Updated: Hands-on with the Sprint Samsung Galaxy Tab

Updated: Hands-on with the Sprint Samsung Galaxy Tab

Summary: The Samsung Galaxy Tab is the best Android tablet device available and has already sold 1 million units. I am getting ready to add my own to the number sold too, how about you?

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I admit it: I jumped to conclusions after my 15-minute first impression of the Samsung Galaxy Tab at the T-Mobile store. Then Sprint sent me an evaluation model and now, after just a couple of hours, I am in LOVE with this device, and trying to decide whether to  buy a T-Mobile or Sprint model.

As you might know I have an HTC EVO 4G, but I only make about 5-10 minutes of calls per month and use it primarily for data so the Galaxy Tab is a perfect fit for someone like me. Check out the Engadget comparison table that breaks down the costs for all of the US carriers with the Galaxy Tab. You might also want to check out my video walkthrough below as I point out some of the cool features in the Galaxy Tab that make it better than an Android smartphone in a few respects.

In the box and initial hands-on

I was actually quite surprised when I saw the shipping box for the Galaxy Tab since it came in a box that was MUCH smaller than I anticipated. I took off the top of the box and the Galaxy Tab took up the entire area, from edge-to-edge. There are some manuals and guides under the Galaxy Tab with a USB cable and A/C adapter underneath this. Unfortunately, the Galaxy Tab does not use the standard microUSB to connect and charge, but rather a Samsung port. I understand that you cannot connect the USB cable to a PC to charge it either and you must use the A/C adapter.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab feels fantastic in your hand and is of higher quality than the Samsung Galaxy S smartphones that I feel are kind of cheap feeling. I like the white back on the Sprint model that helps hide fingerprints on the glossy finish.

Specifications

The specifications for the Sprint Samsung Galaxy Tab include the following:

  • 7 inch 1024x600 Super AMOLED dipslay with Gorilla Glass
  • Android 2.2 operating system
  • EVDO Rev A wireless radio
  • 1 GHz Hummingbird A8 processor
  • 2GB internal memory and microSD card slot for expandable memory options, up to 32GB
  • 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • Internal GPS radio
  • 3.2 megapixel camera and 1.3 megapixel front facing camera
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • 4000 mAh battery
  • Dimensions of 7.5 x 4.7 x 0.5 inches and 13.58 ounces

There are some differences between the Galaxy Tab models, primarily in the internal memory capacities (T-Mobile's has 16GB internal memory) and color of the device back.

Walk around the hardware

The front of the Samsung Galaxy Tab is dominated by the large 7 inch 1024x600 display that looks beautiful. The display is made with Gorilla Glass and the entire front is one flat flush piece, including the four touch sensitive areas for Menu, Home, Back, and Search. It is a fingerprint magnet, but they seem to wipe off fairly easily too. You will also find a front facing 1.3 megapixel camera in the upper right of the front.

The only thing on the left is the microphone opening while the power button, microSD card slot, and volume controls are on the right side.

The power/connection port is on the bottom with speaker openings on either side. The only thing on the top is the 3.5mm headset jack.

The 3.2 megapixel camera and flash are found in the upper left of the back and unlike Android smartphones you cannot take off the back and swap out the battery. The 4000 mAh battery is enclosed in the device.

I had some people at work hold the Galaxy Tab who have seen and used my iPad and they all said that the 7 inch form factor of the Tab was a more attractive option. It is definitely lighter and more portable so I am sure it will be along with me more than my iPad that spends much of the time sitting at home, unless I am traveling.

Software and cool tablet features

The Samsung Galaxy Tab runs Android 2.2 and is FAST. Like the iPad, I though the Galaxy Tab would just be a big Android smartphone, but Samsung has optimized the Calendar, Contacts, Email, Media Hub, and more. I setup the eval unit with my Exchange account and love the way my Calendar appears in both landscape and portrait orientation. Exchange email looks great with the conversation view and preview screen on the right in landscape. I can really see the Tab being used even more than my phones while commuting on the train and chilling out at home. It is just the right size that it will go more places with me than even my iPad and if I did not already own an iPad I would likely be just as satisfied, if not more, with the Galaxy Tab.

Other apps I have loaded that are rocking on the Tab include SlingPlayer Mobile, Tweetdeck, Nook, Kindle, YouVersion Bible, Google Maps (awesome GPS navigation with the large screen), Angry Birds, Evernote, and more.

Which one will I get?

