Sam­sung's Galaxy Tab

Does the Galaxy Tab live up to ev­ery­one’s ex­pec­ta­tions as a se­ri­ous com­peti­tor to the iPad? Find out here.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - by CHONG JINN XIuNG in­tech@thes­tar.com.my

THERE’S no deny­ing that An­droid Tablets are the flavour of the day as most con­sumer elec­tron­ics com­pa­nies hurry to get their own Tablets out to meet the grow­ing de­mand for these de­vices.

The Sam­sung Galaxy Tab has gen­er­ated a lot of buzz since it was un­veiled at the IFA show in Septem­ber. It is cer­tainly the most talked about An­droid Tablet that ev­ery­one is ea­ger to get their hands on.

Thanks to Sam­sung, we man­aged to spend some qual­ity time with a re­tail unit of the Galaxy Tab.

De­sign

Aes­thet­i­cally, the Galaxy Tab bears some sim­i­lar­i­ties with the iPad — it sports a thick black bezel that runs around the screen. That said, the Galaxy Tab is about half the size of the iPad and thus is more por­ta­ble and eas­ier to slip into a bag .

It has a glossy 7in ca­pac­i­tive touch­screen dis­play with 1,024 x 600-pixel res­o­lu­tion. The glossy screen can some­times be too re­flec­tive, es­pe­cially when used out­doors, but looks fine when it is used in­doors.

Cu­ri­ously the Galaxy Tab uses a reg­u­lar LCD dis­play un­like the Galaxy S smart­phone, which has an AMOLED dis­play. Though it isn’t as good look­ing, it is still a ser­vice­able screen that’s bright and dis­plays both text and im­ages clearly.

At just 380g, the Galaxy Tab is a fairly light­weight de­vice and is about the size of a trade pa­per­back book so it still feels com­fort­able to hold even with just one hand for an ex­tended pe­riod of time.

Charg­ing and data trans­fer is han­dled by a 30-pin dock lo­cated on the bot­tom of the Tablet.

It has a 3-megapixel aut­o­fo­cus cam­era on the back with a LED flash and a front fac­ing 1.3-megapixel cam­era that works for video calls.

An­droid on the in­side

Much of the Galaxy Tab’s in­ter­face takes its cue from the Galaxy S. In fact, it feels like you’re us­ing an up­sized ver­sion of the smart­phone.

The Tablet’s 1GHz Cor­tex A8 pro­ces­sor is more than ca­pa­ble of han­dling full mul­ti­task­ing while keep­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence fast and snappy.

Un­like other Tablet mak­ers that have opted to fit their of­fer­ings with cus­tomised Tablet in­ter­faces, Sam­sung has left the ba­sic An­droid 2.2 (Froyo) in­ter­face un­touched. In fact, there are hardly any changes save for the TouchWiz in­ter­face that adorns the ex­panded ap­pli­ca­tion menu.

While the Galaxy Tab comes with all the ba­sic An­droid ap­pli­ca­tions like Gmail, Google Talk and Google Maps, Sam­sung has in­cluded a few well re­designed ap­pli­ca­tions that take ad­van­tage of the larger screen.

Ap­pli­ca­tions like the cal­en­dar, mu­sic player and e-mail client be­have dif­fer­ently when turned on its side to land­scape view, of­ten al­ter­ing to show you a dual panel view. For ex­am­ple, you can browse your e-mail on one col­umn while read­ing the con­tents of the mes­sage on the next.

How­ever not all An­droid ap­pli­ca­tions are op­ti­mised in this way. Af­ter all, the An­droid op­er­at­ing sys­tem isn’t de­signed to be used as a Tablet. To put it bluntly, you don’t feel like you’re gain­ing any­thing sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent as you are us­ing the same apps you use on your smart­phone al­beit on a big­ger screen.

Much like other Tablets on the mar­ket, you can get on­line ei­ther via WiFi or 3G con­nec­tion on the Galaxy Tab.

The larger screen is a wel­come ad­di­tion, giv­ing you more room to view web­pages in their en­tirety. An­other big ad­van­tage of­fered on the Galaxy Tab is its sup­port for Flash and HTML 5.

This al­lows you to browse full Flash-based web­sites, watch videos embed­ded in Flash and yes, even play Far­mville, in case you were won­der­ing.

The over­all surf­ing ex­pe­ri­ence on the Galaxy Tab feels speedy — it man­aged to load most web­pages rel­a­tively quickly over both WiFi and 3G con­nec­tions.

