Sunday, December 19, 2010

Impressions on the Galaxy Tab

I could not help myself! After watching JKK Mobile's video review of the tab, and listening to Kevin, James and Matt discuss the Tab on a couple of episodes of MobileTech Roundup I had to grab one. I am really, really not sure what I was waiting for.

Last Monday I stopped at the T-Mobile store before heading into the office and grabbed a Samsung Galaxy Tab along with a 2 year commitment on a data plan. I am currently signed up with the unlimited plan, but the way T-mobile works the commitment is month to month. I can swap out plans freely, as long as I keep a plan for 2 years. I am normally hesitant to enter into a commitment with a mobile carrier, but as this plan allows me full access to the T-Mobile 4G network (though not on the Galaxy Tab), I am pretty sure I will get use out of it for two years. I also like the fact that the plan comes with access to all T-mobile hotspots for free.

I have been using the Galaxy Tab, pretty much as my main day to day web device, for about a week now. Here are my thoughts.

The Awesome
  • The size of the tab is much nicer than the iPad for walking around the house, and especially mobile. The Galaxy Tab is about half the size of the iPad and about half the weight, it makes a big difference when you are holding your computer (as opposed to having my netbook resting on my lap). Steve Jobs should buy one of these and use it for a week, wouldn't take long till we saw the 7" iPad announcement.
  • The display on the Tab is very nice, and the difference between my 3.7" Nexus One and the 7" Galaxy Tab is huge. I was a bit concerned, before I really played with the Tab, that only having the 7" display would be limiting, especially on the web. I can say that is not the case. I do still zoom in on some pages when reading (I did the same on the iPad), but I do it for enhanced comfort more than necessity. It was needed on the Nexus One, its just a nice feature on the Tab. Most apps are showing up full screen, and they look very nice. Videos look sharp and crisp, and the darker colors display particularly well.
  • The speakers on the Tab are not the loudest I have heard, but they beat the pants off of the speakers on my EEE PC. What they lose in volume they make up for in quality. The sound comes through very clear on the Tab. On par with the iPad to be sure. I am constantly using headphones with my EEE PC (and the Cr-48 for that matter) to actually hear videos and podcasts. That will not be an issue on the Tab.
  • The Nexus One has a seriously limited amount of application storage space. I am constantly having to shuffle apps on and off the device to try new things. The 2 GB of application storage space on the tab is soooooo nice. I have loaded up close to 100 apps on the thing and am still at about 75% free space. On an app driven device this is huge.
  • The battery life on the Tab has been amazing. I would call this an "all day" device to be sure. I am getting between 8 and 12 hours each day on what I would call moderate usage. Each day I have watched videos, listened to music (stream and local), browsed the web, played games and installed apps. Great device for mobile in that regard.
The Not So Awesome
  • Samsung made a huge mistake with the device charger. The cord that comes with the device is so short that it barely reaches to the top of my night stand. I have to leave the device hanging a bit over the edge to get it to reach. I have been putting it in the drawer at night to charge instead. Very disappointed.
  • Continuing on with the charger, lets talk about the proprietary PDMI port. Listen up device makers. The standard is micro usb now. All the phones have them, everyone in the world has a couple of cables lying around, and more device docks are being built with that connector in mind. The PDMI port is supposed to provide universal connection to accessories, but it seems that Samsung didn't fully implement the spec anyway (something about powering the device is different if I understand correctly). Anyway, the proprietary port means I have to buy more proprietary cables, and carry them around with me. Thats not cool.
  • Samsung has done an OK job with the Calendar, Contacts, and messaging apps in terms of making them useful in landscape (tablet) mode. However, having even a little change off of stock Android means that I am going to have to wait (and wait) for Gingerbread on this thing. I would love to see Samsung roll this device back to native Android when Honeycomb releases, but I doubt that will happen. It is because of this issue that I imagine I will end up selling the Tab long before the 2 year contract is up, and buy a new tablet at full price to run with this contract.
  • The camera does not seem to auto focus like my Nexus One does, which is annoying. I want to use the camera on the Tab for two primary purposes. 1) taking pictures of documents and other bits of information for storage in Evernote, and 2) for barcode scanning/Amazon remembers pictures. Both of these situations call for close in detail. I get far better detail on the Nexus One, and I think it has to do with auto focus.
I said early that I have no idea why I waited, and that is very true. I should have picked this up the day it was released. Right now the Tab has replaced the EEE PC as my daily computer. I am using the CR-48 daily to create written content (Google Docs, blogging) and my desktop as my main media/backup/powerhouse machine (photo and video editing are done on the desktop). It is amazing to me that the Tab can replace my netbook, which has been my faithful friend since August of 2009. I have heard people claim that they leave the computer at home and travel with just their phone. I could never have done that, but I am sure I could with the Tab.

I will post more about apps on the Galaxy Tab later.

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