Update: As predicted, the Galaxy Tab has already sold out from Woot. Some interesting stats:
During the sale, Woot sold one Galaxy Tab every 27 seconds. The first one sold after only 1 minute and 42 seconds of the deal being available. Total number of units sold was 1755.
Our favorite deal-a-day site, Woot.com, has a great deal on the tablet that’s been topping our popularity charts for months on end: the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
This particular version is a 16GB WiFi+3G model which doesn’t appear to be well priced on the surface until you realize that you don’t have to sign up for service with your purchase from Woot. A new Galaxy Tab from Sprint without the contract would run you $429. Woot is offering the device (refurbished) for $259 without the contract.
Just in case you aren’t familiar with the well respected tablet, here are the important bits:
Android 2.2 (customized for a tablet experience by Samsung)
Samsung C110 Hummingbird CPU @ 1GHz
512MB of RAM
7” capacitive touchscreen @ 1024×600
16GB pre-installed MicroSD card
WiFi & Bluetooth 3.0
CDMA 1900/800 EVDO Rev A (Sprint)
Chippy has a wickedly detailed review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab should you desire to consult an expert about a potential purchase:
We’re looking forward to seeing what customizations Samsung includes with Honeycomb as the adjustments Android 2.2 on the Galaxy Tab 7″ were actually very well done. You can already see from the video that the Android buttons at the bottom left of the screen have been adjusted to be more visually intuitive which indicates that Samsung is heading in the right direction in this front.
Interestingly without much press or fanfare here in Australia, Vodaphone are now selling the Galaxy 10 inch 10.1V [product page] model for $729 AU ($777 USD). I haven’t been able to test one as not all stores have stock and the ones that do don’t seem to have many.
You’d think that creating a WiFi-only of one of the most popular 7” tablets would be as easy as not installing the components that make cellular communication possible, but it looks like Samsung may have made some more significant changes to their WiFi-only Galaxy Tab which appears to be using an older CPU and a slower GPU.
Perhaps as cost-saving measure, the WiFi-only Galaxy Tab is using a “1GHz A8 Cortex processor” according to the official product page”, while the 3G equipped version of the Galaxy Tab is using a “C110, 1GHz, Cortex A8 Hummingbird” processor.
Both devices are using 1GHz A8 CPUs, but the 3G equipped version of the Galaxy Tab uses the PowerVR SGX 540 GPU while the WiFi only version is using the previous generation.
We’ve reached out to Samsung for an official comment and will update when we hear from the company.
Thanks to the tipster slim_thumb who sent this in!
Update: Looks like the GPU isn’t the only thing that Samsung has downgraded for the WiFi-only version. According to the official product page, the WiFi-only Galaxy Tab is using Bluetooth 2.1 instead of 3.0 as on the 3G equipped version. This could be a clerical error on the site, a software restriction, or truly downgraded Bluetooth module. We’re still waiting to hear back from Samsung.
If you’re in the market for a 7” Slate, Samsung’s 7” Galaxy Tab is the undeniable leader in this area… but it’s definitely not the only device you should consider. Take, for instance, Enspet’s Identity Tab e201. This 7” device is nearly spec-for-spec identical to Samsung’s Tab, less a lower screen resolution, but it actually performs just as well and even beats the Galaxy Tab on some benchmarks. Have a look at the two in a head-to-head video below:
With the launch of Verizon’s first 4G (LTE) smartphone, the HTC Thunderbolt, just behind us I thought it’d be a good time to lay down an overview of Verizon’s initial 4G device lineup. If you’re planning on jumping into the 4G action, listen up: these are the devices that you’ll be seeing right down the road.
At Verizon’s CES 2011 keynote, the company announced a goal to launch 10 4G devices by mid-year (which is now being refined to “summer”). Of those 10 devices, four are smartphones and two are tablets.
All of the devices listed in this article will be available by this summer, according to Verizon.
As for 4G coverage, Verizon is continuing to roll out coverage to more regions. Take a look at the following map to see if your area is already 4G enabled, or marked as coming in 2011 (be sure to read the map legend!)
We saw the launch of the first of Verizon’s four upcoming 4G phones with the HTC Thunderbolt just a few days ago:
The sleek looking HTC Thunderbolt is already in the hands of consumers, and we’ve seen some incredible 4G speed tests so far – speeds that easily outperform my home broadband connection (and probably yours too!). Check out this video from GottabeMobile.com of the Thunderbolt benchmarking 24.30Mbps download and 16.60Mbps upload:
This is no doubt very impressive, but be forewarned: Verizon does not anticipate that customers will see these speeds once the 4G waves become saturated with users. Verizon has been claiming from the beginning of their LTE campaign that users should expect 5-12Mbps download and 2-5Mbps upload.
They are getting great press thanks to the ridiculous speed that the Thunderbolt achieves and even though the speed will reduce as 4G devices become more widespread, they are going to benefit greatly because the idea that “Verizon’s 4G is fast” is going to stick around in the heads of the general public much more easily than specific figures. When customers pick up a 4G phone, even after the speeds have come down to 5-12Mbps, they’ll likely still be impressed with the speed if they are coming from 3G.
The HTC Thunderbolt isn’t just a data speed-demon, it’s also a top-of-the-line smartphone packed with some impressive hardware:
Android 2.2 with HTC Sense interface (unfortunately not 2.3!)
