Samsung Galaxy TabNAME: Samsung Galaxy Tab (T-Mobile)

PRICE: $400 (w/ two-year contract, plus $24.99 and $39.99 data plans)

FUN FACT: The Galaxy Tab is also available on Sprint and Verizon, with an AT&T and U.S. Cellular release coming soon.

THE BACK STORY: If you haven't been reading the headlines or watching TV for the past six months or so, you may have missed the big story in tech-land: the rise of the tablet. Stratospheric sales of Apple's iPad have encouraged almost every other computer and phone company—like HP, Dell, and BlackBerry—to enter the tablet arena. After the strong debut of its Galaxy S smartphone, Samsung has decided to also join the fray with its Android-powered Galaxy Tab. Though smaller and lighter than the iPad, Samsung believes the Tab can make some noise this holiday season. Can the Galaxy Tab escape the iPad's shadow? After using one for a week, here's what we think...


• Sleek design, nice screen: It's half the size (7.5" X 4.7") and weighs less (13.8 ounces) than the iPad. The solid, glossy casing is as nice as the iPad's and i's slim shape allows the tablet to fit comfortably in any backpack or jacket pocket. It can fit in your jeans pocket, too—but you don't want to be that guy. The addition of Adobe Flash 10.1 lets you watch video on certain web pages and looks stunning on the tablet's 7-inch Super ALOMED screen. Customize up to nine home screens with popular apps and widgets, and control and monitor the wi-fi, Bluetooth, and GPS settings through the notification bar at the top of the touchscreen.

Multimedia mayhem: Samsung's Media Hub offers reasonable prices and a growing media library that should give iTunes a run for its money. Pre-installed apps like Amazon Kindle allows users to transport their e-book catalog, while the ThinkFree Office app lets you view and edit Microsoft Office documents on the go. Also, the YouTube app displays quality HQ videos and games like the addictive Angry Birds run smoothly and play great.

• Hardware specs: The 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 is very fast and allows for swift navigation of menus. Internal 16GB memory and an SD card slot provide enough storage to save movies, music, and photos. In addition, the back-end 3MP camera offers various shooting modes and produces impressive photos and videos, while the front-facing 1.3MP works well for video-conferencing (via the QIK app).

Communication tools: User-friendly features like email-syncing and the Feeds and Updates widgets let users manage and post messages via email (Gmail, Yahoo, Exchange) or social-network accounts (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace). The Voice Search function responds well to spoken commands and generates accurate Google results. Finally, the popular Swype feature, which lets you type by sliding your finger across a virtual keyboard, makes a welcome return.

Samsung Galaxy S Tab (2)

Unpolished software: Google warned us that FROYO (Android 2.2) wasn't fully built for tablet use. Samsung's TouchWiz 3.0 UI seemed sluggish at times, but mostly when we had four or more apps open simultaneously. The built-in accelerometer was sensitive to movement and struggled to recognize the difference between portrait and landscape mode. We anticipate the upcoming Gingerbread OS (which Google claims is tablet-ready) come year's end.

Awkward and missing features: Despite the ability to use the Tab to send and receive text messages, Galaxy smartphone fans will be disappointed to hear there's no call capability. And, since the tablet doesn't sync to PCs or laptops, transferring data is limited to microSDs and recharges are left to the USB wall charger. It would have also been great if Samsung included a kickstand (like the EVO 4G's) to accommodate video viewing.

Limited and unpredictable connection speed: When not connected to the Net through wi-fi, we found the 3G and 4G service (still only limited to certain parts of the country) to be unreliable at times. Web pages took a while to load, and many downloads timed out.

Lack of tablet-friendly apps: Unlike the iPad, the Galaxy Tab suffers from having only exclusive apps, with nearly 90 percent of the Android Market catered towards the smartphone demographic. Several apps, such as Rhapsody, are presented in a minimized, widescreen format, while other apps, like Pandora, are improperly aligned on the screen.


FINAL SAY: Overall, the Galaxy Tab serves as a good alternative to the iPad. Its slim design works great for those on the go, while the Media and Reader Hubs provide great all-around entertainment on a gorgeous display for media buffs. While the Android platform is still being tweaked, the addition of 4G service, two cameras, and a future update of the Gingerbread OS give the Galaxy Tab at least a few advantages over the smaller Dell Streak and larger iPad.

Click here to Buy It Now at T-Mobile, $400