Tablets

Much-anticipated Android tablet coming to all four U.S. carriers this fall

Here comes the first mass market Android tablet and the first legitimate challenger to the Apple iPad. See why the Samsung Galaxy Tab could be a big hit, as well as the factors that could hold it back.

Here comes the first mass market Android tablet and the first legitimate challenger to the Apple iPad. It's the Samsung Galaxy Tab and on Thursday Samsung announced that it's going to be offered by all four of the major U.S. wireless carriers this fall.

While there have been a handful of Android tablets on the market -- like the Dell Streak and a few Archos models --  and lots of vendors claim to be working on Android tablets, most of them are just oversized smartphones and none have offered a serious challenge to the iPad.

As a result, there's pent-up anticipation and excitement for a serious Android tablet, and Samsung's tablet looks like it could be the device to capitalize on it. But there are also some important caveats to keep in mind about the Galaxy Tab, as we'll discuss.

Here are some of the most important features and specifications of the Galaxy Tab:

  • 1 GHz Samsung Hummingbird processor
  • 7-inch TFT LCD screen with 1024x600 resolution
  • 2 GB of internal storage plus a 16 GB microSD card (upgradeable to 32 GB)
  • Weighs 13 ounces
  • 3.0 megapixel camera with LED flash and 720p video recording
  • 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera for video calls
  • Accessories: Docking station (with HDMI output) for $100, car dock, external keyboard
  • Powered by Android 2.2
  • Access to Android Market
  • Supports Adobe Flash 10.1
  • Samsung Media Hub to share content with up to five devices
  • Data-only in the U.S. (will not make cellular phone calls)
  • Pricing is not available yet; rumored to be in the $200-$400 range with a data contract
  • A Wi-Fi only version (unsubsidized) will also be available, but will likely cost over $500 (even as much as $800)

Samsung's DJ Lee shows off the Galaxy Tab, which is about the same size as the Amazon Kindle. Photo credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET

Sanity check

While the Galaxy Tab is a welcome development for those who've been itching to get their hands on an Android-based iPad competitor, we should keep in mind that Google recently stated Android 2.2 is not optimized for tablets. Hugo Barra, director of mobile products at Google, said, "If you want Android Market on that platform, the apps just wouldn't run. [Android 2.2] is just not designed for that form factor."

That should be a sobering reminder for anyone who gets too jazzed up about the prospects of the Galaxy Tab providing the same kind of polished experience as the iPad. However, Google has also hinted that a tablet-ready version of Android is coming, possibly in version 3.0. We can only hope that the Galaxy Tab will be upgradeable to that version of Android. Still, that will justifiably scare off some potential early adopters.

Take the poll

Also see

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

20 comments
zclayton2
zclayton2

You don't have an "Other" option. I don't want iCandy and I want a tablet, not a glorified palm unit. the first company that comes out with a real tablet format that isn't iSomething gets my money. Hopefully it runs Android.

boomchuck1
boomchuck1

I think they're shooting themselves in the foot by tying it to a data plan. A nice thing about the iPad is that you can buy it for $499 with no data plan. Use it at home or wherever you get wifi and there is no monthly fee. With this it looks like you're going to pay up to $800 to get it with no data plan. Buy it with a data plan and the monthly fees add up to where you'll be paying way more than the iPad costs.

thomas
thomas

I think they ought to size one to fit in a 2 DIN car bay and take over functions like Nagivation, Entertainment pre amp, and perhaps act as a interface to the cars computer to display vital signs if wanted. Then pop it out and take it with you if you want.

SQL_Joe
SQL_Joe

It's kind of small I think. While the smaller size is nice for portability, I'm wondering the effect of the smaller screen.

fdaugherty
fdaugherty

I like the concept at least of the ASUS 10" and 12" tablets. Though the 12" is way too pricey at $1000, that's like a $600-700 jump for 2 more inches.

PeteG_5
PeteG_5

Samsung picked a strange size for their tablet - it's too big to fit in your pocket, so why bother making it that small? Looks like an oversized phone or an undersized tablet.

s-f
s-f

When the cost is in the Sub-$300 range I'll look... Cost is too high for the iPad, and too high for this...

