10 reasons why I'm dumping the iPad for Samsung's Galaxy Tab

10 reasons why I'm dumping the iPad for Samsung's Galaxy Tab

Summary: TechRepublic's Debra Littlejohn Shinder has decided to dump the iPad for the Galaxy Tab. Here's why.

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This is a guest post by TechRepublic's Debra Littlejohn Shinder. For more posts like this see the 10 Things blog.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is a 7-inch tablet that looks a lot like an overgrown Galaxy S phone, without the phone functionality. It debuted in the U.S. this month and will be available from all four major U.S. wireless carriers. (Note: Versions of the device sold outside the U.S. do have phone functionality; this is a limitation imposed by the U.S. carriers.) Reviews ranged from glowing (”It’s a Tablet. It’s Gorgeous. It’s Costly) to scathing (”A Pocketable Train Wreck“).

I bought an iPad for one simple reason: I wanted a light, thin tablet I could easily use out on the patio, while riding as a passenger in a car, while lying in bed, or while sitting on the sofa in front of the TV. All of these are situations where a regular laptop or notebook, or even the bigger and heavier convertible tablets, just didn’t work as well. The iPad was the only thing on the market at the time that fit those criteria at a cost of under $1,000.

But I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the iPad from the beginning. I love the form factor and the ease of connecting to a network and setting up my Exchange email account. But I hate the lack of storage expansion, its frustrating inability to display Flash-based Web sites, and the difficulty of entering text on its keyboard. And it’s still just a tad heavier and bulkier than I’d really prefer for the uses to which I put it. Most of all, I hate Apple’s ironclad control over what apps I can install.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting a viable alternative. I’m a Windows loyalist from way back, and I’ve used Windows Mobile smart phones since I got my first, a Samsung i730 back in 2005. I still have an Omnia II running WinMo 6.5, but recently I was won over to Android, first by testing a Droid X and then by testing a Samsung Fascinate. I fell in love with the Fascinate, which is a Galaxy S phone, so I had a feeling I was going to like its big brother, the Galaxy Tab. And I was right. In fact, despite the Tab’s somewhat high price, I’ve decided to dump the iPad for the Tab. Here are 10 reasons why.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Size

Yes, I loved the iPad’s 9.7-inch form factor when I got it. That’s because it was so much smaller and thinner than the tablets (Windows-based convertibles and slates) I’d used in the past. But it still wasn’t quite enough. It’s just a little too big to slip into my favorite small bag. Want to put it in your pocket? Forget about it. And unless you’re a big, burly guy (I’m not), holding it in one hand isn’t easy to do.

Steve Jobs pronounced 7-inch tablets “dead on arrival.” He might think bigger is better, but I disagree. The Tab’s 7.48- by 4.74-inch dimensions (compared to the iPad’s 9.56-by-7.47) make it roughly half the size of the iPad. And that means it’s easier to hold onto and manipulate, easier to “thumb type” on, and easier to fit into a small bag or even a large jacket pocket.

2: Weight

At 25.6 oz. (a little over a pound and a half), the iPad seems light — especially if you’re comparing it to older style tablets that weighed 3 to 4 pounds. However, if you hold it up for a moderate period of time, you find that it gets tiring. This is especially important if you use your tablet for reading ebooks. And carrying it around adds a noticeable, if not burdensome, weight to your bag.

The Galaxy Tab weighs in at a trim 13.4 oz., less than a pound. The difference might not seem like much, but it makes it far easier to use for longer times without tiring and makes it more likely that I’ll bring it along at times when I might not bother to bring the iPad because of its bulk and weight.

3: Expandable storage

One of my biggest complaints about the iPad was the lack of a flash memory slot to allow me to add more storage space. Of course, Apple didn’t want me to buy an SD/microSD card from one of many vendors — they wanted me to buy a higher capacity, more expensive iPad from them. That type of blatant gouging is one of the reasons I hate giving any of my money to Apple.

The Galaxy Tab has a microSD slot that will officially accept cards up to 32 GB in capacity. I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we can tweak it to use 64 GB cards when they become readily available, just as we could use 8 GB cards in phones that officially only accepted cards up to 4 GB.

