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The design of the Samsung Galaxy Tab was certainly one of the most surprising things that its announcements brought. The final version of the tablet has nothing to do with the iPad clones that the leaked prototypes were. You can probably see reviews of those all over the Internets today - but just so you be sure - if you see they've got a Galaxy Tab with a silver back and sides, it's an early prototype, even software wise.
Instead the final Galaxy Tab employs a new design where 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 sleek despite the all-plastic construction. The white back panel is really sleek and surprisingly fingerprint resistant.
The plastic body also brings another advantage – it lowers the Galaxy Tab overall weight to an easily holdable 380 grams. Of course it’s much heavier than any phone, but feels feather light next to the iPad.
The front of the Samsung Galaxy Tab is mostly about the 7” WSVGA (1024 x 600 pixels) LCD touchscreen. It has great picture quality for an LCD unit and even though the contrast isn’t quite as impressive as the SuperAMOLED units it’s good enough to rival the iPad. Of course the higher, 192 ppi density also helps here.
However when it comes to viewing angles the Galaxy Tab seems to be a bit behind the Apple tablet. We will need to do a side by side comparison of the two units to see the margin of its defeat but it seems the colors get distorted at a smaller angle than on the iPad. This is not to say that you are unable to see the Galaxy Tab display from small angles – the colors might be false but the image is all there.
The sensitivity of the Samsung Galaxy Tab touchscreen is simply superb but that is hardly any news when talking about a capacitive unit. It may make styluses and gloves a no-no but every single touch of your bare fingers is sure to be registered.
Below the display we find four capacitive touch buttons. Those include back, home, context menu and dedicated search keys. They are all large enough and pose no obstacles to usability. And since the keys use the same technology as the screen, using both is as smooth as it gets.
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 and microSD slots. There are small plastic lids covering the two card slots so dust and dirt accumulation is far less likely.
The same cannot be said about the 3.5mm jack, which is the only functional element that’s located on the top of the device.
The left is also pretty bare with the microphone pinhole the only thing of interest. It’s located near the top so it’s harder to muffle it with your fingers when holding the phone.
The bottom of the Samsung Galaxy Tab is where the stereo speakers and the 30-pin connector are located. The company did consider placing a standard microUSB port instead, but that wouldn’t allow accessories such as HDMI cables to be plugged there, so they went for the proprietary connector.
We conclude our trip at the back where we find the 3.2 megapixel camera and its LED flash. We got quite curious as to why Samsung didn’t include a higher-res shooter as it wouldn’t have increased the price that much (and certainly wouldn’t have bloated the body notably).
The battery of the Samsung Galaxy Tab is not user removable. In case you need to change it, you'd have to visit a Samsung Service center.
It turns out that Samsung 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 that’s the main reason why the snapper is there.
Under the hood lays a 4000 mAh battery that according to Samsung is good for 7 hours of video playback (we are assuming SD content here). This doesn’t sound bad at all but the iPad does 10 hours of that on a bigger screen so it’s not quite great either.
The general impression of the Samsung P1000 Galaxy Tab hardware is very positive. The display is quite good, the controls are large enough and there are generally no ergonomics blunders. We are sorry they had to go with a proprietary connectivity port but at least that would allow HDMI output (via optional cable), which makes good sense on a 1080p DivX-capable device. Our geeky souls however would have been happier with a higher-res (8MP or so) camera with HD video recording.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab handles great in general for which contribute 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 now and then. 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.
As you've probably heard, Samsung has a nice set of accessories ready for the Galaxy Tab.
Okay, so now that we have the hardware covered we’ll see what the Galaxy Tab has to offer on the software side of things. Join us after the break.