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Posted on September 3rd, 2010 by Sasha Muller

Samsung Galaxy Tab review: first look

Samsung Galaxy Tab in hand - home screen landscapeWith 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.

Click here to read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Samsung Galaxy Tab in hand - PC Pro homepage

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 Galaxy Tab in hand - FPS game

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.

Samsung Galaxy Tab in hand - back

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 720×480 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

Samsung Galaxy Tab in hand - micro SD and SIM slot

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.

Samsung Galaxy Tab in dock - PC Pro homepage

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19 Responses to “ Samsung Galaxy Tab review: first look ”

  1. Lomskij Says:
    September 3rd, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    It definitely looks sweet, however are you sure about the AMOLED screen? I thought it’s TFT?

  2. M Viracca Says:
    September 3rd, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Just as I thought that I could actually have use for a 10″(nearly) iPad, along comes a 7″ contender and I’m again left wondering “what for?”

    I definitely wouldn’t use it as a replacement for my iPhone or any other phone actually, it’s too big. But then isn’t it too small for work? The keyboard must be tiny.

    I would love to hear how others would use this.

  3. Mark Says:
    September 3rd, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Are all these different devices making us adopt a golf club attitude to computing? When buying golf clubs it’s tempting to buy irons 2 through 9 plus a couple of wedges; not that I never use half of them and in all honesty a couple of irons would do me fine.

    Now I’m thinking should I get a 7 inch computer to sit nicely between my HTC Desire and iPad, just in case I need to check Stephen Fry’s latest tweet whilst standing in a very narrow space where I’d be unable to open my Thinkpad.

  4. Lomskij Says:
    September 3rd, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    @ M Viracca:

    Frankly, if I was to choose between iPad and this Galaxy tab, I’d pick up the latter (providing the price is right, let’s say around £300). The reason – I read a lot of books and use either 4″ HTC smartphone or 6″ sony ebook reader for that. So 7″ device would effectively combine both devices for me. As for the iPad, I found it quite rubbish as a book reader – the screen resolution is way too low for comfortable reading, clarity of smaller fonts is really really bad, my eyes start hurting after 10 minutes. The pixel density of Galaxy is around 30% higher, which is definitely a step in the right direction. Also the iPad is too big for me – I prefer holding a book in one hand, not two.

    P.s. I’ve tried Dell’s streak as well and found it annoyingly slow, hopefully the Galaxy feels as snappy as iPad.

  5. Matthew Sparkes Says:
    September 3rd, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    How does it feel against your head as a phone? Do you feel like you’re holding a Trigger Happy TV prop, or is it OK?

    It looks lovely. I want one.

  6. M Viracca Says:
    September 3rd, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Thanks, that makes sense, hadn’t thought of it as an ereader since I don’t read books.
    I’m wondering about using it as a computing device, when could I use it instead of my laptop? Or iPad (which I am actually thinking of getting, for photography, blogging, surfing and twitter).

  7. Bioreit Says:
    September 3rd, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    I have the Samsung Galaxy S phone and I absolutely adore it – if the screen on the Tab is anything like it for colour reproduction and brightness, it will be amazing! Everyone who has seen my phone has gone ‘Ooooh!’ at the screen and the speed of the thing is phenomenal.

    Thing that worries me is the price – this is basically a larger version of the Galaxy S, but with the Super AMOLED screen swapped out for a very good TFT with a higher resolution (1024*600 as opposed to 800*480), with the added benefit of a socket which can take an HDMI/USB adaptor – and the Galaxy S costs £430 off contract.

    I genuinely can’t see this being priced at less than £500 or £600 – and indeed, there are several rumours floating around on the Internet (especially Engadget) that it’s going to be over £600! Which is a shame, as I think pricing this at £400 (maybe by stripping out the phone functionality) could make this a genuine contender against the iPad and make it a great showcase for how good Android can truly be.

    I will, of course, be overjoyed if I prove to be wrong!

  8. Andrew Farmer Says:
    September 3rd, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    It looks good, but why does this, and the Dell HAVE to come with the tie in of a phone/data contract?
    In this instance I think Apple got it right with the wifi only version of the iPad. I bought this and along with an existing Three MiFi 3g device, can also use it out and about just as easily at less cost than a contract. and can use my laptop with the 3g too if I need that.

    I am not saying the iPad is the be all and end all, as this Samsung looks very nice, but if this and others insist on this tie in it may put customers off.

    As for these devices in general. They are a luxury device really, but I have found my iPad gets used an awful lot. The main advantage over any netbook is the instant access of it. No waiting, no loading. Press the on button and instantly access email or web. Also, much easier to use standing up. The apps are great but obviously what you use is down to individuals.

