Samsung Galaxy Tab Doesn't Have to Be an iPad Killer to Succeed

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2010-11-13 Print this article Print

title=Galaxy Tab, Apple iPad Not a Perfect Fit for All Needs} 

The Apple iPad, on the other hand, has a fairly large screen, it weighs about a pound and a half, and for now it's camera-free. Both devices can be had with both WiFi and 3G connectivity. But only the iPad has WiFi without 3G. On the other hand, the data plans being offered for the Galaxy Tab have a wider array of options, and some plans can be implemented for very short periods of time for relatively little money.  

So if you're trying to use your tablet as an e-reader, then there's something to be said about access to brief periods of 3G. If you're going to be spending a lot of time streaming music or video, they you're going to need a real data plan regardless of which device you decide you want. 

Now, I have to confess that I've been looking at these devices lately because I have some international travel planned and carrying a tablet is a lot easier than carrying a briefcase full of books. My experience looking at the Galaxy Tab is that it's smaller, lighter and the screen is small enough that it's probably kind of hard to use for reading a book. I also have no idea whether it's reliable enough to depend on for a long trip, and whether the battery life will really last through a flight and the related time in airports, on trains and the like. I don't want to find myself two hours from my destination without battery power. 

But when I looked at the iPad, its weight was the first thing I noticed. It weighs as much as the books I'm trying not to carry. It seems to have good battery life, however, and you don't have to use the 3G capability if you don't want to run up huge bills when abroad. Of course you can turn off the 3G in the Samsung device as well. But if you depend on WiFi, then you're forced to pay something like 12 Euros a day for WiFi, which is probably worse than paying for 3G. 

I also looked at the other tablet-like devices including the Kindle and the Nook. Both of these are better for reading, but they're not tablets like the Samsung or the Apple devices. So it seems like this market is breaking down into segments that don't really compete with each other. The Samsung is small, light and equipped with Android so you can get lots of software. Unfortunately, nearly all of the software is designed for phones rather than tablets.  

The Apple iPad is larger and heavier, but at least there are a lot of applications designed for that platform. There will be people who like the iPad for what it is and those who like the Samsung Tab. But I don't think they're going to be the same people. Then there will be the e-reader buyers who aren't really looking for a tablet as much as they are looking for a replacement for paper. They'll go for the Kindle or the Nook which do compete with each other.

Unfortunately, what I've found is that I don't think any of these choices really works for extended travel. Maybe the thing to take for that isn't a tablet computer. Maybe it's an Ambien. 

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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