Because of its seven-inch screen, the Tab is closer in size to a six-inch Kindle and Nook than the iPad. And like those popular eReaders, bookworms can read eBook with one hand, using finger swipes to turn pages.
While the Kindle app that came pre-loaded with the Tab (AT&T Tab owners get the NOOK application) won’t make me file away my eReader permanently, it does well enough in a pinch (there are also Nook and other eReader apps available for free in the Android Market). Kindle owners can align the Tab to their Kindle account and device, which syncs content and bookmarks, meaning they can pick up on the Tab where they left off on the Kindle and vice versa. Also, there are options to change font size, page color (white, sepia, and black with white letters — good for reading at night without disturbing others with a bright white LCD glow), and screen brightness. Those without a Kindle can still open an Amazon eBookstore account through the Tab to purchase Amazon eBooks.
Overall, the Tab’s size makes it preferable to an iPad as a strict eBook reader, but not a Kindle or Nook. I still swear by the Kindle’s eInk as the preferred reading display technology. And the Tab’s glossy screen will do little to reflect glare, whereas the Kindle has no issue with bright lights. However, the iPad’s strengths come with magazine content featuring full color graphics and pictures that can take advantage of the larger screen size.
The Galaxy Tab comes with both a front and rear-facing camera, with a good deal of picture controls. In fact, the Galaxy Tab has more picture controls and options than many entry-level camcorders, though the Galaxy Tab resolution tops out at standard-definition quality. Still, I found the stills and video camera useful, especially considering users can easily upload and tag content to Facebook, YouTube and Picasa directly from the Galaxy Tab. Pictures and videos can also be accessed over a USB connection, or streamed though DNLA via the Galaxy Tab All Share application.
For stills, the rear camera offers the following resolutions:
- 2.4MP (wide)
- 1.5MP (wide)
- .6MP (wide)
- In the picture frame, the camera function has the following features:
- Shooting mode: single shot, continuous, panorama, smile shot, self shot (uses front-facing camera)
- Scene mode: portrait, landscape, night, sports
- Flash: auto on-off
- Exposure value +2 to -2
And it offers the following picture controls under the settings menu:
- White balance auto, daylight, cloudy incandescent, fluorescent
- Effects: normal, negative, black and white, sepia
- Iso: auto, 100, 200, 400
- Image quality: fine, super fine normal
There is also an optional GPS setting for geotagging stills and a digital shutter sound that you can adjust or turn off.
The video camera also has a host of options. Video resolution tops out at 720 x 480, which is standard-definition quality. Users can switch recording modes to “limit for MMS (multi-media messaging), which lowers the resolution to 176 x 144. Users can also turn the recording light on and off, and adjust the exposure value (+2 to -2).
Within the settings menu, users can also adjust the white balance, apply effects, and select the video quality (fine and normal only). There are also options to turn off audio recording, review clips after recording, and adjust the shutter sound.
As of December 2010, there is no Android Netflix app, nor can you find Hulu in the Android Market. The reason for that is most likely DRM related, as our sister site Brighthand recently reported.
For Galaxy Tab owners, that leaves the Samsung Media Hub for television show and movie rentals and purchases. Netflix and Hulu have a much larger content library, but Tab owners should be able to find something worth watching in the Media Hub.
On the television side, the Media Hub currently offers next-day sales of popular shows from:
- The CW
- Comedy Central
The selection is limited to the most recent seasons of current series, and all content is priced to own, $1.99 per episode.
The movie side features a more robust selection, heavily weighted toward newer releases with a few classics thrown in. Prices range from $9.99 to $17.99 to own a movie, and $2.99 to $3.99 for a 24-hour rental. Some movies can only be rented.
Movie download times vary according to signal strength, and I managed to download an Iron Man 2 rental (1.22 GB) in approximately 12 minutes. Movie quality is on par with anything offered on the iPad, and the Tab speakers are capable of producing good-enough audio to go along with it, however, listening on headphones is probably your best bet.
The only quirk with the system is that the Galaxy Tab requires an active data connection — not Wi-Fi — to unlock the files the first time you playback media following a download or powering down the Tab, which is something Dragan complained about in his Galaxy Tab review last month.
