Samsung Galaxy Tab review: Samsung Galaxy Tab

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent

Average User Rating

3.5 stars 15 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Great size and weight. Good performance. LCD screen is adequate. Pre-installed Swype and navigation.

The Bad Expensive. Proprietary USB charger. Compatibility issues with some Android apps.

The Bottom Line While the Galaxy Tab isn't cheap, it delivers the Android experience on a big screen without being too large or heavy, and offers a great experience for lovers of multimedia.

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Hot on the heels of Apple's iPad, Samsung has released a tablet computer of its own, and just in time for Christmas. Not since the space race of the 1960s has there been such eagerness to create so specific a class of technology, leaving in its wake some excited and bewildered consumers.

A clean slate

The Galaxy Tab isn't the first Android tablet computer to have been manufactured and sold, but it does have the honour of being the first worthy of your attention. Unlike the Chinese knock-offs and re-branded cheapies , the Galaxy Tab is a refined example of tablet design, with a sleek white-coloured plastic backing and a 7-inch Gorilla glass capacitive touchscreen on the front.

Though some felt the twinge of disappointment when they learnt that the Tab wouldn't have the same AMOLED screen technology we find in most Samsung smartphones, we do think the Tab's screen is still quite nice to look at. It sports an SWVGA resolution (1024x600 pixels) LCD panel, which looks sharp and crisp, while the colour, brightness and viewing angle of this display are all very good compared with most LCD mobile phone displays. The touchscreen is also very responsive, in line with what we've come to expect from Samsung's latest mobile devices.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently cast aspersions on the 7-inch profile, telling an audience of capitol investors that Apple's research had found that "human fingers are too big to be able to accurately hit icons on a screen that size". We couldn't disagree more. Samsung's 7-inch tablet is more than adequate in size for tasks like reading and composing messages and email, web browsing and interacting with most apps. Plus, the saving in size translates to a huge decrease in weight; the Galaxy Tab weighs in at 380 grams, which is half the weight of Apple's hefty iPad.

Like Samsung's Galaxy S smartphone, the Tab has its power button on the right-hand side, alongside the volume rocker and above a SIM card slot and a space for a microSD memory card. There's a 3.5mm headphone socket on the top of the device and a pinhole for a microphone on the left-hand panel. The only part of this design that really baffles us is Samsung's use of a proprietary charging socket, rather than the standard micro-USB connection. The custom slot looks freakishly similar to an iPod cable connector and it doubles for making a connection to a PC for file transfers. Not only is this a pain for people who already own several micro-USB cables, but Samsung only include one in the box to share between charging and PC connectivity.

Plays nice with Android?

Running on the latest available version of Google's Android OS, the Galaxy Tab benefits from a few class-leading advantages over the iPad. For starters, the Tab can be used as a giant mobile phone, albeit one without an earpiece speaker. When making calls your options are to use the speakerphone, and share your conversation, or use a Bluetooth headset for some privacy.

It is also compatible with Flash video and animations, capable of delivering a rich internet experience. In the wake of the Flash debate surrounding Apple and its iPhone some may have been left wondering about how essential Flash is to their experience of the web. For us, it is a huge part of what we love about going online, and being able to access the vast majority of videos online is a huge plus. That said, Flash playback through the browser has been hit-and-miss during our review. CNET Australia's videos struggle to play smoothly, as do other videos from several sites we tested on. Then you have the excellent mobile Flash games available on Kongregate which work perfectly.

One area that the iPad has in its favour though, is compatibility with the entirety of the Apple App Store. Unfortunately, the Galaxy Tab struggles with a number of apps that haven't been designed for the higher screen resolution, and there is no easy way to rectify this. We did come across one very handy YouTube tutorial for adjusting the software's compatibility settings, and while this solved the small-screen problem for most apps, it also broke other apps we tested even further.

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Where to Buy

Samsung Galaxy Tab

Part Number: CNETSamsung Galaxy Tab

Typical Price: $999.00

See manufacturer website for availability.