The iPad started shipping in April, and since then it has basically had the tablet market to itself. Literally, in the six months after the iPad’s release, it didn’t have a single direct competitor. Dell launched the Streak shortly after the iPad, but the Streak was a 5” unit that was significantly smaller than the iPad. In the 7-11” tablet market, Apple has been the only real player.

But that all changed when Samsung launched its 7” Galaxy Tab last month. It’s available for $599 off contract on all four major American carriers and US Cellular ($399 on a two year contract with Sprint or US Cellular, $349 for T-Mobile), with a $499 WiFi-only model on the way. If those pricepoints sound familiar, it’s because the unsubsidized prices are right on top of the 16GB iPad. I’m betting that’s not coincidental; it’s pretty clear what Samsung was targeting when they priced the Tab.

The Tab is the first Android slate to come from a major manufacturer, and probably will be the last one to release with Froyo. The rest (Dell’s 7” Looking Glass tablet, the Motorola tablet showed off in Google’s D: Dive Into Mobile press conference, and rumored devices from HTC, Acer, Asus, and others) appear to be releasing with Honeycomb in the early part of next year. Samsung says that the Galaxy Tab will be updated to Gingerbread at some point in the future, along with Honeycomb whenever that releases. But we’ll get to the software in a moment, let’s talk hardware first.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Physical Comparison
  Samsung Galaxy Tab Apple iPad Motorola Droid X HTC EVO 4G Samsung Galaxy S Fascinate
Height 190.1 mm (7.48") 248.2 mm (9.6") 127.5 mm (5.02") 121.9 mm (4.8") 125 mm (4.92")
Width 120.5 mm (4.74") 189.7 mm (7.5") 66.5 mm (2.62") 66.0 mm (2.6") 63.5 mm (2.5")
Depth 12.0 mm ( 0.47") 13.4 mm (0.5") 9.9 mm (0.39") 12.7 mm (0.5") 9.91 mm (0.39")
Weight 380 g (13.4 oz) 680 g (24.0 oz) 155 g (5.47 oz) 170 g (6.9 oz) 117 grams (4.16 oz)
CPU 1 GHz Samsung Hummingbird Apple A4 @ 1GHz TI OMAP 3630 @ 1GHz Qualcomm Scorpion @ 1GHz 1 GHz Samsung Hummingbird
GPU PowerVR SGX 540 PowerVR SGX 535 PowerVR SGX 530 Adreno 200 PowerVR SGX 540
RAM 512MB LPDDR1 256MB LPDDR1 512MB LPDDR1 512 MB LPDDR1 512 MB LPDDR1
NAND 16GB or 32GB integrated 16GB integrated 8GB micro SD 8GB micro SD 2 GB, 16 GB microSD (Class 2)
Camera 3.2MP with LED Flash + Front Facing Camera None 8MP with dual LED Flash 8MP with dual LED Flash + Front Facing Camera 5 MP with auto focus and LED flash
Screen 7.0" 1024 x 600 LCD 9.7" 1024 x 768 IPS 4.3" 480 x 854 4.3" 480 x 800 4. 0" 800 x 480 Super AMOLED
Battery Integrated 14.8Whr Integrated 25 Whr Removable 5.698 Whr Removable 5.5Whr Removable 5.55 Whr

On paper, the Galaxy Tab is essentially a jumbo-sized implementation of the Galaxy S smartphone platform. You’re looking at the same A8-based 1 GHz Hummingbird processor and PowerVR SGX 540 graphics chip, the same 512MB RAM, the same lightweight plastic build, and pretty similar industrial design. The screen has been upsized, from the 4” WVGA unit in the Galaxy S to a 7” WSVGA panel, but it’s not a Super AMOLED display like on the smartphones. You lose a couple of megapixels and HD video recording capability on the rear-facing camera, but the Galaxy Tab does get a 1.3MP front facing camera for video calling.



The design is rather minimalistic, with the front having a small bezel around the screen and four capacitive touch buttons underneath the screen. Since we’re on the topic, I’d like to voice my annoyance that the touch buttons are always in different orders. HTC and Samsung use different layouts, Motorola uses two different layouts for no explicable reason, and Google has specced both of its Nexus phones with layouts that are not normally used by their manufacturers. The lack of standardization isn’t a huge problem, but it can get annoying if you switch between multiple Android devices on a daily basis.

The top view of the Galaxy Tab, iPad, and Vewsonic G Tablet (top-bottom)

Anyways, back to the industrial design. The sides are matte black, with the headphone jack at the top, dock connector and speakers at the bottom, mic on the left side, and the power and volume buttons and the covered microSD card slot on the right side. The back is glossy and dotted in the same way as the Fascinate and Vibrant. Unfortunately, the Galaxy Tab’s back panel is non-removable, so you can’t swap out the battery. Compared to the iPad, the overall feel is a bit less high end, mostly due to the use of glossy plastic instead of the aluminum unibody. But overall, the ID is very straightforward, leading to a clean and elegant device.

