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CNET First Look
Samsung Galaxy Tab (Sprint)Samsung's 7-inch Android tablet is a serious contender to the Apple iPad, boasting two cameras, Flash compatibility, and a more convenient size.
Hey, I'm Donald Bell, and today we're taking a first look at the Samsung Galaxy Tab. This is an Android-based tablet computer, running Android 2.2, the 7-inch capacity touchscreen. It's available on all major carriers starting mid November with various pricing plans. This version is in from Sprint, which has the Tab for $399 with a 2-year contract, plus a monthly data plan, that's a minimum of $29. As competitor to the Apple iPad, the Tab isn't cheap, but the Samsung's credit, they didn't skimp on the product. We've already seen cheap 7-inch Android tablets the Archos 7, and they're not great. As the name implies, the Galaxy Tab offers Samsung's Galaxy smart phone experience in a larger tablet form. On the front, you've got a screen, which is covered with this scratch-resistant gorilla glass. The LCD underneath is a crisp 1024 x 600 resolution, which is on par with the iPad. But since the screen is about half the size, the peak of density is much tighter. Above the screen, you have front facing 1.3 megapixel camera, which is perfect for video chat and across the bottom, you have the typical Android style buttons for menu, home, back, and search. There is a standard headphone jack on the top and volume and power buttons on the side along with a micro SD card slot. For this model from Sprint a 160-gigabyte card is included. On the bottom, you've got Samsung's dock connector and a pair of built-in speakers. Flip it over and you'll see a white plastic back and a larger 3 megapixel camera with innovative flash. Overall, the feel is very solid. It's about a half inch thick, same as the iPad, but not as tapered at the edges. It's lighter than the iPad. Easier to hold on one hand and has the huge benefit of actually being able to fit in an average pocket. That said, compared to the 5-inch dual speak, is large enough to deliver an experience that's closer to the iPad's 9.7-inch screen. The on-screen keyboard is ample and the screen size is large enough that it can share the same page as in e-mail or web page. The keyboard itself isn't quite as accommodating as the iPad, but on the upside, smart phones style thumb typing feels natural and the keyboard response with haptic feedback. Samsung also includes swipe capabilities out of the box along when you to run your finger over groups of letters that trigger an auto suggestion. The tab's paperback size is also a natural fit for eBooks and the Amazon Kindle app comes pre-installed. Another big deal here is that the official Google app market is included, front and center, giving you access to all the popular apps: Pandora, TweetDeck, Yelp, Angry Birds, they're all here and they all looked great on the big screen. Samsung also goes in a few of their own unique apps such as the Media Hub Store for downloading movies and TV shows. Apps like contacts, counters and memo have all been optimized for the largest screen. And because these have includes GPS along with 3G and wi-fi, the including navigation app does an excellent job as an in-car navigation device, offering turn--by-turn directions, points of interests, and voice search. Another little advantage the Tab has over the iPad is Adobe Flash 10.1 compatibility, allowing all of the web's flash video content to play natively in the browser. The results are a little choppy in some cases, but it's nice to have the option. So, is the Galaxy Tab better than the iPad? It may be, for some people who really want the portability, the camera, the flash support or the extra carrier options. But, I don't think the iPad is too much to worry about. Honestly, with the tab about half the size of the iPad, it kind of different products. The iPad is more of a Netbook alternative, while the Tab fits into more of the smart phone and eReader camp. It's a solid device, though. And if the price and the carrier contracts don't scare you off, you should definitely check it out. So, that's the Samsung Galaxy Tab. For cnet.com, I'm Donald Bell.