I am the proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy Tab. I’ve had my tab for around nine months, give or take. I use it every day, sometimes for hours a day. It has its flaws, it has its glitches, but overall, I’m pretty sure I’m in love.
I decided to get a Galaxy Tab, not because I’m a techy (I am not!), not because I’m a gadget fiend, but because I’m diabetic. You see, in my quest to not need medications and not suffer complications related to my diabetes, I found myself riding my recumbent stationary bike daily. Which is, as you may know, stultifyingly boring. I discovered that I could use my Android phone to play games, check mail, etc. The problem? My eyes really struggle with the size of the screen, so my workouts were ending with wowser headaches. I needed something with a bigger screen.
Now, a lot of folks have asked me why I “settled” for a Galaxy Tab instead of getting an iPad. The answer is simple—I didn’t “settle.” I quite purposefully chose the 7 inch (not the 10.1 inch) Tab because of its size. I wanted something markedly bigger than my phone, but small enough to slip into my purse. That’s my Tab.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab looks—well, like a touch-screen tablet. It’s sleek, not too heavy, easy to handle, and reminds me a lot of our 50 inch Samsung plasma, only a lot smaller. Same sort of shiny, slick appearance. It has a couple of buttons along one side (on/off, volume), a few “holes” (for recharging and headsets), and the slot for microSD™ memory.
Speaking of the memory slot, the Galaxy Tab offers 592MB RAM, 512MB ROM, and 2GB Internal Memory, plus an included 16 GB microSD™ card. Memory is expandable up to 32 GB via microSD™.
Being a touchscreen tablet, there isn’t an actual, physical keyboard here. There is an onscreen keyboard that pops up when needed and goes away with the touch of the “back” button. It’s a good-sized keyboard—if you’ve ever had to “swype” on a cell phone, you know how hard that can be. This is much easier for the fat-fingered among us. The predictive text is good, as such things go, and typing can be accomplished by per-key typing or something called “swyping,” which involves dragging the finger or thumb from letter to letter. Swyping plus predictive text can lead to some marvelous “swypos.” Some may not be happy about that, but it’s one of my favorite things about typing/swyping on my Galaxy Tab.
The Galaxy Tab has a sea of Android Market apps available, including business apps, countless games (both single player and multi-player), health-related apps (I track my blood sugar via an Android app), educational tools and quizzes, art apps, and the obligatory well of animated wallpapers. Me? I play mostly nerdy word games against friends and family, while my son lands jets on air craft carriers. We learn French and Spanish, and translate things into Arabic now and then. We even headed out into the midnight Nevada desert and used the Google Sky app to navigate the stars. While some apps cost (and some cost a LOT), many are free. In fact, all but two of my apps have been free, including my Double Twist app, which enables me to add music (it’s iTunes compatible—I hook up my Tab via USB to my computer and use the PC Double Twist program to pull tunes over) so I have a varied soundtrack for working out. I’m a frugal girl, and free apps really appeal to me. The Galaxy Tab comes pre-loaded with various apps, including Kindle, ThinkFree Office (which is Microsoft Office compatible), a calendar app, a time/weather app, and Adobe Flash, among many others. One of my favorite apps? My freebie Google GPS/Nav app. Yes, it did do a number on us in the hills of West Virginia (the maps were right, the directions were wrong), but for the most part, it’s done a great job for us, and hey, free is free. The Galaxy Tab’s screen is a perfect size for navigation apps, and my Tab has brought us in safe many times—in fact, it led us across the country!
The Galaxy Tab supports the following formats: WAV, MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, MIDI, and SP-MIDI. Sound quality? I’m no audiophile, I don’t require perfection. That said, even I notice that, in some applications and in some music, the sound is a bit weak. Not so much as to be called “tinny,” but it is close sometimes. You are not going to get a lot of volume here, and if you are a true audiophile, this isn’t going to be your music player of choice under normal circumstances. For me? It’s just fine for working out or nighttime in hotel rooms to drown out the hallways sounds. Headsets can be wired or Bluetooth, and sound through the headsets is definitely better than without, though still not amazing by any means.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab is great for viewing photos, playing games, and watching videos. It supports the following formats: H.263, H.264, MPEG4, 3GP, 3G2, WMV, Xvid, and Divx. Quality is not as good as, say, my 24 inch flat screen LED monitor or my 50 inch plasma TV, but it’s markedly better than my phone, and certainly up to the task of browsing Youtube or watching the average home-shot video. Movies might suffer a little, though I can certainly see loading up a favorite movie for a younger child stuck in an airport or squirming in a doctor’s office waiting room. The display is 7.0" WSVGA with 600 x 1024 Pixel Display Resolution. On a somewhat related note, the Galaxy Tab does, like most gadgets of its ilk, pick up terrific screen glare under some circumstances, making outdoor use on sunny days tough for picture taking.
