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Samsung Galaxy Tab Review – Verizon

This review seems about 2 months overdue, but at the same time feels like perfect timing as we gear up for next week’s CES and who knows how many Android tablets from who knows how many different manufacturers.  The Samsung Galaxy Tab was the first “real” Android tablet to hit the market and according to rumored sales numbers, was a giant success, but has it already run its course?  With Honeycomb, Tegra 2 dual-core processors, 10″ beasts, and rumors of other unicorns just days away from becoming a reality, is this still an option for anyone looking to buy an Android tablet?

I’ve had the Verizon version of the Tab for almost 2 months now and feel like I know the ins and outs, but I’m still trying to grasp the idea of it being a “must have” device.  The following review will look almost identical to the review we did on the T-Mobile Galaxy Tab over at Android Life, but with some VZW specific comments.  My opinions on it haven’t changed since doing that review, so the big difference here comes down to timing again.  Should this be your first Android tablet knowing that there are so many others just around the corner?  

The Good:

  • Screen:  This 7″ LCD screen is pretty amazing to look at.  Over the first few days of having the device, it quickly became my go-to source to take care of emails, play games and just about anything else I normally use my phone for.  Well except make calls of course.  Colors are vibrant, it can get ultra-bright if you want it to, and the size just looks and feels right.  Sure a 10″ screen will be nice, but this thing really does fit in my pocket.  Oh, and you can hold it in one hand without stressing.
  • Feel:  The device is seriously, a great size.  While I can’t wait to see the other Android tablet offerings that may come in at 10″, I liked being able to hold this in one hand and get everything done.  Flipping between screens, playing games, or doing just about anything feels good on the Tab.
  • Back camera:  The 3MP camera is actually not too bad.  There were times when I felt awkward while snapping photos on this big ol’ device, but they still came out pretty nice.  Plus, it gets positive marks for actually including a camera.  I still can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t put one on a mobile device.  Nice work Samsung.
  • Front camera:  It may only measure in at 1.3MP, but at least it’s there!  The quality while video chatting wasn’t too bad, taking actual pictures with it worked just fine, and again, it’s nice that they included it.
  • Video chatting:  Who doesn’t love to video chat?  I was fortunate enough to have the Verizon and T-Mobile Tabs at the same time, so I had plenty of opportunities to video chat with friends.  I can see how this will be the wave of the future and Samsung got in early.
  • Gaming: We put out a gaming walk-through video below, but wanted to mention it again.  There aren’t too many things better than playing Angry Birds or Jet  Car Stunts on a 7″ screen.  Every game we played that would go full screen was purely awesome.

  • Hardware:  The 1.0GHz processor gets the job done on the Tab.  I’ve read stories of significant amounts of lag on the device, but I experienced almost none.  The TouchWiz launcher can be a little finicky at times, but if you change launchers you’ll see that it’s not the processor that’s at fault as they all fly.  The Verizon version also comes with about 1GB oboard storage, a 16GB SD card pre-loaded and has 512MB of RAM to give you a great experience.  I have nothing bad to say about the GTab’s performance.
  • Battery life:  Amazing.  It sports a 4000mAh battery and it pulls every last drop of power out of it to last you a long, long time.  After using the Tab every day over the last couple of months, I’d say I had to charge it only a handful of times?  Now, I didn’t actually put it through heavy video usage and that would definitely shorten it’s battery life, but I did do plenty of gaming, email checking and IM-ing and never ran into an issue.
  • Media Hub:  The Media Hub allows you to purchase or rent TV shows and movies on the go.  All of them play in super high quality which is quickly noticed on the 7 inches of glory.

  • Swype:  Using Swype on a 7″ screen is pretty fun.  You can write stuff incredibly fast with accuracy when using it on a keyboard this big.  A stock keyboard is also available, but you’d be foolish to even look at it.

  • Froyo:  This is both a bad and good.  Bad down below.  Samsung obviously loves their Tab more than their Galaxy S phones as this bad boy comes pre-loaded with Android 2.2 while their others sit back on 2.1.  Froyo definitely helps it in the performance category, but really adds to the overall user experience.

The Not-so-Good:

  • Pricing: We’ve polled our readers and there weren’t very many that are even considering one after seeing the price points. And from what I’ve heard from sources, the $599 price isn’t exactly helping sales numbers.  While I can’t say that I know a proper price, I will say that it would be tough for me to fork out $600 for a piece of technology that might be trumped by competitors in a couple of weeks.
  • No phone calls: If the Galaxy Tab actually made calls thoguh, I’d have no problem forking out $600 for it, but since it doesn’t, it feels like an extra piece of technology that I have to find room for and that’s not appealing.  If it made calls though, “Bye, bye cell phone!” and “Hello GTab!”

