The Galaxy Tab’s 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and video call functionality are two huge features the Android tablet has over the iPad, which has no camera. As mentioned above, the Sprint Tab ships pre-installed with the latest version of the Qik video chat app, but there are plenty of other video chat apps, including Fring and Tango (Skype claims they are working on one for Android as well).
Video chat on Android still needs work and applications often hiccup with bugs and dropped connections. However, you should have no trouble making a Tab-to-Tab Qik video call over Wi-Fi, provided you are using version Qik version 4.40 or later.
At TabletPCReview, we tried Yahoo Messenger’s new video chat feature — which is still in beta — as it actually enables video chat from the Tab to desktops and laptops. From the Tab, I called TabletPCReview Assistant Editor Grant Hatchimonji over Wi-Fi, who was on his netbook.
On both ends, the Galaxy Tab and the laptop, the video quality was slightly pixilated, but still impressive. The voice quality also sounded tinny and compressed, but otherwise audible and clear — if not always in sync with the video. Otherwise, it was an effective and surprisingly simple experience.
We later tried the same call over Sprint’s 3G connection with no luck connecting.
European users can use their Galaxy Tab like a really big phone through headphones or a Bluetooth receiver. Unfortunately for American Tab owners, that functionality was disabled.
Still theres hope for really big phone fans. Skype for Android works just fine, and it’s a free download to boot, offering free calls to other Skype contact and inexpensive calls to mobile phones and land lines. Users don’t need headphones or Bluetooth either, as Skype works great with the Tab’s on-board speakers and microphone.
While all models sport the same specs, the Galaxy Tab slightly differs by carrier. The base unit is offered by Sprint and US Cellular, sports sheer plastic with a black trim along the screen and white backing. The T-Mobile Galaxy Tab is the same, but all black.
Both the AT&T and Verizon units have a black backing with small rubber bullets adding texture, making it easier to grip and hold. Having tested both, I prefer the textured design.
Verizon Galaxy Tab
Sprint Galaxy Tab
There is also a slight difference in the pre-loaded apps. While all ship with the same basic Android and Google apps also found on Android smartphones, there are a few carrier specific programs. We tested out both the Verizon and Sprint Tabs, and the Verizon Tab came pre-loaded with a full golf game and a first-person shooter. Both are great additions and the first-person shooter was surprisingly fun with the touch and tilt controls. The Sprint Tab had an app labeled “Free Games!” that was just a shortcut to the Sprint Gameloft outlet. Point Verizon.
As of December 8, 2010, the Sprint Tab has one up on Verizon’s in video conferencing as Sprint’s comes pre-loaded with the latest version of Qik (4.40), which offers video call functionality. While the app is freely available in the Android Market for Verizon Tab owners to download, it is still limited in a previous version (version 3.765) that does not support video calls, only video messaging. Point Sprint, but it will be a wash once Verizon updates the Qik application. Finally, the Sprint Galaxy Tab also ships with a microSD adapter. The Verizon unit does not.
These are all minor differences. What should sway your decision on which Tab you buy is which offers the most appealing price and data plan, which are outlined below.
Galaxy Tab Price and Data Plans Compared
Prices accurate as of December 8, 2010
|Subsidized price (2-yr. contract)||N/A, month-to-month service only||$399.99||$399.99||N/A, month-to-month service only||$199.99|
|Instant savings?||N/A||Yes||Includes $50 mail-in rebate card||N/A||Includes $100 mail-in rebate (Visa debit card)|
|Plan 1||$14.99/250 MB||$29.99/2000 MB||$24.99/200 MB||$20/1000 MB||$14.99/200 MB|
|Plan 1 $/MB||$0.05996/MB||$0.014995/MB||$0.12495/MB||$0.02/MB||$0.07495/MB|
|Plan 2||$25/2000 MB||$59.99/5000 MB||$39.99/5000 MB||$10/each additional GB||
|Plan 2 $/MB||$0.0125/MB||$0.011998/MB||$0.007998/MB||N/A||