Just in time for the holiday season, Samsung is launching its tablet device, the Samsung Tab, on all four major U.S. wireless carriers: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.
Samsung is clearly making a strong bid for your holiday shopping dollars; this is one iPad competitor that is prepared do some serious business in the consumer electronics market.
Samsung didn’t announce any pricing details today; prices for the Tab will depend on carriers, both in terms of retail price and data plan pricing.
The 7-inch tablet will be shipping within just a few weeks. It will run Android 2.2 (a.k.a. Froyo), will contain a Cortex A8 1 GHz processor and 16GB of onboard memory, and will weight about half as much as an iPad. Its battery will allow for up to seven hours of continuous video playback. It will also come with a car dock for large-screen GPS navigation and more.
The Tab is optimized for on-the-go entertainment. Since Android and Adobe have been quite cozy with one another, Flash content, including video and interactive games, will run beautifully on the Tab.
The Tab will have a 3-megapixel, rear-facing camera with a flash HD-quality video captures. The device also has a 1.3-megapixel camera on the front for video chat, which we saw demonstrated tonight with the Qik Android app.
As far as integrated software, the Tab will have such features as Social Hub (it is what it sounds like), Daily Briefing (for news, calendar, stock quotes and the like) and Media Hub, a new service. Software will be slightly customized depending on which carrier is being used.
Media Hub will allow for on-demand movie and TV rental and purchase for instant playback. It’s one of the more exciting aspects of the device. Pricing will be competitive with other similar offerings. Purchased content will be available on multiple registered devices; in other words, you can download the same content on any device you own that works with Media Hub. We’re thinking this will include all Galaxy S devices.
As far as licensing is concerned, Samsung is collaborating with an impressive stable of entertainment properties, including MTV, NBC, Warner and others. Media Hub content will be at the level consumers have come to expect from high-quality digital media.
For some time, Samsung has been churning out gadgets that, while they might be useful for the everyday user, weren’t quite as exciting to us technophiles as the tablets and “superphones” available from manufacturers like Apple, Motorola and HTC. The Galaxy S line of consumer electronics is definitely changing our perception of the brand and the reality of Samsung’s ability to compete in the high-end mobile market.
Still, we’re anxious to see how consumers react to the device and how Froyo and Android Market apps work within the tablet form factor. While Samsung’s bespoke apps, such as e-mail and calendar apps, are custom-made for the Tab, many Android apps aren’t quite ready for operation on tablets. In fact, Google reps have gone as far as stating publicly that Froyo and the Android Market are not intended for tablet use. We’re not sure about Samsung’s relationship with Google, but this is one issue we’ll be watching closely, especially as tablet-specific Android OSes begin to roll out in the coming months.