Another nice thing about the Tab is that the memory card slot is easily accessible — unlike on the Galaxy S phones, where you have to remove the back to change out the card (although I give Samsung credit for not making you remove the battery to change the card, as you have to do with many of today’s phones). On the Tab, the slot is on the side of the device and you just open the small cover to access it.

4: Choice of 3G carriers

The iPad has finally come to Verizon Wireless — well, sort of. The problem is that it’s the Wi-Fi only version, since Apple doesn’t make an iPad with built-in support for CDMA/EVDO (the technology used by Verizon and Sprint). To use it with Verizon’s 3G network, you have to buy their MiFi mobile hotspot device and then connect the iPad to that via Wi-Fi. The upside is that you can connect up to five devices to the MiFi — but it means carrying around yet another (albeit small) component.

The Galaxy Tab is going to be available through all the major wireless carriers and will have 3G capabilities built in, so there is no extra device to carry.

5: Better Bluetooth

The iPad comes with Bluetooth 2.1 support, whereas the Galaxy Tab has Bluetooth 3.0. The later version supports faster speeds, up to 24 megabits per second. (Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR supports a data rate of 3 Mbps.)

6: Two cameras

The iPad lacks a camera of any kind. I don’t really mind not having a rear-facing camera, since my phone has a camera and is much better suited for taking photos. Holding the big almost 10-inch iPad up to snap a picture would be awkward anyway. But I always thought the tablet form factor would have been perfect for video conferencing — if only the device had a front-facing camera.

The Galaxy Tab has two cameras, a 3.2 MP rear-facing and a 1.3 MP front-facing one. And the device itself is small enough so that the rear camera will be a lot less awkward to use.

7: Flash

Steve Jobs has made it clear that he hates Adobe Flash and doesn’t want it on the iPhone or iPad. I’m not a big fan of Adobe myself, but there are just too many Web sites out there that rely on Flash, and the lack of support for it can make browsing the Web with an iPad a frustrating experience.

The Galaxy Tab includes Flash Player 10.1, so you can access those Flash-enabled sites. This does slow things down a bit, but it’s far better than not being able to access them at all.

8: Swype

The iPad is too big for thumb typing, and although you can (sort of) touch type on it, that’s likely to result in a lot of errors, in my experience. That leaves me doing a modified version of touch typing, in which I have to look at the keyboard while I’m typing, and it slows me down. Worse, it’s uncomfortable to try to do it for any length of time. Thus, I use the iPad for consumption but try to avoid creating text content on it.

The Tab, like the Galaxy S phones (and other Android phones I’ve tried) comes with Swype. It’s a different way to enter text, by sliding your finger from key to key, and at first you can’t believe it would really work, but it does. I first became acquainted with Swype when I got my Omnia II Windows Mobile phone, and within a week was able to enter text at over 50 wpm — on a phone! I swore I’d never have another phone that didn’t use Swype. After you get used to the longer distance your finger has to travel, it works fine on the Tab, and it’s far less tiring than typing on the virtual keyboard.

We keep hearing rumors of Swype coming to the iPhone/iPad, but so far, it hasn’t happened.

Even if you prefer to tap the keys instead of Swyping, the Tab has a feature that makes text entry much better than on the iPad: You can tap and hold a key to get a secondary character. On the iPad, if you want to type a number, you have to switch to the alternate symbol keyboard. On the Tab, you can simply hold down the appropriate alphabetic key to type the number displayed above the letter. Switching back and forth between the alpha and numeric/symbol keyboards on the iPad drives me nuts, so I love this feature.

9: Comparable battery life

One thing I really did love about my iPad was the battery life. Compared to just about every other portable computing device (other than a simple MP3 player), its stamina was amazing. I easily got close to 10 hours of fairly heavy usage out of it, and since I don’t normally use it that heavily, I could go a week sometimes between charges.

This was the deal breaker on most of the alternative tablets I saw. Many of them sounded great — until you got to the part that said “Battery life: 4 hours.” I wanted something that was comparable to the iPad, that would at least let me use it heavily for a full workday without recharging. The Galaxy Tab doesn’t quite measure up to the iPad in this respect — but it’s good enough. It’s rated at seven hours for video playback, and longer for less intensive tasks. That stacks up well against the iPad, with which I got about eight hours when streaming video constantly.