SKDTech
SKDTech

Sorry I am not about to spend enough to buy a computer on one of these tablets, iPad or Android. I would love to have an Android Tablet but Apple did it right by having the OS ready before the hardware was put on the market. Manufacturers could cause a lot of harm to the image of Android tablets if they push too far, too fast.

mike
mike

How about a tablet with no telco strings attached? That's about the only thing I like about the iPad - telco not required.

eddyrox1
eddyrox1

im an android fan, but i think companies are jumping on the tablet thing too fast and too soon. sure it may look like ipad will take over unless they get moving fast enough but then didn't it look like the iphone had already taken over when android first showed it head waaaay back then? now look at the scene. i agree with google that android is not yet ready for the tablet for factor. i dont see how apps will cope up the way they do on the ipad which took all these things into consideration BEFORE. what i believe companies like samsung are doing in fact is damaging the image of android by making tablets before the OS is ready. no matter how good Samsung is they can't make up for the OS limitations despite making hardware that seems to take the iPad limitations head on (hint. camera). i've coded for android and i dont see how or where they can get around the resolution limitations which means that widgets developed to take up half a MOBILE screen will end up taking half the tablet screen... which might look awful. i dont want to be a sceptic here but for once im giving my vote to apple which in this case i believe is ahead because of their iOS optimization. and of course the OS optimization for me, is what come first last and always.

BASYC
BASYC

I think this product will get released to the market and there will be some early adopters...their money will support upgrades in the future (hopefully)...I also think Apple will introduce a new version of the iPad that will include some of the major misses with the current version (i.e. webCAM, USB support, SD MicroCard...)..anyone think this is a tennis match ?..it's all good though, I love gadgets...the more the better !

-M-
-M-

You mean besides an odd, deep seated craving to play with it?

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

The GPS/Sound/everything else system that comes with your car will snap out to be your tablet.

DNSB
DNSB

The article does mention a possible WiFi only version with a potential $500 to $800 price tag. Either pay now or pay endlessly through your subsidized contract.

AndroidGold.com - Best Android Tablets and Phones
AndroidGold.com - Best Android Tablets and Phones

While in features comparisons, the Galaxy Tab may be the most advanced Android tablet on the market, but considering the cost and copious functionality, I would suggest that the Android tablets at http://www.androidgold.com provide more practical utility than either the iPad or the Galaxy Tab. When you consider the pricetag and associated wireless carrier contracts, the cost of the iPad or Galaxy Tab can escalate to well over $1000 over the lifetime of the device. But these Android tablets from China are often under $200 and have Wifi for data connections - which doesn't cost anything for service. While the Android market and capacitive screens are the major missing features on these generic Android tablets, as Google relaxes their grip on the Android Market and the cost of manufacturing capacitive screens drops, expect more and more Android tablets to come onto the market WITHOUT any associations to major carrier networks. Something that should be welcomed by consumers.

gbradburn
gbradburn

Flash support is nice but what about Silverlight. Silverlight is quickly becoming the standard for RIA apps and mobile devices really need to start supporting it. If Samsung offered that I think Apple would be eating their dust.

TG2
TG2

Lets face it, they will be the johnny come latelys. They are competing with a device that will consume precious dollars, and needs to be able to fill the needs of the users. The end goal of most tablets should be to replace the entry to medium level laptops, so that people don't have to carry 2 or 3 devices. Add in the ability to do bluetooth and you will be able to have an entry level laptop, cell phone, and kindle/media sharing device all in one. As to the rest of the package ... it amazes me that the shortcomings of Apple's Ipad didn't really make a dent in its sales. of key importance is memory and storage. no media card reader? what were they thinking... so now everything that gets onto or goes through the ipad has to come from wireless or manually entered? and what of that friend who has a camera, no wifi, just a card? But again... Samsung getting all these items into the device will propel it into the one fits all market.. next would probably be its screen size (little too small).

DNSB
DNSB

Are you ignoring the iPads that do not have 3G? Or simply not aware of their existence? I looked at the two devices at the website you posted and, personally, they seem to offer little value at this point in time. Yes, I would save some money but I would also be limited to the few applications pre-installed with, at this time, no way of easily adding any applications. For the rest of this post, I'm concentrating on the AG2 since it is the closest to an iPad in size. Google states that Android 2.x is not a tablet OS, we need to wait for Android 3.0 to support larger screens. There is no ereader software. Flash support is missing (for those who whine that they *NEED* Flash. Is there any kind of worthwhile guarantee that these devices will support an upgrade to Gingerbread when it is released? Then we move to the full disclosure -- USB 2.0 is unreliable, using WiFi will cause your battery life to drop like a paralyzed falcon and may cause the device to overheat and burn just to hit a few of the low points. Tough decision here. I can spend $500 and get a iPad with app support and excellent battery life even using WiFi or I can spend $200 and get no app support and WiFi that sucks battery life and might flambé the device. YMMV

adimauro
adimauro

Android is Linux based, so I'm assuming it really depends on the robustness of the Moonlight plugin for Linux. It's not bad, but still a few steps behind the Silverlight plugin. The latest version was released in December 2009, with the new 3.0 version currently in preview. The other issue is that, according to the Moonlight webpage, the plugin only works with Firefox. I don't have an Android device, but I'm assuming it comes with Chrome? Can Firefox be installed on Android?

Editor's Picks