Qualcomm MSM8655 Snapdragon CPU @ 1GHz (Qualcomm MDM9600 chipset with LTE support)
768MB of RAM
8GB of built-in memory + 32GB pre-installed Micro-SD card
4.3” capacitive touchscreen @ 800×480
8MP rear camera with dual-LED flash and autofocus, 1.3MP front-facing camera
WiFi b/g/n & Bluetooth 2.1
GPS, FM radio
It’s also got a sweet kickstand – a hallmark of several HTC devices:
I’m disappointed that it isn’t using running Android 2.3, but it seems like almost every upcoming device has this in common with the Thunderbolt. If we’re lucky, we’ll see an update to 2.3 down the road.
What it doesn’t have in common with most other smartphones on the market today is that the front-facing camera is 1.3MP instead of 0.3MP, this should offer a nice boost in video-calling quality (especially over 4G where the bandwidth is there for higher quality video).
If you’re looking for some quality info about the Thunderbolt, check out these reviews:
Today at Verizon’s CES conference, JK Shin, the president of Samsung, whipped a 4G equipped Galaxy Tab out of his coat pocket. This slightly upgraded version of the Samsung Galaxy tab has a faster CPU and better rear camera.
I feel like Verizon will end up with some angry customers on it’s hands after original Galaxy Tab holiday sales. I can only hope such customers will find out about the upgraded version so that they can return the original and get the latest one.
Samsung is also giving availability information for the launch of the WiFi-only Galaxy Tab in the US. They say that it’ll be available in the first quater of 2011. Note that the WiFi only version shares the same specs as the original.
In part one of our three-part detailed Samsung Galaxy Tab Review we detailed the ins and outs of the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the first impressions, user interface and led into some words about the applications. In Part two we will cover those applications.
In part three of the review (now available) we will take a look at performance, other features and round-up with a summary including issues and target customers.
Due to the number of images in this part we’ve kept them small. Click through to larger versions in the UMPCPortal gallery. Screenshots were taken live (Not internal screenshots) so colors may vary.
Samsung Galaxy Tab Detailed Review Part 2 – Applications
There are ‘value add’ features all over the Galaxy Tab. Video support, docking, screen and one that’s more important than anything else – applications.
Samsung have obviously spent a lot of time and money developing a suite of apps for the Galaxy Tab and it lifts the device above most Android experiences. This is not Open source Android + Google, this is AOS, Google,Samsung and other third parties working together to deliver one of the best application suites we’ve seen on Android.
In this video I go over all of Samsungs Tab-specific apps and one feature you’ll see a lot is multiple windows panes within applications when they are used in landscape mode. When the screen is this big you reach the stage where even multiple apps could run side by side in landscape mode. As it currently stands that’s not possible with the Tab but the ‘extended’ apps show the way forward for Android on large-screen devices. The work that’s been done here is clearly an investment that has been made for more than one type of Tab from Samsung.
In summary, the Samsung apps add a lot to the device but there’s a few areas that need improvement. The Contacts and Calendar app work well but could do with a bit of spice and style. In the sections below we go through all the applications on the device.
E-Mail. The E-Mail application supports IMAP, POP3 and Exchange protocols and does it in an efficient way, so much so that for the first time on an Android device, we’ve switched away from the default Gmail application. It’s not perfect (why no cut-and-paste? Some delete actions are a little slow.) but it’s HTML-capable and in landscape-mode, quick to scan and attack a backlog of emails.
Multiple select options for deletion and folder moves, long-press for more actions, conversation threading, HTML support and a ‘phone’ button that uses the contacts number and starts the dialer. Accounts can be set for separate update timescales. We haven’t fully tested Exchange support.
The Calendar is also modified to offer dual-panes in various landscape screens although there’s a look and feel to the Calendar application that doesn’t feel quite right. The wood effect background and tabs that take a chunk of real estate could have been more stylish and efficient we feel. Having said that, it’s good to use. In month-view mode you get the calendar and a list of events for the selected day. The calendar auto-syncs with your Google account(s.)
Click = Big!
The Contacts application is combined with the Dialer, Log, Groups and Favorites. Again the tabs and wood affect don’t give us the feeling of a stylish application but it’s a functional one. At first we had trouble scrolling through our 400+ contacts from Google, Facebook and Skype but after time (we assume caching, sync and image retrieval) everything has speeded up nicely. Tapping on a contacts icon brings up all the possible contact methods giving access to SMS, Phone, E-Mail, Google Talk, Facebook and other applications that link-in. Joining contacts (where multiple contacts from different networks show the same person) is possible from the application. If you haven’t used a unified contact list before, we recommend it. Update: We added a Twitter account with 2500 followers and 1200 follows. It doesn’t appear to have sync’d for us.
The Phone ‘tab’ is a fairly basic dialer application. As you select the keys, a list of matching contacts are shown making it easier to enter the number and confirm the right contact is being called. SMS and UMTS video calling (Europe, UMTS standard and reasonable quality) is also possible. Also within this application are the logs, contacts (mentioned above) groups and favorites.
My Files is a basic local file browser which works well and has the advantage of dual-view windows in landscape mode allowing easy drag and drop. Multiple select allows easy housekeeping and there’s a search function. The search button on the frame starts the search function (as in most of the Samsung-modified apps.)
Memo apps on smartphones are ten-a-penny but we like this one because again, there’s that landscape mode enhancement again. Search, share and wireless printing are available. (More about Wireless Printing in Part 3)
Messaging – Threaded SMS application with dual-pane window in landscape orientation. MMS capability is included [Note: In previous reports we may have suggested that the feature is not available. It is ‘triggered’ by adding an attachment to an SMS] and simple emails can also be sent. Messages sent appear in the contact history for each person.
Daily Briefing – Is an application that pulls together content from AccuWeather, Yahoo Finance, AP news content and the Calendar in 4 swipe-able screens. Configuration for shares and weather location is possible but not for the news content.
