The Samsung Galaxy Tab is a sight for sore eyes amongst the truck-load of cheap & dodgey Android Tablets that haven become available over the recent months. Samsung have worked exceptionally hard to get Android 2.2, along with TouchWiz, working on a Tablet device, let alone running so well. I hope this review will help with your purchasing decision in the month(s) leading up to Christmas, I’ve made it short so you can ask any questions you may have about it, I feel that’s the best way :). Hit the break to get into it!
- 1GHz Hummingbird CPU
- 7″ Super LCD Capacitive Display
- Android 2.2
- Fast & Fluid!
- Surprisingly Portable
- Excellent Email & Messaging Clients
- Average Camera & Video Quality
- No HDMI Output
- Placing it in your pant’s pockets will lead to inappropriate jokes
- No Notifications LED
- A tad pricey
- Capacitive Buttons!
To put it simply, the hardware in the Galaxy Tab kicks some serious butt. The 1GHz Hummingbird CPU along with PowerVR GPU makes everything run incredibly smooth, which is also helped along by the software, but we’ll go into that later. The Tab also has WiFi b/g/n, which we found most helpful when using it outside or a fair distance away from our Belkin Wireless Modem/Router. O’ but the screen, it’s amazing, incredibly, I’d say ‘magical’ but would no doubt receive a telling off from Apple’s Lawyers. It’s 1024×600 pixels spread out over a vibrant 7″ (MultiTouch) Display and really does look good. The rear Camera takes fairly average shots, and is only 3.15MP, I would expect at least 5MP on a device like this. The front facing camera would do a good job in theory, but in practice it failed to work when using the video call app, Fring. A feature that isn’t talked about as much is the inclusion of Bluetooth 3 but I didn’t have any other BT3 devices to test it with.
Stereo speakers, everyone loves them, and I love them even more in my mobile devices, and the fact the Galaxy Tab has stereo speakers makes me love it even more. Coupled with the 5.1 surround sound feature in the Music Player, it just sounds awesome. Although the way it’s placed on the bottom of the device means that I did cover it with my hands when holding it in landscape. Another issue I had is with the capacitive buttons that are located below the display, they’re not very responsive at times, and when the back-light goes off behind them they’re impossible to see in darkly lit room, which lead to me continually hitting the wrong button when judging where the correct one was. To continue with the few niggles I have, the proprietary socket. Why, Samsung? just.. why? As individual as it may make you feel, why couldn’t you have just used a normal USB socket, or at least make the USB cable longer so it can actually be used when charging. Last niggle: No LED notifications, now this is such a small thing, but it annoys me. How on earth am I meant to know by looking at a blank screen that I have a new notification such as an email or SMS to check?!
Back to the positives.. There is no (known) way to remove the back cover meaning no user removable battery, which doesn’t really fuss me at all, however this means that the SIM Card & MicroSD Cards are placed into the side of the Galaxy Tab, which is a fantastic idea. I mean, you just whack them in whenever, without the hassle of turning it off, taking out the battery (usually) then scrambling to stick in your SIM & MicroSD. If the Gal Tab is turned on when you input either of the two, it will automatically restart itself and you’re good to go, it’s a simple idea and I like it a lot. Also, this thing just looks sexy, I mean it just looks really good. It’s not something you want to keep hidden, you want to show it off because it genuinely looks great, but still not worth the $999 price tag.
On the subject of size, it’ll fit into most larger pant pockets with a bit of a squeeze but be careful not to place anything else in said pocket or scratches will be imminent. The size of the device itself isn’t as large as you might think, so I stuck it up against the Dell Streak, HTC Desire & Nexus One just to give you an idea (some of you may have seen this pic on our Twitter)
When I reviewed the Samsung Galaxy S, I pretty much canned TouchWiz and continually pointed out how bad it was in places. Any software or UI that locks up for any longer than 10 seconds isn’t going to go down well with the user. But TouchWiz on the Galaxy Tab works exceptionally well, I never thought I’d say it, but it does. TouchWiz feels like it was meant for a Tablet, but Samsung thought they’d shrink it on to smartphones for a laugh. It’s unbelievably fluid, and dare I say, very close to iPad kind of fluid.
The Messaging & Email clients are by far the greatest on the Gal Tab as the change their design in landscape mode and portrait mode which allows for a greater use of screen real estate, see the screenshots below for what I mean. The two pane view in the Email client allows for MultiTouch to zoom your way in and out of emails, useful :D. The Messaging client is similar to the Email client, except no MultiTouch, just chat bubbles replicating those found on the iPhone, clever.
5.1 channel surround sound imitation is available within the Music Player which makes the audio out of the stereo speakers sound even better. Samsung has also included a Task Manager, which are frowned upon by Google who (rightfully) say they use more battery than they save, that can be used to shut down apps you no longer want running in the background as well as clearing out RAM no longer being used by the system. It also includes a widget that displays how many applications are running and if their intensively using the battery.
It’s also good to note that when Samsung announced the Galaxy Tab a few months back, they specifically said that it would be one of the first devices to run Gingerbread (Android 2.3 or 3.0), which is always something to keep in the back of your mind when choosing which device to buy. Updates are crucial!
Camera / Video
The rear facing camera is only 3.15MP, which seems a tad silly seeing as though at 5MP you can shoot some pretty thrifty HD quality video. Below are a couple of shots taken in broad -melbourne- daylight and one taken using the help of the Galaxy Tab’s single LED.
Video quality is average, it really is, you can see for yourself. You might be thinking, “but Buzz, why does a Tablet need HD video?”. My response is, well for $999 a pop, I want this thing to make chocolate, so a HD camera would be an alright equivalent.
One of the most important things about a Tablet is the battery and how long the thing is going to last into your intense game of Angry Birds. Within the Galaxy Tab is an astounding 4000mAh battery which powered its way through a whole day without a hitch. I’ve been on it near none stop all today, using Twitter, listening to the Engadget Podcast and even made a call or three and it’s sitting comfortably at 60%. As for how long it will last with none stop HD movie playback, I’m unsure. I would assume it would make it through a 720/1080p movie without a hitch.
“What, you hold that thing up to your head and talk?” No. The Gal Tab, without a headset, is a basic speaker phone which works well even in the noisy environment of a family car. If you’re not one to spurt out your business ventures or proclaim love to the person on the other end of the call in public, plugging in the headset will allow you to make a normal hands-free call.
I love the Galaxy Tab, I really do. It’s the first device that I’ve reviewed and actually thought “wow, I would go out and spend money on this thing”. But that’s where an all new problem starts. This thing will set you back $989 from MobiCity outright, which if you’re slightly loaded would be too much of a problem I guess. But c’mon this thing is way more expensive than the 32GB WiFi + 3G iPad. And I don’t see that being a good selling point for carriers who expect to sell the Gal Tab for $999 outright. If it were say.. $600-700 for the 16GB WiFi+3G version and $700-800 for the 32GB WiFi+3G version, then I think we might be on to something, but then again it’s only $100 more than the Desire HD.
With price out-of-the-way, the Galaxy Tab is an amazing piece of software and hardware, that sets a really high benchmarks for high-end Android Tablets that are expected to hit the market in the next few months. It’s perfect for casual gaming, checking your emails and sending messages on the go. It’s just really nice if you need that extra screen space. Just don’t try putting it in your pocket ;). If you have any further questions, which I hope you do, please leave a comment below.
Big thank you to MobiCity once again for the review unit Galaxy Tab. Also note that the Desire Z and Desire HD are shipping from their warehouse now, so if you haven’t already jumped on the bandwagon and purchased one, do so now or you can wait for our review(s) if we manage to get our hands on some units.