IFA has not officially commenced but, as was expected, Samsung has already stolen the show. The Galaxy maker revealed its lineup of new devices at an event held a day before the start of the biggest consumer electronics trade show in Europe, with the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and Galaxy Note grabbing all the attention.
Galaxy Tab 7.7 is the latest version of Samsung's 7-inch tablet, launched exactly a year ago, at IFA 2010. Still, the differences between the first Tab and today's model reveal just how much the market has changed in one year's time. The Galaxy Tab 7.7 is apparently slimmer, lighter, more solid and up-to-date. But the most impressive element is the display.
The Amazing Super AMOLED
We are talking about a Super AMOLED Plus screen, just like the one found on the Galaxy S II smartphone, but of course, with a significantly bigger diagonal. There is no question the Galaxy Tab 7.7 screen blows away the competition, including the iPad 2 and Samsung's own Galaxy Tab 10.1. The Super AMOLED on the Tab 7.7 is exceptionally brighter and its colors are impressively bold and surgically sharp. We took the Tab around Samsung's pavilion, even outside, in order to expose it to direct sunlight (it was an exceptionally bright and sunny day in Berlin) and the stark contrast held up in all lighting conditions.
Galaxy Tab 7.7 responds precisely to finger touch and movements characteristic for multitouch. Still, touch responses are not momentary and we noticed slight late tablet response when we zoomed in or scrolled web sites with several Flash elements.
Samsung representatives told us that the products on display were not yet the final versions of the tablet and promised that the 1.4GHz dual-core processor would perform all actions fantastically once the tablet hits the market.
This 7.7-inch Honeycomb tablet will ship with Android OS 3.2 and will have a TouchWiz UX user interface. TouchWiz UX really does significantly improve "pure" Honeycomb at a functional level, just like Sense UI did for the HTC Flyer and Gingerbread. Both UIs smooth out rough edges and add flourishes that Google should port to Android, and actually have in the past. The resizable widget feature in Honeycomb 3.1 was on the first version of TouchWiz UX we tested on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 back at CTIA last spring.
The fact that the Galaxy Tab 7.7 weighs only .7 pounds will be a major selling point, along with the fact that it is only .3-inches thick. Despite a solid metal casing, it feels very comfortable when held, and is rather easy to handle and carry, similar to an eReader.
Interestingly, we still have not come across Galaxy Tab 8.9 anywhere at the tradeshow. Could the Galaxy Tab 7.7 be a market replacement for the Tab 8.9?
An Android PDA
Galaxy Note also got a lot of attention today, and we are still not sure what to make of it. It's not a tablet. Nor is it a smartphone. According to Samsung representatives, it is simply an "electronic notebook" that can be used as a cell phone and a tablet at the same time. Of course, what makes it a notebook in the non-technical sense is the fact that it comes with a pressure sensitive stylus, which is used for creating notes, drawing on the display and snapping screenshots – just like the HTC Flyer.
Galaxy Note has a 5.3-inch Super AMOLED screen, but its unusual diagonal does not make it stand out compared to the Galaxy S II smartphone. This additional inch seems a lot bigger on paper than it actually is in real life, giving us the impression that the Galaxy Note is more like a smartphone, at least at a glance.
Of course, a pen is not something we would expect to use with a smartphone, not by today's standards. Still, the Galaxy Note is too small to be considered a tablet, at least by our measurements. Compared to this device, Galaxy Tab 7.7 seems like a giant. And also, the Galaxy Note can be used to make phone calls.
Another Great Display
The Samsung Galaxy Note's Super AMOLED screen is very convincing, and screen imaging is exceptionally sharp with vivid colors. Still, when exposed to direct sunlight a bit of the contrast is lost, but not to any great extent. The Samsung Galaxy Note is very slim (a little less than .4 inches), but not too light for its size– it weighs .4 pounds, which is a good weight for advice of such size, making it feel comfortable and natural when held.
What impressed us is Galaxy Note's exceptional speed, which is due to its 1.4GHz dual-core processor. Everything runs smoothly on this device, apart from zooming in and scrolling web sites with many Flash elements. Once again, Samsung said that this would be solved once the product is finalized.
The S Pen application for creating notes is well elaborate and we especially loved the fact that it can be used when the device is in portrait position as well as landscape. However, the pen is quite small, and it has to be in order to dock into the device. Though, it seems that writing on the screen would be more practical if it were a little bit thicker and longer. Samsung did not disclose the pen technology, which leads us to wonder if it is an in-house design.
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