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Is Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 really the best Android tablet? By Peter Smith – very interesting perspective.

This week, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 hits widespread release (it was available at a single Best Buy in Union Square, NYC, last week). We’re seeing reviews and first looks cropping up here and there (some of them based on the version of the tablet given out at Google I/O), and advance press has been very positive, some saying the GalTab 10.1 might be the first tablet that can compete with Apple’s iPad 2 (presumably meant in terms of features, not market share).

I have an Acer Iconia A500 Android tablet currently. I picked it up because I was sick and tired of waiting for the ‘perfect’ Android tablet. I felt the Xoom was too expensive and the GalTab wasn’t out yet. That left me agonizing over the decision between the Acer and the Asus Transformer. Eventually supply constraints on the Asus made my decision for me.

When I bought the Acer I also bought Best Buy’s “Buy Back” service as well. My intention was to use the Acer for a couple of months until the much-praised GalTab came out, then trade it in for an upgrade to Samsung’s flagship tablet.

The buzz on … the Galaxy Tab 10.1
“It’s not enough to match the iPad; it has to be CHEAPER than the iPad to be worthwhile for normal people. Not meant as flamebait, but I believe Android would never have gotten as popular as now if the iPhone hadn’t been limited to one carrier and priced higher than the Android phones in the USA.”
blahbooboo on Slashdot | What’s your take? Chime in below!

But now the time has come and I’m trying to understand why reviewers rate the Galaxy Tab 10.1 higher than they do the Acer (or the Asus). I’m finding this a challenge. I know that all three tablets have pretty much the same internals, so what sets them apart from each other?

I do know the GalTab is lighter than the other Android tablets, and that’s important. It’s also thinner, but I’m unconvinced thickness (when we’re talking about differences measured in a few millimeters) is going to be a big deal once the ‘new gadget smell’ has worn off a tablet. In fact sometimes a bit of thickness makes an object easier to hold onto for long periods of time.

The Galaxy Tab has a 3 megapixel camera on the back. The Acer & Asus both have 5 megapixel cameras, though it’s hard to imagine you’ll be taking many snapshots with them. A tablet is just a weird form factor for taking pictures. Augmented reality could be a better use for tablet cameras, perhaps.

The Galaxy Tab uses a proprietary connector for just about everything. The Acer & Asus both have HDMI out on the tablets. The Acer has both full-sized and mini USB ports on the tablet, while the Asus has USB ports on the keyboard docking station.

The Galaxy Tab has no memory card slots. Both the Acer and Asus have microSD slots on the tablet, and the Asus has an SD card slot on the dock.

The Asus has the ‘hook’ of the keyboard docking station, which essentially turns the tablet into an Android netbook.

The Galaxy Tab comes with Android 3.1. The Asus and Acer shipped with Android 3, but the Asus has already been upgraded to 3.1. Acer says an upgrade for the A500 is coming sometime this month.

And this is about as far as my knowledge goes, which is why I’m calling on reviewers to take a few paragraphs to compare the Galaxy Tab 10.1 to the slightly cheaper Acer Iconia A500 and Asus Transformer tablets. When I draw up my feature lists, the Samsung doesn’t seem to stack up to the other tablets.

Of course aesthetics count for a lot, and I’m not sure of the details of the Galaxy Tab’s screen or what it feels like to hold it. I will say I prefer reading on the Acer (as compared to my iPad 1) because of the shape of the tablet. I read in portrait mode and the Acer is taller and narrower than an iPad (from pictures it looks like the Galaxy Tab is closer to the iPad than the Acer in terms of dimensions). The Acer has a somewhat wide bevel but that makes it easy to hold without obscuring the screen. I haven’t found a need for a case for the Acer; I just slip it into a pouch for safe transporting.

At this point I’m thinking smart money is on keeping the Acer until there’s a Tegra 3 (aka Kal El) based Android tablet to upgrade to. But with all the positive previews, first looks and reviews of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, I can’t help but feel like I’m missing something. Am I? If you’re noticing something I’m overlooking, please leave a comment!

So is there any point to this post beyond my own self-centered whinging about what tablet I should buy? Sort of. I write a blog about this stuff and I’m baffled by the tablet choices in the Android space. Can you imagine how confusing it must be for the consumer that just wants a tablet? Buying an iPad is really a matter of “Do I want to pay a monthly data fee?” and “Small, medium or large?” and that’s all the decisions you need to make! Easy. Compared to that, buying an Android tablet is like some big research project. No wonder Apple isn’t worried.

Conversely, this variety is one of Android’s strengths, too. With Android, users can pick the tablet that offers the features they’re most interested in, and manufacturers can emphasis different aspects of tablet computing in order to stand out from the crowd. The problem is, how do we making choosing a tablet less daunting to people new to the scene?


June 13, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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