The iPad pretty much has the tablet market all to itself at this point, since no serious competitor has yet been released. We’ve been teased to death with the first real competitor, a device from Samsung called the Galaxy Tab. It has been officially unveiled today, and it indeed looks like the first serious competition to the iPad. It runs Android, naturally.
Samsung is taking a different approach to the tablet concept than Apple. Due to its size and weight, it’s not particularly practical to use the iPad while literally on the go (you’ll have to sit down or whatever). The Tab is much lighter (only 380g) and smaller than the iPad, making it more portable.
It has a 7″ 1024Ã—600 display, making it considerably smaller than the iPad. For the rest, the device is pretty much a scaled-up Galaxy S, with the same hardware innards; a 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor and a PowerVR GPU core. It has all the usual connectivity options (including 3G), and comes with both front and rear-facing cameras for video chat. It has an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer, and will be available as either a 16GB or 32GB version, expandable via an MicroSD slot.
As for software, it runs Android 2.2 with Samsung’s TouchWiz modifications, as well as a number of tablet-oriented applications, such as e-reader hubs and an improved music player. It also includes Flash 10.1, can do HD movies, and its battery can power 7 hours of movie watching. It has all the standard Google applications as well as access to the Android Market; early tests how applications scale quite well, with little to no problems.
“On the third party front, Samsung says that apps which were developed within Google’s UI guidelines should scale up correctly, but others might need to be reworked,” Engadget notes, “We’ll have to see for ourselves how well Joe the Plumber’s apps handle the new resolution, but we don’t have much reason to fear it so far – the few apps we saw that looked to be scaled up instead of 1024 x 600-specific looked and worked just fine.”
No official release date yet, but everything points to a release in the coming weeks rather than months. No information on pricing yet, either. While I’m personally still not sure tablets are really useful, this thing does appeal more to me than the iPad; I found Apple’s slice of magic to be very heavy and uncomfortable, and the UI remarkably arbitrary and tiring (the large screen means moving your hands around like crazy). The Tab’s smaller size should appeal to people with similar concerns.