  • Video chatting apps: Having the ability to video chat is awesome, but the apps right now are unfortunately pretty awful.  This Verizon doesn’t come with a pre-installed video chatting app like the T-Mobile version did, so you have to find alternative apps like Tango (which is spotty at best) or the Yahoo video chat app which isn’t even supported yet.  Without the ability to make actual calls, people will be relying on apps like these, so let’s hope they start putting some resources into them in a hurry.
  • Hardware:  We gave hardware positive marks above, but to be fair to the review have to admit that the 1.0GHz single-core processor might not be enough if HTC, Motorola and LG all announce dual-core processors at CES.
  • Android 2.2: Most of you have heard about Honeycomb by now and while there is a pretty good chance the Galaxy Tab will see an upgrade to it, we have no idea when that will be.  Given Samsung’s track record with updating their devices, it could be a year before you ever see the operating system that was built specifically for this type of device.  Froyo runs just fine on here, but there are too many other options coming out in the near future that will have a tablet-specific OS to run on.
  • Shiny casing:  The outside of this thing is a fingerprint magnet and while it’s not as slippery as the T-Mobile version, it still needs some sort of grippy case.  You can’t pick it up for 2 seconds without it looking like a smudgefest on the back and front.
  • TouchWiz app drawer:  The GTab is almost running stock Android 2.2 aside from a few TouchWiz tweaks here and there.  One of them is the app drawer and I’m not a fan.  Each new app that’s installed is dropped to the back of your app list which makes no sense.  You basically have to rearrange your app drawer each time you download something if you want them in any sort of order.  Talk about frustrating.

  • Non-removable battery:  The battery life might be awesome, but the fact that you can’t take out the battery is something new to Android devices and caused me a few problems.  The device actually locked up on me a couple of times and you can’t just do a “battery pull” to get out of it.  It would also be nice to have the option to upgrade the battery even further.  Not a killer though.
  • Bloatware:  Verizon included all of the non-removable bloatware apps we have grown to expect.  The full lineup of VCAST-type apps is included, Blockbuster, gaming demos, and a task manager, all of which you’ll never use, but can’t get rid of.

Unboxing and Walk-through:

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Gaming Demos:

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Benchmarks:

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Gallery:

The Verdict:

The Samsung Galaxy Tab is a fantastic device, there is no denying that.  However, is it still a device to be considered knowing that there are so many different options on the horizon?  I would advise anyone looking to blow their X-mas money on a tablet to wait this one out a bit.  At this point, unless we see a dramatic price reduction over the next few weeks from Samsung, it should be hard for anyone to fork out $599 for a device that might be outdated before they walk out of the store.  With Honeycomb tablets powered by dual-core processors just days away from being announced, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, should be holding off from making a purchase of this magnitude.  Of course, Samsung could announce that a Honeycomb update is coming by the end of February when the rest of the tablets hit stores, but until they guarantee that, I’d sit back and wait patiently.

With all that said though, you should know that there is a fantastic developer community for the Tab already established.  The device is easily rooted, has Clockwork recovery, devs, and so much more working for it.  Who knows, if you are willing to throw down the cash for one, you may have Honeycomb before anyone thanks to the amazing Android hackers in the world.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jesus-Lopez/100002210504205 Jesus Lopez

    I am so happy that I bought the Samsung Galaxy Tab, despite what everyone says about it. I bought it for media mostly, and it works perfectly. I have and work at DISH Network and with the Sling adapter; I can stream live and recorded TV to my Galaxy Tab. The best part is that I can use it wherever I have 3G coverage or WiFi, so I literally have TV wherever I go.

  • http://dreambox-dvb.com/ dreambox 800s

    I’ll have to try one out myself to see what I think. Didn’t like the heft of the iPad, so I’m really waiting on an android or windows variant that would suffice in place of a laptop. I was originally leaning towards the lenovo u100 laptop/tablet hybrid with windows for the laptop and android for the tablet.

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  • Kckroq

    Didn’t you notice that web browsing is not as smooth as it is on the ipad? I own neither so I am unbiased, waiting it out as you say, but anxious at the thought of owning one.

  • Anonymous
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  • Cgmartin33

    I got one for Christmas and I love it. I do however feel that a dual core or faster processor is needed. It feels exactly like my DX which is rarely laggy but still feels like it needs something else. Im still confused as to why we are reinventing the wheel with processors and memory. There is nothing new about this technology that we havent seen in laptops for years. Compare these to some of the specs on a laptop and these feel archaic. P.S. If you watched the hands on video with the Moto Tab you would have seen that a perk to Honeycomb was that it was developed for tablets without hard navigation keys. That way screen orientation doesn’t matter…your navigation follows you on screen. I have also read that Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 will have Honeycomb and there are no plans to add it to this one. I think I am returning mine to Costco and waiting for the Moto Tab.

  • brewdude

    Dude, just fork out an additional $100 and you have an unlocked phone as well. That takes care of your 2 (and only), not goods.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1143030578 Curtis Hoffman

      but your already forking out 300 more than anyone want’s to pay

  • Anonymous

    so what LWP is that on the x in the game review???

  • Anonymous

    I see this like the droid eris. A solid device that was never meant to be a long term product. Once the price drops it’ll solidify it’s position as a long living device for the community.