News and Weather – Similar to Daily Briefing above but with weather from the Weather Channel and news from Google (configurable for multiple tabs including search terms.)
Note: A combination of the two applications above makes perhaps too much sense? Clearly this is a content deal for Samsung.
Samsung Apps – This is a potential killer-feature for the Galaxy Tab…if there were some applications available. Samsung (in this region, central Europe, we can’t speak for other regions that may have different content) have provided a channel for Tab-specific apps (free only, no search at this stage) but there’s a distinct lack of content. A few token apps and a Samsung remote-control app for TV’s is hardly a thrilling selection. Auto-notification of new apps is available but any talk about the feature is pointless until more apps (and we mean at least a good 10 or so apps – how about a decent Twitter client that takes advantage of the screen?) appear. Maybe there’s some potential for showcase apps if the Galaxy Tab sells well but a payment system needs to be put in place before any major private projects use this channel.
Basic Android 2.2 applications
We’ll look at the Browser in this section but first, lets address some of the other standard-looking Android 2.2 applications.
Alarm Clock – Multiple Alarms. Vibrate or specific tone. Nothing extra-special here.
World Clock – COnfigurable for multiple cities. Shows daylight zone. We had to specify daylight savings manually which is a disappointment and could be trip people up.
Gmail – Gmail is provided and works just as on a standard phone. Text sizes on the email list look a little large to us on this screen but the applications works well. As mentioned above, we’re currently using the IMAP/POP/Exchange Email application and we suspect others will too.
Gallery – Gallery is quick, smart and shows some nice transitions in slideshow mode. Access to the camera is directly available via a button on the top right but there are no image editing features on this or any other pre-installed application.
Browsing on the Galaxy Tab
A good browser is critical in a mobile internet device who’s features rely so heavily on being able to view web pages through links in applications, back-end stores and for general web browsing. The browser in Android 2.2 is vastly improved over that seen in 2.1. A new ‘just in time’ compiler improves speeds and on this ARMV7-based CPU, it gets a boost from the ARMv7 optimisations included. Android 2.1 doesn’t take advantage of these new CPUs in the same way. In addition to the standard browser, version2.2 combined with the ARMv7-based CPU permits the use of Flash 10.1. We’re happy to have the option to turn it on, off or have ‘click to run’ features wherever Flash content is presented on a page. YouTube videos work but you’ll be wanting use the dedicated application for that – it’s a lot smoother. It comes into its own where sites Flash for presenting products and shop-fronts. It’s also good for viewing non-YouTube embedded video content. There’s a price to pay though. Page loads are 10-20% slower and zooming and panning can be a very poor experience.
Carrypad.com loaded with Flash element running in header.
Don’t expect everything to work on the browser. Complex AJAX websites (‘web applications’) and sites that implement ‘mouse-over’ actions for drop-down menus and other features can be a real problem. Google blocks the Android 2.2 browser from its own Documents application. We’ve had some success with WordPress back-end but it’s a risky experience. There really is no substitute for a mouse and a full desktop browser if you’re looking for web-based productivity. Alas, this isn’t the Full Internet Experience.
Browsing speeds are good, consistent, backed with strong network connectivity options and due to the large screen format, rarely require much zooming to read the main content on a page. Zooming and panning is fast though (with Flash turned off) Pinch-to-zoom works and there’s 360 degree rotation. A ‘phone’ icon provides a shortcut to the dialer although selecting phone numbers on a page is the easier way to do that. There’s a good text selection/share/copy facility and for heavy users, an 8 window limit.
The browser has its own brightness setting and fairly standard set of browser configurations. One thing we’re very disappointed about though is the ability to set a ‘desktop id’ for the browser. Sites are always delivered as mobile versions an we’ve seen many sites that don’t allow you to switch to a full version therefore locking the user into a limited mobile experience. Third party browsers allow you to get round this problem but with this processing power, capability, speed, connectivity and screen size, we feel that browsing as a ‘desktop’ user should have been an option. Seriously, this could cause problems for some.
Here are some examples of website loading times over a wifi hotspot located about 5 meteres away. (16Mbps broadband-connected. Cache cleared.) The numbers indicate the average time to load the full version of the page completely with Flash disabled.
Amazon.com – 11s
Cnet.com – 13s
Engadget – 20s
news.google.com – 3s
NYTimes – 15s
Carrypad – 5s
Sites tested with Flash enabled loaded, on average, 10-20% slower. (1-2 seconds)
In summary you have a very fast handheld browser that is probably going to satisfy most users. Those considering the Galaxy Tab (or any Android-based tablet) as a netbook replacement or modular computer for mobile productivity need to think carefully about the speed issues of running Flash and the issues with ‘mouse-over’ and Ajax websites.
[We haven’t tested the Galaxy Tab with a Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse.]
Think Free Office 2.0
Having mentioned the problems of using the browser for web-based applications we now come to a native application focused on productivity. Specifically word processing, spreadsheets and presentations. Think Free Office Mobile is included for free (normally a paid-for application) and gives the user the ability to read and write documents and syncronise them into an online ThinkFree storage area.
The applications provide a simple way to do simple thing with words, numbers and graphics. Basic formatting is possible and saving to the Think Free Online storage (1GB free) is integrated. The package is also able to display basic PDFs. Two PDFs we downloaded failed to display however. A feature list is provided on the ThinkFree website but try as we did, we couldn’t find Google Docs integration. Maybe this is a tailored version for Samsung without the Google Docs features.
Having a Microsoft compatible office suite available is obviously an advantage but we advise doing some test work with it before relying on it when in the field. Again, we weren’t able to test this application with a keyboard.
