Samsung fires first Android-powered salvo at iPad with Galaxy Tab

Samsung logoApple became the biggest fish in the very small touchscreen tablet pond when it launched the iPad this past spring. But more fish will arrive starting mid-month when Samsung launches its Galaxy Tab mobile device in Europe (US and Asia will get it "in the coming months"). After being rumored and teased for weeks, Samsung officially unveiled its entry into the burgeoning market at the IFA show in Germany on Thursday.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab is a 7" widescreen touch tablet powered by Android 2.2. The Tab will use the same TouchWiz UI used on Samsung's line of Galaxy S smartphones, which gives it a very iOS-like look and feel. Also following the iPad's lead, the device has a metal back, black bezel, bottom speakers, and even a 30-pin connector.

At the heart of the device is the same 1GHz ARM processor and PowerVR GPU core that powers the Galaxy S phones, and is in most respects equivalent to Apple's A4 processor. It also includes 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, and 3G connectivity; assisted GPS capabilities; accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer sensors; and comes with either 16GB and 32GB of built-in flash storage.

Samsung Galaxy Tab

However, there are a few areas where the Galaxy Tab separates itself from the iPad. The display is a 1024 x 600 pixel, 7" diagonal 16:9 wide touchscreen. The smaller size makes the overall device smaller, and at under 5" wide it's almost pocketable. The smaller size also gives the device a higher pixel density of 171ppi versus the iPad's 132ppi, though its widescreen orientation does sacrifice screen real estate. Those that primarily use the device for viewing HD content, however, will really appreciate this design choice.

The device also includes both rear- and front-facing cameras; the iPad's omission of cameras has been heavily criticized. At the rear is a 3MP autofocus camera with LED flash, while the front has a 1.3MP fixed focus camera. In addition to stills, the Tab can record 720 x 480 resolution video.

To expand storage, the device accepts up to 32GB MicroSD cards.

On the software side, the Tab includes the mobile version of Flash 10.1—Apple's iOS devices famously lack Flash compatibility—but the jury is still out on whether that is a benefit or not. The Tab is compatible with a wide variety of audio and video formats for media playback, including being the first DiVX-certified tablet. Like Samsung's other Galaxy devices, it features the innovative Swype soft keyboard. And Samsung is targeting the popularity of the iPad as a full-color e-reader by including a Kobo-developed "Readers Hub" which is compatible with ePub, PDF, Kobo, and Adobe DRM'd content, including books, magazines, and newspapers. By virtue of running Android 2.2, it also includes all the Google apps like Navigation and Latitude, and can access software from the Android Marketplace.

Samsung's Galaxy Tab is the first in a number of Android tablets that have been announced or rumored for release late this year or early next year. Samsung has not yet announced pricing, exact ship dates, or carrier partners for 3G data service, but it says the device will first launch in Europe in mid-September, to be followed by US and Asia sometime later this year.

Source: ars technica

Tags: Android, Samsung, tablets

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