I have decided to purchase my own Samsung Galaxy Tab and am trying to decide between the T-Mobile one and the Sprint one. If I can transition my EVO 4G account to a Tab account then I can avoid the $200 ETF with Sprint and purchase the 2GB monthly data plan for $30, thus saving myself $50+ over what I am paying now on my EVO 4G. Granted I lose the 4G capability and voice functionality, but neither are critical to my needs. As Joel pointed out, the Verizon one is priced too high and not even in my realm of consideration with AT&T having a similar pricing model.

I am a long time T-Mobile customer and get excellent coverage with T-Mobile where I live, work, and play so coverage is not a concern for me. Their Galaxy Tab supports the 7.2 Mbps speed on their HSPA/HSPA+ network so it may be faster than Sprint's 3G. If the Sprint Tab supported 4G I wouldn't even consider the speed issue. I can also purchase the $40/month 5GB plan and if I go over then they just throttle back the speed a bit instead of charging more money. This would save me $40+ over what I pay for the additional Sprint account with the EVO 4G, but I would have to pay a $200 ETF to cancel Sprint. Over the 2-year subsidized period, I could save $450 with Sprint (ETF and monthly fee difference). However, I don't think I could get the $400 initial cost (only been a customer for 6 months) so would have to pay $600 and thus the difference would be $250 for 2 years with the limitations on monthly data and hotspot functionality.

I just bought a NOOKcolor and am now returning it to help offset the cost of a Galaxy Tab. I really like the NOOKcolor, but I do not read magazines, newspapers, or children's books on it so am just going to stick with my Nook 3G. I do plan to keep an eye on the NOOKcolor though since it may turn into a decent WiFi-only Android tablet in 2011 when apps are released for it.

I will soon figure out which Samsung Galaxy Tab I am going to pick up (do you have thoughts on which one to go with?) and will post much more extensive thoughts on the device here. Is there anything you want me to test out on the Tab?

UPDATED: I went to the T-Mobile store and purchased my own Galaxy Tab yesterday after figuring out that the T-Mobile one has 16GB internal with a microSD card slot, free WiFi tethering functionality, and unlimited data (throttled back after 5GB) for only $40 per month. I am paying the ETF to drop my EVO 4G plan and will now save myself $50+ per month with the additional ability to tether when I need to. I also discovered that the Tab on T-Mobile's HSPA+ network is consistently showing speeds double that of Sprint's 3G EVDO Rev. A network (1.7 Mbps compared to 650-800 kbps).

Topics: Tablets, Hardware, Mobility, Networking, Samsung, Telcos, Wi-Fi

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18 comments
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  • RE: Hands-on with the Sprint Samsung Galaxy Tab

    I bought it a few weeks ago and I can only say it's an awesome device. Much better than I thought it would be.<br><br>What's great about it is that pretty much all Android apps can run full screen on it and they really do take advantage of the bigger screen. <br><br>No, this is not like iPhone apps scaled up on the iPad. Those look really bad, whereas Android apps on the Tab really benefit from the bigger screen. This is where it pays off that Android has been optimized for compatibility from the ground up, so that apps adjust to different screen sizes, OS versions etc.<br><br>The fact that pretty much all Android apps look and work better on that bigger screen easily makes up for the lack of "real" tablet apps. <br>The homescreen is also much more useful than the iPad's, since it's customizable with widgets etc. - a bunch of icons simply isn't enough on a 7-10" screen! <br><br>Originally, I was planning to use it mainly as a reader for books and my own notes that write on a tablet PC (regular e-readers are too slow for that).<br>Now I find myself reaching for the Galaxy Tab all the time, instead of my laptop, when I want to look something up on the web, read the news, watch a video etc.<br><br>While the screen isn't exactly huge, the weight of 380g is a sweet spot and I wouldn't want a heavier tablet than that. Until they find out how to make the screen larger at the same weight, I prefer the 7" screen.
    drphysx
    • Scaled up apps don't cut it..

      @drphysx aside from the 3 or 4 apps that Samsung custom coded for this thing.. all the apps are just scaled up.. they are just bigger versions of phone apps meaning they don't change the way you do tasks making them easier or faster to complete.. this is not the case with an iPad where the iPad version of an app actually has more elements, more panels, more button, different gestures etc that only make sense on that larger screen.. iPad apps provide real gains in usability and prOductivity over phone apps.. even choosing your levels and setup etc on angry birds app is optomized for the larger iPad screen.. honestly guys, how can you fall for this bad joke of a device.. if you hate apple..we just a preview of honeycomb yesterday why would you not wait for that to come out when hardware will be cheaper and better instead of buying LITERALLY a giant phone..

      And Mathew.. that's 1mill SHIPPED to the sales channel.. not 1mill bought buy end customer with their cold hard cash.. big difference.. Samsung got paid, but we still don't have any idea how popular this thing really is yet
      doctorSpoc
      • Wow, talk about fragmented!!!