At 380gm and one-hand-holdable, the Galaxy Tab is one of the nicest designs we’ve seen for long-duration ebook reading (dedicated reader hardware excepted.) There’s a good argument, however, that being paperback book sized is not the best for reading. Having used the Dell Streak we might, just might, give that the advantage but there’s no doubt that the high screen resolution and pre-installed applications make a compelling argument to use the Tab for everyday reading.
There are two pre-installed eBook applications on the Tab. The first is an ePub compatible reader with a two-page landscape mode. Books can be added to the filesystem and then imported into the application. Opening a book takes 5-10 seconds. Settings for fonts and 6 different color schemes are possible as is bookmarking, highlighting, copying, search and dictionary lookup via a long screen press which brings up a selection tool. Annotation is not possible. Screen brightness can be set separately for this app (as with email, calendar, contacts.) Screen color settings are shown below in a daylight-lit room. (Auto-white balance was used on the camera hence slightly different coloring on the paperback view. Look for the view that matches the paperback for the best daylight equivalent.)
Click to enlarge.
Readers Hub – Readers hub is a front-end to three e-book content providers. Unfortunately, Kobo, which is focused on books is the only one of the three applications that is currently live here on our German-version. Magazine content will be enabled through Zinio and newspaper content will be enabled through Press Display. We have no hints about when these services will become live but we suspect that the delay is related to our region.
The Kobo reader has the advantage over eBooks (above) by having commercial content available although clearly this is a relatively new venture because there aren’t many user ratings in the system yet. Pricing is in dollars, payment is via credit card (we used a German credit card successfully) and the content is English-language. Unfortunately, the book we downloaded (published by Random House eBooks) was badly formatted with words being concatenated on average every paragraph. Frankly, quite a waste of our $8. Other, free content we downloaded, didn’t have the same problem and downloading the same content on another Android device via the Kobo reader application wasn’t a problem. Maybe we’re dealing with a screen size bug here. No highlighting, annotations, dictionary or in-book search is available. Landscape mode formatting seems somewhat wasteful of the available space too. Our preference, having used Kobo, is for the Amazon Kindle application, an easy download from the Market. (A sample of the same book at Amazon was free of formatting errors.)
No, the Kindle app isn’t included pre-installed on the Galaxy Tab but if you’re interested in eBooks at all this is likely to be an early download for you. We’ve seen a couple of formatting errors in the application and one book that had uneven left and right borders but the reading experience is still fine.
One of the outstanding features of the Galaxy Tab is it’s media handling capability. From the outset we’ll say we’re impressed and that media features on the Tab are a high level above most other Android experiences and challenge dedicated media players such as the Archos 5 Internet Tablet although any form of digital output in terms of audio or video is sadly missing without the help of optional accessories.
Lets start with the cameras. The Tab has a 3.2MP auto-focus camera at the rear and a 1.2mp fixed-focus camera at the front. The rear camera is available to Android apps but it’s the built-in Samsung software that you’ll likely be using the most. Samsung have included a variant of the software you see on their phones and it’s good, quick to operate and feature-rich although some of the features are slightly dumbed down. There’s no dedicated two-stage camera button but a long press-and-hold on the on-screen shutter button enables pre-focus. There is no touch-focus/shutter release feature and only a single focusing style. Focusing off-center requires using the press-and-hold pre-focus feature, re-framing and then removing the finger for the shot.
The user interface can only be used in landscape mode.
The shooting modes are: Single Shot, Continuous (at a vastly reduced 0.4MP –800×600 resolution – dissapointing) Panorama (each shot at 0.4MP resolution) smile-shot (at full resolution) and self-shot which uses the front facing camera. There are 5 scene modes. None, Portrait, Landscape (infinity focus priority) , Night (no flash, long exposure) and Sports (quick exposure priority). The flash can be set to on/off or auto and is used for low-light focusing before the shutter is released. Exposure compensation reaches -/+ 2 f-stops and under ‘settings’ you get to control the ISO, resolution (a Wide, 2.4MP mode is possible,) white balance, JPEG compression level, Geo-tagging, shutter sound (or off) and the storage used for photos. There are four effects available; Normal, Negative, Black and White and Sepia. Note that there are no contrast or color settings.
The camera is quick to focus and operate and the huge viewfinder makes composition something totally different to what you might be used to. It enhances the need for good composition – a good thing.
In this gallery you’ll find the best of a set of photos we took. In general we’re quite pleased with the results in daylight. As with most phone cameras, low-light work is not easy although we did find the LED flash to be quite powerful.
The 3.2MP rear facing camera can also be used as a video camera at 720×480 resolution. Quality is surprisingly good with few ‘jigglies’ and good sound quality. See this article for more details and a downloadable source file. The YouTube video that resulted from a direct upload from the camera is show below.
We’ve done extensive testing on the Galaxy Tab video features and find it to be excelent. In general you’ll get 1080p playback support out of the box for H.264 and, probably, Divx/Xvid but there are limits. Only 2-track audio is supported. AC3 or DTS is out of the question as far as our test results are concerned which, given the HDMI-out docking port, is a real shame. DVD-quality content should have been supported and I’m sure many would have been happy with just 720p if it meant getting AC3 support.
In terms of video file format support I’ve had success with AVI and MKV containers and WMV, H.264, Xvid and Divx encoded video files. AAC and MP3 is supported (2-channel only.) In terms of bitrates, i’ve tested H/264 up to an average 13Mbps which is a very heavy load. The Tab handled it well with no visible dropped frames and no tearing. The screen quality is just amazing!
