Far Out: Samsung's Galaxy Tablet

Our resident expert takes a look at the iPad's biggest competitor

Need a tablet? No, of course you don't. Nobody needs one. But there's a good chance you want one. Until recently, Apple's iPad was the only game in town. But Samsung's Galaxy Tab is the first realistic option for a growing number of people — 6 million more people each month to be precise. That's how many people will activate an Android phone this month. If you use an Android phone, you would be well served to consider the Galaxy Tab before talking to your local iGenius at the Apple store.

The Galaxy runs the Android Operating System that you know and love from your Android phone. It has a clear, bright screen too and is great for browsing the internet (with Flash, thank you). Galaxy comes pre-loaded with a Kindle e-book reader app, and you can use it to view TV shows and movies. It runs any of the 100,000 plus games, utilities and other apps available for the Android OS. The Galaxy allows you to do everything you can with your Android phone.

Well, almost everything. For reasons that make little sense, Samsung took out all of the native Android phone functionality, so (just like the iPad) you can't make phone calls using it as a native phone. You can use Skype and other apps to make calls, but only with a Wi-Fi connection.

As everyone knows, size matters — but when it comes to tablet computers, size is a very personal preference. Some like the iPad's big 9-inch screen; others will prefer Galaxy's easier-to-hold 7 inches (Galaxy weighs in about half of the iPad's 1.6 pounds). Regarding stamina, Galaxy's reported 7-hour battery life falls well short of iPad's 10 hours. The battery size is the biggest difference in weight.

Galaxy offers less in the way of content and apps — Apple dominates this space right now. But, that's changing quickly as more and more publishers are creating apps and content for Android platform.

Bottom line: Samsung's offering is a solid choice for anyone who is not addicted to Apple flavored Kool-Aid. If you love your iPhone/iTouch — stay far, far away from Galaxy.

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