Samsung Galaxy Tab review

Samsung's eagerly anticipated Android tablet is finally here, but it doesn't live up to all the hype. Read our in-depth review to find out why.

The Tab is a Google-approved device (not all Android devices are), so the Android Market app is installed giving access to a large number of third-party apps. Oddly, Samsung has included its own app store, but it's sparsely stocked with only a couple of apps available at present. A couple of useful apps are already pre-installed on the Tab though.

A read-only version of the ThinkOffice office suite is included. Although it can't create new documents, it can open and edit existing ones. The interface is easy to get to grips with. It displayed complex spreadsheets well. Although it incorrectly rendered a couple of graphs, at least they were still viewable and weren't stripped out when the file was transferred back to a laptop. This can't be said for all mobile office suites. Although it couldn't display the track changes information in a Word file, that information was still preserved when the file was transferred back to the desktop, even after editing and adding new text in ThinkOffice.

A button in the notification bar allows you to lock the Tab in either horizontal or vertical orientation handy for reading in bed. Copying, deleting and backing up files is easy since the file system is user accessible under Android 2.2, which isn't the case on the iPad. Samsung's included file browser app works well enough, but it's a bit basic for example, there's no way to rename files.

Samsung has added a much-needed printing feature, but we couldn't make it work and the lack of any documentation didn't help. Copy and paste remains a mess. The standard Android copy and paste interface is fiddly and sluggish compared to the iPad's. Samsung has implemented its own copy and paste interface in some apps, such as the web browser, and it is almost identical to the iPad's. Unfortunately, while it's easy to use, it sometimes suffers from the sluggishness that afflicts the rest of the web browser interface.

Verdict

We wanted to like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, hoping it would have all the strengths of the Pad, but none of its weaknesses. We loved its slender, lightweight and attractive design. The microSD card slot is undeniably useful. The bundled apps, although rough around the edges, allow you to get real work done. Unfortunately, the sluggishness of the touchscreen interface, as well as some badly designed features such as copy and paste, can make the Tab infuriatingly frustrating to use, especially when compared to the iPad. It’s all the more frustrating given the Tab’s powerful 1GHz processor and ample RAM. You may be nonetheless still be tempted by the Tab’s slender and lightweight build, but we can’t recommend it wholeheartedly - especially as it’s no cheaper than the 16GB 3G iPad. We’d recommend waiting for a software update, perhaps the upcoming Android 3.0 Gingerbread operating system due next year, to fix the Tab’s software issues before buying. If you must have a tablet now, the iPad is still better, despite its own flaws.

Processor: ARM Cortex A8, 1GHz Memory: 512MB RAM Graphics: PowerVR SGX540 Hard disk: 16GB solid state disk Display: 7in 1,024 x 600 pixels, LED-backlit screen Features: Three megapixel rear-facing camera, 1.3 megapixel forward-facing camera, microphone, speakers Connectivity: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G 900/2100, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 GPS: A-GPS Ports: 3.5mm headphone audio socket, microSDHC memory card slot Dimensions: 120x12x189mm (WxDxH) Weight: 384g Warranty: 1yr C&R warranty OS: Android 2.2 Part code: GT-P1000

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