Imagine this: When sitting on my sofa and holding the Tab about half arms-length from my eyes, it’s the equivalent of a 100cm diagonal screen where my TV is on the other side of the room!
The player software is good and you can adjust screen brightness, (brightness, contrast and saturation is also available in system settings) to suit your preferences. There’s easy access to video size ratio changes, favourites and volume. Fast forwarding and skipping is very quick and there’s a great ‘Mosaic’ preview feature that allows you to preview various parts of a video using snapshots.
The stereo speakers are really good although both are on the base of the device in portrait mode which means that when holding the device in landscape, the speakers are too easy to cover. The supplied headset quality is fine although not super high-quality. Portrait usage doesn’t seem to be supported but you can rotate the device through 180 degrees to put the headset port in a better position.
Check out the video performance in this video, below. Apologies for the 480p quality on this but there’s good information in the dialogue.
Video playback performance is all very good if you’ve got content. Ripping DVD’s isn’t a problem for many but what about just downloading pre-prepared content? Believe it or not, there are people prepared to pay for it, the author included! Unfortunately, the Galaxy Tab fails us here. In Germany there are some online flash-based content portals but there’s nothing easily available for download. We really expected the a ‘video hub’ to accompany the ‘music hub’ covered below but alas, it seems that European distribution rights are very hard to come by. You have to ask yourself why people resort to downloading other peoples content via ‘back doors.’
The story with audio is a strange one. While there’s a ton of storage (3000 songs we estimate) , who is going to be using the Galaxy Tab as an MP3 player? The answer lies in the docking station and the built-in speakers. As a round-the-house music device the Tab delivers a great performance. We love the built-in speakers quality and volume and have been happily using the device for background music.
The audio library software is good, fast although a little dis-jointed in places. Search is unavailable from the application for example and we only found it via a hint from another Tab user. Press the capacitive search button! Playlist capability was also a little tricky to find. The application supports dual-pane windowing in landscape mode in some tabs.
Don’t expect album art fetching or dynamic playlists and there are no built-in streaming sources in the application.
The media library has a component running in the background that detects valid media being added to internal or SD storage and adds to the media libraries automatically.
Audio can be adjusted through EQ presets, a custom EQ setup and effects such as ‘Wide’ and ‘Bass Enhancement.’ Some setups are available in earphone mode only.
A2DP via Bluetooth is easy to set up and we’ve had this running over our HiFi system without problems. It’s probably the only way to enjoy the music capabilities of the Tab while mobile and without wires running from backpacks!
7digital have teamed up with Samsung to provide music content in DRM-free MP3 (mostly 320kbps) format through a dedicated 1024×600 resolution application on the Tab and we’re pleased to see it finding some of our more obscure choices. The application will be pre-installed on devices in 30 different countries and will provide access to 11 million tracks in all.
We can’t help thinking again at this stage that there should be some form of video hub.
While streaming music applications aren’t part of the pre-installed suite, there’s no problem pulling some out of the Market. Last.Fm, Google Listen, TuneIn Radio, XiiaLive (only in 800×480) all work.
Accessing DNLA and UPnP content is supposed to be relatively easy but we had problems. While the application picks up servers and clients and in theory, allows you to direct content (music, video and images) from one device to another (using the Tab simply as a director in some scenarios) we haven’t been able to get it to work. Our 150GB+ collection on our Windows Media Center seems to be too big for the Tab to index and even sending content from the Tab to the Xbox fails. We suspect the Xbox doesnt support being a client despite appearing as one. With the right devices, this could work well but if you’re buying the Tab with DNLA in mind, you’ll need to do a lot more research.
Although the Galaxy Tab is technically capable of providing analogue and digital video outputs, it’s not something that is possible out of the box. For analogue output (composite) the TV-Out cable is required. (€19.90) for digital output you’ll need the docking port which provides HDMI out. (RRP €49.90, Street price around €37.) Neither of these items were available at the time of this review but we’ve pre-ordered the docking station for a later review.
Audio output is via a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. To our ears it was very clean. The supplied headset (with audio playback pause button) was also of good quality build and acceptable audio quality.
With our Tab unable to offer any video stores we headed for the YouTube application. Phew! It satisfied our eyes for a testing session that ran over 2hrs late one night. It only supports HQ streaming but 480p can still look great on the Tab. Response is quick (we tested over Wifi) and the newer YouTube application (available in the market) scales well in portrait mode to offer the running video and a list of related content.
Click to see the new YouTube player in portrait mode.
Should we start with Angry Birds? We intend to add more gaming content to this review but at this stage we can say that the device has the technical capability but few titles that really take advantage of the capability of the device. Angry Birds works well though and we’ve again wasted hours of testing time with this app. It was so much fun that we made a video…
We’ve tested a few other applications and there’s a recurring problem that many won’t scale up past 800×480. It makes sense because all of these applications were built before the Galaxy Tab pushed the limits on Android screen resolutions.
Angry Birds: Perfect
Raging Thunder 2 Lite: 800×480 windowed
Labrynth Lite: Perfect. Amazingly lifelike accelerometer reactions and haptic feedback
At this stage we need to be honest with you; We’re not gaming experts but it does appear that there are less high-quality games in the Android market compared to the iPad market. Maybe we’re not looking hard enough so we’re happy to take your suggestions for a future gaming review.
We don’t have time to review a huge number of Market-sourced applications in this review but here’s a list of what’s working so far. All of these are currently installed on our Galaxy Tab and are working without problems unless mentioned below.
Flickr Uploader (Pixelpipe) – There’s no native Flickr sharing
Gesture Search – Very responsive
Google Goggles – Crashed after standby
Remote RDP Lite – Works!
