Samsung P1000 Galaxy Tab review: An expanding universe

GSMArena team, 26 October 2010.
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Unboxing the Samsung P1000 Galaxy Tab

The Samsung Galaxy Tab retail box is not nearly as exciting as the tablet itself. It has the basics covered and thatís that Ė an Apple-influenced charger, a 30-pin USB cable and a one-piece wired headset.

No, itís not the best, but at least the package is better than the iPadís, which only had a USB cable/charger combo included.

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The Samsung P1000 Galaxy Tab comes in a modest retail package

Of course we would have really appreciated a carrying case, a QWERTY keyboard or an HDMI dock, but these are things youíll need to buy separately.

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Samsung P1000 Galaxy Tab and its optional QWERTY keyboard ē HDMI dock

Samsung P1000 Galaxy Tab 360-degree spin

The Samsung Galaxy Tab fits somewhere between top-end smartphones like Galaxy S or iPhone 4 and the currently available tablets such as the 10-inch iPad. With a surface measuring 190 x 120mm, the Galaxy Tab is not a small device, but the 7Ē screen says it all.

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The Samsung P1000 Galaxy Tab compared to the iPhone 4

Appleís iPad is way bigger than the Galaxy Tab. The Samsungís tablet has a proper wide aspect ratio and handles comfortably regardless of which orientation you prefer (portrait or landscape). The 12mm thickness is another thing to be impressed with.

Design and construction

In the Galaxy Tab design the sides match the color of the front rather than the back panel, and the body is curved in the opposite direction. And the result is really smooth and convincing despite the all-plastic build. The white rear is quite sleek too and surprisingly fingerprint resistant.

The plastic body also brings another advantage Ė it lowers the Galaxy Tab overall weight to a manageable 380 grams. Of course itís much heavier than any phone, but feels light as a feather next to the iPad.

Unfortunately, the front glass, Gorilla or not, is the usual fingerprint-prone surface we find on most devices today. Whatever you do, no matter how often you clean it, the glass will be always covered in smudges.

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Samsung P1000 Galaxy Tab

The front of the Samsung Galaxy Tab is mostly about the 7Ē WSVGA (1024 x 600 pixels) LCD touchscreen. It has great picture quality for an LCD unit and even though the contrast isnít quite as impressive as on SuperAMOLED, itís good enough to rival the iPad. Of course the higher density (192 ppi) also helps here.

However when it comes to viewing angles the Galaxy Tab appears to be behind the Apple tablet. It seems the colors start to wash out at much wider angles than on the iPad. This is not to say that you are unable to see the Galaxy Tab display from an angle Ė the colors might not be accurate but the image is still there.

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The 7" screen of the Tab has great picture quality but small viewing angles and just descent contrast

While browsing the gallery we noticed one more thing we didnít much like about the display Ė picture ghosting. Some fast scrolling through the image gallery revealed some unpleasant ghosting, especially on darker images. This issue is probably caused by a slower LCD response time (16ms or higher).

The bright side is the sensitivity of the Samsung Galaxy Tab touchscreen, which is simply superb. But hey, that is hardly any news when talking about a capacitive unit. It may make styluses and gloves a no-go but every single touch of your bare fingers is sure to register.

Above the display we find the video-call camera and the ambient light sensor.

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The video-call camera on top

Below the display we find four capacitive buttons. Those include Back, Home, Context menu and a dedicated Search key. They are all large enough and comfortable to use. And since the keys use the same technology as the screen, the transition is as smooth as it gets.

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Four Android keys under the screen

The right hand side (assuming portrait is its default position) of the Galaxy Tab is quite busy. Samsung has placed the volume rocker and the power/screen lock keys there, as well as the SIM card tray and the microSD card slot. There are small plastic lids covering the two slots so theyíre safe against dirt and moisture.

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The right-hand side of Samsung Galaxy Tab is quite busy Ė two key combos and two card slots

By contrast, the 3.5mm jack is exposed and itís the only thing of interest to find on the top of the device. There is one more concern too Ė the jack position. When you plug the headphones in, they easily become an obstacle for your left hand in landscape use.

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On top there's only the 3.5mm audio jack

The left is also pretty bare, with the microphone pinhole the only thing to note. Itís located near the top so itís harder to muffle with a finger when holding the phone.

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The left-hand side is empty save for the mic pinhole

The bottom of the Galaxy Tab is where the stereo speakers and the 30-pin connector are located. Samsung did consider using a standard microUSB port instead, but that wouldíve ruled out accessories such as HDMI cables, so they went for the proprietary connector.

Unfortunately the Galaxy Tab does not charge over the USB cable, youíll need to plug the charger in for that.

If you look closely at the USB cable youíll find that itís exactly the same unit (length, connector, shape of the USB plug) as the one used with Appleís iPad/iPhone 4. Just donít try using either cable on the wrong device, it wonít fit. The cables use completely different pins and any attempts will result in damage on the wrong receiving port.

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At the bottom you can see the stereo speakers and the proprietary 30-pin connector that looks like Apple's

We conclude our trip at the beautiful white rear where we find the 3.2 megapixel camera and its LED flash. Samsung has never considered the Galaxy Tab as a device that you can use to take photos all the time. Instead they placed the camera as a tool that enables more apps to run on the Galaxy Tab. There are plenty of apps in the Android market that need the camera to work and thatís the main reason why the snapper is there.

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The 3.2MP camera with LED flash is on the back

The battery of the Samsung Galaxy Tab is not user removable. In the event that you need to change it, you'd have to visit an authorized service center. Samsung claims the 4000 mAh unit is good for 7 hours of video playback (we are assuming SD content here). This doesnít sound bad at all but the iPad does 10 hours of that on a bigger screen so itís not exactly great either.

The general impression of the Samsung P1000 Galaxy Tab hardware is very positive. The display is not as good as we hoped, but the controls are large enough and there are generally no ergonomic blunders. We are sorry they had to go for a proprietary connectivity port but at least that does allow HDMI output (via the optional dock), which makes good sense on a 1080p DivX-capable device. We would have been definitely happier with a higher-res (5MP or so) camera with HD video recording.

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Samsung P1000 Galaxy Tab held in hand

The Samsung Galaxy Tab handles great in general and thatís down to its slim profile, narrow bezel and light weight. It is also pretty compact and you might even be able to squeeze it in a wider pocket depending on your clothes that day. This is all, of course, only true if you look at it as a tablet. If you want it to replace your phone on the other hand, things look quite differently.

Okay, so now that we have the hardware covered, letís see what the Galaxy Tab has to offer on the software side of things. Join us after the break.

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