Samsung Galaxy Tab GT-P1000 review

Highly portable smartphone-cum-tablet now at a lower price
Photo of Samsung Galaxy Tab GT-P1000
£300 street price

Released last year, Samsung’s Android-based Galaxy Tab is still the smallest around, with a screen of just 7in and an overall diagonal of just 8.5in. Not only is it lighter than Apple’s equivalent-spec iPad 2 (at just 380g, it’s a whopping 228g lighter, in fact), but the GT-P1000 is the only pocket-able product among first-generation tablets.

With the launch of a new generation of Galaxy Tabs just around the corner, and a plethora of cheaper Android devices now entering the market (such as the 7in Storage Options Scroll) prices for the original Galaxy Tab have plunged – you can now find it online for less than £300. We thought we’d take a look to see how it fared for value at its new, lower asking price.

Selling point
With 3G, WiFi and Bluetooth 2.0 built in, this is one advanced tablet – or is it a smartphone? A SIM card slips into the right-hand side, because unlike the iPad 2, the Galaxy Tab also makes a stab at being a phone. Armed with 3G capabilities, this tri-band tablet-cum-smartphone is small enough to be physically pinch-gripped – as you would a phone – so this isn’t the stupid idea it might first appear to be. For those who remain unconvinced, a cheaper, WiFi-only version of the device is available.

Granted, no one owning this gadget is going to ditch their mobile handset – and few will consider putting this tablet to their ears, either – but it’s actually more comfortable than you might think. For making calls from weblinks, and for emergencies, it’s a thoroughly workable idea in our opinion.

Obviously a Bluetooth headset would be preferable, especially since the Galaxy Tab’s built-in microphone is on the tablet’s top left-hand corner, though Samsung does bundle a simple hands-free kit in an attempt to convince you.

What you get
Hardware-wise, there’s a headphones slot on the top end, with the undercarriage holding tiny stereo speakers and a 30-pin dock connector, and at the top left-hand corner of the rear is a 3.2-megapixel camera (though it manages only 1.3 for video), and a flash. There’s also a lower, 1.3-megapixel resolution camera on the front of the tablet for making video calls.

Nestling alongside the SIM card slot at the side is a microSD/SDHC card slot (built-in storage is 16GB, so doubling this product’s capacity should only cost a further £15 or so), a volume rocker, and the standby switch.

Design-wise, our only complaint is that the bezel around the screen is about 14mm, which does detract from the products’ otherwise slinky, slim feel.

Performance
Its tablet-typical chops – an ARM Cortex A8 1GHz processor/512MB RAM combo – do a reasonably speedy job with Android 2.2 Froyo most of the time, but we did experience the odd freeze-up during our test – usually when trying to play Flash videos. That said, for the most part they did play without problems, and nor have we come across many other gadgets with such comprehensive support for file formats in both video and music.

The 1024×600 pixel screen is clear enough for surfing and watching iPlayer, though for a high-end tablet it’s not as sharp as it should be – next to newer touchscreen devices with AMOLED screens, the basic LCD used on the Galaxy Tab is virtually invisible outdoors.

This makes the device’s GPS – via a Navigation app – only usable in-car, where it works well enough; it can even be fitted with voice search and prompts.

Galaxy of benefits?
Voice calls over 3G using the Galaxy Tab can stretch to 17 hours of talk time, Samsung claims – though in our ‘typical use’ test, which largely consisted of surfing and watching some video, the product needed re-charging after a couple of days.

The Galaxy Tab’s Android 2.2 interface works well, and is simple to use, though its fairly basic presentation is testament to the fact that Froyo is designed for smartphones, and while it’s been tweaked for the Galaxy Tab, this hybrid device could do with a tablet-specific OS.

Physically, its confused self-perception is an advantage – not only do few tablets appear in this size, but the GT-P1000 is much easier to hold than, say, a Motorola Xoom or an iPad2.

So much easier, in fact, that we wouldn’t be surprised if the default size for tablets creeps down to the dimensions of the GT-P1000. For anyone on the go, this size of tablet is so much more suitable to travel with – and surely that’s the whole point of a tablet PC compared to a laptop?

Company: Samsung

Website: http://www.samsung.com/uk

Contact: Samsung on 0845 67267864

Positives
  • Small for a tablet; 3G phone functions; comprehensive media file support.
Negative
  • Occasional freeze; wide bezel around screen; smartphone-centric OS.

Verdict

It may now be selling for a far more palatable price, but £300 is still a lot to pay for an entry-level tablet still in the shadow of the iPad.

That said, it's both easier to carry and more comfortable to use than Apple's tablets, though - Flash video aside, this tweaked smartphone OS just isn't in the same ballpark - and we do have serious reservations about the screen.

Still, highly skilled and easy to carry anywhere, the GT-P1000 is what it is: a large smartphone that's much, much easier to use than most for surfing, reading and simple word processing.