        @doctorSpoc
        [i] the iPad version of an app actually has more elements, more panels, more button, different gestures etc[/i]

        I would recommend staying away from iOS then since you've just admitted that it is fragmented. The Android system sounds less fragmented.
        NonZealot
      • Another interesting point

        @doctorSpoc
        [i]Samsung got paid, but we still don't have any idea how popular this thing really is yet[/i]

        It is very important for you to find some way to state that this is a failure! However, using "the rules", the only thing that counts is profit for the company and thus the only thing that counts is if Samsung got paid. Or are we working off a different standard for Android tablets?
        NonZealot
      • NonZealot.. it's too easy with you.. you don't walk, you run into trap..

        @doctorSpoc lol..iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad apps are actually the same app, that you purchase once, but apple has given devs the tools such that the apps expresses itself differently on an iPad vs. iPhone/iPod Touch.. that's called being intelligent.. an app that is aware of the capabilities and limitations of the device it's on and expresses itself to give the user the best experience possible on that device.. if you look at the sneak peak of honey comb.. Google has copied this exact same scheme into android 3.0.. these guys have no shame..

        you want talk about fragmentation.. look no further than the Netflix for android app.. they needed to write a specific apps for individual device running the same versions of android on devices with the same resolution and size of screen.. now that's what you call fragmented!! that's more than fragmented.. that's completely ridiculous! on android the tablet version of the apps presently have nothing additional to add to users in the way of usability, efficiency etc.. it's simply bigger.. that's it.. it's just a bigger version of the exact same thing.. android tablets are big phones that can't make calls and can't fit in your pocket.. does anyone else thing that this is incredibly stupid??

        i can't believe that people are falling for this scam.. it seriously sounds like a Saturday Night Live skit or something, but it's real.. people like Matthew are actually purchasing these things with a straight face.. i find that incredibly hilarious... LMAO..
        doctorSpoc
      • Where are they not moving?

        @doctorSpoc
        My local HEB superstore (grocery) has a wireless section. They have a PICTURE of a Galaxy tab. They get between 5 and 12 per day and they won't hold for anyone but will call you when they arrive that day.

        I doubt you have played with any. "Scaled up apps", so what, sometimes the app on a 4" screen is too small. Even the magic iPhone perfection app is really too small for the iPhone screen. If I was in the market for a tablet, 7" inches is the perfect size for me (and apparently millions of people). We will be seeing a 7" iPad (maybe 8") within a year no holds barred. The Galaxy tab is only the first of tens of high quality, exceptional hardware spec'd Android tablets coming down the pipe. The dual core Nvidia model for example from Motorola. Just the hardware alone will cause Jobs some heartburn.

        Having played with one and not even been in the market for a tablet I was soooooo temped to purchase it because it truly was a dazzling device. I have played with iPads at Best Buy, for me, it's the size (if an iPad was useful for me, Linux, it is a big useless screen) I didn't like.

        Regardless, the stunning (I was skeptical at the price, I predicted mediocre sales @$399) success of the device means that Apple fans can look forward to a smaller device. :D

        TripleII

        Oh and I can guarandarnteen you the Tab gets 2.3, 3.0, etc. It isn't like you can't enjoy the ride starting now and worry you are OS locked.
        TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
      • Poor Dr. Spoc

        @doctorSpoc
        [i]apple has given devs the tools such that the apps expresses itself differently on an iPad vs. iPhone/iPod Touch[/i]

        Yes, I am fully aware of the existence of universal apps. However, this doesn't happen automagically. Devs have to design 2 different UIs for their application and spend a lot more development effort in the process. When Jobs was talking about how horrible fragmentation was, he was talking about how much harder it was for developers to deal with different screen sizes and resolutions. But lo and behold, we have [b]you[/b] admitting that devs have a [b]nightmare[/b] ahead of them since they need to not only deal with multiple screen sizes (which will only get worse when AppleTV gets iOS apps) but [b]also[/b] multiple UI libraries!!!!! Ugh!!!! Fragmentation!!!!!!!!!!

        [i]i can't believe that people are falling for this scam.[/i]

        And yet no one can deny that iPad is selling well. I don't get it either. Glad to see you agree with me on that.
        NonZealot
      • RE: Hands-on with the Sprint Samsung Galaxy Tab

        @doctorSpoc I am the one who actually owns one, so please... stop talking bullshit.

        The fact that all Android apps benefit from the bigger screen (they are NOT just scaled up, like iPhone apps on an iPad) easily makes up for the lack of "real" tablet apps - which will come with honeycomb anyway!

