September 17, 2010, 12:44 PM — We've heard a lot of chatter about the coming army of Android tablets, but we haven't seen any real contenders posing a challenge to Apple's dominant iPad--until now. Samsung first unveiled the Galaxy Tab at the IFA show in Berlin earlier this month; now, the company has formally introduced the Tab to the U.S. market for all four major wireless carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon). And judging from my initial hands-on with a preproduction Samsung Galaxy Tab, this tablet has the chops to compete with the iPad.
The first thing that jumps out about the Galaxy Tab is its manageable size. Not surprisingly, the front face is all screen, with four capacitive touch-sensitive buttons running along the bottom (or the left side, if you hold the device in landscape orientation). With a 7-inch display and a weight of 0.83 pound, the Galaxy Tab is small enough to fit into some tight spaces (such as a roomy pocket), light enough to hold with one hand, and large enough to provide satisfying viewing. I found the Galaxy Tab comfy to hold in one hand, unlike the Apple iPad, which at 1.5 pounds is just too heavy to grasp with a single hand for any length of time.
The dimensions and weight allow you to hold the Tab and type on it with your thumbs at the same time, using two hands or even one hand. Users with smaller hands will have to stretch to type one-handed; for larger hands, the arrangement is no problem. The keyboard seemed decent overall, though I didn't pound on it enough to pass final judgment on its usability.
Clearly influenced by Samsung's Galaxy S line of phones, the Galaxy Tab appears notably more stylish and less clunky than some of the early, off-brand Android tablets we've seen pop up across the Web. It does stand at a half-inch thick, the same as Apple's iPad; admittedly, though, in this comparison the latter benefits from rounding conventions, as the iPad measures 13.4mm to the Tab's 13mm.