A weekend with the Samsung Galaxy Tab

This weekend I took one of the Samsung Galaxy Tabs we have lying around the office here home to see how I got on with it as I’ve been thinking of buying one.

Initial impressions

The look and feel of the Tab is quite nice. It’s a lot smaller than an iPad but that is no bad thing as I imagine they are targeted at different markets. The Tab fits into my inside coat pocket nicely and doesn’t feel like it’s weighing me down too much.

Connecting up the Tab to the network at work was fine, typing in the password was a bit of a faff but after that I was connected to the internet and found that yes I could view websites – wooo.

Come home with me my pretty

Now I have the Tab at home I can really start to personalise it and put those tools that I really can’t live without. Again getting it on the home network was a faff, I use a large key that I store on a usb key, can’t access that from a Tab of course, perhaps if I’d transferred it to a micro-sd card I’d have got around that.

First few applications to get installed.

  • Dropbox ( I need my keepass file )
  • KeePassDroid ( I need my password for . )
  • TweetDeck ( and.. )
  • Facebook

Copying and pasting my passwords from KeePassDroid took a couple of attempts, I really like the swipe down access to notifications – and in this case the ability to copy and paste my username and password from one running app to another. Multi-tasking in order to achieve something like this is very neat, having all of Dropbox, KeePassDroid and TweetDeck running at the same time. Although I did find myself trying to switch into the active applications using the “Active Applications” link from the homepage, being forced to navigate to the place you started the other app from is just too clunky.

More customisation

So now I’m in contact with the world all is good, strangely I had to give over my google account information to download applications which then set-up my sync to google mail, contacts and calendar but I didn’t actually mind that as that meant I’m now even more contact ready. A few obligatory games made their way onto the Tab.

  • Angry Birds ( of course )
  • Alchemy
  • Unblock Me Free

So now I’m no only in contact with the world but I’m also having fun, this is when I noticed a real hardware snafu by Samsung. The screen looks great in both portrait and landscape however when viewing games or e.g. iPlayer ( I watched last weeks F1 race on it ) in landscape the stereo speakers are both on the right – surely some hardware designer is going D’Oh!

Corporate-Ready? Not really

So putting on my work hat ( after revenging myself on those curséd pigs for a bit ) I decided to hook up my exchange account. After an incredibly scary warning prior to connecting I found it mostly worked. I could see my work e-mail, my calendar and outlook contacts synched up, but not the Global Address List. This is a real let down as I need that to send e-mail to people at work and as far as I can tell I’m not the only one who feels this is a major drawback – http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=4602. The system will auto-complete addresses but they aren’t there in the contacts initially.

Also upon reading an e-mail I thought I’d check out a bug link to our internal bug tracking system. Right, need to set-up a connection to the VPN – how hard can it be? Turns out – impossible, I’m reasonably tech-savvy and I know about networks, I even installed a couple of tools to try to diagnose the problems

  • NetInfo
  • Pinger

But still no joy and no way I could tell what the IP address of the VPN link was – it seemed to connect but I just couldn’t make it work. Some of this may have been due to the fact I’d had to fix the Tab to a static IP on my home network in the morning as for whatever reason it refused to pick up a DHCP address ( it had worked fine the night before ).

Still was nice having my work Mail accessible via the main Mail app and my google mail via the GMail app and my combined calendar. Shame I couldn’t get my work Notes into Memos too.

Final thoughts

I only really had the Tab for a weekend and I do quite like it, I really like the software, probably more so than the hardware, it’s neither small enough to be a phone nor large enough to get the most out of web pages like an iPad.

Installing application from Marketplace is terrifying, this application needs access to your location – why? I don’t want it to have that but my only option is not using the application rather than denying it rights. A barcode scanner that wants to read my e-mail – fsck off!

There are probably ways to work around some of the problems I had with the Tab but I didn’t come across them. The android marketplace is so poorly organised that it’s of no use – sorted by what?, how many people voted for that 5 star?, how may downloads?

Being always connected is a great feeling, maybe it’s because I’ve never had a “smart” phone ( a Tocco Lite does not count Samsung! ). So maybe I won’t have a Tab but perhaps a Galaxy S is more up my street. The iPads lack of multi-tasking and lack of customisation would be a killer for me.