updated 08:00 am EDT, Thu September 2, 2010
Samsung Galaxy Tab launches in weeks
Samsung this morning finally took the wraps from the Galaxy Tab, its first tablet and the first major competitor to the iPad. The device revolves around its seven-inch, 1024x600 LCD and is Samsung's first handheld to ship with Android 2.2 -- and Flash 10.1 -- out of the box. Although traces of Samsung's TouchWiz are evident, most customizations have been for apps tailored to the larger screen size: Media Hub serves as a video portal, Music Hub handles audio, and a Readers Hub follows in the footsteps of iBooks.
Apart from being smaller and more portable, the hardware is consciously designed to be more flexible than from its American counterpart. Samsung outfits the Galaxy Tab with a rear three-megapixel camera for typical and a 1.3-megapixel front camera for video chat. It also carries full HSPA 3G by default and has either 16GB or 32GB of storage built-in with a microSDHC slot still present to take more. Bluetooth 3.0 and 802.11n Wi-Fi provide short-range wireless.
The custom-made 1GHz processor, PowerVR SGX540 graphics and 512MB of RAM are enough to play 720p video and current mobile 3D visuals, including newly added DivX support. Taking a clear cue from the iPad, however, there's a 30-pin dock connector in place of USB or video output; the port is the sole point of entry for add-ons that include HDMI and keyboard docks.
Samsung is launching its tablet first in Europe, where it will be available by the middle of this month. Launches in the US and other countries are due in the "coming months," although one of these is known to be Verizon through an EVDO-capable model.
Whether or not the Galaxy Tab will have success against the iPad or other rivals isn't clear. The device is rumored, though unconfirmed, to be in production at just 100,000 units a month, or well under Apple's figures even from this past spring. Tests with carriers like Verizon and Vodafone also suggests that it may be locked into subsidized data contracts. The decision would lower the initial price but would lock buyers into extra data plans they might not be willing to embrace where the iPad is always unlocked and contract-free.
Note: Although the Samsung shot of an augmented reality app (below) shows a "Galaxy Cafe," no such shop is known to exist at 175 5th Avenue. However, the location does have Apple Communications and Mac Cosmetics.