The Samsung Galaxy Tab is the first tablet to come along that offers a serious alternative, or poses any notable challenge to the Apple iPad. As formidable as the Samsung tablet seems, though, there are still a number of reasons to forego the Android-based device in favor of the Apple iPad.
1. Display. At 9.7 inches, the iPad has more display real estate than the 7-inch Galaxy Tab, allowing more room for developers to work with in developing apps that capitalize on the features and functions of the tablet. The iPad display also has a sharper 1024 x 768 resolution compared with the 1024 x 600 resolution of the Samsung tablet.
2. Battery Life. One of the critical elements of a mobile computing device is how long it can last on a single charge. Samsung lists the Galaxy Tab as capable of up to seven hours of video playback, while the Apple iPad is listed at ten hours.
Most business professionals won't be constantly playing movies throughout the day, but the number is theoretical and actual battery life results will vary with how the tablet is used. The bottom line is that the iPad has a significantly higher chance of surviving a full day while the Galaxy Tab might run out of juice before you clock out.
3. Contract. The Apple iPad is loosely affiliated with AT&T wireless, but Apple negotiated an arrangement that allows users with 3G-capable iPads to purchase wireless access on-the-fly sans contract. The Samsung Galaxy Tab, on the other hand, is going to be offered through each of the four major wireless carriers using the same subsidized pricing model as smartphones. Details are not yet available, but that most likely means committing to a two-year contract of monthly payments for a 3G (or 4G) data plan that you may or may not need on a regular basis.
4. Price. Thanks to the wireless carrier subsidies, the Galaxy Tab is expected to be available between $200 and $300 depending on the provider. Assuming a minimum monthly data plan of $25 and a two-year commitment, though, that tacks on an additional $600 over the life of the contract and brings the Galaxy Tab up to $800 on the low-end.
Granted, users can opt to simply forfeit the subsidy and buy the device outright without the contract. Samsung has also announced that a Wi-Fi only version is coming soon which ostensibly would not be subsidized by, or locked to, any wireless provider, but that also means foregoing the carrier subsidy. Based on what is known of the pricing of the unlocked European models of the Galaxy Tab, the unsubsidized Galaxy Tab could cost as much as $1000, making it a very expensive proposition compared with a $499 Wi-Fi only iPad.
5. iCulture. Android is growing a culture of its own, but it is not as mature as Apple's iCulture. Apple has an ingenious business model that starts at the iPod to hook people into iTunes and the Apple culture, then evolves to the iPod Touch which introduces the App Store. By the time younger users are ready to join the world of smartphones and tablets, they are already invested in a unique custom library of apps, and are indoctrinated into the features and conventions of the iCulture.
Of course, the opposite is true as well. Android has been skyrocketing in smartphone market share, and the millions of users that have embraced Android smartphones may lean toward the Galaxy Tab in order to stick with what they know and maximize the investment in Android apps.
There are also a variety of factors that make the Galaxy Tab a better choice. Ultimately, though, the question marks behind the pricing of the unlocked, or Wi-Fi only Galaxy Tabs, or the total cost of ownership associated with a contractual obligation to some minimal data plan could doom the Galaxy Tab.