A 7-inch colour screen eReader has been introduced in Canada by Samsung. The Samsung Galaxy Tab has a touch interface, phone, email, music, camera, and video chat. An impressive array of features for the Swiss Army mobile device model. Screen quality was HD and it supported Flash, so you can watch all the video you want. At first glance the interaction was similar to an Apple user experience. Even though it felt Apple-like the operating system developed by Google is a different technology architecture — Android 2.2.
Android is an open source software available to any mobile device manufacturer that wishes to use it for free. Device manufacturers can then adapt and customize the software code for their hardware and applications. Manufacturers using Android include Acer, Samsung, HTC and Motorola. According to Nielsen it is the largest and fastest growing ecosystem of mobile users in addition to Apple and Blackberry based on an August 2010 report. See chart below for more information.
As with all device manufacturers trying to create an ecosystem of users around their technology, Samsung is no different. It is marketing a reader, media and social “hubs” that will offer books, magazines, news, TV shows, movies, gaming, and Facebook as part of its content strategy. Its reader Hub has made a distribution agreement with Press Display, a newspaper digital content provider, for the distribution of news. See a product video at this link
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Scorecard
The gadgets in this blog for eReaders will be based on a scorecard and will be evaluated on these four criteria to arrive at the score.
: This device can be connected to a 3G wireless network or wi-fi, so access to content will depend on the speed of your network. It supports Flash so it will enable you to watch Flash enabled websites and videos. The Galaxy Tab has a 1.0 GHz processor which will make it faster than some computers. There are over 80,000 apps available for Android devices. To access some extra features require that you register with Google if you want to use them.
: The 7-inch colour screen means your typical website will be a little hard to read but content optimized for mobile devices will be easier with a larger screen than your typical smartphone. The touch screen interface worked smoothly. I looked at The Toronto Star website and found the iPhone version of The Toronto Star emerged, not the full web version. When I went to digital editions of magazines the iPhone version was displayed. It seems that servers are recognizing the device as an iPhone and sending content based on this.
: This can be considered a clone of the Apple user experience and it appears that the industry is standardizing on a user interface as the latest Blackberry Torch offers a similar experience. This standardization of the navigation is welcome news for users as they do not have to go on a major learning curve if they switch devices. One wart was that the tablet would vibrate anytime I did something, which I found irritating, but it can be turned off.
: The product is just being released in Canada and pricing plans have not yet been announced. The Galaxy Tab is available in the USA at T-Mobile for $399 for a two-year plan and $599 with no contract. The tablet is well priced in the market at $599 with the Apple iPad ($550 for wi-fi model) and it comes with more features than the iPad that include video calling, camera and phone.
The Gadget Report Rating 4.5 out of 5
After playing with a variety of gadgets I seem to gravitate to the 7-inch colour screen as my preferred mobile device for a variety of reasons. It is small enough to fit in my pocket, but big enough for me to see and read and hold in one hand. The expected price point of $599 might still be a little high for me though. Typing on a 7-inch touch screen is easier than your typical 3.5 inch smartphone screen. The ability to do video calling is a nice added feature that is not available in the iPad.
One word of caution for publishers is widespread adoption of tablets will not happen until voice and data plans are merged into one and sold based on consumption rates like electricity versus current industry pricing practices. Currently, it is estimated that 15-25% of Canadians have a smartphone.