When you pick it up, the Galaxy Tab feels light, almost shockingly so. Given that it’s half the size of the iPad and just over half the weight, this first impression isn’t exactly unfounded. Given the lightness, the feeling of solidity is actually surprising if you’re expecting something along the lines of the Galaxy S phones - compared to the ultralight Fascinate/Captivate/Vibrant/Focus, the Tab feels significantly more substantial. The overall build quality definitely exceeded my expectations, though the unibody aluminum shell puts the iPad on a different level.

Samsung Galaxy Tab - Oh, That Screen
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  • thartist - Thursday, December 23, 2010 - link

    seriously? we're gonna bring all that FAIL thing to Anandtech? go elsewhere. Reply
  • JohnCarney - Thursday, December 23, 2010 - link

    Really? How did you do that?

    http://www.amazon.com/Tron-Blu-ray/dp/B001AQT15I/r...
    Reply
  • therealnickdanger - Thursday, December 23, 2010 - link

    The Tron Blu-ray was delayed by Disney due to fears that their target Tron Legacy audience would see it and laugh at the bad old CGI and then not want to see the new one.

    The HD master of Tron used to create the Blu-ray has been aired on HDNet and other HD channels. So while it isn't technically a Blu-ray rip, it is most definitely HD. If you didn't have the luxury of seeing it broadcast, there are a couple torrents out there if you feel so inclined.
    Reply
  • MeanBruce - Thursday, December 23, 2010 - link

    So Cool, I love Tron, thanks for giving us the info! 1982 Jeff Bridges. Are you the User? Reply
  • Aloonatic - Thursday, December 23, 2010 - link

    I was just thinking, as these tablets are often little more than bigger versions of what many of us have in our pockets already...

    ...How hard would it be for a company to make a large touch-screen device with a big battery that one could simply slip their smart-phone into and use that way? Probably requiring something in the phones OS to recognise that it is plugged into such a device, allow it to display at a higher resolution and maybe even change it's processor/GPU power/performance profile, as it could be plugged in somewhere, or at least know that it has a larger battery power supply at hand?

    Just a thought.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Thursday, December 23, 2010 - link

    Damn good idea. I'd love to be able to pop my phone into a device to give it a larger screen, especially when just browsing on the couch. However the cost to build something like that probably isn't that much more than just making a whole new device. Reply
  • VivekGowri - Thursday, December 23, 2010 - link

    The original Palm Foleo waves hello. I dunno if that type of thing would be any better now with the updated technologies, but the Foleo crashed and burned so badly that I think people are scared to even try. Reply
  • baba264 - Thursday, December 23, 2010 - link

    To be honest, 6 month after the ipad launch, I still have a hard time figuring out what it is exactly that's pulling people to the tablet market.
    I honestly don't see much use for these tablets except as a very occasional gadget with a terribly high price tag. Or alternatively as a fashion statement, but being on a hardware site I don't think that should really apply to us.
    Reply
  • Guspaz - Thursday, December 23, 2010 - link

    There are a few things I can see people using an iPad (or equivalent device) for, but the general gist of it is that you take a smartphone's easy usability and portability, but use a larger screen to address some of the shortcomings or limitations of a smartphone. For example, browsing with touch controls can be pretty intuitive, but a smartphone's screen is small enough that it's a compromised experience. Give it a 10" screen, however, and you can get that same user experience with a device that can actually display a full website like a PC would. Or take the case of portable video playback. It's convenient to be able to watch a movie or TV shows on a smartphone, but a 3.5" screen is kind of tiny. But make it a 10" screen, and it's a completely different experience.

    Most other use cases are similar. Take something that was intuitive on a smartphone but had the experience compromised by the small screen (or was missing features due to it), and a tablet can solve that. E-mail works nicely on a smartphone, but the small screen means there isn't room to get both the E-mail message and the inbox open at the same time; a tablet enables that.

    So you sacrifice some portability (although tablets are still more portable than a netbook or notebook), and get a lot more usability. As for price, tablets have prices on par (or lower than) with smartphones; it's hard to argue that they're expensive or overpriced without saying the same of smartphones.
    Reply
  • mrd0 - Thursday, December 23, 2010 - link

    You can use a tablet to do much more than browse the web. Our law firm, and many, many others, are starting to move to the iPad instead of laptops because they are such much more friendly in the court room and on the move. I can actually write a brief and submit it, whereas, that is nearly impossible on a smart phone...certainly painful. I don't need a full computer most of the time, so the iPad, or another 10" tablet, is ideal. It's so useful that some large firms are starting to give every associate a new iPad.

    Now we just need a great 10" android tablet to get away from all of Apple''s limitations/restrictions.
    Reply

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