Ever since the first rumors about an Apple tablet started circulating around the blogosphere, we Android enthusiasts have been dying to see an Android tablet of equivalent caliber, and it seems like Samsung's new Galaxy Tab might just be the one.
Unfortunately, Android Police did not have a chance to visit, simply because no member of the team lives close enough to Germany to drive there in a reasonable amount of time, and not one of our readers offered to pay for the plane tickets (how disappointing!).
However, several other tech blogs were there, and for now, we'll have to settle for their humble opinions, at least until we get our paws on a review unit, which shouldn't be too long (besides, it's not unlikely that we'll get some hands-on time with the Tab at Samsung's New York City press event next week).
Paul Miller, one of Engadget's Senior Associate Editors, got a chance to preview the Tab, and, in short, he really liked it. While he isn't sure it can stand up to the iPad, (we are) he is sure that it sets a high bar for future Android tablets (we hope so).
We'll have to see if a non-Apple company can convince consumers to buy something once viewed so frivolous as a tablet, and the true usefulness of Android in this form factor will require more time with the Tab to really discern. A lot rests on the shoulders of developers, as usual, to make or break this quasi-new platform, but for Samsung's part we think the company has set the gold standard for Android tablets, and might have just enough differentiation, quality, and moxy to set its 7-inch contender up against Apple's 9.7-inch juggernaut.
Further Coverage: Engadget
CrunchGear's Nicholas Deleon also had a chance to spend some hands-on time with the 7-inch Android tablet, and while he didn't necessarily agree with Samsung's claims that the device is "not just another tablet," he did believe that it is a device worthy of being the first serious Android tablet in town (although Samsung has not yet announced what town that will be).
Samsung says the Galaxy Tab isn’t “just another tablet PC,” but rather a “smart media device.” In my few moments with it today, well, it is a tablet PC, but a pretty good one. My guess is that Samsung doesn’t want to be lumped in with the rest of the tablets out there.
Further Coverage: CrunchGear
Rik Henderson from Pocket-Lint was, apparently, another one of the event's lucky visitors. According to his article on it, he too was enthusiastic about the Tab and believed that it (especially its 3MP camera, which is 3-megapixels more than the iPad) has oodles of features, almost too many to check out in such a brief period of time.
The other minor whinge is that there’s so many features that it’s impossible to have played with all of them in the brief time we had with the Tab at the show. Damn you Samsung and your fully-featured, wunderkind of a tablet.
Further coverage: Pocket-Lint
Android Central's Take
Dieter Bohn from Android Central also got a sneak peek at Samsung's latest Android creation, and, in short, came to the same conclusion as everyone else: it's awesome.
Based on our short time we think the Tab should be on your short list, but while Samsung has made a great device here, the devil will be in those carrier/pricing/app details.
Further Coverage: Android Central
Obviously, there doesn't seem to be much variation among these first looks, so we'll end with SlashGear's. Chris Davies, one of their editors, had some time to get up close and personal with the FroYo-powered gadget, and, of course, made the comparison we've all been wondering about ever since we saw the first leaked image: is it better than the iPad?
Is it “better” than the iPad? That’s one of those questions everybody will be asking, but in our experience this is a very different device to Apple’s slate. While plenty of people are using the iPad as a notebook/netbook replacement during travel, for everyday use it’s a large and perhaps cumbersome thing to be carrying. Instead, the Galaxy Tab feels more like a Dell Streak rival, though we’ll need to get them side-by-side to see how the hand-feel (and pocketability) compare. Nonetheless, we’re very impressed by Samsung’s first attempt at an Android slate, and we’re looking forward to getting our hands on a review unit for a longer play.
Further Coverage: SlashGear
From What We Can See...
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, we haven't actually had a chance to review, touch, or ogle (in person, that is) the Tab, but from what we can see, it truly is the first serious Android tablet.
In a world where almost all Android tablets are Dell Streaks that seem to compete more with the Droid X's and EVO 4G's than the iPads, Archos FroYo tablets that somehow manage to not have capacitive touch screens, and other such shenanigans, Samsung's come up with a really nice and smooth-if not 100% original, end product.