Samsung's Galaxy Tab is the iPad's greatest fear, a tablet that feels as solid, works almost as smoothly and delivers many things Apple's tablet can't. In many ways, it's also more desireable. Here's why...
It's not the Super AMOLED screen from the Galaxy S, a shame, but one we can forgive for accessible pricing. After all, it's not as though the iPad has a Retina Display. You won't find us complaining about the Galaxy Tab's screen though, which is eminently watchable. The skinned Touchwiz 3.0 Android will be familiar to Galaxy S users.
That's a front-facing camera. Take that, Apple. It's only VGA, but of all things that might make video calling plausible in future, it's tablets, not phones, that are the better medium for the message.
There's a proper cam round the back, this time packing a 3MP sensor and LED flash. Naturally enough you can upload and send the Tab's pics via Wi-Fi, 3G, Bluetooth 3.0 and DLNA-certified devices such as TVs.
And there's the rest of the back. It's plastic, not aluminium, but unlike the Galaxy S's flimsy casing this feels solid and defined. It's flat as well, so there's no rocking chair effect when you type on a table top.
The usual Android button configuration is present and correct, while pleasantly subtle haptic feedback affirms your presses on the touch-sensitive icons. Let's hit the browser button...
Wow! That was fast. And let's face it, this is where you'll spend more time on your tablet than anywhere else in all probability. More good news – there's pinch to zoom and the Tab runs Android 2.2 (Froyo), so there's also Flash 10.1 support. Ace.
This is – for want of a better way of describing it – Samsung's iBooks. It's called Readers Hub, and sits alongside the company's new Music Hub (no prizes for guessing what that feels like). Accusations of copycat-ism aside, it's pretty nice. Let's take a look at what happens when we go into the magazine library...
Nice. And these, like the newspapers, can upload over the air. It's a really smart interface and while we didn't go into it in much depth, it seemed pretty much glitch-free, too. Remember, this is a 7in device, so it will go into your pocket (just). Don't believe us?
And don't forget the Galaxy Tab is a phone, too. Calling on the 5in Dell Streak felt weird, so don't expect not to get funny looks, but it's totally usable if your phone's lost its mojo or you just want to leave it at home. All in, this feels like a smart move by Samsung – it's taken the best cues from Apple's pack leader and made something that feels like it belongs in a slightly different category. Anyone who denies there isn't room in the tablet market for more devices hasn't used a Galaxy Tab.