Introduced in November, 2010, the Samsung Galaxy Tab is a small, sprightly challenger to the Apple iPad and the emerging Dell Streak. The Galaxy Tab addresses many of the faults the iPad brings, but it also introduces a few bugs on its own. As the first of its family, however, a few quirks and hitches are to be expected.
The Galaxy is a 7-inch tablet PC, rectangular with a glossy black surface and a smooth rounded white back. It is portable and weighs 13 oz, easily stashed away in a backpack, purse, handbag, or oversized jacket or pants pockets. It is designed for multimedia use such as reading, gaming, watching video and listening to music. A vibrant 7-inch LCD touch display screen with an incredible 1024 x 600 pixel resolution packs enough jounce for all the above activities, and may use a screen protector and a case. The screen is responsive but slightly spastic, and is a bit of a fingerprint magnet. There are only two physical buttons: a volume rocker and power on/off button, both on the right-hand side. The design also includes a microSD slot and a headphone jack. Built with high-quality Corning Gorilla glass, the Galaxy Tab will accept even the most horrendous abuse.
Many thanks to Froyo, the Tab’s operating system. Running on a slightly skinned version of an upgradable Android 2.2 OS and utilizing a 1GHZ processor, the Galaxy is a powerful yet nimble tablet computer, equipped with 512 MBs of RAM and 16 GBs of internal memory. In contrast to the iPad, It is able to multitask and Adobe Flash. 3G Wi-Fi and cellular browsing speed is usable, but occasionally irritating. Prices vary by monthly memory and carrier. However, there are a few under-the-hood wrinkles than need to be ironed out. Froyo was never optimized for personal tablet use, so certain apps, online video formats, and other files dwell somewhere in limbo between personal PC and smart phone. The technical service and support is pretty limited as well. Many of these problems are supposed to be solved with future optimized versions of Android.
Delicious goodies come standard with it too. It boasts a 3.2 MP front- and rear-facing camera for point-and-shoot photography and Qik voice chatting. Its main competitors have no camera, period. Granted, with low maximum resolutions and little customizability, both cameras are somewhat lackluster, especially the 1.3 MP front-facing camera. It also comes with the Android app market, with over 100,000 apps. Problem is, most of those apps have not been optimized for tablet use, and so either remains in their smart phone form or grotesquely enlarge to fit the screen. The handful of pre-loaded apps, including Qik, Nook, Kindle, Facebook and QuickOffice, are all suited for tablet use.
Ergonomics are essential. A virtual QWERTY and SWYPE keyboard makes texting or e-mailing a cinch, and a gamut of accessories allows users to customize their tablet. With a 13-hour battery life, the Galaxy makes on-the-go plain easy. The downside is that the battery cannot be recharged by plugging it into a desktop or laptop computer. This flaw, along with several others, is mostly due to the Galaxy’s youth. The Galaxy will only raise the bar in future generations.
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