A Galaxy In My Pocket

Yet again I get a dose of the Early Adopter jitters – I tried to hold out but I just couldn’t. I went and got me some shiny robot lovin’ from Korea, and boy do I love this particular droid – the fabulous (IMHO) Samsung GT-P1000 better known as the Galaxy Tab.

This is my third dedicated Android device, the first being the Motorola Milestone 11months ago, followed by the Nexus One around Easter time this year. I kind of understand why some people end up with so many Apple devices now :-)

I’ve got a lot I want to say about the device, so I’ll be breaking it down into multiple posts.

So why the heck did I go for it? Well I had specific requirements from a tablet styled device:

  1. It needs to be easily portable. Yes my netbook is portable in comparison to my laptop, but I need some form of bag even for it. Also it weighs a bit too, and isn’t easy to use one handed.
  2. It needs to have good media support. Yeah, I’m talking about that thing we all love to hate – codec proliferation!! Also screen quality helps here too as does audio quality.
  3. Good network support. Basically I don’t want to have to worry about buggering around setting up bluetooth pairings, hooking up cables etc.
  4. Good applicatipon ecosystem. I want to be able to get applications that I want and need easily and conveniently without being tied to a big old school machine.
  5. Video calling support. This isn’t vital, but it is pretty damned close to it. Both my wife’s and my family is pretty much disperesed across three out of four corners of the globe, and being able to do some form of video calling not only makes staying in touch cheaper, but we also get to see each other’s ugly mugs.
  6. Some light relief. This can be in the form of games or other methods.

I think they’re fairly reasonable requirements.  So how does the Tab meet my six simple requirements?

  1. The device is about the same size (height & width) as one of those weird paper book things (/me was horrified how long ago I last read a physical book :-/), and about as thick as a cheque book. I sits very comfortably in one hand, and I can easily grip hold of it wrapping my fingers around both sides. It is also fairly light, it only starts to get heavy after about 45-60mins or so of single handed holding.
  2. It shines beautifully with media playback. It has native support for Divx which means anything my PS3 can play so can my Tab (almost all my DVDs are ripped so that I can easily watch them on any device). The 7 inch screen is great for watching films or web based video. Very clear and crisp and just generally great. Samsung’s video player is also great. I’m not sure if it is the same as on the Galaxy S as I haven’t really seen or used one of them, but the controls are very good and not intrusive. The music player is by far one of the best I’ve used on Android. The little touch of being able to access it using a drop down mini version whilst the screen is locked is great. My only grumble here is that I can’t get it to scrobble to Last.fm, not a huge issue, but still…
  3. Well believe it or not this tablet can also be a phone. It has full telephony functionality, the same as my Milestone or Nexus One. So that means I can get onto the net pretty much anywhere. Yes it also has wireless support as one would hope. So now I can always get online when I need to. Also as it is running 2.2 Froyo, I have the mobile hotspot functionality (I hate the sound of MiFi) so any of my devices can connect through it sans cables.
  4. I know some people are going to rip the Android Marketplace a new arsehole, but seriously, have you tried Ovi from Nokia? Personally I have not had any issues using the Marketplace, apps are grouped fairly sensibly, details on the apps are fairly correct, it’s easy to go to the apps’ homepage and contact the developer. Oh and it has almost all the apps I want/need.
  5. It has a 1.3MP front facing camera which you can use for either still photos – self portrait style – or video calling. The only issue here is getting cross platform applications. Yes Skype is available but it doesn’t support video calls from Android (yet?). I’m not aware of being able to use the Gmail video chat thingy yet (also don’t really know anyone using it). The only one that I’m aware of atm is Yahoo! which is a shame as most people I know have moved off of Yahoo and onto other services. But the main thing is the hardware is in place.
  6. Well there are plenty of games available for android devices, some not so good, but some are very good, and they look great on the large sharp screen. Samsung have partnered with Gameloft to provide some ‘HD’ games, and on the whole these games are pretty good – NOVA is preinstalled, a FPS Doom style game which I like; I bought Let’s Golf for some sporting sillyness, Dragon Hunter for some D&Desque fantasy RPG, and Asphalt5 for some accelerometer fun. They all look and play pretty sweetly on the Tab. There are more titles available and all titles are available for trial. Samsung also bundle in an ebook reader that accepts any epub publications you may have. It looks and behave just like the paper based ones, even with the sound & visual effects of turning pages. They also have their “ReaderHub” app, this holds three apps inside – a Newspaper app powered by PressDisplay, an Book app powered by Kobo, and a Magazine app powered by Zinio. All three of these work brilliantly and have a *huge* amount of content available. I’ll stop there for now, and try and get the next post up soon. In a nutshell if you’re wondering whether to get one or not and you ask me what do I think, my answer is YES get one. I’ve had mine now for almost two weeks and I don’t regret it at all. My wife actually likes it, and my children have added “Tab” into their vocabulary (and no I don’t meant the cigarette end, or the march with backpacks and full battle gear).  Oh and Angry Birds is stunning on the bigger screen :-)

So that’s it for now, I’ll come back with some more soon. If there’s anything in particular people would like to know, just shout.

(P.S. this post was written entirely on my Tab ;-)