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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Samsung's Galaxy Tab Takes on Apple's iPad

DJ Lee, head of Samsung Mobile global sales and marketing, shows the e-reader application in the Galaxy Tab at the IFA trade show in Berlin.

(Credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET)

BERLIN--When Samsung debuted its Galaxy Tab on Wednesday, it made a bold claim: the device is at least as good as today's dominant tablet, Apple's iPad.

"Honestly, I don't see anything [about the Galaxy Tab] that is weaker than the iPad," W.P. Wong, head of Samsung Mobile's product planning team, said at a press conference here at the IFA electronics show.

And in several ways, he said, the Galaxy Tab is stronger. It permits both picture-taking and video chat with front- and back-mounted cameras. Its weight of 380 grams (0.8 pounds) is considerably less than the iPad, which weighs 680 grams (1.5 pounds) without 3G and 730g (1.6 pounds) with it.

"In terms of the weight, you may not think it's a significant factor, but we think through consumer research that weight is very critical to enjoy the user experience," Hong said.

The product itself will begin shipping in late September or early October in European markets, but Samsung is already trying to raise expectations about as high as they'll go.

"The Galaxy Tab will change our lives," Samsung Mobile President J.K. Shin said. "It is a true paradigm-shifter."

Samsung certainly has abundant experience with consumer electronics, including the fact that it makes the memory, display, and processor used in the Galaxy Tab. But it'll be tough taking on the iPad.

"Apple's iPad is unlikely to face a viable competitor until 2011, allowing the company to maintain a dominant share in the tablet market at least through 2012," research firm iSuppli said in August.

But Android's success on smartphones that compete with the iPhone has revealed that it's possible to at least compete effectively against Apple, if not hurt the company in its iOS device domain.

Android, though it lags iOS devices in gaming titles, does have a wide range of applications. Samsung pointed out that the Galaxy Tab will run Adobe Systems' Flash Player 10.1, which opens the doors to more games available over the Web.

But Apple has often won out against rivals with a stronger list of individual features. It's not clear yet if the Galaxy Tab or a host of other tablets based on Android, WebOS, or Windows 7 will be able to match the iPad's overall experience.

"Apple's complete integration of hardware, software, operating system and applications is a major piece of what makes the device a standout," said iSuppli analyst Rhoda Alexander.

Regarding battery life, the Galaxy Tab looks at least competitive, though Samsung didn't call it out specifically as an advantage. The device will be able to play high-definition video for at least 7 hours on a single charge and perform less strenuous tasks for much more than 10, said Thomas Richter, head of Samsung's product portfolio for the European telecommunications division. Apple says the iPad can last 10 hours running a combination of video, Web surfing, and book reading; reviewers were generally impressed by its longevity.

The Galaxy Tab will include Android 2.2, called Froyo, but will be upgradable to 3.0, called Gingerbread, Hong said.

Read the full article at CNET