Samsung’s 7-inch Galaxy Tab Android tablet is not an iPad killer. Nothing needs to die, as far as gadgets are concerned, and the iPad and Galaxy Tab aren’t really even in the same category.
The Galaxy Tab is a very portable tablet, which is one of its selling points over the iPad. If you’re dead set on having it with you at all times it’s possible to do so, though you’ll find that a blazer, some sort of bag, or parachute pants with huge pockets work best. You can stuff the tablet in a back pocket but it’s no way to live. The iPad, on the other hand, basically requires a bag.
This tablet also does a fair amount of phone-like tasks. You can video chat with people using the front-facing camera, stream live video of your surroundings using the rear-facing camera, make Wi-Fi calls using Skype, and things like that. It’s all stuff that’s possible with smartphones that are on the market right now except that it’s more expensive and not as portable.
So aside from surfing the web, none of the mobile features really seem important enough to justify a monthly cellular service plan. They’re nice features to have in a pinch, but it’s hard to imagine too many people getting locked into a two-year contract in order to save $200 off the selling price.
Ah, the selling price. It’s odd to talk in length about price so early in a review, but it’s one of the biggest sticking points with this product.
At $600 to $650 without a contract, the tablet is too expensive for most mainstream consumers. And at $400 with a two-year contract, the total amount you’ll end up laying out over the life of the device is astronomical.
As it’s priced now, it’ll work for certain niche uses related to various jobs, and early adopters won’t find too much to be disappointed about. But for the rest of us, it’s too expensive to offer enough value over a high-end smartphone. The bigger screen is the selling point. Everything else pretty much available on just about any higher-end Android smartphone.
A Wi-Fi-only version priced at $300 would likely fare much better. If you think it’s impossible to hit that price point with a high-quality 7-inch Android tablet, just wait. Within the next six months, we’ll be inundated with them. Until that happens, Samsung has a nice first-mover advantage.
It’s not the first to put out a 7-inch Android tablet, but it’s the first to put out a high-quality 7-inch Android tablet with impressive hardware, all-over wireless data, and a thoughtful user interface that’s available from all the major cell phone carriers. Simply put, it’s easily the best 7-inch tablet on the market.
Samsung’s got no reason to price the tablet aggressively right now, but I can’t see it keeping the price at $600 for too long—especially when a whole flood of competitors hits in the next three to six months.
So assuming that price isn’t an issue for you, there’s a lot to like about the Galaxy Tab. The 7-inch touchscreen is bright and gorgeous, helped in large part by its 1024×600 resolution and capacitive panel. The tablet is great for watching videos, surfing web pages, and most apps from the Android Market look exponentially better blown up on the bigger screen. Playing Angry Birds on the Galaxy Tab is almost worth the price on its own. Almost.