Another plus is that you can charge the Tab from your computer’s USB port, although you have to use the cable that comes with the device to do it since Unfortunately, Samsung used a proprietary connector on the Tab’s side. This was a strange decision, given that the Galaxy S phones have a standard mini USB port.

10: Freedom

For those who chafe at being under Apple’s thumb when it comes to software, the Tab offers something that’s priceless — the freedom to install apps that don’t have to be “approved” by the phone’s maker. The Android Market is a convenient and easy way to download apps, but you aren’t limited to its offerings.

Of course, the carriers do lock down their devices to an extent, and depending on where you buy it, the Tab may have vendor-installed crapware on it that you can’t easily remove. However, rooting the Tab is easy; there is a one-click app for that called z4root. And it’s likely that custom ROMs for the Tab will emerge in the near future, as they have for Android-based phones .(Just remember that rooting — similar to jailbreaking an iPhone/iPad — voids your warranty.)

Summary

The iPad is slick and pretty and does some things well. I had fun with mine, even though at times I felt like throwing it into the lake. But it lacked a lot of the things I want and value most, such as the ability to expand storage, to “type” at a decent speed,and to carry and hold it comfortably for long periods of time without it becoming burdensome. I also need to be able to view Flash content and do video conferencing. The Tab offers all that, and more.

Sure, the next generation of the iPad will probably include some of these features. But there are some that the iPad is likely to never give us, such as expandable storage and freedom of choice when it comes to our apps. Those things might not be important to everyone, but they’re important to me. So important that I’m dumping my iPad in favor of the Tab.

See also:

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, iPad, Mobility, Samsung, Tablets, Telcos

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  • RE: 10 reasons why I'm dumping the iPad for Samsung's Galaxy Tab

    Each of these things gas a cost.

    Size, obvious really - the Tab feels like a phone in use, this is in part because it's using a phone oriented version of Android, but it's also kinda phone sized. Sure a new version of Android might help. But I do think around 10" is about right. Of course, I carry a phone - so if you're giving that up you might feel differently.

    Weight, this is battery life. I don't find the iPad too heavy. Yes it can feel heavy playing those games that expect you to hold it like a steering wheel... yeah, you don't want to play them for too long.

    Expandable Storage, well then it needs a filesystem, and probably some kind of "eject" facility (I mean "unmount" rather than "pop out"). This is probably the least clear cut of all your objections - on balance I'd probably give you this one.

    Choice of carriers, no idea I live in the UK, you can put the iPad on any carrier you want. I never seen anything nice written about AT&T, you can have this one. Though why not use one of those nifty Verizon 4G WiFi things? Then you can use your laptop too.

    Better Bluetooth, why? What can't 2.1 do? I'll freely admit ignorance on this one.

    Two Cameras, this would be a huge pain in the elbow. I can't see taking a photograph with a tablet (isn't it just completely the wrong shape?) I work (often) in both defence and education - both take a dim view of devices with cameras (this is quite a problem already).

    Flash, really? Having evaluated a Galaxy Tab, I don't see Flash as a good thing - it can reduce a reasonable performance while viewing web pages into a juddering mess. And it often doesn't work. Then there's security...

    Swype, I liked this on the Galaxy Tab, but it seems like a solution for smaller screens. While in landscape the iPad's typing experience is better than any other touch screen device I've ever used. I think the keyboard is a little big for Swype in portrait. But sure on the Tab, it's nice - and surprising how well it works (which is really well).

    Comparable Battery Life, err this isn't a reason.

    Freedom, well I'm not sure who's getting this freedom. But if the Android Market isn't a safe place to buy Apps, and the Apps can do horrible things to my computer - well it doesn't sound like it's me enjoying this freedom. The iPad seems to be offering a different sort of freedom, where I am free to use a computer without worrying about malware, without AntiVirus. This might not be a freedom I want on every device, but you'll miss it when it's gone.
    jeremychappell
    • A lot of good points, but to expand....

