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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  • lordmetroid - Friday, December 24, 2010 - link

    You use your phone for convienence and hyper mobility. The netbook as a more mobile full internet platform, your laptop as a mobile workstation and the stationary PC as the powerful workstation, server or what have you that does not need to be mobile.

    So what does the slate provide?
    Reply
  • OldPueblo - Friday, December 24, 2010 - link

    What you just described smartphones as works perfectly for tablets, with their small screens smartphones can actually take longer to quickly look up something or do some on the spot research. Netbooks and laptops are interchangeable in most cases, why you'd have both at the same time doesn't make a lot of sense. You either want to be very portable or you want a mobile desktop while "on the go." But neither can do what I used as an example in 60 seconds. And a smartphone can take longer than a tablet as well since you have to manipulate a smaller screen which adds time. A tablet is in a sense the sweet spot of "instant on, portability, and convenience." Unless you have the ipad, then you're carrying another bag. :) Reply
  • plainsman11 - Friday, December 24, 2010 - link

    hi vivek,

    i'm not sure if i have seen many of your articles on anandtech thus far.

    from the review i would say overall, good effort!

    i can see areas of improvement. i know you're going to continue to learn and get better.. and as you have experienced thus far, anandtech readers can be pretty critical given that they're used to a high standard of reviewing initiated by anand himself.

    i think it would be very crucial that you have a chat with anand, seek his feedback and understand how you could have done this review better or from different perspectives/angles.

    i think by anand giving you the opportunity to do this key product review (an ipad competitor) it shows he might be trying to develop stronger role redundancies (not sure if its also because of xmas season haha)

    i think anand needs to develop more reviewers and mentor, influence them eventually to be able to write reviews with the anandtech standard and style.

    then he will not need kill himself by having to personally write every single review to ensure this level of quality.

    cheers and happy holidays!

    alfe
    anandtech reader since 1998
    Reply
  • VivekGowri - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    Hi Alfe,

    Thanks for your comments, I really appreciate them. This is the 30th post I've made on AT, and I think the 17th or 18th review, so I've been around, mostly in notebooks/netbooks but moving into tablets. I'm hoping to continually improve with each review I write, and Anand is definitely helping me out with these.

    I'm not too worried about the comments on this review, a lot of them are stemming from the fact that the article got pushed live about 10 minutes before it should have been - I hadn't finished editing the table and things like that. This is the first of many tablet reviews to come, so I hope you keep reading and enjoying our articles and I hope that in future my articles can meet your expectations.

    Regards,

    Vivek
    Reply
  • MadAd - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    People seem to be struggling to find a good fit for the 7" factor, personally I cant wait to replace my 1Ghz Via C3 embedded pc setup in my car with something similar to a tab.

    Whatever brand I buy, 7" is the ideal size for automotive fitments.
    Reply
  • Piplzchoice - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    At this point iPad seem to fend off the most successful challenger, Samsung Galaxy Tab, when it comes to their respective customer satisfaction levels. Your readers may be interested in our ongoing analysis of Samsung Galaxy Tablet customer' reviews. We also compared their ratings to those of iPad http://blog.amplifiedanalytics.com/2010/11/851/.
    We specialize in automated aggregation and analysis of customer reviews posted online, mining their opinions and quantifying qualitative information found there.
    Reply
  • zero2espect - Monday, December 27, 2010 - link

    just finished reading the review and honestly don't know what to make of it. I've been using the galaxy tab for about a month now and I don't think the article does it justice. what would help would be to put tablets into context to begin with.

    I use my notebook at work and when out of office. gaming rig at home for gaming, ripping, editing etc. htpc for cinema. e-ink reader for my books (you will never convince me about backlit reading screens). smartphone for calling and keeping ontop of things.

    then the tab entered my life. now I would write happily trade down my phone to a small flip our candy phone and rely on the tab for the on-the-road emails and info snacking. the form factor is sooooooooo much better for almost everything internet or work related. pdfs can be read in one hit. you can make out all the words on the ppt or website without zooming on every page. it just works better.

    using as my link to exchange, I can quite happily go a day without needing to go back to my desk, and am not the worse off for it. the split screen email client really is nice, and using it you never have that feeling that sometimes you (i) get when relying on the smartphone: "i hope I haven't missed an important email in all of that information on that tiny screen..."

    there are a couple of things that I think also need to be addressed:

    # the preloaded browser is flash enabled. that's right folks, the internet sss it's supposed to be.
    # because it "is a phone" means it can sms and do calls - it had already saved my bacon on an important conference call when I was out of the office - and no I didn't hold it to my head like a taco, the bt pairing to my headset worked fine, first time
    # the self dimming (auto brightness) works really well, going from boosting in daylight to dimming indoors and aboard planes
    # with my usage profile i'm getting about 5days of usage between charges - but the lack of a simple "charge visa usb or mini/micro usb is a real pain
    # if samsung had of been able to include a usb port or mini/micro adapter to usb they would have brought a real category killer to market
    # I've just moved from android to ios on my smartphone. and after the move I must admit that (apart from the lack of swype) I think ios does a much better phone than android - but for me, android on the 7" device is much "better" than on the smartphone size - it seems more interactive and alive with more real estate. I was disappointed with 10" ios but find 7" android amazing.

    overall I'm very impressed, and continue to find a use for it. could I live without it? yes. but am I better off for having it? definitely.
    Reply
  • nycmetroconsumer - Monday, December 27, 2010 - link

    you must be a non usa user the galaxy tabs are crippled by their importers. i have a Tmobile, non contract, it has a Sim card but i can not make calls, all the USA carriers did this. It should be illegal for them to cripple open source, Also i have been reading that Verizon version of the Tab, you cannot Bluetooth link a keyboard or a mouse type device. You can only use Bluetooth to connect a headphone, all other blue tooth functions are crippled. Verizon is notorious for doing this to all the good phones. i left them, after 15 years due to this crap.
    The T mobile version you cannot use a regular Bluetooth ear piece, it has to be a certain spec something like a2dp. i think it is a stereo , i am not sure if it has talk/speaker capability\
    The European white backed version will not work with t mobile since the freq' s are different.
    Reply
  • zero2espect - Tuesday, December 28, 2010 - link

    yes. non usa. sorry to hear about u.s. crippling. :-( Reply
  • VivekGowri - Tuesday, December 28, 2010 - link

    Interesting. I was an iPhone user for two years before switching to Android, and I've had an iPad in one form or another almost since the day of launch when I bought a 32GB (ended up returning it, but picked up a 16GB a month later).

    My experience is exactly opposite to yours - I prefer iOS at 10" and Android at smartphone-size, and true to form, those are the form factors the OS were designed for respectively....Especially since they've got the respective ecosystems built around them. That's the problem with the Galaxy Tab - unless you're reading or watching a movie, there's really nothing different than a normal Android smartphone. So why bother carrying it?
    Reply

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