Take Your Tablets
For some months now the Apple iPad has reigned supreme as the king of the tablet computers. This could all be about to change with a plethora of new contenders about to hit the market in time for Christmas.
First off the line was the Telstra T-Touch Tab – an entry-level offering being sold as a Pre-Paid device for only $299 with 3Gb of data to get you going. Optus have since announced their own inexpensive tablet launching mid-December for a similar price.
Also recently made available – so far with Vodafone and Optus and soon with Telstra is the higher end Samsung Galaxy Tab dubbed as the first real contender to the Apple iPad.
So lets take a look at both of these devices and see if they actually measure up.
The Telstra T-Touch Tab is an inexpensive device at $299 – almost competing price wise with some of the knock-off tablets available on eBay. The good news is that it come with Android 2.1 which is a relatively recent version of the operating system which means that it will run most of the software available from the Android Marketplace. The official marketplace is a nice inclusion which is by no means standard on earlier devices or cheap copies.
Hardware wise the 7 inch T-Touch feels like decent enough quality. It is solidly built with a metal backplate and built-in kickstand. The device comes with 2Gb storage – but only a couple of hundred meg’s onboard for apps which is poor. Devices below Android 2.2 Froyo can only run apps from onboard memory – so lets hope that a software update is forthcoming soon! The device must be charged from a provided power cable/adaptor – there is no capacity to charge from USB and at the time of writing – which is a good few weeks after launch – there are still no accessories available such as a case or car charger.
As a mobile device the T-Touch is currently lacking. With reasonable usage you can get two or three hours out of the battery. Fire up Mobile Foxtel and you are down to maybe an hour and a half. On a trip from Baulkham Hills to Dural and back (which is not that far!) it died before we got home. Hopefully once a car charger becomes available it will be of more use.
Another downside is the screen – which is resistive touch. This is the older type of touch screen which responds well to a stylus (included) or if using fingers requires quite a bit more pressure. Being used to an iPhone and iPad I found this quite frustrating – although I did get used to it after a while. It is also a funny shape being 16:9 widescreen format – this makes it too long and thin to practically use in portrait orientation.
In summary – there is a lot lacking from the T-Touch Tab – but then you get what you pay for. If you are keen to have a play with Android and don’t wish to spend much money it is a good way in – and perhaps once a few accessories are available things will improve.
Moving on lets see what the Samsung Galaxy Tab has to offer.
This is quite a different beast. It is also a 7 inch tablet – but nearer to a 4:3 form factor. In fact it is a similar size to a paperback book. The quality of build of this device is exceptional – it feels like a solid slab of plastic. The screen is made from Corning Gorillaglass and as such is incredibly strong. One online video shows someone taking potshots at the screen with a BB gun – they must be mad but the screen was undamaged!
The clarity and brightness of the Tab screen is beautiful and, in fact, the pixel density even exceeds the iPad – and it shows.
This time there is plenty of room for memory – with 16Gb onboard and 2Gb dedicated for apps. The microSD card slot can take a 32Gb card and because the Tab runs Android 2.2 Froyo applications can be moved off to the card. One of the other great benefits of Froyo is that it can make the device into a portable wireless access point which can share the data connection with up to 5 devices. This function even offers WPA2 encryption which is the current state of the art security for WiFi!
Battery is much better that the T-Touch – lasting 5 to 6 hours on average. Again though, Samsung have opted for a proprietary connector and charger. When plugged in to USB the device will hold its charge – but will not charge.
In Australia the Galaxy Tab comes with Navigon navigation software free, as well as a 2 month trial of The Australian newspaper. Need for Speed Shift is promised as a free download – but there is no sign as yet.
From a software standpoint Android on this device is reasonable, but it does crash far too regularly for my liking and is not as stable or refined as iOS.
I do like the size though – and I disagree with Steve Jobs comments that 7 inch devices are useless. Each has their place. The iPad is much better for actually getting some work done – the Galaxy keyboard is just too small to be practical. The Galaxy can, however, easily be chucked in a small bag for a day out – something which is hard to do with an iPad.
So to finish up – if I had to make a decision I would say stick with iOS for now. Android is still rough around the edges and frankly the quality of Android apps is not as good as those found in the iOS app store. If you are determined to avoid the Apple ‘walled-garden’ then I would recommend spending some more dollars and opting for the Galaxy Tab.
As always I recommend Telstra NextG for coverage – especially now that their prices have become more affordable.
- “Verizon Samsung Galaxy Tab Video Review” and related posts (phonesreview.co.uk)
- “Samsung Galaxy Tab first impressions” and related posts (sampletheweb.com)
- “Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab Android Tablet” and related posts (vr-zone.com)
- Telstra unveils Android tablet (android-tablet.org)
- Samsung Sells 600,000 Galaxy Tab Devices At Launch [TNW Mobile] (thenextweb.com)