      @jeremychappell

      Most IPADS are sold in the US. This review is (obviously) based on US issues, such as the ATT vs. Verizon versions. With Verizon, you do have to get a MIFI. Yet one more device to carry around, as the author puts it. Also, one more device to keep charged up, or to find a plug for (and carry the cables to go with). It turns a "soso..." portable 10" tablet into a "better leave this on the kitchen table" tablet or "stuff all the accessories in the glove box" tablet. Does Mifi give you more access points for your devices? Sure. But so do a few other Palm and Android phones - without an extra MIFI box to lug around!!

      Flash...no offense, but I'm getting a little tired of the Parrot routine. Can't anyone come up with actual VALID points anymore...new ones, that is? This is so 2009-ish! Even Jobs, the originator of these remarkably unsophisticated comments about Flash has recently backed off his claims. The facts are: FLASH is a standard. It's the #2 installed plug-in (after Adobe Reader, which is #1). It's on something like 90+% of public websites. There's an entire cottage industry based on Flash. Not to mention that it was one of a handful of products that kept Apple on the map for almost a decade (remember the good 'ol days when apple made desktop PC's?) - talk about biting a hand that feeds you. Security? Using too many resources? Whhaaaa? "It often doesn't work" --- right. Especially if you use anything made by Apple!!

      First of all, a program, these days (the era of quad core, six core, etc chips from multiple vendors) if some software is heating up your chips and running down your batteries 'cause you're doing those little things like....animation (!) and sound (!), there's something fundamentally wrong with your hardware. Quit blaming the software makers for using every ounce of what a chip can do. It's like someone telling you - "well here's this car that's got 300 hp. But we've set it up so that if you use more than 120 hp it'll start to overheat. So easy on the gas, fella!" I mean think about it. When is the last time you saw the specs on a PC where it stated "this and that I-something from Intel, so-and-so many Gigahertz." And then in tiny little fine print it says "BUT ONLY USE 20% OF THAT, PLEASE". In this age of virtualization where everyone is trying to utilize all those underused clock cycles on their servers and desktops, here comes Apple and whines and cries if an app actually uses a chip's capabilities. How dare they?! Whaaaa (mouth agape) ?! Security - name one major piece of software, OSX included, that hasn't had security updates? Heck, Adobe reader has so many updates we can't keep up anymore...? For what, 1 exploit that's been attacked out of 1,000,000 users or so? Thanks there Steve Jobs. Just what everyone needed, a full-time job patching up for .001% exposure.

      Keyboard - Swype should be available on PC's (nevermind IPADs). I think a touch-enabled keyboard with a swype-type interface would turn most hunt-and-peckers into genuine typists. Without training. It's that good. And this was developed by a 3rd party. A party which has a hard time getting onto the apple market. I sense some jealousy here from Jeremy - and rightly so. It could become a "killer app" in its own right. Just think of the advantage for disabled people, or people using Kinect-like devices. How about using hand gestures to enter data, instead of a 4-button game controller? Mind boggling. How about spell checking as your typing being handled by the keyboard, instead of the program (word etc). But hey, if you prefer to type on keys that are [THIIIIIIIIIIISSSSS] big, keep on with the IPAD. I think Andre the Giant finally found a keyboard just the right size on the IPAD.....My pinkies still hurt from trying to stretch sideways to r...e...a...c...h that last key. Nothing like holding a 10" tablet in one hand and balancing it while pecking around with the other hand. So much fun. There should be a game included with the IPAD keyboard. Something akin to "whack-a-mole". And a tether to keep the IPAD from falling off your balancing hand. Hey, maybe I should patent a hand-strap and sell it on late-night TV?!
      rock06r
      • RE: 10 reasons why I'm dumping the iPad for Samsung's Galaxy Tab

        @rock06r Uhm... Flash is a HUGE power hog. It has nothing to do with playing a simple graphic or playing a simple sound. Since you apparently know nothing about how Flash works, allow me to enlighten you.

        When you run flash (plug-in or app) you are not running a basic piece of software. You are running a library which uses heavily compressed resources. This library is designed to be cross platform, which means it is not optimized for any one platform. Its resources have to be decompressed on the fly (which requires CPU work), and its code then has to be translated to run on whichever platform it is running on. This also requires quite a bit of CPU work.

        In the end you end up with a very power hungry piece of software because there is a large amount of overhead. On a PC, this isn't really an issue, as its plugged into a wall. On a mobile device however, this can result in a huge hit to battery life. Even if it is not used heavily. I disable flash on any mobile device that I use that does support it. Mostly for this, but also because its still somewhat flaky. And Flash did have the highest number of security flaws last year, by a long shot. So don't try and say its no worse than other software.

