Although I admit that I have no particular use for a tablet, it is extremely cool and fun to own one. In my opinion, users get the most out of a tablet if they have a mobile lifestyle, which do not apply to me. For time wasters while on the move, I have my handy iPhone. Well, one of my good friend asked my help in researching of a tablet which he can use while traveling to different countries. He has a couple of requirements in that the tablet must be of relatively small size (convenience factor), takes a SIM card, has 3G capabilities and be able to make phone calls. Oh and of course, the tablet can’t break his wallet. Obviously at one point or another, we had to consider the iPad. The iPad is fortunately factory unlocked so you can use it in other countries and still receive 3G signals (as long as they provide SIM cards). My friend already has an iPhone so he’s familiar with the interface and how everything works, to a degree. Unfortunately, the iPad does not have native phone calling capabilities and requires a third party app (Skype). Also, not to mention the screen size was too big for him and the iPad 2’s Wifi +3G model was around $630. After a little digging around, we found the Samsung Galaxy Tab P1000. While this is an older model, it pretty much met all of my friend’s requirement as the perfect travel companion tablet.The Samsung Galaxy Tab P1000 is the international model of the tablet as compared to the one being offered in the US. The former is unlocked and allows you to use any SIM card from any country and you’ll still be able to get 3G provided that the frequency matches as well (other restrictions may apply). The product comes as is from Amazon and there is no warranty on the product so purchase at your own risk! Be absolutely sure the product does what you think it can do before buying. Feel free to ask any question you may have and I’ll try to answer them as accurately as possible. You can purchase the Samsung Galaxy Tab P1000 here on Amazon.
Bigger is Better?
You know how people joke initially that the iPad was nothing more than a bigger version of the iPhone but without the phone calling capabilities? Well, the Samsung Galaxy Tab (SGT) P1000 actually takes that meaning literally. It really is just a bigger version of an Android phone. For US versions of the SGT, Samsung decided to lock the phone calling feature. The P1000 is an unlocked model and with it, the phone calling feature also has been unlocked. This pretty much means that nothing distinguishes the SGT from a regular Android phone! You really can make a phone call on the SGT just like how you could on a regular phone! Before continuing, let’s take a look at the actual specifications of this tablet:
190.1 x 120.5 x 12 mm
Weight 380 g
TFT capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 600 x 1024 pixels, 7.0 inches
Multi-touch input method
Accelerometer sensor for UI auto-rotate
Three-axis gyro sensor
Proximity sensor for auto turn-off
Swype text input
Sound Alert types
Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
Speakerphone Yes, with stereo speakers
3.5 mm audio jack
Practically unlimited entries and fields, Photocall
Call records Practically unlimited
Internal 16/32 GB storage, 512 MB RAM
Card slot microSD, up to 32GB
Data GPRS Yes
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth Yes, v3.0 with A2DP
EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900 MHz,
HSDPA 7.2Mbps/HSUPA 5.76Mbps Tri-Band 900/1900/2100 MHz
At 7 inches, this is the perfect travel companion. It does weight a little bit on the heavier side but holding it in one hand is still possible and doesn’t feel awkward at all. Here is a picture of what came in the box:
- Electrical plug with US adapter (very nice!)
- Samsung headphones
- Samsung Galaxy Tablet USB cable
- Samsung Galaxy Tablet
- Quick start instructional booklet
- Warranty information (only because I purchased through Amazon and not third party)
Right side with SIM and microSD slot:
Right side volume rocker and power button:
Left side with microphone:
Bottom side with speakers and charging port:
Top side with 3.5mm audio port:
Samsung Galaxy Tab next to iPhone 3Gs:
Android Operating System
This is one of my first chance at being able to spend so much time on an Android based device. After initial monkeying around, I really have to say that I am quite loving it!
While Apple devices just give you one home button, the SGT actually gives you four touch sensitive buttons. At first, I didn’t know how to react since I’ve been using Apple devices for so long but after a while, I truly feel that it is far superior of the two. With four buttons, you have more control over what you are doing on the tablet. In fact, the home button on the iPad doesn’t do anything once you are in an app (pressing it will bring you back to the home screen). With the SGT, you have more control. The four buttons from left to right is as follows:
Menu Button – Pressing this button immediately gives you options pertaining to that app or window opened. For example, if I am within the Gmail app, pressing this button will immediately give me option buttons to compose a new message, search my inbox, view my labels, refresh the screen and etc. Obviously all of these can also be done on the iPad as well but pressing the menu button is so much easier in my opinion.
Home Button – Pressing this button will bring you back to your home screen. What’s cool is you can press and hold the home button and the Recent window will popup. Within, it will show you what apps you have recently opened and you can quickly switch to any one of them with a click of a button. This is a very neat multi-tasking feature. The SGT also have a task manager! Inside it, you can view currently running applications and exit any one you choose to. You can also easily see the amount of RAM and CPU consumption a given app is consuming. Another awesome function is being able to clear the memory. If your device feels a little sluggish, clearing the memory of inactive processes can help.
Back Button – In my opinion, this button is the most useful. I really can’t explain how easy navigating the tablet has become just with the addition of this one button. For example, let’s say I opened the CNN app. Suddenly, I need to check my email so I open the Gmail app. After checking my messages, I simply tab the back button a couple of times and I am right back to whatever I was looking at within the CNN app. I could have also hold the home button and switch back to the CNN app but for some reason, I found myself using the back button the most. Yeah, I’m weird.
Search Button – The search button is one I use the least. If an app has search capabilities, pressing this button will immediately allow you to do just that.
