.

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