Reviewed by Grant Hatchimonji
Streaming media from the Galaxy Tab to other Samsung devices is an incredibly simple process, thanks to the AllShare application. I have an internet-ready Samsung TV that was immediately detected by the Galaxy Tab upon loading Allshare, without me even having to tell the device to scan. From there, all I had to do was select my TV from the list of available devices, and then a message popped up on my TV asking me to grant permission for a Galaxy Tab to connect. Upon granting permission, I was ready to go. The entire process of connecting took me all of 15 seconds.
Once connected, you can choose to stream any video, images, or audio (but only one media type at a time) that are currently stored on your Galaxy Tab or media card via DLNA. Playlists are possible, but are done on a piecemeal basis; in other words, you can only create one playlist at a time, without the option of saving any for viewing another time.
The quality of the streaming media is good, but not great. There aren’t any load times (or lag, when viewing video) to speak of, so it doesn’t even really feel like you’re transmitting data from one device to another. But pictures and video can only look so good, especially when dealing with content taken by the Galaxy Tab’s camera, which shoots images that are meant for a 10-inch screen and are therefore in the odd resolution of 2048 x 1536. That being said, all photos and videos play on widescreen TVs with black bars on the side, since the proportions of the Galaxy Tab screen in landscape orientation are not equal to the traditional 16:9 ratio.
It’s also worth noting that anything shot with the self-facing camera is not even worth trying to view on a TV (especially not one as large as mine), because the quality is only 1.3 megapixels. And for whatever reason, the Galaxy Tab uses a different audio codec for videos taken by the front-facing camera, and it was incompatible with my TV, so those videos had no sound.
I was pleasantly surprised by the viewing features on the TV while I was streaming my media. With photos and videos, I could adjust levels of brightness and contrast, do different color sets, and view information about the file. I could also zoom and rotate when dealing with the photos, which is nice, especially since the Galaxy Tab’s camera gets a bit wonky and doesn’t always flip the orientation of a still when the device is held vertically versus horizontally. Slideshow options were adjustable as well, allowing you to change the amount of time between pictures and whether or not to loop. It’s hardly as if viewing your media on your TV is anywhere close to viewing it on your computer in terms of functionality, but it’s nice to know that it isn’t a completely bare bones experience, either.
Reviewed by Grant Hatchimonji
When I wanted to try viewing a movie on the Galaxy Tab, I ran into trouble with Samsung’s Media Hub when my movie of choice failed to download, despite having a wireless connection. Different networks, reboots, and multiple attempts to re-download were to no avail, so I contacted Samsung’s customer service, which proved to be both easily accessible and helpful.
Though I called in the evening (8:00PM, EDT) I still managed to get through to a human operator after navigating through a very short automated menu. The people who helped me were courteous and thorough, and I was only put on hold once for about two minutes when I was transferred to another person who was better suited to help me with my particular problem.
My interaction with the tech support woman turned out to be both useful and informative; she was able to tell me right off the bat that the charge on the credit card that I used to purchase the movie had since been voided, so clearly something was up. She suggested that I clear the movie from my download cue and to erase all of the stored data for the application before attempting the download again, since the file had been corrupted. In the end, that was all it took to fix my problem with the Media hub, with my entire interaction with Samsung’s tech support running smoothly and taking all of 10 minutes to find a solution.
We’ll back up our original review and say that the Samsung Galaxy Tab is an impressive piece of hardware with an ideal size. Steve Jobs is wrong in declaring the seven-inch tablet “dead on arrival” because the Samsung Galaxy Tab is alive and kicking with its combination of function and mobility.
It seems all the Tab’s quirks and drawbacks can be traced back to Android 2.2.
In our first review, we praised the “excellent Android OS implementation,” and in the sense that Samsung did its darndest to port the smartphone OS into a form factor even Google admits it wasn’t meant for, smoothing out all the rough edges and hiding the quirks along the way, we still agree.
In fact, the quirks — like the wonky g-sensor and app resolution issues — are relatively minor, and to be almost expected in a first-generation device. And it’s easy to forget them when playing the beautiful and colorful Angry Birds on the Tab, which offers the best Angry Birds experience on any device, hands down.
That said, Android needs to get Netflix and Hulu apps. Those alone, coupled with a dedicated Google video chat function similar to Apple’s FaceTime, would be worth another half star in this reviewer’s mind.
I’m sure Google already knows that, and is readying those features for the next-generation Honeycomb tablets. As for this generation and the Samsung Galaxy Tab, it’s a suitable iPad alternative that shows the potential of future Android tablets.