Firefox (Slow, but working)
Google Sky Map (Wow!)
Google Earth (again, Wow!)
RailNavigator (Deutsche Bahn)
Blinx Beat (from Samsung Store)
Summary – Samsung Galaxy Tab Applications
It seems silly to be saying that applications are critical because without them, a device would be worthless but the Galaxy Tab highlights how applications that are written for a specific device can elevate it above others in its class. While we don’t care for some of the styling and colour schemes on the apps we can not deny that Samsung have done a great job in adding a huge amount of functionality and ease-of-use. The next time you compare tablets, just do a quick check on video codec support for example. Even Windows 7 on many netbooks can’t match what the Galaxy Tab can offer in terms of video playback flexibility and it’s something you won’t find on a standard ‘AOS’ Tablet. [AOS=Android Open Source.] In summary, we’re incredibly impressed with the Samsung Galaxy Tab applications suite and hope it inspires other OEDs and developers to think about the Android Tablet space. The shear length of this application review gives you a good idea of how much the Galaxy Tab can achieve. We hope you find it useful (and if so, please tell the world!)
Carrypad started in 2006 with the idea that there should be a mobile device that is “the parent of the smartphone… It is the offspring and partner of the PC.” [Ref] In the last 4 years we’ve seen a range of good devices from mini tablets to mini PC’s. Nokia nearly hit the mark a couple of times with their Linux tablet devices and Archos have been very close in this area too but no-one has really got it together to make a device that converges all the functions in our ‘Ring of FIE’ into a high quality product. Samsung may have just hit the nail on the head with the Galaxy Tab though. We’re not calling this a complete convergent smartphone/PC hybrid but as a ‘Carrypad’ , a mobile Internet device, this is shaping up to be a leading example.
Here’s a full, in-depth review of the 16GB Samsung Galaxy Tab, (European 3G Version) supplied by TechDepot in Germany. (Part of the OfficeDepot group) Many thanks to them for their support.
Part 3 – Camera, Performance, Other features, Summary (available here)
In the unboxing video you’ll see a look around the device and an an initial switch-on test. We received a German model but changing languages for the UI, keyboard and built-in dictionary is no problem. We’re running the device in English with no traces of the original language to be seen at all around the device.
Packaging, included contents.
We’re very disappointed that Samsung haven’t included a soft case in the box because the Tab really needs it. The smooth, slippery casing (especially in cooler, drier environments) means you need to keep it wrapped when transporting it. We’ve dropped the Tab once already (it survived) and now use an old Samsung UMPC soft case to keep it protected. A car charger or stand would have been a nice touch but unfortunately, you’ll only get a USB wall adaptor (high current for 3.5hr charging) and a docking-port cable for USB connectivity (and charging through a USB port as a slower rate than with the wall adaptor.) A small getting-started manual is also included along with a reasonably good quality ear-bud headset (headphones+mic) with 3.5mm connector.
Our first impressions of the device (published here) were positive. We commented on the completeness of the product and the ‘value-add’ that Samsung have dotted all over the device. From the large-screen optimised applications suite (email, contacts, calendar, notes and more) to the camera software and additional 3rd party applications such as the ‘readers hub’ and office suite. More about those in Part 2. Overall, we think the quality is extremely high. As for iPad ‘wow-factor’ comparisons, let’s get that out of the way now. The user-interface is not as smooth as an iPad. The inherent issues (open multitasking) mean that there’s always a possibility that another application hogs just a little too much of the CPU and causes a delay in a screen transition or input action. The ‘magic’ of the iPad that is down to the amazing user interface physics and screen size just aren’t there in the Tab. It’s good, fast and usable – top notch even – but don’t expect that iPad UI magic.
In the first 24hrs our only real disappointment was the slippery plastic we mentioned. It makes it a little difficult to hold from the side for e-book or web reading. A thin screen frame might look smart but doesn’t help here either. A couple of pieces of stick-on tape will fix this but hardcore e-book readers will want to take note of this.
One more thing – micro-USB charging isn’t available so our strategically positioned chargers (car, office, lounge, bedroom) were useless with the Tab. Fortunately, the battery life is good.
We are very proud of our live open review sessions at Carrypad. They give you a chance to see the device in an unedited way with multiple reviewers and a live chat session that allows you to interact with us as we test. Parts of the session are recorded and made available, again, unedited. It’s a tough time for a new device and we usually uncover all the hidden warts.
The trend for minimalist devices continues with the Galaxy Tab with a smooth finish of good quality plastics, covered ports, 4 capacitive Android button areas (backlight triggered for 5s by use or screen touches) and just two physical buttons. Only the docking connector and headset port are exposed. A thin frame gives the screen an efficient look although limits one-handed gripping points. The weight is a superb 380gm (0.83oz) which in this size of device feels great. One-handed use is really no problem.
The plastics are slippery and this is probably due to a wipe-clean coating. Cleaning it would be easy if Samsung had provided a cloth! We’re again using an old Samsung UMPC accessory for this – the 3M Scotch-Brite cleaning cloth. Highly recommended.
The two buttons are high quality and for power (or screen/button lock in applications such as the camera) and for volume up/down.
Due to a 360 degree rotation capability, the 3.5mm headset port can be ‘relocated’ if needed.
The built-in mic is located on the left hand side (portrait mode) and it’s a little too easy to cover with a thumb when using the device as a video camera. Here’s what you get if you’re not careful. Speakers (stereo) are surprisingly good and capable of filling a room with radio-like quality and volumes.
