Samsung Galaxy Tab 

We accepted an invite from Samsung to fly out out to IFA to get an early look at the international version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab, their new tablet announced today. You know what that means: Hands-On time!

The Tab is one of many 7 inch tablets about to hit the Market (Samsung is expecting a Q4 release) and it's quite well-done. You'll be forgiven for thinking the Galaxy Tab is just a biggie-sized Galaxy S smartphone running Android 2.2 because, well, that's essentially what it is. To our mind, though, that's not such a bad thing. After the break, find our hands-on video of the device along with some first-look impressions.

At 190.09 x 120.45 x 11.98 mm and 380 grams, the Tab is right at the limit of what you could comfortably hold in one hand for an extended period of time. The bezel around the screen is thick enough to mean you could grip it with your thumb on the front, but we were able to hang on to it as you see in the shot at the top of the post with little trouble. 

We do find it a little on the thick and heavy side, but we'll forgive both as it means the Tab is accommodating a 4000mAh battery, which Samsung claims will give the Tab around 7 full hours of video playback.  The size means that finger-touch-typing in landscape is a little cramped, but gripping the thing in both hands in portrait mode and banging out messages is an absolute joy - they keyboard feels just slightly bigger than a standard portrait slider like the Epic 4G.

Galaxy Tab -- side view  Galaxy Tab on screen keyboard

Overall the device feels solid, though the plastics have a slick, glossy look and feel that isn't quite as ambitious as we'd like. The device sports only three buttons: two for volume and one for power. You also have two speakers (fairly loud), one microphone, a rear-facing 3mp camera with flash, and a front-facing 1.3mp camera for video conferencing (Samsung doesn't have any specific videoconferencing software preloaded, but we assume Qik should work). You also have the 4 standard Android Back / Menu / Home / Search buttons on the front, capacitive-style.

Camera with LED flash 

Yes, you can make calls directly on the Tab, but we're going to recommend that you use speakerphone or Bluetooth lest you look like a complete sidetalker. It should also fit in large pockets - be they in a sportcoat or cargo pants. Otherwise you'll probably want to think about a case. Speaking of accessories, Samsung will be offing an absolute boatload of them - most of which will be designed to turn the 30 pin connector on the bottom into more useful things like HDMI.

 

The black front and white rear are a nice look, but it's a look that may or may not survive carrier customization. Speaking of carriers - they're definitely going to be involved as Samsung isn't announcing a WiFi-only version of the device at this time. It's 3G with the 900 / 1900 / 2100 bands and supports WiFi B/G/N.

The screen clocks in at 1024x600 pixels on a standard LCD multitouch display and it operates quite responsively. Overall we were slightly concerned about responsiveness since the Tab is rocking the same 1GHz Coretex A8 / PowerVR SGX540 graphics combo as its smartphone siblings- but once we got to using it we detected no discernable lag. The unit we handed wasn't quite final software and admittedly didn't have a ton loaded on there, but we're not feeling worried about speed here. In fact, Samsung says that the Tab can do full 1080p Playback and like other Galaxy phones fully supports DLNA for shooting your content around to other screens.

As you can see in the video above, we loaded up Glyder 2 and after an initial moment of concern, it played just fine with the build-in accelerometers. As for how other 3rd party Android software handles the non-standard resolution (which technically isn't even supported in the official Android SDK just yet), the jury is still out. We suspect most apps will work just fine at that scale and for those that don't, Samsung has built-in a bit of upscaling wizardry.

Speaking of apps, Samsung has modified TouchWiz 3.0 only very slightly to work on the new Tab. The most notable difference is that the excellent power toggles Samsung puts in the notification area are now joined by a 5th toggle - the orientation lock. The Tab can work in all 4 directions and rotates quickly and cleanly. Mercifully, it doesn't seem to have the hair-trigger on rotation that the iPad does.

Samsung has also introduced custom version of Contacts, Calendar, and an unified email client to work at this resolution. All three are quite nice-looking and take full advantage of the Tab's real estate. We especially like the email client,which sports a unified inbox, quick ways to jump between accounts, and a landscape view that mimics the standard iPad way of displaying the email list on the left, the full message on the right.

Samsung also is bringing two new pieces of software to the table: A Reader Hub and a Music Hub. Both do what you might expect - pull in content from partners for display on the Tab. The Reader Hub grabs Newspapers from PressDisplay, and Magazines from Zinio and Books from Kobo. All display nicely. The Music Hub is a combined music store and player - the music store is powered by 7digital - it's nice but if you don't like it you can still use the default music player.

