Samsung unveiled its Galaxy Tab tablet PC for American audiences during a Sept. 16 event in New York City. In brief testing, the device felt and operated like an oversized Samsung Galaxy S smartphone.
When Apple first released the iPad, naysayers claimed the device was nothing
more than an oversized iPod Touch.
On Sept. 16, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Tab, its iPad competitor, in a
high-profile presentation at New York City's
Center. Afterward, the media was
allowed to descend with its usual frenzy on the handful of Tabs on display. And
while 10 minutes' worth of fiddling may not constitute an exhaustive
dissection of a device, one thing seemed immediately clear: The 7-inch Tab is
basically an oversized version of the Samsung Galaxy S, the company's latest
This is not necessarily a bad thing. Some 5 million Galaxy S smartphones
will ship by the end of 2010, according to Samsung executives at the New
York event, which suggests that customers are
gravitating toward the device's combination of multimedia-friendly hardware and
Google Android operating system. Super-sizing that model could attract buyers
curious about tablets.
But questions still remain. Like the Galaxy S, the Tab will be sold through
AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. Those carriers will presumably
subsidize the cost of the device in exchange for a contract. However, details
of the carriers' plans remain scarce. If the Tab is subsidized like a
smartphone, with a two-year contract, will users still prefer that to the iPad's
"a la carte" mode, which allows users to switch off their 3G
connection-and the charges that come with it-on a monthly basis?
European Websites already list the Tab
for roughly $1,000 in either pounds
sterling or euros. On the U.S.
market, the 5-inch Dell Streak-Samsung's other Android-based tablet competitor-sells
for $299 with an AT&T contract and $549.99 unlocked. But the bigger
consideration for Samsung and its partners is the iPad, which
sells for anywhere from $499 to $829 depending on memory and connectivity
Whatever the price point, Samsung hopes the Tab's features will allow it to
seize market share in the burgeoning consumer-tablet space. Those features
include an enhanced TFT-LCD display with 1,024-by-600 resolution, Android 2.2
operating system, 1GHz processor, 16GB of internal memory scalable to 32GB of
external memory, and support for Adobe Flash 10.1. The device weighs 13 ounces,
roughly equivalent of an unopened can of soda, and its slim body can fit into
any number of jacket and bag pockets.
The Tab also offers video conferencing, courtesy of a 1.3-megapixel
front-facing camera. During a demo at the New York
event, the video was choppy and seemed to lag somewhat behind the audio; that
may have been due to the quality of the connection. Samsung is also promoting
its Media Hub, an app that allows users to purchase and rent TV shows and
movies; the company has signed deals with MTV, NBC, Paramount,
Universal and Warner Bros.
There could be kinks with the Android 2.2 operating system, however.
"Froyo [Google's code name for Android 2.2] is not optimized for use on
tablets," Hugo Barra, director of mobile products for Google, told
. "If you want Android market on that platform, the apps just
wouldn't run; [Froyo] is not designed for that form factor."
The upcoming Android 3.0, code-named "Gingerbread," may fix that
by offering 1,280-by-760 resolution for larger-device displays. Samsung
executives previously directed eWEEK toward information about screen sizes
posted on Google's Android developer Website.
"Applications do not need to work with the actual physical size or
density of the device screen," Google
. "At runtime, the platform handles the loading of the correct
size or density resources, based on the generalized size or density of the
current device screen, and adapts them to the actual pixel map of the screen."
In practice, the Tab's various widgets and applications seemed to operate
with resolution and speed equivalent to the various versions of the Galaxy
S-just bigger. But more extensive testing awaits.
Editor's Note: The date of the Samsung Galaxy Tab unveiling has been
corrected to Sept. 16.