On the right hand side are two covered slots for SIM card and micro-SDHC. Both are hot-swappable.
A front-facing camera (1.3Mp, usable for standard 3G video calling on this model) and back camera (auto-focus, 3Mp) with good quality LED lamp (auto, usable for video too) and ambient light sensor complete the look around the device. [Link: Sample photos can be found in our gallery here.]
There’s no stand, no micro-USB connector, no USB OTG, no camera lens cover, no shutter button and importantly, no indicator lamps on the Galaxy Tab.
On the Inside
We’d love to pull the Tab apart to see just how Samsung squeezed everything, including a 15wh battery (3x the size of a smartphone battery) into the casing but unfortunately, we’re dealing with a sealed unit here which means there’s no ability to swap-out batteries. Effectively, you’ve got a Samsung Galaxy S smartphone with a huge screen. 1Ghz Samsung Hummingbird (one of the fastest ARM V7 implementations) CPU with 512MB ram, 16GB of flash (12Gb available for user storage) and a suite of features, some of which would make netbooks and notebooks blush.
PowerVR SGX540 GPU
Ambient light sensor
HSPA (quad-band GSM, tri-band UMTS with a theoretical 7.2Mbps download speed and 5.7Mbps upload speed)
There’s not much missing although wouldn’t it have been nice to see an FM radio and USB On-The-Go support? We think so.
Naturally the device is fanless and silent in operation.
Samsung have some amazing in-house screen technology. We’re still blown away with the quality of the Samsung LCD panel on our old Q1 Ultra UMPC and the screen on the Tab is just as good. Yes, it’s an LED-backlit LCD screen and not the latest Super AMOLED screen and that’s likely to be for a number of reasons. Cost is the primary factor, availability may be an issue too. There’s also sunlight and battery drain to consider. A full-white screen (as seen on many we pages) taxes OLED considerably to the point where we suspect the battery drain would be more than on the LED-backlit panel you have on the Tab.
Viewing angles are exceptional.
All images taken with the same camera settings.
Fear not though, the quality is superb; And adjustable. Black-level, white level, saturation, brightness are controllable and there’s a power-save mode which, when turned off, gives the screen an awesome level of brightness. There’s little to moan about, apart from, perhaps, the lowest-level of brightness. Ask a gadget-loving, night-reading husbands how important this is because in a dark room, the lowest setting is still too bright.
The screen is glossy and that will affect outdoor and in-car use. We recommend looking for a filtering screen protector in this case.
Readers that are familiar with Android will be at home here although Samsung have added some nice bells and whistles that add value rather than trying to ‘skin’ the UI. Touch response and transitions are very good (see above for iPad comments) and Samsung have pre-installed a few quality widgets, one of which we’re still using after a week – that’s rare for us!
Up to nine home-screens can be added. A pinch brings you to the overview. We’ve settled for just two screens due to the space available for widgets and shortcuts; A 5 x 5 grid is available for icons. Samsung have a fixed applications widget on the bottom of the screen that is flanked by two configurable spaces. Contacts and Browser are the obvious choices for these positions.
Widgets are provided by the News and Weather application (includes a Google News configurable module,) the application manager (an excellent widget that turns red when it detects high RAM/CPU usage and provides access to kill apps, uninstall applications, view memory and storage space) Feeds and Updates (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace updates), Daily Briefing (like ‘News and Weather’ but includes a share price page and AP news sources,) Picture Frame, Power Control and a neat Calendar Clock. The pull-down notifier bar contains control buttons for WiFi, BT, GPS, Silent Mode and Rotation Lock, a slider for the brightness and the usual notifications area.
The applications pages are tailored and slide sideways. Pages are directly accessible via small page indicators at the top of the screen but we seem to be missing a way to sort or re-organise the icons. Newly installed applications simply add to the last screen. [Correction: There’s an Edit mode that allows a long-press and then a drag of any icon in the applications list.]
Dear reader, your reviewer is a fan of physical keyboards. He likes slider form-factor devices and eyes-off typing when possible. The Samsung Galaxy Tab might have changed his opinions about that though because in portrait mode,the on-screen keyboard which pops up to cover about 40% of the screen, is one of the best thumbing experiences he’s ever had.
Samsung’s own keyboard (using XT9 technology for configurable word-prediction, correction, word learning and more) is really, really good. We’ve already written two articles with it, one of which was over 1500 words long and the speed is high, stress levels are surprisingly low, better than most physical thumb keyboards. The width is perfect, the weight of the device isn’t a problem and the haptic feedback actually feels like it’s working without any lag. (We turned off the key click sound because that does lag!) It’s obviously not as fast as a touch-typing keyboard but for an on-screen keyboard, it’s up there.
In landscape mode it’s a slightly different matter with the keyboard being too wide for thumb typing and too small for table-top touch typing but with 600 pixels wide in portrait mode, we’re rarely using it for typing any other way.
If the Samsung keyboard doesn’t work for you, try the included Swype keyboard. We haven’t found much reason to use it yet but for one-finger action, it could be better with some practice. Alternatively, there’s a bunch of keyboards available in the market. We haven’t found the need to try them though. We’ll add a video demo of the Swype keyboard in due course.
Open source Android 2.2 is not what many people think it is. It’s a relatively raw experience with no Market, no Google applications and only a basic suite of core applications. It’s what we’ve been seeing on many of the low-cost tablets coming in from China. Google-certified Android is another matter and thankfully, it’s what we’ve got here on the Tab. Google Market is available along with Gmail, Google Maps, the YouTube player and other important applications that Android smartphone users would be shocked to see missing.
