Samsung Galaxy Tab review: first look
With carbon-copy iPads and wannabe tablets oozing from every nook and cranny of Berlin's IFA show, it's difficult to get too excited about another touchscreen slab to add to the list. Until, that is, you get your mitts around Samsung's 7in tablet-phone, the Galaxy Tab.
In a word, it's gorgeous. In several, ruddy bloody gorgeous. But once we stopped bathing our eyeballs in the glossy, multitouch display, we couldn't help but revel in the sheer excellence of the design. There's none of the metal-framed glassy loveliness of Apple's iPhone 4, but the smoothly contoured plastics feel great in the hand. And, despite measuring only 12mm thick and weighing in at a mere 380g, the Galaxy Tab feels remarkably solid; it marks just the right balance between reassuring heft and portability.
The Galaxy Tab's beauty is more than skin-deep, however. Before you even lay a finger on the Samsung-skinned Android 2.2 OS, the 7in TFT display [sadly not AMOLED, as we had hoped] beams forth with rich, saturated colours and wide, wide viewing angles. It's by far the best we've seen at the show, and not least as the 1,024 x 600 resolution keep everything looking pin sharp. It's simply glorious.
Start prodding away, though, and the Tab continues to impress. The 1GHz ARM processor and PowerVR SGX540 graphics chip keep Android feeling spritely, with applications popping into view with nary a delay. Samsung even claims that the PowerVR hardware is capable of Full-HD playback; something we unfortunately couldn't put to the test. Games looked great on the display and both the first-person-shooter, Nova, and the arcade racing staple, Need for Speed: Shift, kept up a steady frame-rate.
Samsung has swapped out the standard Android interface, with its TouchWiz UI taking pride of place. It's no bad thing, though. The homage to Apple's iOS is clearly intended to draw customers away from the iFamily, and the simple, icon-based interface is slick and simple to navigate.
Samsung's not just content with touting the Galaxy Tab as a do-it-all phone, media player and gaming device: it's also keen to take on the eBook market with its Readers hub application. Boasting two million books, 1,600 newspapers and 3,000 magazines, it's a canny addition, and one that will doubtless help the Galaxy Tab compete against the likes of the iPad.
Thanks to the 4000mAh battery inside, battery life stretches to a claimed seven hours of movie playback, with no official word on expected talk-time.
Scan through the Galaxy Tab's vital statistics, and there really is little missing. The 3-megapixel camera on the rear partners with a front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera - video recording stretching up to 30fps at 720x480 resolution - and the HSDPA 7.2Mbits/sec radio buddies up alongside with 802.11abgn, Bluetooth 3 and DLNA-compatibility. The 16GB of inbuilt storage, meanwhile, is expandable with microSD cards up to 32GB in capacity
In fact, the only thing we're currently lacking is probably the most crucial element of all, the price, which is entirely up to the mobile phone companies themselves. Needless to say, a prohibitively expensive tariff could make the difference between an Apple killer and an also-ran. Only time will tell. Samsung intend to release the Galaxy Tab later to this year, and we'll be getting the full low-down in PC Pro as soon as we can snaffle one from the production line.