 

 

So how does it stack up? It's comfortable to hold and while it's not as expansive as the iPad, it still feels quite large when you're interacting with content. As far as tablets go, this is probably the perfect 'small tablet' screen size. Speed, responsiveness, and overall feel are excellent. If this device were available in a WiFi-only version we'd buy it in a hot minute.

As it is, we can't say for sure just how the Galaxy Tab will fare - its fate is tied to the release date, carrier customization, and most-of-all app support from developers. It's not enough that the Tab has access to the market, it needs Android apps that by hook-or-crook take advantage of this extra screen size and the powerful processor. Samsung's fate isn't entirely out of their hands, though, as we still have yet to hear the full Media Hub story for getting ahold of video content.

Based on our short time we think the Tab should be on your short list, but while Samsung has made a great device here, the devil will be in those carrier/pricing/app details.

 
There are 31 comments

ahotcarl269 says:

well i am first for once and i must say i cant wait for verizon to get this i have been waiting for a android tablet and well this is it thanks for the sneak peak

So it doesn't appear to have google services (market, etc) Did anyone at AC ask anyone at IFA why the tablets don't have them? Is it a matter of support (are they waiting for a majority of apps to support tablet resolution first?) or will these tablets never have these available?

GalaxyNole says:

It looks great, let me know when they come out with a 10" model and I'll buy one.

blackgin says:

It seems a very great device. But I really do not understand why samsung copied so many things from Apple's iOS.
Books app, notes, keyboard, and so on..

Evo2DroidX says:

Familiarity... ... ??? Makes it easier for iphonies that are closet androids to come out and embrace freedom and openness.
Probably not, just a marketing scheme to be easily recognized.

eyesparky says:

The books app looks like Aldiko which pre-dated iBooks by quite some time (also, people have associated books and book shelves for a very long time). The keyboard is QWERTY touch keyboard ... this tablet comes with Swype too(ie nothing like the Apple offering) and being Android, you can switch keyboards at will. I agree that Samsung make Touchwiz to look like a poor iOS (in the app drawer ... which is effectively what the iOS home screens are) which is the thing that I like least about Samsung's Android offerings. Again, being Android, you can always change it without too much hassle. People who want a tablet that is the size of the iPad, with the exact features of an iPad should buy an iPad. Android is likely to produce many form factors which will allow people to choose the one that suits them best. Oh, and they certainly didn't copy the screen ratio of the iPad thankfully ;).

Edit: Apparently the book app is Kobo? ... difficult to tell at first glance ;)

JohnnyACE562 says:

Wait for the Moto Droid tablet to come out.

{{-_-}}

snookiesnoo says:

It's not any competition for the iPad yet. Apps and Android itself are clearly not designed for a tablet sized format. Android multi-touch isn't there yet either. I don't think Google had any intention of coming out with tablet OS yet but the success of the iPad means other companies are coming out of the woodwork to shoehorn Android onto a tablet. It also looks plasticky and clunky compared to the iPad. The me too devices just cannot compete with Apple's carefully thought out product that was years in the making. to the iPad. I would also expect fragmentation to be even more of an issue for tablets as phones. Although I have an iPad it would be great to see an Android tablet that is comparable but we are ways from that yet.

storm14k says:

Speak for yourself buddy. This is the first tablet I'd buy especially because its a phone as well. Its the first one to hit the sweet spot I've been talking about for a year now. Its the other way around. The ipad is no competition for the Tab.

I wonder why there's concern about apps not being built for this form factor when Apple had the same problem and not much was said. I can agree though that Google was not preparing Android for tablets but to act as if its subpar is ridiculous.

Blueman101 says:

Android fixed screen size vs app size way back in 1.6 this is a non-issue now. Apple had to fix is when the ipad came out because all iphones had the same resolution.

Also (on a side note) technically the Dell Streak was the first phone in an android tablet. This Tab screams bluetooth rather then trying to hold it up to your ear.

Also, is it just me or does this Tab seem EXTREMELY wide?

Evo2DroidX says:

Really, all the sweet hardware and we're forced to be carrier dependent?! I have a droid x... most people have tether capable androids. Give me a wifi model no cdma antenna necessary. At least provide the options. I already have a cell phone bill. Don't need another one. Sadly, ill be waiting for a wifi only probably 10" too.

clivo360 says:

I'm on the fence. I'd buy a 10 inch version if it had a higher resolution screen.

