Techies scoffed at the iPad when it first came out. It wasn’t a “full” tablet computer, after all, and there were so many things it couldn’t do. But companies like Samsung took notice when iPads started flying off the shelves, creating a worldwide shortage. And now, armed with Google’s open-source Android operating system, they’re about to release their own tablet: The Samsung Galaxy Tab.
So is the Galaxy Tab just a generic-brand iPad, or is it a neat tablet in its own right? Let’s take a look at what we know from the info that’s been leaked so far.
Form factor and feel
From the photos in the Engadget and Android Central previews, it looks like the Samsung Galaxy Tab is about half the size of the iPad. Its screen is 7″ across instead of 9″, but it’s about as long as the iPad is wide, and much smaller overall.
This alone might make the Samsung Galaxy Tab appealing to people who passed on the iPad. The Tab is a much smaller tablet, easier to hold in one hand and read with. It’s still not as light as the nook or the Kindle, but it can do a lot more than either of those dedicated book readers, and has a color screen to boot. Plus, the Kindle and nook (and Kobo) book reader apps work on Android devices, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
Daily use and software consistency
The Samsung Galaxy Tab is going to be an Android device, so we already know some of its downsides up-front: It’ll have fewer apps (and especially fewer games) than an iPad, and it’ll be a bit more complicated and have more buttons below the screen. It won’t sync with iTunes unless you download a special app for that, and it won’t have access to the iTunes store for music and videos.
Most of the upsides of using an Android device instead of an iOS one are things that most people won’t care about: The ability to (technically) run Flash in its web browser, for instance, or to “sideload” apps without buying them through the Android Market. In my experience from using an Android phone, though, Android devices are pretty easy to figure out, and they still have thousands and thousands of apps. So unless you’re a gamer or you have an extensive iTunes music collection, you shouldn’t let Samsung’s choice of the Android operating system stop you if you want a tablet this size.
As an added plus, the Samsung Galaxy Tab does come with two things that the current-generation iPad doesn’t have: They’re called cameras, and there’s one on each side. Did someone say “video calls?”
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Samsung Galaxy Tab comes from the Engadget preview … it’s technically a phone. One that you’ll want to use a headset for, but still.
The reason that’s interesting is because with the way phones are priced in the United States, the Samsung Galaxy Tab could come in way under the iPad’s $500 price tag. It’d just come with a mandatory phone contract. Would anyone want to replace their handsets with a small tablet? Good question … but we’ll probably get to find out soon!
Either way, and whatever tablet (if any) you’re planning on getting, I hope you have fun with it!