Could the iPad's reign as the tablet of choice soon be over?

Samsung announces the Galaxy Tab in a bid to challenge the iPad

Samsung are the first company to offer a serious challenge to Apple’s iPad, with the announcement of their tablet format device, the aptly, if somewhat obviously, named Galaxy Tab.

The Galaxy Tab joins the ranks of Samsung’s smartphone offerings of the same series, including the Galaxy S, Portal and Apollo.

For those of us familiar with the range it should come as no surprise that Samsung have once again teamed up with Google in using their increasingly popular Android operating system as the OS of choice for the Galaxy Tab.

Fans of Android cite its support for open source as a key attraction. Open source, for the uninitiated, makes available the tools for developing apps to the wider public, which can be distributed, often for free, on the Android Marketplace. 

This has obvious benefits to the consumer, as a costly app for the iPhone may have a similar free version available for Android. Indeed, Android and open source generally are seen by many as a means by which to keep software development from becoming dominated by large companies like Apple and Microsoft, with smaller producers banding together and agreeing to share resources.

This approach has been largely successful for Android, with nearly a third of all apps currently being developed for the iPhone, but with Android closing the gap at 23 per cent and Windows Mobile barely making a dent at around 6 per cent. Samsung will be keen to repeat this success story with the Galaxy Tab, hoping to challenge the iPad’s hold over one fifth of the apps market.

As interesting as all this may be, as with all gadgets, we all want to know what’s under that shiny casing. So how do they compare? Looking at the specs (see below), there doesn’t seem to be a lot in it, with positives and negatives on both sides.

Both have equally powerful processors, a key factor in any purchasing decision. Apple offers higher memory at 64GB, albeit at a much higher price, has a slightly larger screen and longer battery life.

Samsung’s offering allows voice calls over the mobile network, where the iPad is restricted to data, functioning as a hybrid between smartphone and tablet, thus saving on carrying around two separate devices and having to splash out on both.

The Tab also features a camera, something which Apple chose not to include with the iPad, and also offers full support for Flash, a feature missing from the iPad.

This being so, consumer’s decisions may ultimately come down to price. With the Galaxy Tab 16GB Wi-Fi and 3G version selling for £499, and the equivalent iPad at £529, tech savvy students on a budget may find Samsung’s product tempting.

 

iPad

Processor: 1GHz Apple A4
Memory: 16GB, 32GB or 64GB flash drive
Display: 9.7-inch LED, 1024×768 resolution
Battery: Equivalent to 10 hours video playback
Connectivity: Wi-Fi & 3G available
Input/Output: 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack, iPad Dock/Keyboard connector port
 
Galaxy Tab
 
Processor: 1GHz
Memory: 16 GB, 32GB, Micro SD Slot (up to 32GB)
Display: 7-inch TFT, 1024×600 resolution
Battery: Equivalent to 7 hours video playback
Connectivity: Wi-Fi & 3G available. Makes voice calls.
Input/Output: 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack
Camera: 3 MP with flash. 720×480 video recorder (30fps)

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