Samsung Galaxy Tab review

£530
Price when reviewed

The interface

The first screen you see, once you’ve rushed through the setup session, is traditional Android: a selection of widgets and a handful of shortcuts to some carefully chosen apps.

The “Active applications” widget is arguably the most useful. Android 2.2 is built for multitasking, but that can mean apps sitting in the background chewing up memory and battery; Active applications let you dive in to check which apps are running and quickly kill them.

It works very nicely, but it also shows signs of being rushed. “Clearing RAM would finish some of the running applications” it reads on one page; “Battery life is related with CPU usage” is on another. It may seem pedantic to criticise poor English, but this is symptomatic of a lack of quality control throughout.

The floating Google search bar, complete with voice recognition, will be familiar to existing Android 2 phone owners, as will the ability to place icons onto five different homepages (you can add more as necessary).

One neat touch is the omnipresent trio of onscreen buttons that sit at the bottom: Browser, Applications and Email. Flick the Tab into horizontal mode and it rotates quickly and adapts sensibly; that trio of icons heads to the right of the screen, for instance.

Again, the luxurious edge is stripped away by a lack of finishing touches. Android’s grid of apps looks fine on a 4in 480 x 800 smartphone screen, but increase the resolution and the text starts to look blocky and basic; there’s no refinement.

This stretches to performance too. It would be wrong to call the Galaxy Tab stuttery, but there are moments – such as when it transitions from one home screen to another – where it appears to pause for thought. And, again, we have to compare it to the competition here: the iPad drifts from screen to screen with a silky smooth motion. We expect the same from a £500 Android tablet.

Bundled apps: the disappointing

This lack of smoothness extends to the bundled apps too. Not necessarily to their performance, but their usability. Compare, for instance, Samsung’s bundled eBook app to the iPad equivalent, iBooks. You receive one bundled book with the Galaxy Tab, The Marvelous Land of Oz, in similar fashion to being bundled Winnie-the-Pooh with the iPad.

Winnie-the-Pooh looks fantastic with gorgeous illustrations, and is a great example of what can be done with a high-quality colour screen compared to the mono screens of most dedicated book readers. By contrast, The Marvelous Land of Oz is a pale imitation: it’s straightforward text and even misses out the illustrations from the original.

Details

Cheapest price on contract£499
Contract monthly charge£5.00
Contract period12 months
Contract providerOrange

Battery Life

Talk time, quoted16hrs
Standby, quoted25 days

Physical

Dimensions120 x 12 x 190mm (WDH)
Weight385g
Touchscreenyes
Primary keyboardOn-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity1,000MB
ROM size1,000MB
Camera megapixel rating3.2mp
Front-facing camera?yes
Video capture?yes

Display

Screen size7.0in
Resolution600 x 1024
Landscape mode?yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth supportyes
Integrated GPSyes

Software

OS familyAndroid

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