Samsung P1000 Galaxy Tab preview: First look

GSMArena team, 02 September 2010.
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User interface

The Samsung P1000 Galaxy Tab runs version 2.2 of the Android OS or otherwise said Froyo. However Samsung are taking a somewhat different approach here - they haven't done their TouchWiz magic to the homescreen or the main menu as they did with the Galaxy S.

Instead here they have focused their efforts in customizing some of the apps and bringing their own widgets to the homescreen. We are hoping that this way Samsung will be able to bring future Android updates to the Galaxy Tab quicker as redesigning single applications should be much easier than rewriting a full UI.

The selection of apps for the Galaxy Tab is quite extensive. Naturally, most of them are just automatically upscaled versions of existing apps, but since the screen isn't too huge and it isn't actually necessary to do too much upscaling (WVGA has just over 60 percent of the WSVGA pixel count) you can't really see any irritating pixelization.

Back to the user interface, the Samsung Galaxy Tab offers three docked shortcuts and up to nice planes worth of space for you to fill with widgets and shortcuts. By default the docked shortcuts open the application drawer, the web browser and the email client. The main menu shortcut is there to stay but you can change the other two as you see fit.

Going into editing mode on the homescreen is pretty easy - you just pinch-zoom out and you can start adding, removing and reordering panes. You can do the exact same thing in the main menu by the way, but rearranging is your only option there.

Here's a hands-on video showing editing the menu panes, as well as the music player and gallery.

Two of the Android handsets key features, the notification area and the Task switcher, haven't seen much change. The task switcher icon count has been raised to 8 by Froyo but that's basically all. Not that they need much change as they are doing their job just fine anyway.

The general performance is generally great - the 1GHz CPU obviously does a great job at keeping the things blazingly fast. Not that we expected something else from a chip that is capable of playing Full HD video seamlessly.

Here's a hands-on video:

Telephony

This is certainly one of the most interesting features of the Galaxy Tab. Not because every user will be using the tablet for calls non-stop, but because it's interesting to see how Samsung implemented it.

And we are pleased to say that the South Korean company did a great job with it. You can talk on the phone using the built in microphone and loudspeaker, you can plug in a pair of headphones and use only the microphone or you can attach a handsfree and use its built-in mic instead. The even better news is there will also be a handsfree supplied in the retail package.

Bluetooth handsfree units are also compatible with the Samsung Galaxy Tab. And with the front-facing 1.3 MP videocall camera the capabilities of the device are basically as good as they get. Okay, you cannot hold the device next to your ear and talk in it but that's all you are missing and it would look ridiculous anyway.

Applications

As we already mentioned Samsung have customized several of the apps on the Galaxy Tab to make better use of the increased screen estate and resolution. The most notable changes concern the email, which has an iPad-like interface (the list of emails goes on the left and the currently selected one is previewed on the right.

You are free to change the size of the two columns (i.e. expand one at the expense of the other) as you see fit, much like on a desktop email client.

A nice touch to the email client is the shortcut for alternating different mailboxes and the option to display all you mails together (with color codes so you know where each one came from).

The SNS-friendly phonebook packs an interface similar to the email client, only it doesn't allow you to alter the column sizes. On the left you get a list of your contacts and on the right appear the details on the currently selected one. You also get shortcut buttons to check their Twitter, Facebook or MySpace updates.

Another totally redesigned key app is the calendar. The different view modes are on top and you can browse it based on the selected mode (dates, weeks, months) by sliding at the bottom.

Samsung have also added Music hub and Reader hub apps to the Galaxy Tab, which allow you to quickly find samples and than purchase and consume music tracks, newspapers, magazines and e-books.

Finally we are going to mention the camera. As you might have noticed from one of the short demo videos, its interface is pretty simple and convenient. Samsung know how to make a good touch-driven camera interface and this one is no exception. They have reduced the number of customizable options quite drastically but as we already said the camera is not quite a key feature by itself here.

Here's a video showing the video player and camera interface:

First impressions

The Samsung P1000 Galaxy Tab is one pretty sleek device that suits its intended purpose perfectly. It's not running a proper desktop OS so those of you that hoped to throw away their laptops or netbooks after purchasing the Galaxy Tab are in no luck.

However the Galaxy Tab delivers impressively smooth performance and allows you to stay in touch on the go, which as it turns out is what a huge number of people really want. Plus if you are willing to live with the size it can fully replace your mobile phone but that's a long shot.

At any rate Samsung have managed to pull an Apple stunt here and have created a device that doesn't do everything but performs greatly in everything it does. The company has of course also been helped by the rapid development of the Android OS, which is arguably the most user-friendly and functional mobile OS right now (and until the iPad gets iOS 4 it will certainly rule the tablet world).

Samsung have also managed to add enough in terms of new features to compensate for the iPad headstart and have come up with a innovative and sleek design. However we are still getting the feeling that with the size and weight difference between those two there will be enough room for both of them to co-exist happily on the market. Different people have different needs and those two cater for two different groups of customers.

Ultimately it will be the pricing that will decide the Galaxy Tab fate, but Samsung have a great record in that area really so we hope they will stay reasonable here too. Plus they are promising availability through a vast number of carriers so chances are you will get the chance to snap the Tab at a subsidized rate as well.

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