AT&T Galaxy Tab, my breakdown

Well, I have now had my Galaxy Tab for about 2 weeks and thought I’d write up a quick post on my thoughts on it.  Being a previous iPad owner, I can tell you that they two devices are similar but not.  Lets get to it!

Hardware/Size:

The thing I love the most about the Tab, it’s size.  7″ is actually a pretty good size/form factor for a portable tablet (not a netbook/notebook replacing tablet but a consumption/internet type device).  The hardware is made up of mainly plastic and in turn keeps the device very light.  The screen uses Gorilla Glass to make it nearly unscratchable and looks very good at 1024×600 resolution.

There is a headphone/mic connector, samsung proprietary connector jack for charging/usb/accessories, microSD card slot, SIM Card slot, and power and volume buttons.

The device has a warmer feel due to its plastic housing build, where as the iPad has a colder feel due to its aluminum body/design.  It seems to fit into most of my jack pockets and several inside pockets.  It also fits into a few of my cargo pants front pockets too.  I use it more by the fact that I take it with me quite a bit more than I did  my iPad.  The iPad does not fit into any jacket pockets and is a bit weird to try to transport w/o a bag.

Full hardware/tech specs comparison to an iPad can be found on my other Tab vs iPad post.

Android/Touchwiz:

Samsung created its own customized launcher called the Touchwiz interface.  It tries to make Android 2.2 (Froyo) a more tablet friendly mobile OS by adding a sheet layout program launcher and adding custom notification bar (which i love due to quick access to wifi, brightness, etc).

Samsung has done a pretty good job with this.  The Tab does seem to have a pretty sensitive accelerometer and I always recommend people to keep it locked in Portrait mode and then unlock for specific apps (like on the iPad too).  This can give a bad experience for first time users I’ve noticed since it can slow down the OS if you keep rotating from portrait to landscape.

Froyo is not a horrible tablet OS.  Its actually 10x better than anything Microsoft has done its nearly 10 years of trying to push tablets to consumers.  Its not iOS since Apple optimized its version of iOS for the iPad and its larger interface.  Google is doing this with the upcoming Honeycomb release (Android 3.0) and in the interim will add optimization to Android in Gingerbread (2.3).  The Tab has not been guaranteed Honeycomb updates, but Gingerbread updates are almost a given (official or the hacked, custom rom route).

Apple still has the edge over Google in the tablet os market, for now.  There are some things on the Galaxy Tab that the iPad couldn’t even come close to doing such as Turn by Turn Navigation and Map software.  Google’s own Maps and Navigation apps alone can nearly sell me any Android device.  I have ordered a car mount for my Tab and may try to use it to replace my car’s navigation/stereo headunit, expect some posts about this later this month.  The fact that it also has a camera also is another one up on the iPad.

Battery life was comparable to the iPad but not quite as good. I’ve been getting about 8-9 hours with pretty heavy use off and on.  I have not ran any constant video drain tests but I get about 2 days of using without having to charge and can usually make it a full day of demoing without a charge (lots of video, surfing over 3G, games).  Samsung claims to get about 11-13 hours of light use with the device, so not too off their claims.  I also run my brightness set to Auto and setup all of my syncing to be in the 4-6 hour intervals.

XDA-Developers/Hacking/Modders:

The one thing that I love about all Android phones/devices is the underground hacker/modder community and support.  Most phone’s receive OS updates from custom rom makers before the manufacturers even announce a release.  XDA-Developers.com is a great hang out site for any Android power user.  The users there provide custom roms, apps, hacks and even just some good old help and troubleshooting.

I run the Roto JME v4 custom rom on my AT&T Tab and can make voice calls and unlocked the SIM to use my Tmobile SIM if needed.  It also runs much smoother than the stock firmware since its based on a later build of samsung’s and also includes other user tweaks.

An example of what you can do with your Galaxy Tab if rooted and using a custom rom:

-Ability to make voice calls (but lose Tmobile 3G data, edge data fine; AT&T 3G data fine)

-Ability to use Tab as hotspot/tethering (nice for us iPad 3G unlimited data plan users)

-Customize any part of the OS from fonts to language packs

-Full backups of apps and user data

Conclusions:

From day one of ownership, my Samsung Galaxy Tab has had to live up to the de facto tablet currently, Apple iPad.  It also had to make it through me lusting over the new tablets to be released in 2011.  Nonetheless, I still have my Galaxy Tab and am still satisfied with it.

The tech specs on it and the power it offers are perfectly inline with what current and near future tablets have to offer (ie Q1 2011, late Q1 will see the dual core tablets).  The size and portability give it a true one up over Apple and in a way has me pining for them to make a 7″ since it could be a hit for the commuters and/or teen sect.

A few features on the Tab such as the Google Maps/Navigation, microSD slot, and dual cameras give it the one up over the current iteration of the iPad.  Its killer feature is that its a device you can actually take with you and use more than just using at home.    However the few downfalls such as an non-optimized tablet OS and some minor lag when rotating screens could sway the casual buyer away.  If your a power user type, this is a great tablet once you get a custom rom on it.

Seamonkey Recommended, But Try It First

as a power user its a great tablet but for the non-power users you may want to try it out first or wait for the 2nd gen Android tablets to hit in late Q1/early Q2 2011.

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