The Galaxy Tab has an easy-to-use, intuitive interface that makes checking mail a breeze. I have all of my email accounts bundled together under one email icon on my main page—one tap of a finger, and there are my emails—not as webpages, but as a single, cohesive grouping. Reading, deleting, responding, forwarding—most of the things you would expect to be able to do, mail-wise, with a computer you can do with your Tab. Even attaching photos is a doable, though that is done through the camera’s “share” option.
In addition to email, the Tab also offers up pretty much every type of text/instant messaging, chats, picture messaging, and is even, with Android programs like Qik or Fring (available in the Android Marketplace), capable of video chat.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab is NOT a telephone. It is not a cell phone, it does not make or receive calls, even though, for data usage purposes, it is assigned a telephone number.
Speaking of video chat, the Galaxy Tab has two cameras—a rear camera with 3.0 megapixels and flash, and a front camera with just 1.3 megapixels for taking self-portraits. Both have auto focus, shot “modes,” and smile detection. Pictures can be edited through the camera program, and there are multiple options for sharing/uploading, including through Google, Facebook, Twitter, and email. Both cameras can act as camcorders, which is how the Tab can double as a video chat device. These aren’t wowser megapixels or spectacular photo options, but this is a tablet, not a camera, so, for me, it’s pretty amazing that I can take pictures and video chat.
The Galaxy Tab connects to the web via WiFi, 3G, Bluetooth, and/or USB 2.0. Here at home (and in most hotels and some restaurants), I ride off WiFi, which keeps this off my data plan and saves me incalculable wodges of cash. When on the road, I wind up on 3G, which does just fine. I have never connected via Bluetooth, nor have I hooked up with USB (except to pull songs from my iTunes), though I could if I wanted to. My Tab is tied in as part of our home wireless network, which includes our Samsung TV, our computers, and our printer.
Samsung claims that the Galaxy Tab has “up to” 13 hours of usage time. As we all know, “up to” is a tricky thing that doesn’t begin to actually MEAN that much. Have I gotten 13 hours out of my Tab? Probably, but it was sleeping for most of that, with only a few checks of email, some Facebooking and a word game or two thrown in. But heavy use? Meaningful use? No way. The Google Nav app? Eats power so fast you swear you can see the power indicator move. Half battery isn’t enough to use the Nav app for 2 hours. Luckily, the Tab can be charged in the car. But on a hike? Stuck with a dead car? Watch your usage, you could be dead in the battery department in half the “up to” time. Easily.
I’ve learned a few things in the months I’ve been a Tab owner. Things I’d never suspected. Much like a PC, the Galaxy Tab has manageable memory that needs to be cleaned up periodically. That’s right—task managers, settings, temporary internet files and caches to be dumped. And if you don’t keep things clean, the Tab can begin to hang up a bit. Sometimes (not often), it’s got a bit of a lag to it. Open web pages can pile up in the background if you’re not careful to close them when you’re done—this, too, can affect performance. Once in a very great while (it’s only happened twice to me), the Tab locks up in such a spectacular way that the only thing to do is depress the power button and hold it down for 30 seconds to do something akin to a total reset (no worries, you don't lose any programs or saved material). The first time it happened? I cried because I thought my Tab was toast. Then I hopped on the computer and found the power button fix. As far as screen care goes, I have the factory protector still on, so I haven’t put the “ding and scratch-resistant” screen to the test. How have I made the factory protector last? I keep my Tab in a fancy case 99% of the time. It only slides out for the occasional photograph.
And that’s all I have. Like I said, I’m not a techie, I’m just a woman who needed something to keep her occupied while she worked out and wound up with a really, really cool toy that does a heck of a lot more than expected. My burning desire for a laptop has faded considerably now that I can email, Facebook, web chat, and play games on my remarkably more mobile Galaxy Tab. No, I don’t think this Tab could take the place of a laptop if that laptop was needed for business or school—“swyping” gets tiring after a while, and pounding out a 26 page research paper on a Galaxy Tab would almost certainly result in permanent nerve damage. But for folks like me who just need a nice gadget to keep in touch, keep entertained, and do a little work here and there? It’s a gem.
**Note--review moved because the original placement stated 3 GB instead of 16 GB
A couple of things. Firstly, I won an iPad 3 in a writing contest here on Epinions. As a result, I can really see the difference between iPads and my Galaxy Tab. It's sixes--the iPad has a more sensitive screen and better display (more brilliant, though Galaxy's is nice), but the Galaxy offers SWYPE (which I love), is more portable (fits in my purse), and has a much better array of FREE apps available. I'll be reviewing the iPad soon, but wanted you to have a feel for how they compare. Secondly, I wanted to share last night's near-tragedy. My son accidentally sent my Galaxy Tab crashing to the hardwood floor (from a standing/moving position). The BANG of it slamming, end-first, then screen-down, to the floor was wrenching. Had it been an iPad, it would be toast. No doubt. But it's not--it's a Galaxy Tab, and it's fine. No damage. Screen's great, machine works like it always did. I am super impressed (and relieved).
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