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Galaxy Tab Wi-Fi review: Not bad, not Honeycomb

CNET's Donald Bell reflects on his full review of the Wi-Fi-only version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab Android Tablet.

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If you want a sense of how fast the tablet market is moving, take a look at the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Our review of the first Galaxy Tab went up at the end of October 2010, and we hailed it as the best iPad alternative money could buy. In the six months that followed, Google announced Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), the iPad got superskinny, four Honeycomb tablets have hit the streets, RIM pushed out its BlackBerry PlayBook, and the Nook Color became the hottest, cheapest Android 2.2 tablet around.

So when the Wi-Fi-only version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab hit my desk the other day, instead of my usual rush of anticipation, I felt oddly sentimental. I wanted to buy the little guy a drink. After all, it wasn't his fault that Samsung and its carrier partnerships kept him waiting in the wings all this time.

Still, better late than never, I suppose. Customers finally have an option for a contract-free, Wi-Fi-only Samsung Galaxy Tab priced at $349. And it's still a great product. The trouble is, with the Nook Color cutting it off at the knees, and the $399 Asus Eee Pad Transformer Honeycomb tablet pushing down from the top, the Tab's iPad-alternative niche is disappearing.

That said, with all the contract-strapped 3G Tabs still on the market, I had to give the Tab Wi-Fi an extra point for asking less of us financially while still delivering great performance. I didn't have the heart to tell him about Samsung's plans for the next Tab.