Is The Galaxy Tab Terrible Or Sublime?

Posted: Nov 11 2010, 2:28pm CST | by , in Tablets

Is The Galaxy Tab Terrible or Sublime?

No one seems to know.

Samsung's Galaxy Tab is provoking some bafflingly bipolar opinions among the reviewer community. Engadget called it the best Android tablet on the market, which says preposterously little. But they also called it the first true iPad competitor.

Walt Mossberg said basically the same thing, calling the Tab the iPad's "first real rival". But his review gave little reason for the positive plug. While he praises the Tab for its looks and speed, the cost is high and the battery life is low. There are very few Android tablet apps, and the Tab's display comes across as about half as large as the iPad's.

Gizmodo found the same issues, but gave a much less favorable review. In fact, they called the Tab a trainwreck. While Walt viewed the smaller display as more comfortable to hold and ideal for cramped use, Giz felt that the Tab's screen made it more like a big phone. Some bizarre bugs, crappy Flash integration and that painful price all caused them to reject Android's most hyped early tablet offering.

David Pogue landed right in the middle of these tgwo extremes. He allows that the Tab is beautiful and responsive and says that "it feels like an extra-spacious Android phone". That's basically the same comment Gizmodo made...only Pogue considers it a positive.

Which speaks to something important. While cost and app variety are things you can measure fairly objectively, display size is a question that seems to have no 'right' answer. Anti-Tab people are right. 7" is much smaller than 9.7" and provides for a fundamentally different browsing experience.

But the Tab-fans are right too. 7" makes for a lighter device that actually fits nicely in your hand without weighing it down. For airplane or bus use, the Tab has a serious advantage in convenience.

From what I can see, there are three major, objective issues with the Tab. Every reviewer has commented on them. Price, bugs and battery life.

The Tab gets about 6-7 hours in most stress tests, while the iPad gets anywhere from 9 to 11. Advantage: iPad. Android is still not optimized for tablets. Some apps are buggy on the Tab, and Flash apparently doesn't work well at all. Last, the Tab is expensive. This puts it in the awkward position of trying to compete against Apple for the "premium" product dollar.

This says some worrying things about the Tab's future, but it is also cause to be optimistic about the future of Android tablets. Most reviewers liked Android on a tablet, even though 2.2 doesn't meet Google's own standards for a tablet OS. Think of how much better an Android 2.3 or 3.0 slate will prove to be.

The 7" form-factor also appears to be viable. While it isn't for everyone, the more convenient / manoeuvrable size holds appeal to a significant chunk of the market.

One thing is very clear though: the App Market is NOT ready for Android tablets. Until developers start pushing out tablet-optimized applications in bulk, this is one area where Apple will continue to have unquestioned dominance.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/5" rel="author">Robert Evans</a>
The excitement about new smartphones, tablets and anything mobile drive Robert to unearth the latest rumors and developments in this fast moving space. He adopted 4G as soon as it become available and knows where the mobile market is going.
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