        And by the way, iOS sucks as a tablet OS!
        A bunch of icons isn't enough for a big screen and a tablet is very different from a phone and NEEDS things like an accessible file system, apps that can integrate instead of isolation, an indexing and scheduling service, real multitasking, Flash.....
        drphysx
      • RE: Hands-on with the Sprint Samsung Galaxy Tab

        @doctorSpoc
        Gee, who do I believe - the guy who actually had hands on, or the guy who automatically craps all over anything Android? You need to change your screen name - you've killed any credibility doctorSpoc ever had. In fact, don't bother writing anything - just sign a blank response, and we'll all fill it in for you.
        radleym
  • RE: Hands-on with the Sprint Samsung Galaxy Tab

    I didn't care for the Galaxy Tab much when I played with the demo unit at a Best Buy recently although on my same visits I very much enjoyed the iPad. It would be nice to to get some take home demo time with either device. :-)

    I'm not on the go much since I work from home so the benefit of any price subsidy with 3G service with one of these makes no sense from me since I would primarily use it at home and on my WiFi network. iPad makes more sense for me. However, where the Galaxy Tab could really interest me is if a WiFi-only model were to be release at a lower cost than the iPad.

    Matthew, one thing I didn't see you demo in the video hands-on was any video playback. Is it easy to sync movies to the device that are stored on a home PC. How is the playback. I assume there are some streaming services for Android although I know Netflix isn't available for it yet.

    Thanks for the article and video which has given me some interest in the device that a hands-on in the store didn't.
    bobbyknc
    • RE: Hands-on with the Sprint Samsung Galaxy Tab

      @bobbyknc Syncing movies in Android is super easy... it is a disk drive..
      Simply drag and drop the movie files on to the device..as you would any other files you want to put on your device. Android Video player will recognize them as video files and they play flawlessly. Of course, they need to be in a supported format...just like on an iPod/iPhone.

      However, all my iPod videos play perfectly on my HTC Evo. Since the Galaxy Tab runs Android 2.2...it will be the same.
      condelirios
  • RE: Hands-on with the Sprint Samsung Galaxy Tab

    Go with the T-Mobile version. It seems like T-Mobile did not disable some of the features from the international Galaxy Tab ( like wireless printing, bluetooth keyboard and mouse support), etc.

    If you hack it, you can even use the voice calling feature on it( something you cant do on the CDMA network Galaxy Tabs...yet)
    ConceptVBS
  • RE: Hands-on with the Sprint Samsung Galaxy Tab

    Go check out sites like xda-developers.com or androidcentral.com for more in depth Galaxy Tab stuff.
    ConceptVBS
  • RE: Hands-on with the Sprint Samsung Galaxy Tab

    I think Galaxy Tab is the biggest competitor and I also hope get a galaxy Tab this Christmas day, iPad sales very successfully this year, but the next iPad may not have such a smooth trip as which will meet a lot of competitors such galaxy Tab, Playbook,Motopad. But no matter which we will choose, I think this free software is necessary.
    http://www.aneesoft.com/win-free-video-converter.html
    xiaoa
  • Summary tagline misleading

    Do you realize your summary tagline makes it sound like you're dumping yours?

    I'm currently using a Sprint Epic, and since they've just kicked off 4G in Columbus, OH that is a win for me. Where I work, I've had 4G for some time before the announcement. My only gripe about the build is I'd like the keyboard spring to be tighter.

    That said, I'm holding out for the wi-fi-only model that they seem to be sitting on until after the holidays. I can't justify the data plan cost, I don't need the total mobility, I'll tether through my phone when I need to, and I'll mostly use it where I have wi-fi anyway. I do hope they get off their duffs for this, and that the price isn't outrageous.
    ibap
  • has anybody asked:?

    how about a 5.2" tab :-P
    pisaman
  • RE: Hands-on with the Sprint Samsung Galaxy Tab

    Matt - nice review. The cost is just too high IMHO if you do not need another data plan. The Nook Color rooted works great for me as a wonderful e-reader, web surfer, slingbox viewer and email checker. At $250 and all day battery life I couldn't resist. If the Tab was even $400 or $500 I might have gone with it.
    jltorrespa
  • RE: Hands-on with the Sprint Samsung Galaxy Tab

    I like the Galaxy Tab just got it hooked up to my Sling box from DISH Network where I work. This works great allows me to watch all my shows on the run. I have enjoyed movies and things while on the light rail to work or on my way home. This is also great and gives you the flexibility to view your programs when you have not time. Find out more at the DISH website.
    Joe1DISH