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 Post Posted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 8:07 am 
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More on the Galaxy Tab.
First impressions: Samsung's Galaxy Tab
18 Sep 2010 - 12:33

Comfortable to hold, it promises to be the first true iPad rival

We've heard a lot of chatter about the coming army of Android tablets, but we haven't seen any real contenders posing a challenge to Apple's dominant iPad — until now. Samsung first unveiled the Galaxy Tab at the IFA show in Berlin earlier this month; now, the company has formally introduced the Tab to the U.S. market for all four major wireless carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon). And judging from my initial hands-on with a preproduction Samsung Galaxy Tab, this tablet has the chops to compete with the iPad.

The carriers each already offer a custom branding of Samsung's Galaxy S family of smartphones. For the Galaxy Tab, Samsung said that it was leaving the pricing and availability announcements to each carrier — and right on cue, all four carriers have issued announcements about their respective devices.

So far, none appear to have applied a unique name to the product, referring only to the Samsung Galaxy Tab. None of the carriers discuss pricing or service-plan options in their announcements, either, nor do they discuss availability beyond broad strokes: "holiday" (T-Mobile), "the coming weeks" (Verizon), "the coming months" (AT&T), and "this fall" (Sprint).

In their respective announcements, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon each discuss a few of the customizations they'll make for their customers, but details are sparse.

AT&T mentions that the AT&T Connection Manager will automatically connect to AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots. Sprint says the Galaxy Tab will have mobile hotspot capability for up to five Wi-Fi devices. Verizon's release also mentions mobile hotspot support, and the company is the only one to talk about the tablet's exclusive software tie-ins with its service: You'll find V Cast Music with Rhapsody, V Cast Video on Demand, V Cast Song ID, VZ Navigator, and the games Let's Golf and N.O.V.A. all preinstalled on the Verizon version of the Tab.

The first thing that jumps out about the Galaxy Tab is its manageable size. Not surprisingly, the front face is all screen, with four capacitive touch-sensitive buttons running along the bottom (or the left side, if you hold the device in landscape orientation).

With a 7-inch display and a weight of 0.8 pound, the Galaxy Tab is small enough to fit into some tight spaces (such as a roomy pocket), light enough to hold with one hand, and large enough to provide satisfying viewing. I found the Galaxy Tab comfy to hold in one hand, unlike the Apple iPad, which at 1.5 pounds is just too heavy to grasp with a single hand for any length of time.


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