After the teaser videos, spy shots and rumoured specifications, the Samsung Galaxy Tab was finally launched at the Internationalen Funkausstellung Berlin (IFA) a few days ago.

There have been conflicting predictions on Apple’s iPad marketshare in the tablet computing scene. Indeed, there have been reports stating that there has been a move from netbooks to slate tablet devices with the iPad forming a small but significant slice of the pie within the first month of its release. There have also been reports of CEOs ( of rival companies of course! ) stating that iPad’s marketshare will fall to 20% of the tablet computing sector.

Like it or not, the iPad has become the reference model when it comes to tablet computers. Ask a consumer about a tablet computer and they are sure to mention the iPad. Now, that’s a level of mindshare that is the envy of other companies. The history of tablet computing, has no doubt  has taken a new turn with the introduction of the iPad. Other manufacturers have begun to release their devices and suddenly, the tablet computing scene is verdant with new devices. This is set to grow and as with all devices in a particular category, there is the good, the bad and the darn right ugly (I had to put that in!).

Has Samsung, therefore, delivered something good?

Well, based on what I’ve seen and read, they have made something that is pretty good, special even!

Here are the hardware specs of the device ( Source: Engadget)

  • Android 2.2 running TouchWiz 3.0
  • 7-inch TFT LCD with 1024 x 600 resolution (WSVGA)
  • Weighs 380 grams
  • 1GHz Cortex A8 processor
  • 16GB or 32GB internal storage
  • microSD expansion for up to 32GB additional storage
  • Front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera and rear 3 megapixel camera with flash
  • 4,000mAh battery
  • 3G data / voice (there’s a speakerphone and Bluetooth for phone calls, but no earpiece)
  • 5GHz dual-band 802.11n WiFi
  • Standard back color is white, carriers might offer different colors
  • Full HD video playback
  • There’s a 30-pin dock connector on the bottom that allows for HDMI, USB, and docking accessories (a car dock at least is planned)

The Samsung Galaxy tablet is essentially a 7 inch tablet device running on Android 2.2 which also does phone and video calls. Yes, it would be rather ridiculous to hold the tablet to your ear when making a phone call but this device is designed for more elegant ways of teleconferencing. This is highly portable device which can be carried in folder and can be used for content creation, consumption and video calling amongst other things. The Samsung Galaxy Tab scores on these fronts and beats the iPad. The 2nd generation iPad will probably have the FaceTime video calling feature but it may be just catching up with the rest of the crowd.

From the preview videos, Samsung had made some nice UI customizations for the calendar and email client applications. The Android Marketplace is included and Samsung has its own App Store which will deliver specific applications optimized for the Samsung Galaxy Tab. This would be Samsung’s proprietary application store which would be based on the Android Marketplace for their Android devices.

The speaker layout and the virtual keyboard reminds me of the iPhone. I am not sure how Apple will respond to this device. In all likelihood, they will keep their lawyers away as Samsung is in partnership with Apple in manufacturing Apple ‘s A4 processor.

The Galaxy Tablet is no slouch on the performance front, delivering some rather impressive scores on the Sunspider and Quadrant benchmark tests. Source: Carrypad

The video previews via Engadget and Carrypad provide a brief but informative run through of the device’s functionalities and in my opinion, the Samsung Galaxy Tab is very close to the perfect all in one tablet computing device. Impressive, most impressive.

Samsung has mentioned that the Samsung Galaxy Tab will be upgraded to Version 3.0 ( Gingerbread ) in time to come. Samsung has also hinted on the next Galaxy Tablet being different and they hinted at name called Honeycomb( the rumoured version of Android post Gingerbread).

There are, as with all things in tech, some drawbacks.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab has a proprietary 30 pin dock connector similar to Apple’s i-Devices. A micro USB/USB port would have made the device more versatile. This allows Samsung to push its own proprietary peripherals (keyboard dock, HDMI connector etc) to the consumers. Part of me wonders if there is technical reason for the usage of a 30 pin dock connector.

Then, there is the issue of price.

The initial calculation works out to a rather hefty U.S.$1,240. O2 in Germany said that the Galaxy Tab will cost about 759 Euros, which amounts to U.S.$972.  Source: Information Week

The price would certainly be a deal breaker for many consumers. This, of course could be alleviated by mobile phone carrier subsidies. The pricing though, is still a matter of speculation but a ballpark figure above 600 Euros is a realistic expectation.

The pricing of the Galaxy Tab will be highly crucial to its success.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab is a very promising device and  as the competition increases, the prices are sure to fall. More tablet devices with similar capabilities are sure to appear in the near future.

Early days, but exciting ones nonetheless.

Update (5th of September 2010) :

TechRadar has posted a 6 page early review on the Samsung Galaxy Tab. They have also quoted the purported reason for the inclusion of a 30-pin connector. According to Samsung, the inclusion of a 30-pin dock connector allows faster charging of the 4000mAh battery and faster data transfer of HD movies onto the screen as opposed to micro USB.

Read TechRadar’s early review via this link.