  9. stasi47 Says:
    September 4th, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    lol, well said, thanks for the morning joke!

    @The Rest:
    Actually I am always comparing usability and convenience of portable devices neither to undersized* iPads nor oversized** iPhones but to Sony Vaio-P, as this ultraportable – by fitting your jacket’s pocket – saves time, hassle and possibility of losing hardware while passing airports security checks***, yet it sports full Qwerty keyboard to get some real work done****.

    * – computing wise, as it misses keyboard and screen real-estate
    ** – telephony wise, as it’s much heavier than required minimum to phone someone
    *** – like any other PDA you can get it x-rayed without the need of drawing it from the pocket
    **** – by using remote desktop software

  10. Jed Says:
    September 5th, 2010 at 11:02 am

    I must say that this hardware is looking rather tasty.

    The ipad is too big for my liking and I think Samsung may appeal to people like me with this size tablet. Now when’s the damn thing out?!

  11. Daleos Says:
    September 5th, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    I can see this device being more useful out and about than the iPad due to it’s size but I’m not convinced 7″ is big enough for the home.

    I also doubt 3G is strictly necessary. I’m not sure what market this device will be sold to but my suspicion is the same one that already has a smartphone (and therefore possibly a phone with tethering capabilities). Why get two contracts when you only need one?

    But then again, these contracts do help hide the fact you are spending so much on a device that doesn’t really do anything that your phone or netbook can’t.

    When the dust has settled and there’s a nice selection to choose from, I imagine I’ll eventually get around to getting a big tablet (10″+,) for the home, a smaller one (7″) for taking on holiday and just stick with my smartphone for everything else.

    Whatever I end up getting I do appreciate that one size does not fit all and it’s great that from now on we will be able to get to choose what suits us best.

  12. toto Says:
    September 6th, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Looks like a Galaxy S with a bigger screen to me.

  13. Thurdon Baines Says:
    September 6th, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    3G is absolutely necessary: it allows an Android device to be a map of anywhere in the car, with a continuously updated guidebook.

  14. Mike Says:
    September 9th, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Regards to putting it to you ear as a phone, surely that is what either on-board speakerphone or bluetooth headsets are for. I don’t expect to see many putting it to their ear to use, although that will be possible if required. For answering calls, you’d just leave it in your pocket and use a button on your bluetooth earpiece, and voice dialling to call out. I don’t personally like bluetooth headsets, so I’ve gone for a Galaxy S, but if I was happy using a bluetooth earpiece (as many seem to be), why not have a bigger device like this as your only mobile phone/device? Probably make a great GPS unit for the car, great for surfing webpages out and about or at home. It won’t replace a bigger computer for all activities for most people, but then even a netbook doesn’t either.

    The key here is choice. By having a range a devices to suit every size, feature, price point, etc people can choose for themselves what and how many devices they desire. For me that is a Galaxy S, a netbook, and 17″ laptop. For someone else it might be a desktop and a Galaxy Tab. For someone else, they might have a phone, a tablet, a laptop and a desktop.

    At the end of the day, you don’t have to use every feature of a device, and as long as it doesn’t cost you more for unused features, or drain the battery faster. Extra features just gives you more flexibility to use it as suits on a given occasion and as you needs change over time.


  15. ben stevens Says:
    October 25th, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    some great responses, i am waiting for this device to launch and will use it a lot. my personal mobile contract runs out at the right time, my work mobile gets more use, my work laptop has restricted access, and i use a desktop at home. i am a mobile worker and therefore the 3g access is a must (although mifi is possible but why bother if one does all). i haven’t gone for ipad as it is too controlled, i cant work on spread sheets and word docs and then save and transfer. the ipad is great for looking and reading stuff, but not so good for actually working on. the galaxy tab should be just small enough to hide in a jacket and just big enough to do emergency spreadsheets etc and email reading. plus, whilst away from home i can use it as media device / player etc. lack of instant on andability to work standing up are why the netbook failed for me. so, sold netbook, sold laptop, drop personal mobile and stick to one of these for almost everything. i don’t think i will be the only one

  16. john doe Says:
    October 31st, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Posting this from a galaxy tab. Very nice although making calls would prob be like trigger happy tv samsung do give you and hands free kit.

    For out and out web browsing or movies the ipad is still better as bigger and nicer screen but the Tab is a good all rounder from what i’ve seen and has flash!

    Only issue i’ve notied is the screen doesnt handle black anywhere as well as the ipad.

  17. samsung galaxy skins Says:
    December 22nd, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    I also think that 3G is strictly necessary. I’m not sure what market this device will be sold to but my suspicion is the same one that already has a smartphone. thank you.

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    February 23rd, 2012 at 3:21 am

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