Sim­ple text-based web­sites with few im­ages like Wikipedia load up in less than five sec­onds. How­ever, heav­ier web­sites es­pe­cially those that fea­ture lots of Flash el­e­ments tend to be choppy as the Tablet copes to dis­play the con­tent. The Galaxy Tab is also a mo­bile phone, so you can make reg­u­lar

voice calls and send/ re­ceive text mes­sages on it. The odd thing about us­ing the Galaxy Tab as your pri­mary phone is that there is no ear­piece — in­stead you need to use the hands­free kit or the speak­er­phone mode.

The on­screen key­board’s lay­out looks ex­actly like the iPad, of­fer­ing pseudo touch typ­ing and it feels sur­pris­ingly us­able.

The built-in auto correction can some­times be over­bear­ing, in­sist­ing on us­ing sug­gested words but it is an oth­er­wise very func­tional key­board that works whether the de­vice is held in por­trait or land­scape view.

An e-book reader and more

Con­sid­er­ing the Galaxy Tab is a 7in Tablet, it’s just about the right size for an e-book reader.

The Reader’s Hub serves as the Galaxy Tab’s fea­ture for e-book fans, of­fer­ing users the op­tion to down­load and even pur­chase books through the pro­vided Kobo e-book reader.

The hub is also sup­posed to of­fer news­pa­per and mag­a­zine feeds that you can sub­scribe to but both these op­tion were un­avail­able at the time of writ­ing this re­view.

Kobo is a fairly bare­bones ebook reader that gives you an Ap­ple iBook-like vir­tual shelf for all your down­loaded books. Read­ers can pur­chase new books from the on­line book­store as it of­fers a range of ti­tles from clas­sics to cur­rent day nov­els.

If you’re not a book per­son, don’t worry. The Galaxy Tab is a de­cent me­dia player for both mu­sic and video play­back as it sup­ports a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent for­mats in­clud­ing MPEG4, DiVx and H264 en­coded videos.

The de­vice han­dles videos fairly well and is able to keep up with most fast mov­ing scenes with hardly any stut­ter. The Galaxy Tab is also great de­vice for lis­ten­ing to mu­sic thanks to its rather in­tu­itive mu­sic in­ter­face that makes full use of the Tablet en­vi­ron­ment.

The Galaxy Tab’s twin speak­ers may be small but the out­put was sur­pris­ingly good. We came away im­pressed at just how good songs sounded with strong vo­cals and even a hint of bass when the SRS 5.1 vir­tual sur­round sound fea­ture was switched on.

An­droid apps like Google Maps ben­e­fit from the larger screen and it was much eas­ier to view while driv­ing. Achiev­ing GPS lock-on is rel­a­tively fast on the de­vice and it works well as a nav­i­ga­tion de­vice if you need to get to some­where you don’t know.

How­ever the Galaxy Tab feels very odd to use as a cam­era. Though the large 7in screen is great for fram­ing shots, it is just too big and cum­ber­some to use.

In terms of qual­ity, the im­ages taken by the 3-megapixel cam­era aren’t that sharp and it can only per­form well un­der bright sun­light.

The ad­di­tion of HD video record­ing is a nice touch and it keeps the cam­era more rel­e­vant. Videos looked smooth dur­ing play­back but the qual­ity you get is not go­ing to beat a ded­i­cated video cam­era ob­vi­ously.

Con­clu­sion

The Sam­sung Galaxy Tab cer­tainly lives up to the ex­pec­ta­tions of those who are seek­ing a speedy Tablet that of­fers web brows­ing, e-mail and HD video play­back.

Its com­pact size makes it very con­ve­nient to carry around and can be whipped out at a moment’s no­tice to catch some on­line news or watch a video on the go.

How­ever we found it too bulky and im­prac­ti­cal to use as a phone though on the bright side it works well as an e-book reader.

Sam­sung has done well to in­clude ap­pli­ca­tions such as e-mail, cal­en­dar and con­tacts that take ad­van­tage of the Tablet’s larger screen size. How­ever, it is clear to see that the An­droid plat­form isn’t op­ti­mised for a Tablet en­vi­ron­ment with many ap­pli­ca­tions func­tion­ing just as they do on a smaller screen An­droid smart­phone.

While the Galaxy Tab isn’t an iPad killer, it is one of the best per­form­ing An­droid Tablets we’ve tested so far. All in all, if you are an An­droid user look­ing for an all-inone Tablet de­vice, the Sam­sung Galaxy Tab might just be what you are look­ing for. Pros: Great In­ter­net brows­ing ex­pe­ri­ence; HD video record­ing; good for read­ing ebooks; good speak­ers.

Cons: Too bulky to use as a phone; many ap­pli­ca­tions not op­ti­mised for Tablet form; 3-megapixel cam­era isn’t great; ex­pen­sive.

handy: The Galaxy Tab has a 3-megapixel cam­era with an LED flash on the back.

neaT : The Galaxy Tab also acts as an e-book reader.

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