The Samsung Galaxy Tab retail box is not nearly as exciting as the tablet itself. It has the basics covered and that’s that – an Apple-influenced charger, a 30-pin USB cable and a one-piece wired headset.
No, it’s not the best, but at least the package is better than the iPad’s, which only had a USB cable/charger combo included.
Of course we would have really appreciated a carrying case, a QWERTY keyboard or an HDMI dock, but these are things you’ll need to buy separately.
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 7” screen says it all.
Apple’s iPad is way bigger than the Galaxy Tab. The Samsung’s 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.
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 – it lowers the Galaxy Tab overall weight to a manageable 380 grams. Of course it’s 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.
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 on SuperAMOLED, it’s 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 – the colors might not be accurate but the image is still there.
While browsing the gallery we noticed one more thing we didn’t much like about the display – 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.
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.
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 they’re safe against dirt and moisture.
By contrast, the 3.5mm jack is exposed and it’s the only thing of interest to find on the top of the device. There is one more concern too – the jack position. When you plug the headphones in, they easily become an obstacle for your left hand in landscape use.
The left is also pretty bare, with the microphone pinhole the only thing to note. It’s located near the top so it’s harder to muffle with a finger when holding the phone.
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 would’ve 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, you’ll need to plug the charger in for that.
If you look closely at the USB cable you’ll find that it’s exactly the same unit (length, connector, shape of the USB plug) as the one used with Apple’s iPad/iPhone 4. Just don’t try using either cable on the wrong device, it won’t fit. The cables use completely different pins and any attempts will result in damage on the wrong receiving port.
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 that’s the main reason why the snapper is there.
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 doesn’t sound bad at all but the iPad does 10 hours of that on a bigger screen so it’s 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.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab handles great in general and that’s 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, let’s see what the Galaxy Tab has to offer on the software side of things. Join us after the break.