        As for Kinect vs a game controller with real buttons, you obviously are not a gamer. If you were, you would never say such a thing. Sure motion controls have their place, but it wont ever replace buttons. The Wii and Move both do things correctly by mixing motion and buttons as a control interface.
        Stuka
      • RE: 10 reasons why I'm dumping the iPad for Samsung's Galaxy Tab

        @rock06r As a one time developer of Flash content, it's a bit of a "blank cheque", this is probably OK on a desktop (or even a laptop) where the system can "cash some pretty big cheques". Not quite the same on something "thin and light". Also I know that many of those content elements won't work without a keyboard (yeah, games). Do I feel bad about this? Well no, not really, I never imagined the iPad (I'd probably be a lot richer if I had) so the content was never designed for that. Some of it consumes FAR too many resources, some expects a keyboard or mouse - none of it expected a finger. Security is a problem with Flash, I know nobody wants to hear this, but it is. As for Apple being the bad guy, nonsense, Flash sucks on Linux too. Why? Because Adobe don't care about "non-Windows". Apple can't solve this problem, Flash is closed source.<br><br>Google are already blaming developers for the poor battery life some users are seeing on their Android phones. You burn processor cycles on a tablet or phone then as sure as night follows day, you'll see reduced battery life. You can hate this fact as much as you like, but it's the truth. Maybe one day the battery life will be so good we won't care; that day isn't today, and not tomorrow either. Don't want to listen to me? OK:<br><br>"When there is software running in the background, that just sort of exhausts the battery quickly."<br><br>Google Co-founder Larry Page<br><br>"I have noticed there are a few people who have phones where there is software running in the background that just sort of exhausts the battery quickly. If you are not getting a day, there is something wrong."<br><br>"The primary consumer of the battery life on these phones is the transmit/receive circuit. So tuning that and obviously figuring out a way to not use too much of that extends your battery life," <br><br>Google CEO Eric Schmidt.<br><br>That's right Eric, the reason the battery life is lousy is the software - those damn developers. Trouble is, Android allows this to happen, it's up to the user to figure out which apps are doing it and remove/quit them. I'm not sure I want to wet nurse a mobile device to this degree. Sure on a desktop, I'll "ps aux" and figure it out, but on a tablet... Not so much.<br><br>Look I liked Swype, but I my fingers are used to stabbing full sized keyboards - I don't want Swype there. For smaller keyboards, great - it's a feature I'd like on the iPhone (there I admitted it). On a 10"(ish) touchscreen I don't want it. Yes, YMMV.
        jeremychappell
      • RE: 10 reasons why I'm dumping the iPad for Samsung's Galaxy Tab

        @Stuka
        I have been running flash on my Nexus One since it was available and have seen very few issues with its performance or resource/battery hogging as people label it.
        I have had more issues with with apps than with flash.
        rhonin
      • RE: 10 reasons why I'm dumping the iPad for Samsung's Galaxy Tab

        @rock06r Make mine iPad. This reads like some one who was looking to keep off Apple products. I actually feel Apple hit the sweet spot for size when I play games, read articles and type. You talk about thumb typing and do that while holding it long ways. You can always rotate to get the short way. Less weight means less meat. Is that a good thing? Flash? Really, you want this on your hand held. Have fun getting the touch interface to work. Flash runs at a just functional level on a good PC or Mac. I have worries about the thinking and suggestions you make. Don't get me wrong HTML 5 is in the early stages and it uses resources too, but to use clunky Flash as a reason to buy is not being honest at all.
        spikedstrider
      • Apple saved by Flash?

        @rock06r Ease up on the Adobe Kool-Aide, dude.

        "Not to mention that it was one of a handful of products that kept Apple on the map for almost a decade (remember the good 'ol days when apple made desktop PC's?) - talk about biting a hand that feeds you."

        1) There were a lot of Flash developers working on Macs in the late 90s and early 2000s, and there are still plenty of 'em. Adobe didn't support Mac users out of charity; the company made money hand over fist. But Adobe started making it more and more difficult for Mac users well before the arrival of the iPad. The product development cycle at Adobe has long favored Windows.

