November 18, 2010, 2:10 PM — The scoop: Galaxy Tab (Sprint version reviewed), by Samsung, about $400 (with two-year contract, plus data service). With no contract, the device costs $600.
strong>What it is: The biggest issue with the Galaxy Tab may be trying to definite what it is. It's a tablet that's smaller than an iPad. It's an Android device that's larger than a smartphone. It's stuck in that middle area between those two categories (iPad and other tablets on one end, Android smartphones and the iPhone on the other).
From a feature perspective, the Galaxy Tab sports the Android Froyo 2.2 operating system, weighs 13.58 ounces, runs a 1GHz Hummingbird CPU, and has two digital cameras -- a front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera for video chats and/or self-portraits, and a 3 megapixel auto-focus camera for shooting images. For network connectivity, you can connect via Wi-Fi, or 3G wireless (our unit was the Sprint EV-DO 3G network). There's no native phone app on the device, so you may have to look for Skype or another VoIP-like app if you're looking for voice functionality.
Apps on the device include the standard clock, Web browser, calendar, photo viewer, Facebook, e-mail (corporate Exchange plus Webmail options), Google search, maps, music player, GPS navigation, YouTube and video player. Sprint adds a "Sprint Zone" app with access to your account and suggested Sprint apps (like its NFL and NASCAR-supported apps). You can find thousands of more apps, free and paid-for, through the Android Market.
The Galaxy Tab also has the benefit of being available on the four major carriers -- Sprint (the one we tried), Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile are all offering the device.
Why it's cool: If you're looking for something smaller and lighter than an iPad, this fits the bill. I could comfortably hold the device with one hand, and the weight didn't bother me as much as it does with the iPad sometimes. Surprisingly, the 7-inch display makes it the perfect size for the Amazon Kindle app, which gets "home page" access on the device. Reading a book on the Galaxy Tab was a better experience than on my iPhone 4, and even the iPad (the iPad book reader feels like you're reading a large-print or coffee-table book sometimes).