Do features and functionality outweigh price?

Pros and cons of the Ipad vs the Samsung Galaxy Tab

The Samsung Galaxy Tab has been hailed as the only serious competitor to Apple’s popular iPad currently available in SA. Although the iPad is still the tablet of choice for most people, Samsung has created a device that does a convincing job of addressing some of the iPad’s shortcomings.

One could think that the smaller size might be a downside for the Galaxy Tab, but its relatively smaller size next to the iPad actually makes it far more practical. Its slick black and white-styled body is about half the size of the iPad and it fits comfortably in any sized bag — including a ladies handbag. The Galaxy Tab is equipped with an 18 centimetre screen (measured diagonally), making it possible to hold the device securely in one hand. This is not possible with Apple’s device.

The Galaxy Tab is the first tablet device to use Android as its operating system. Many people were sceptical about Samsung’s decision, especially given that the operating system was not built for tablet-like devices. We think that criticism is misplaced. Android works well in this form factor and on the Galaxy Tab, it runs quickly, too. The menus and scrolling are responsive and intuitive on the device’s 1GHz processor.

There’s lots of other cool stuff shoved into the tablet, including high-speed 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity. The battery life is very good: about four days on standby and light use and six or seven hours with moderately heavy use. The operating system allows for up to five customisable home screens, and additional applications and widgets are easy to come by.

The camera on the Tab is reasonable, but with only 3-megapixels it’s not about to replace your point and click. The device can play back full high-definition video, but it records at only 720×480 at 30 frames a second. So, the Tab is quick, it fits neatly in one hand, and is generally a practical everyday device.

But it also has its downsides. The biggest is that it often behaves more like a very large smartphone than a full-fledged tablet PC. Samsung hasn’t tweaked Android much — some menu options refer to “your phone” instead of “your tablet”, for instance.

To take advantage of the Samsung App store, you need to have a Sim card installed. For most, this won’t be a problem, as South Africans are likely to buy the device from their cellphone service provider on contract, but for those hoping to use Wi-Fi exclusively, it’s an inconvenience.

In all, the Galaxy Tab is a great little device. But it’s priced incorrectly. At the suggested retail selling price of R7,899 the Tab is too expensive. One can get the Galaxy Tab through official channels in SA and more than one million units were sold in the first month, but Apple has once again managed their marketing and release campaigns with military precision.

The Apple iPad 2 is destined to reach our shores in April 2011 – this provides a very small window of opportunity specifically considering Apple sold 450,000 units in the first week after launching iPad version 1. Combine this with 85 million iPhone QoS devices sold worldwide and it seems as if the Tab will not rule the galaxy.

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