Notification Bar – Many iPhone users jailbreak their phone and one of the first thing they install is SBSettings. This gives the user a drop down menu from the status bar which then allows them with a tap of a finger to control settings such as turning on/off their data connection, Bluetooth, Wifi, GPS etc. The Android OS has this feature built in and to access it, you simply swipe your fingers down from the top status bar. Once the bar slides down, you get to see your recent notification activities along with the ability to quickly turn on or off certain functions of the phone. This is much more easier to work with than the popup status alert messages/notifications on the iPhone. By default, these settings include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, Silent mode and orientation lock. I’m sure with a little research, I can add other functionality as well to this notification area. This is extremely useful because who wants to dig through menu after menu just to turn a feature on or off?
App Navigation and Uninstall
As far as the app marketplace and whatnot, it’s very intuitive and I’m sure even novice users will feel right at home. Interestingly, navigating the apps after it has been downloaded is quite weird, at first. Newly installed apps don’t immediately place themselves on your home screen. You have to first open the Applications panel where you see all of your apps, find the newly installed app and touch and hold the icon for 2 seconds. The app would then stick itself on the home screen. On the home screen, long-pressing the app icon allows you to remove the app from the home screen by dragging the icon to the Remove icon. However, this doesn’t uninstall the app but only serves to remove the icon from your home screen. If you head back into the Applications panel, the app itself is still there. To actually uninstall an app, you have to first go into Settings, select Applications from the menu selection, then the Manage Applications option, and then you’ll see a list of all your third-party apps on the device itself or on the SD card. Apple’s method of uninstalling the app right in the home screen is a lot more easy if you ask me but it’s not a deal breaker. Just something you have to get used to.
Widgets on the home screen is very useful. I really like the idea of Windows 7 Phone’s live tiles feature and the Android widgets is as close as I’m going to get. Whereas the traditional app requires you to actually open the app to view information, widgets give you a quick glance at some of those information without having to enter the app. For example, I can set a news app widget on my home screen that will show me the newest feeds. If an item interests me, I can click on it and it will then take me inside the app. Very useful!
I am very impressed with the default web browser of the SGT. It’s very fast and responsive. Again, I was surprised at the speed because this is an older SGT model and so I didn’t expect a whole lot from it in the speed department. Also, it has Flash support so many websites that incorporate Flash (which many do) will look very close as if viewed on a desktop. Many websites do have optimized mobile versions but having Flash support does feel good nonetheless. Browsing once again feels very intuitive and if you’ve used a browser before on a touch screen device, nothing much has changed. Scrolling does feel a bit weird though. Sometimes, letting go of my finger after sliding down a bit to advance the page causes it to actually scroll like crazy. Of course, I’m not a power user so there’s definitely actions and gestures I’m not aware of but for the most part, I like it. However, I quickly installed the Opera Mini Browser (recommended by many) and am using that as of now.
The Android OS definitely takes some time getting use to if you’ve been using Apple devices for the most part. Android just feels like it is more open (maybe because it is?) than the restricted IOS. Of course, that can also mean that there is a bigger potential for users to accidentally screw something up on the more open system. If you are familiar with using the Android operating system on a phone, you should feel right at home here. Like I said earlier, this really is just an over sized phone! I can’t help but keep comparing the SGT to the iPad because that’s what I was most familiar with prior to using this. But make no mistake about it. The Android OS definitely has a steeper learning curve than the IOS.
– Making calls with the SGT indeed works after inserting in my AT&T SIM card. 3G also worked without any problems. While you could use the tablet itself to make calls, it is definitely better if you use a Bluetooth headset instead. If not, then the call will have to go to speaker and when you talk, you’ll have to make sure you are talking towards the mic, which is on the left side of the tablet.
– I was disappointed to learn that I could not charge the device via USB through my computer while the device is turned on. This however is not the SGT’s fault but that of USB instead. It just can’t supply enough power. However, the charge will go through once you shut off the device and plug the USB cable to the computer.
– Initially, I could not get Windows 7 to recognize the SGT. After some searching, I realize I had to download a driver of some sort to make it work. A forum suggested to download the Samsung KIES application. This application in similar to iTunes for the iPhone and allows you to transfer data to and from the SGT and your computer. Once installed, Windows 7 recognized the SGT and allowed me to transfer media to it. These can include your contacts, music files, photos, videos and podcast.
– Importing my iPhone contacts to the SGT was very weird. There are two main methods of doing so. You could either use iTunes to directly sync your contacts to your Gmail account or you could export the contacts to Windows, export them as a CSV file, and then manually import it to your Gmail account which would get synced on your tablet. I’ve tried the second method and the contacts were listed on my SGT but the many of the phone numbers did not show up!
– You really need to push your headphone jack into the 3.5mm slot to have a good connection.
Youtube Videos of the Samsung Galaxy Tab
After using the SGT for a couple of days now, I can say it was a very pleasant experience. This is great because I really want my next phone to be Android based and so this was a great trial run for me. Personally, I think the 7 inch tablet fits me more than the iPad being at 10 inch. The SGT is more low profile and the size is just perfect. Not too big so that it feels awkward in your hands yet not too small so that you have to squint your eyes to see what you are doing. I always thought a tablet was a device meant for media consumption and not creation and I still stand by that point. Nothing beats a mouse and keyboard. However, during those nights where you just want to lie in bed and watch a movie rental, it’s really hard not to whip out the tablet. I obviously still have much more to learn concerning the Android OS but other than the weird procedure of uninstalling apps, I don’t think I have much bad things to say about the tablet. Surely there will be things I won’t like about it but for now, it definitely feels exciting (yes I know, I’m late to the game) to use a device with a name that doesn’t start with the letter ‘i’ in front of it. There’s nothing wrong with those ‘i” devices, mind you. It’s just that you need a breath of fresh air once in a great while.