BitDepth 790 - July 12

My experiences testing Samsung's Galaxy Tab GT1000, one of their first models for the tablet market.
An easy tablet to take
790-TabThe Galaxy Tab quickly took up residence on my dining room table, displacing several publications. Photograph by Mark Lyndersay.

The Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is a curious little digital beast.
The device, which measures 7.4 inches by 4.4 inches is officially classified as a phone by Google, and it’s sold by BMobile tied to a SIM with a data plan.

Compact and tidy as a tablet PC, it’s more than a little unwieldy to consider using as a phone, even with the included in-ear headphones and microphone. There’s a WiFi only version of the device, but that isn’t sold by local phone providers.

That’s unfortunate, because unlike Samsung’s Galaxy S smartphone, the Tab doesn’t perform well on the Edge and GPRS networks available to it in Trinidad and Tobago. It does, however, work very well on WiFi.
After confirming that I could, indeed, place a call with the Tab, I removed the SIM and switched the device to flight mode, which silences most of the complaints the OS makes about a missing SIM card.

The Tab, officially the GT1000, is an older model in the aggressive rollout of product from Samsung, which recently introduced a Tab 10.1, a more direct competitor to Apple’s iPad and the digerati are eagerly awaiting the GT1000’s successor, the Tab 8.9.

The new device is likely to correct two of the issues a user of the GT1000 is likely to encounter quite early. The first, the device’s thickness and weight, is likely the result of Samsung’s early push into the Android tablet space. The other is the sizing of the screen, which is just a bit too small for comfort when you begin to work with it.

The 7 inch screen (on diagonal measure, actually 6 x 3.5 inches at a compact 1024 x 600 pixels) is great for organising music and reading a book, but e-mail and web browsing soon trigger a reflexive flip to horizontal to get more width.

One of the things I’ve been doing a lot with the device is reading digital comics and while the reader I’ve been using makes it easy to flick pages up and down and to move back and forth through the documents, it’s irritating to know that just an inch more of LCD would have made for more readable screen.

The device is smooth, even a bit slippery to the touch and there isn’t much of it to hold onto, which proves to be both an asset and a liability. Holding the GT1000, roughly the size of a small paperback book, is like picking up a flat wide bar of soap with a lead weight inside.
A new user will soon realise that the device needs two things almost immediately, a MicroSD card and a case. Samsung hasn’t been stingy with the memory built into the device, but some apps require the presence of that “external” solid state memory to function correctly.

The GT1000 reserves 2GB of flash memory as RAM and identifies 12.6GB rather confusingly as SD memory. The MicroSD is seen as external SD memory.  I bought a cheap 8GB card with a standard SD adapter to simplify moving large chunks of data back and forth.
You won’t find many cases available for the GT1000, but I got lucky with the CaseCrown fake leather case ( which gives the Tab a very agreeable form factor for carrying and stuffing into bags.

In use, it’s quite an addictive device. The compact form factor is one that Samsung would be smart to leverage, but the battery life could do with some work. I’ve been averaging five hours or so in full on, constant use and have found it necessary to quit background apps and reduce screen brightness to keep the device running.

Read a review of the Galaxy S
Read a review of Android on a phone here.
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