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Best ’droid tablet yet

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is a multimedia monster with a good touchscreen and Android’s latest Froyo OS. We give you our verdict.

india Updated: Nov 23, 2010 15:38 IST
Nikhil Hemrajani

Android tablets are finally coming of age. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is the third tablet we’ve gotten our hands on and the most refined one yet. Dell’s pint-sized Streak suffers from an outdated version of Google’s Android OS, while the desi OlivePad, though reasonably priced, is slow in performance. The Tab enters the market and aims to correct these issues. Right off the bat, it seems to have gotten everything right. There’s no contesting the fact that any Internet tablet around will be compared to the Apple iPad. It’s just in the nature of things as the iPad is arguably the first “proper” tablet computer running a specially designed and customised operating system.

Form
The Tab is smaller than the iPad — 7 inches in screen size as compared to 9.7 inches on the iPad. But that doesn’t take much away from it. At less than half-an-inch thick, the Tab is well-sized and slick. It’s pretty light too — you can easily hold it in one hand over extended periods with minimal discomfort.

While the 1024x600 pixel LCD display is a far cry from the AMOLED variety used in Samsung’s flagship mobile phones such as the Galaxy S, it gets the job done all right. However, it’s the Corning Gorilla Glass covering the LCD substrate that’s really something to write home about. It’s extremely tough and near unscratchable, so you won’t even need to use a screenguard.

The Tab is 3G compatible and carrier free, so load a SIM card and you’re ready to go. But 3G networks are still very spotty and you’ll be falling back to the much slower EDGE speeds very often. The Tab comes with 16GB of memory built-in, which can be expanded to 32GB via MicroSD. It starts up quickly — in under 30 seconds — thanks to its zippy 1GHz Cortex A8 processor and 512MB RAM.

It’s loaded with all the goodies that you may require such as a 3-MP rear camera, 480p-grade video recording, assisted GPS and the new Android 2.2 Froyo operating system. There are plenty of Samsung-designed applications such as the email and e-book apps that will keep you entertained and connected. You can even video-chat via the 1.3 MP front camera. That’s where the Galaxy Tab trumps the iPad, which has no camera.

Usability

Flash support is another feature that Samsung brags about. However, for all practical purposes, you’ll find that browsing Flash websites is a slow, buggy and unpleasant experience making you disable the feature after the novelty value has worn off.

Yet, for lack of a better word, ‘magic’ is the one thing that’s missing on Samsung’s device. The Galaxy Tab just feels like an oversized mobile phone. There’s nothing that differentiates it other than its size. Samsung hasn’t really customised the look and feel of the operating system to make it tablet-friendly. It’s not as bad as we’re making it out to be, but there’s nothing very special about this device.

What we like
Strong glass screen
Flash support
Front and rear cameras
HD video playback

What we don’t
Very expensive
Spotty Flash performance
Feels more like an oversized phone than a tablet

Verdict
If you want a non-Apple tablet, that’s light to carry around and loaded with every single conceivable feature, this one will do the trick nicely. But it is worth the Rs 38,000 that’s needed to acquire it? We’re not so sure. And while we’re at it, we still prefer the Apple iPad.