As the battery falls to under 20% after the first 24hrs of using the Galaxy Tab it’s time to give you some first impressions of the the final, retail version of the product. Has Samsung bisected the 5-9” tablet segment with another ‘must have’ product or is this just a product for rich-kids? Before I write any detail though, I must say one thing – When a product is good it triggers strange thoughts in the mind. “How can I justify this” is the inner monologue that tells you that you are dealing with a special product and I’m sure that many many people out there will be thinking this very thought after they’ve played with the Tab for a while. Let’s not forget the price of the Tab as we form our first impressions though.
Galaxy Tab supplied by TechDepot. Many thanks for their support.
As with most Android/Google experiences the out of the box experience is good if you’re a Google user. I am and that means just putting in one username and password and letting the device do its stuff. Email, Contacts, Calendar and YouTube were automatically set up. Popping in a (hot swappable) SIM card meant the phone and data connection was up within the first 5 minutes and I didn’t even have to worry about connecting to a WiFi hotspot for the unboxing demonstration. (Video embedded below) That’s how easy it needs to be. Note the lack of ‘connect your PC and download iTunes’ in that!
From the outside the plastics are good, solid, shiny and oh-my-god slippery. I’ve dropped the Tab once already (on carpet, no damage) but I can guarantee this will be an issue. It’s got that special easy-wipe layer of chemicals that the iPad has and although it does wipe clean easily, it slips all over the place. The aftermarket for cases and bumpers will be strong with the Tab.
The Galaxy Tab is a complete Android product. When I say that I mean that it works like an Android phone does. Market is there, cameras work (great, fast camera software BTW Samsung) and it’s stable and fast. The power utilisation is well optimised too. 25hrs the Tab has been on and it’s just coming up to the 10% charge warning. Overnight drain indicated that this will remain active for about 4 days without needing a charger and that, to me, is what ‘Smart’ is all about. If Android and the related apps could lean more towards productivity and true web experiences, this would be a netbook killer of a mini-smartbook. I’m imagining a 10” version with a keyboard in 2011. It just has to happen.
The ‘Tab’ comes with the efficient Android 2.2 build and browser and is pre-installed with Flash 10.1. It works quite well too but there are still roadblocks out there. Google Docs is still out of bounds as is my WordPress back end. Hover actions and complex AJAX are a serious issue for Android browsers which means in it’s current state, you can’t really call it the full web experience. Still, I doubt many Tab owners will worry too much about that. It’s not that important in this consumer market.
I’ve mentioned the camera software and it’s just one of the little extras that are dotted all round the Android build. There are a few nice widgets, a music store (Music Hub), DNLA support (AllShare), Divx/MKV/WMV and other codecs built-in and the Samsung Apps market which will bring apps dedicated for the Galaxy Tab. At the moment I see just two apps. One for the German media company N-TV (which crashed twice on me) and the other a remote control application for Samsung TVs. This area of the Tab needs ramping up although if Android 3.0 opens the doors to large-screen apps, maybe Samsung should focus on an upgrade to that.
Other not-so good sides to the Tab.
Capacitive control buttons hard to see when the backlight is off.
No USB OTG (although this might be enabled with an adaptor)
That’s all I’ve found so far. I’m sure we’ll find more in the live session.
That’s it for now. If you ignore the price (it’s totally up to you to work out if this is value-for-money for you. Remember, there’s no comparable products in the market as I write this) then you’ve got a slippery but very stylish and capable consumer tablet. Did I miss anything major? If so, drop a comment in below and we’ll be sure to cover it in the live review.
More information in the Galaxy Tab information page.
I’m pretty impressed with what is shown in the video, as long as shipping devices retain this level of smooth performance.
What makes me sad is how blatantly Samsung has ripped ideas from Apple. Honestly, I understand that some companies think that if they copy Apple they will be successful too, but how on earth can Samsung possibly be proud of shipping a product that has many parts of it’s interface copied right from the iPad? Apple isn’t the only company in the world that can design creative, usable, and intuitive interfaces, but if big players like Samsung are going to give up and just start copying, then maybe they will be.
I guess Samsung just wants to take advantage of the less informed as we near the height of tablet-mania. Perhaps they feel that if they can say “Look! Our book reader flips pages too!” then maybe they’ll rope a would-be iPadder into buying their product instead.
In our meeting with Samsung today they came clean about pricing. We also heard about the CPU, some Samsung Market information and got a look at the accessory pack.
Pricing is indeed 799 Euro. This is, however, ‘u.v.p’ which is the same as ‘recommended retail price.’ What this means is that Samsung have built in a big pricing buffer that their customers (the carriers and resellers) can play with. We’re expecting street prices to be way lower than this and we saw a few nods when we mentioned 500 Euros. I get the impression we’re going to see early pricing hit 700 immediately and then a decline to the 600 mark over the next 3 months. Yes, the Galaxy Tab is expensive, but not as expensive as we first thought. Note: German pricing includes 19% tax. 670 Euros is the pre-tax price.
If we’re lucky, Viewsonic will get that truly comparable, although not as sweet, Viewpad 7 out for 399 Euro and make Samsung think twice! 400 certainly seems the right price point for a full 3G, GPS, compass, capacitive touch equipped consumer Android tablet.
Note about the O2 price mentioned in the video (via Twitter) – beware, it could be a contract for the hardware only. O2 Germany usually offer all their mobile devices in separate hardware / call / data contracts. That would bring the cost of the device to 759 Euros – not the cheap deal it might seem.
On the Samsung Market: It sits alongside the Google Market and offers developers a channel for Galaxy specific apps to be built for the device. Samsung will launch a promo campaign for this shortly.