        2) The "good ol' days" were never as good to Apple as the "good new days" of today. In case you hadn't noticed, Apple is selling more Macs than ever.

        I also find it humorous that you say Flash is a standard, then say it's the #2 installed plugin. Think about that statement for a moment. The fact that it requires a plugin should tell you something.
        Infonaut
      • No bias here!

        Mr. Dignan makes no bones about it, "I?m a Windows loyalist from way back..." We shouldn't be surprised when he slants or flat-out attacks Apple, just in general, as well as making some points about the iPad in his piece. He does acknowledge it is a version one; doesn't mention 9 million already sold. So be it.
        frabjous
      • RE: 10 reasons why I'm dumping the iPad for Samsung's Galaxy Tab

        @Stuka

        Wow.. thanks for pointing out it's a power hog. I've been using it on my N1 since Flash came out and have infinite power sources available to me (work, vehicle, home, etc.) but to think about all of the times I was using Flash to display the Internet as it was meant to be viewed while my battery was draining away just upsets me. By the way, do you feel the same way about games on mobile devices? Would these not be a "power hog"?

        Mobile versions of websites were designed for devices like the iPhone. I, on the other hand, prefer the "Desktop" version of a website on my device since it's capable of displaying it the way it's meant to be.
        Turge
      • Thank you for your double-standard

        @Stuka

        With all due respect to your programming prowess... everything you have stated can be attributed to any other internet technology. Like HTML, any database/preprocessor language, and CSS. I restate what I said before: Flash is using the resources that the hardware has available. To label it "power hungry" and a "resource hog" is simply idiotic. Unless you prefer to buy 2 chips in your desktops and laptops, knowing that your OS vendor will only support the use of one at a time...?!? What would the sense of having dual core systems be? You're being a parrot.... just listen to your own argument = there's nothing new there, just the same jibber-jabber from a CEO that hasn't written a line of code in 3 decades.
        rock06r
      • RE: 10 reasons why I'm dumping the iPad for Samsung's Galaxy Tab

        @rock06r

        HTML, CSS and most of other softwares don't use compressing technology that is Adobe using in Flash. decompressing is what eats the CPU resources.
        Beside, only in the very latest versions of Flash that Adobe made it to use hardware acceleration when they released Beta 10.1
        NaderBelaid
    • RE: 10 reasons why I'm dumping the iPad for Samsung's Galaxy Tab

      @jeremychappell

      Personally, after trying both, I find that the 7 inch size is much more convenient.
      Xenia Onatopp
      • RE: 10 reasons why I'm dumping the iPad for Samsung's Galaxy Tab

        @Xenia Onatopp

        Must refrain from saying "That's what she said" Too late
        bobiroc
      • RE: 10 reasons why I'm dumping the iPad for Samsung's Galaxy Tab

        @bobiroc

        That's what who said? I was responding to jeremychappell, who expressed the view that 'around 10" is about right'.
        Xenia Onatopp
      • RE: 10 reasons why I'm dumping the iPad for Samsung's Galaxy Tab

        @Xenia - LOL - too funny
        DustinU
      • RE: 10 reasons why I'm dumping the iPad for Samsung's Galaxy Tab

        @Xenia Onatopp

        Sorry bad joke.

        "I find that the 7 inch size is much more convenient" - That's what she said.

        Like I said bad joke. I apologize
        bobiroc
      • RE: 10 reasons why I'm dumping the iPad for Samsung's Galaxy Tab

        @bobiroc<br><br>Sorry, missed the joke somehow. With a name like Xenia Onatopp, I really shouldn't have.
        Xenia Onatopp
      • Boy, bobrockhead

        What an idiot...

        LOL... :D
        search &amp; destroy
      • RE: 10 reasons why I'm dumping the iPad for Samsung's Galaxy Tab

        @Xenia Onatopp en...
        pennwarren
    • RE: 10 reasons why I'm dumping the iPad for Samsung's Galaxy Tab

      @jeremychappell
      Comparable battery life is a legit reason... one of the big things that the iPad has and was shown as a major point was the battery life... so having something that is on the same level as far as the battery life is concerned is legit..
      roadstar99