IPAD competitor

Samsung Galaxy Tab: The first serious iPad competitor

The Galaxy Tab as seen in Samsung’s video.
Photo: Samsung

The wait for competitors to the iPad appears to be nearing an end, judging by a new video Samsung just released for its upcoming Galaxy Tab tablet computer. (Clicking on the link will take you to the video.)

According to the video, the Galaxy will have a 7-inch display, significantly larger than the Dell Streak my colleague Paul Eng recently tried out and within shooting distance of the iPad’s 9.7 inches. This size is consistent with the trend we’ve noticed for early tablets being sized smaller than the iPad. If such a size proves popular, it should put pressure on Apple to respond with an iPad version in the neighborhood of 7 inches. (Rumors of a smaller iPad are already circulating).

Here are other Galaxy Tab features I’ve culled from Samsung’s video:

  • It runs Google’s Android 2.2 operating system, which is the version now being rolled out to smart phones. That means it will support Adobe Flash video when browsing the web, which the iPad doesn’t.
  • In the video, it appears less than 1-inch thick.
  • It makes video calls, which implies that it includes a front-facing video-capable camera. There’s also a rear-facing camera. The iPad has neither of these.
  • The onscreen keyboard appears to include Swype, the software which I found sped up my typing when I tried out the Droid2 smartphone last week.
  • As you would expect, there appear to be apps for e-mail, text messaging, web browsing, maps (presumably Google maps) with navigation, and a calendar with appointments.
  • The ability to display HD-quality movies and read e-books.

All of the above is enough to make for a serious competitor to the iPad. What’s not clear is whether the Galaxy Tab includes other features that would give it more of a leg up on the iPad, such as a standard USB port (compatible with printers, card readers, and other devices), 3G connectivity with a major provider other than AT&T, removable battery, the ability to charge via a USB connection to a computer, and an HDMI output. I expect it to offer some if not all of these.

All the evidence points to more Android (and other) tablets becoming available by the holidays. This is a good thing for consumers. Not only will it increase their choices in hardware and in wireless providers, but since new Android tablets apps will presumably be able to download appropriate apps from the same Android Market that serves smartphone users, it will break the stranglehold Apple’s App Store has had on the market for tablet software apps.

We’ll have more on the Galaxy Tab and other new tablets, including hands-on looks, as soon as they become available. Meanwhile, here’s to a robust and competitive tablet market for the holidays and the foreseeable future.

—Jeff Cox