Samsung Galaxy Tab goes on sale in UK

Samsung and Google today launched their version of a tablet computer designed to take on Apple’s iPad.

The Galaxy Tab has a seven-inch touch screen compared with the Apple gadget’s at 9.7?inches , and runs Google’s Android software.

‘You really can put this into a jacket pocket,’ said a Samsung spokesman.

Users can download thousands of apps from Google’s online store, together with their contacts and diary from Google’s online services.

The new tablet is an advance on the technology included in Samsung’s popular Galaxy S smartphone. The company is also looking at the possibility of a larger 10in screen tablet.

Last month Apple boss Steve Jobs launched an attack on rival tablet computers like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, which is far smaller than the iPad.

Samsung Galaxy Tab
Samsung Galaxy Tab

Jobs said: ‘We think the current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA -Dead on Arrival. Their manufacturers will learn the painful lesson that their tablets are too small, and increase the size next year, thereby abandoning both customers and developers who jumped on the 7in bandwagon with an orphan product.’

He said there were only a ‘handful of credible entrants’ in the tablet computer market, which iPad has dominated so far.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab is the first major tablet release since the Apple iPad launched about five months ago.

It’s been a long time coming, too. The Galaxy Tab was one of the all-time worst kept secrets in tech until it was finally unveiled at Berlin’s IFA show back in September, and as the first major Android tablet release, it holds a weight of responsibility on its shoulders.

With a tidal wave of Android tablets about to sweep through the tech world, it’s possible that if the Galaxy Tab were to disappoint, it could damage the perception that Android tablets will be able to top the iPad on features and performance.

The price certainly indicates that Samsung believes the Galaxy Tab can topple the Apple iPad from its tablet tower. The 16GB model costs £530, which is £100 more than the Wi-Fi only version of the iPad. It is, however, exactly the same price as the cheapest 3G iPad, which is clearly no accident.

Samsung Galaxy Tab
Samsung Galaxy Tab

With a slick black and white-styled body and a bright and shiny TFT touchscreen, the Samsung Galaxy Tab gets off to a good start in that it looks absolutely fabulous.

It looks every bit the iPad killer that Samsung wants it to be. And while it may look lot like the iPad in pictures, it’s quite a bit smaller and feels a lot different in the hand.

Analysts at CSS Insight said that the Tab is likely to be positioned as an “operator-friendly alternative to iPad”, but warned that pricing will be “crucial in the competitive tablet market.”

The ability to make voice and video calls over the Tab may be a key differentiator in the competitive tablet PC market. According to Richter, mobile operators who sell the Tab are likely to offer a “two Sim” solution, so that a customer could run the Tab and another mobile phone on the same phone number.

The Tab runs the latest Google’s Android mobile phone application, and will have full access to the Android Marketplace of applications. Lee said that “80% to 90%” of Android applications will work on the device, but he admitted that some of the most popular applications did not run well – probably due to its sreen size. He said Samsung had been working with Google and the developer community to fix this problem.

Ebooks are also supported on the device. “We expect Tab to play an important role in the digitisation of printed media,” said Richter.

Samsung launches application store

The Samsung Application Store, which launches across Europe, will initially only be available to Samsung smartphone owners using the Samsung Omnia or Samsung i8910 HD handsets.

More than 300 applications are available at launch, including Guitar Hero: World Tour, Evernote, and several language dictionaries. Samsung expect the store to grow to around 2,000 apps by the end of the year.

Samsung Omnia
Samsung Omnia

Apps can be downloaded over the mobile network or via Wi-Fi, and third-party developers are able to build and distribute their apps through the store. Users can pay for any software or programs using their credit card, or as an extra payment on their monthly mobile phone bill.

“With the launch of the Application Store, Samsung will increase mobile phone sales and add value for its mobile customers through the availability of carefully selected applications,” said Hosoo Lee, an executive vice president at Samsung.