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The Samsung Galaxy Tab – Love At First Tap!!!
Galaxy Home Screen

My dog Psycho graces my home screen

Tablet computing popularity has never been higher than it is today. After playing with the Samsung Galaxy Tab at my local retailer, I took the plunge and bought one.  I compared this to numerous tablets on the market right now (including the iPad).  I have a Samsung Epic 4G phone so I am already a fan of the Galaxy’s interface.

If you like Android based phones, I think you’ll really enjoy the Galaxy. Right now you can get a pretty good deal because the next generation is almost out.

If the latest and greatest is for you – buckle your seat belts, because in this author’s opinion, Samsung is the most innovative next to Apple at the moment. The new Galaxy tablet is going to be super slick.

This is not a bits and bytes analysis of the Galaxy. After personally buying the device I thought I’d share my thoughts and offer insight to anyone considering buying one.  I welcome your feedback!

Apple’s iPad 2 is rumored to be available in a 7 inch screen.  If so, the 7 inch display may be where all the tablets are headed.

When buying a Galaxy, you have two options. Sign a long term data contract and save a few bucks up front or pay for the device outright.  I chose the latter.  You can get one for $299 thru Sprint with a two year data plan or for $499 without one.  It’s slightly cheaper in the long run without the plan.  My phone acts as a wifi hotspot, so I didn’t feel a long term data plan was right for me.

I find the Galaxy Tab a compelling device with certain strengths and weaknesses.  It doesn’t weigh a lot – and so far I’ve been very pleased with the battery life.  One thing I wasn’t thrilled about was how it charges. The Galaxy comes with a wall adapter with a standard USB plug as well as a cable that looks similar to a regular Apple ipod cable (except it’s black).  This led me to believe, that I could charge my Galaxy with my computer while leaving it on.  Not so fast!!! The USB is a lower voltage than the wall charger, so to charge the Galaxy with your PC it has to be off.  If you use it while it’s plugged in, it doesn’t drain the battery, though.  To help prevent accidental power ups and draining the batter, you have to hold the power button down for several seconds to get it to come on.

After powering it on the first time, it went through a few updates over there air. I didn’t have to connect it to a computer to get the latest updates, unlike my iPod touch.  Samsung adds features to the default OS interface thus making it a bit more user friendly.  This means slower updates to the operating system.  Personally, I like the enhancements and consider them worth it.

Wifi performance has been terrific, better than my Epic. It supports There is no 4G in this generation of Galaxy, but I use it primarily with wifi anyway.  I can disable the Sprint 3G connection by holding down the power button. I carry a wifi hotspot in my pocket thanks to Sprint, so this is how I normally use my Galaxy. In 4G/WiMax areas, this works extremely well.

The version of Android it runs supports Adobe Flash.  Don’t expect your favorite flash content to feel the same on a mobile device.  This type of support is still new so the experience for some Flash multimedia can be disappointing.  It is a safe bet to assume the experience will improve in 2011, though.

The Galaxy makes a terrific e-reader. It comes pre-installed with Amazon’s Kindle software.  However, when compared side by side with the Nook Color, it’s screen’s glossy finish and the screen differences are noticeable. The nook screen is about 1/2 inch larger. The Nook is thinner and noticeably heavier than the Galaxy; but it was specifically designed to be a reader while the Galaxy is meant to be more general.  Try them both if you want an e-reader first and a tablet second.  I got my wife a nook for her birthday and she’s been tearing through novels at a blistering pace.

Another really cool feature is the ability to use blue tooth keyboards and mice!  Not all of them work from what I’ve read, but there is a lot of information online about this.

In the Android market place you can buy apps which allows you to customize your tablet entirely.  I like having more options and flexibility, but it’s a matter of preference.  This was another big advantage over the iPad in my mind. I like the iPad interface, but it gets old.

When it comes to media, good luck easily buying and watching an HD movie on your iPad while you’re going down the highway, on a bus, or in a crowded airport.  I can pull my Galaxy Tab out and easily watch an episode of House or catch up on a Harry Potter movie in high definition. Check out the Samsung Media Hub, it’s a cool feature for sure.  You can get movies and television shows without having to connect to a computer.

Notice I can rent or buy the movie!

SyFy channel - 'nough said!

Lots of channels

Pick your poison!

You can filter content by Genre

Here are some things you might want to think about when considering the Galaxy Tab:

  • Full Keyboard support (wired via Samsung accessory or wireless via blue tooth)
  • The Samsung Media Hub (you can buy or rent movies and TV shows)
  • 1080P HD out via Samsung Multimedia Dock (see below) (Standard def with a special cable)
  • Amazon Kindle App so it works as a e-reader
  • Gotta keep the kids entertained at the cabin while you unload the car or in the unexpected traffic jam? Believe me, being able to purchase, download, and watch HD content over the air is a million times better than having to use iTunes.

Overall, it’s customizable, functional, loaded with features, has a ton of apps available, will connect almost anywhere, and is ultra-portable.

I am putting the Galaxy up against the Inzi.com Android Tablet Buyer’s Checklist – Use this checklist when shopping for an Android tablet. Features in bold are what I consider must haves.  Good luck!

  • Capacitive Multi-touch Screen – YES
  • Android 2.2 or higher – YES
  • Android Market – YES
  • WIFI – YES
  • Front facing Camera – YES
  • Rear facing Camera – YES
  • Expandable Storage – YES
  • Dual Core CPU – NO
  • 1 GHz CPU or faster – YES
  • Stereo Speakers – YES
  • Headphone Jack – YES