Why are all the android tablets running at 1024x600? Google needs to make a tablet version of android to coincide with 3.0.

crxssi says:

Yawn. 7" is too small. Too big for a phone, too small for a "tablet".

And proprietary connectors suck! I mean, if they wanted to add a proprietary connector IN ADDITION to standard connectors, that would be OK. But not ONLY proprietary.

It also has no more CPU/memory/storage than a high-end phone.

Fail

LostAlone says:

The proprietary connector is so that they can do everything through one port, same as the iPhone one. Theres significant problems particularly in outputting HDMI via a usb port, and rather than try and fix that, they would rather just make it easy. Once you've put that port on, you may as well run everything through it since you have enough pins. Cuts down on parts.

Personally, Im looking forward to this. I dunno if I'll get a new plan for one, since I already have my SGS on Vodafone, so I may just buy the device and swap between the two as and when I need to take it out of the house.

ibegary says:

Really wish there was a Wi-Fi Only version. Don't want to be tethered to the carriers.

technomom says:

I would consider paying the $20/month to Verizon for mobile wifi on my Droid Incredible if I could use it for a wifi-only Android 10" tablet.

Droid247 says:

You don't Need to pay verizon anymore than your already paying them and espicially not for hardware that's already there on the phone and you're @paying 30 dollars a month already for the Internet seriously. There are lots of one touch root options for the droid x and then download wifi tether I think it's in the market even. Don't let the money suckers that call them selves verizon scam you like that. ROoT FTW! Oh and I own a droid x so I'm not a hater.

Mptrh336 says:

The other major tablet out has no better specs than any top of the shelf smartphone and look at what a fail its been. Moron. Sales =development. This is the first android tab with decent specs yet. You don't have to buy it but you should be happy its coming.

grayzweb says:

What game was that? Glider? It looked neat. Couldn't find it in the Market

storm14k says:

Size is perfect if you ask me. If I wanted something bigger I could use a netbook. This us perfect to carry in hand in a leather case with a Bluetooth headset. The ipad is just too big IMO. You look kinda stupid carrying it period phone or not. The Tab looks more natural.

geocomp says:

I guess I am in the minority when it comes to tablets. I am not sure of their purpose, therefore I can not seem to get excited about them. Other than a bigger screen why would someone want this, or any tablet for that matter, if they already have a smart phone. I especially don't see a need for another monthly charge from Verizon just to have something that my current BB Storm or my future Galaxy S can do. Someone enlighten me please so that I can get excited!

I definitely want an android tablet and thought the 7" samsung would be too small for my liking. However, after seeing the hands on demo I'm thinking it might just be the perfect size. Not too concerned with some of the apps not being ready cause Google seems to quickly adapt. Battery life is good, ability to make calls, etc. etc. all nice. Just got to figure out why I'd need another oversized phone? Who cares...I FREAK'N WANT ONE!

dpaganelli says:

I was reallllly hoping this was going to be SAMOLED. The 3g doesn't bother me, until I found out what carrier this is going to be strapped to.

eyesparky says:

It is a matter of supply. Samsung are currently pumping huge CAPEX into a new fab plant, which will vastly increase their capacity to produce screens and should help deliver the scale which will drive down costs and allow for Super Amoled screens to be a viable tablet technology, in order to meet market price points. At the moment, they are struggling to produce enough screens to meet demand for their smart phones alone.

Beards says:

I can't understand why everyone is so concerned about carriers.
Why not just get this SIM free then either use it wifi only or pick which SIM only card you want to use.

QDogg says:

The carriers will probably charge a mandatory data plan to use and purchase this device.

w140king#AC says:

Ooo man what a piece of $h*t!!!!

Blueman101 says:

Sorry to hear that, let me lead you back to Cupertino

"Navigate to Cupertino, California"
"Oh whats that? Your iCrap doesn't have Voice Search?!"

Go Android! says:

So is this what Android 2.2 on the Galaxy S phones is gonna look like?

darreno1 says:

This is so much better than the iMaxiPad. And it has Flash and a much better OS too.

lorsban says:

This thing's definitely better than the Ipad. I know people with it and I've tried it myself and I find it too big and bulky to handle properly. The size of this is just perfect in my opinion especially since I'm now using an EeePC with a 7inch screen. When I got the Eeepc, I always felt that this would be even better if it were just the screen and here comes the Tab, which is just that! Awesome!