Clash of the tablets

Apple's iPad is a hard act to follow,; but Android is starting to compete.

The Android-versus-Apple battle has spread from smartphones to the new world of tablet devices. Samsung's 7in Galaxy Tab is built to compete with the iPad. It's not the only Android tablet - we review it alongside some of its rivals in chapter 7 - but it's probably the most serious contender. By way of introduction to Android tablets, let's compare the Samsung directly to the iPad.

The first thing that strikes you on picking up the Tab, especially if you've already tried an iPad, is its manageable size. Smaller than the Apple but larger than a mobile phone, it's compact enough to fit into tight spaces - even a roomy pocket - yet large enough to make viewing pleasant. We found it comfy to hold, unlike the iPad, which weighs twice as much and is too heavy to grasp with one hand for any length of time.

SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL

Clearly influenced by Samsung's Galaxy S phones (see chapter 5), the Tab looks more stylish and less clunky than some of the off-brand Android tablets around. The size and weight allow you to hold the Tab and type with your thumbs on the virtual keyboard, using two hands or even one.

Although the Super VGA 1024x600-pixel TFT display appeared quite bright and viewable even at an angle, it may not prove quite so visible in bright sunlight. Samsung claims that its screen has a wider viewing angle and higher contrast ratio than the ¡Pad's. Apple's display, by comparison, has more

► How does Samsung's Tab (right) stack up to the Apple iPad (below left)?

► How does Samsung's Tab (right) stack up to the Apple iPad (below left)?

pixels but, since they're spread over a larger area, a lower number of pixels per inch, though it doesn't seem any less sharp for all that.

While the ¡Pad surprised many by having no camera at all, the Tab, like other Android devices, features two. It has a rear-facing 3.2Mp camera for photography, and a front-facing 1.3Mp camera which serves as a webcam for video chat.

The Tab has a proprietary charger port, and like the iPad it needs more juice than is available via USB. If you plug the tablet into a PC's USB port, or even a powered hub, you'll get only a trickle charge; instead, you need to plug it into the mains using the supplied adaptor. The 4000mAh battery will last through seven hours of video viewing (generally a high-drain task), according to Samsung; direct comparisons aren't easily made, but Apple's 10-hour claim for the ¡Pad is supported by users.

In addition to a 1GHz Hummingbird processor, the Tab has a 3G mobile data connection, Wi-Fi and DLNA support, 16GB of built-in storage, and a MicroSD slot for expanding the memory up to 32GB.

BEATING THE SYSTEM

Running Android 2.2 (see page 7), the Tab supports Adobe Flash 10.1 and Microsoft's PlayReady DRM, and comes with a tablet-optimised version of TouchWiz 3.0, the user interface found on the Galaxy S phones.

Like those phones, the Tab supports the Swype input method for faster typing; Samsung's Social Hub for aggregating email, text, and social network messages; and a new service called Media Hub for download and rental of TV shows and movies. You can share a Media Hub account among up to five Galaxy devices, although you can't yet start watching something on one and then resume from the same place on another.

Samsung has spent time optimising Android for a tablet screen, redesigning the email, memo, file management, calendar,

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