  • Showtime

    The price point on this thing is horrible. If I have an android phone and am looking to buy a tablet i’d either pay the same for an Ipad or Ipad2 or wait on the Honeycomb tablets. Samsung needs to slash the price of this bad boy in half.

  • fbrn

    I am one of the early adopters because my loving wife knew I wanted one so she got it as a gift for me. If she hadn’t then I would have waited for the moto one but I do love my galaxy tab and it does an excellent job. It does lock up about once a week on me which is why I don’t recommend it to other people but if you are one of those people who already have one then I don’t think you should feel bad about it. Honestly after having this I am very unimpressed with Samsung. I know I wont be buying another Samsung product. But I do enjoy it and use it all the time.

  • http://twitter.com/teardropcity matt wheeler

    I have the Verizon Galaxy Tab and I love it. I purchased it earlier this month from Best Buy, who had a no interest for 18 months promotion. I was told that I HAD to purchase 1 month of data from Verizon, but that I could cancel it after it was activated. I have little to no use for data , as I primarily use the tab at my house for wifi. I wanted something that was bigger than my Droid X, and that is what I got. Just last week, I kept seeing rumors online that Verizon and or Best Buy had lowered the price to $499. This is not noted on either companys’s site, and seems to be a store by store sale basis. Anyways, sure enough my local Best Buy, had it for 499, IF you get a data plan, which is odd because I was told I HAD to get one to buy it at 599. I spoke to the manager, who had me bring in my receipt and issued me a refund of 100 dollars. I love my Galaxy Tab even more as 499 tablet! I also agree with the other poster who was talking about how many products at CES, take months and or years if they ever even come out at all. I am intrigued to see what the so called “XOOM” (terrible name btw) brings, but actual availability and price are nothing but rumor as of now, and we know how rumors sometimes turn out, so I am enjoying have my Galaxy Tab right now.

  • Anonymous

    Even without knowing about the Droid xoom tablet, aka DXT (remember who said it first), I never really liked the galaxy tab because it did nothing to make me jump from my DX. The only plus was a larger high res display. It has the same processor speed and OS. They basically followed the iPad.
    But honeycomb is built for tablets from the ground up. And with dual core processors motorola and others will set the bar.

  • Anonymous

    I am not convinced this device will be DOA by the end of next week. I have been to CES many times, and all sorts of COOL, NEAT, NEXT Generation products are demoed, many of which take MONTHS, if not the entire YEAR to actually show up. Heck, some of them never show up.

    And you are right, there is already a Developer community; and heck, we are all early adopters if we are buying Android tablets. And in that world, there will always be a device that is faster and more powerful just around the corner. So don’t declare the Tab dead just because vague product announcements and demos will come out next week. Are you declaring the OG Droid dead? Millions of them are still in use as far as I can tell.

    In the meantime, I’ll keep enjoying my Galaxy Tab, knowing that before long it will run Honeycomb.

    • Anonymous

      Only asking questions, no declarations made. :)

      Just saying if you haven’t bought a Tab, why do it now when there might be something else. Being patient and waiting never hurt anyone.

      • Anonymous

        Being patient is not a characteristic of an early adopter though. :)

        Posting this from my tab. ;)

        • Anonymous

          Hah this is true. I actually fall in that same category too. :P

          • Anonymous

            dont we all over here

    • Anonymous

      I’m betting that next week will be a big week for android. And if the spec sheet from real tablet manufactures fulfills are dreams and honeycomb is a true departure from a phone base OS then the Galaxy tab will always rate lower vs other honeycomb tablets. Don’t get me wrong, the GT is a nice tablet but Google said many times that android 2.X was not meant for tablets. The right thing for Samsung to do is make sure that Honeycomb is ported over but with Moto Xoom being dual core that might be a problem. App publishers might use the dual core as a minimum spec for honeycomb.

      • brewdude

        Do you realistically expect Honeycomb before Q4, late A3 at the earliest?

  • AnDroidSepTIX

    Gosh dang another shameless Verizon, Samsung, and Tabs in general( even the browser kind) plug. : )

  • http://droidpirate.com DroidPirate

    looks a lot better than the G-Tablet.

  • Anonymous

    Is the wifi only version out yet? Do you have to get a contract with the Verizon version? I forget what the pricing is for that stuff. I don’t think I’ll ever get a tablet, but if I did, there’s no way I’d pay for a data plan when I could just tether it to my phone.

    • ScreamingBadger

      Yeah – you can buy it as wifi only, but the price jumps to $699. . .

  • Anonymous

    A little late. I thought maybe a XOOM review would be timely.

    • Anonymous

      That one won’t be delayed. :P

      • Anonymous

        Wishful thinking that you’d have one already! Good review though. It’s always nice to get a review of the good and bad things from someone who is not a moron or biased to talk only about the good. Helps manage expectations. I think I’ll continue to sit out the tablet game for now. Unless TiVo brings their app to Android tablets like they have on iPad, that app looks sweet.

  • Calidog50

    Looks Good…First?