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Samsung Galaxy Tab Samsung Galaxy Tab

Samsung Galaxy Tab – an iPad Killer?
And Sculpteo's Mini-Me Statues - Micro Yourself!

By Jim Bray
June 23, 2011

It seems as if everyone and his dog is trying to get a slice of the tablet market Apple created with the introduction of the iPad. Imitation, it seems, truly is the sincerest form of flattery.

One of the leading contenders is Samsung's Galaxy Tab, with which I got to spend a couple of weeks recently.

I bought an iPad 1 when the iPad 2 came out and Apple cut the price for the old one, and I absolutely love it. In fact, I rarely use my netbook any more; the only thing I really miss is the ability to download pictures and voice files to it from my other devices. Well, that and Flash, of course.

Needless to say, I was intrigued by some of the newcomers, and will spend a few columns over the next months messing around with some of the different approaches to the "let's get some of that tablet market profit for ourselves."

The Samsung Galaxy Tab uses the Android platform that's become so popular with smart phones, making it kind of an "Anti-iPad" in the way that Android phones could be considered "Anti-iPhones."  The Samsung is smaller than the iPad, small enough that you can actually hold it in one hand without worrying about dropping it, and it may even fit into a jacket pocket (depending on the pocket). The tradeoff is its smaller screen, of course, but that may be worth it to you.

I was prepared to like the Samsung a lot because it looks and acts just like a big version of my Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant smartphone, of which I'm very fond. In fact, I anticipated experiencing buyer's remorse over my iPad. It didn't happen, but that doesn't mean the Samsung isn't worth a look if you're thinking of picking up a tablet.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab comes with a seven inch touch screen and offers full web browsing, Adobe Flash support, Android Apps from the Android Market, Google services, movie and music players, an eReader, video calling, and rear and front-facing cameras. In other words, it's a tablet…

It comes with 16 gig of memory, expandable to 32 gigabytes, and with Wi-Fi, 3G and Bluetooth connectivity. 

The Tab has four buttons on its face (I only have one, on my belly!), a headphone jack up top, a volume control, microSD card slot (which is how you expand the memory) and a power button on the right side. I'd have liked to see a USB port like the Galaxy phone has, to make charging easier. Instead, they have a proprietary connection reminiscent of Apple's. What's with that?

The unit has a very solid feel – more so than my smart phone, unfortunately.

I was disappointed that the Tab doesn't come with a Super AMOLED screen like my Galaxy phone does, but the LCD Samsung uses is a good one. Resolution is 1024 x 600 pixels and the picture quality is excellent, with wide viewing angles and exquisite color performance. It's very bright, too, though – as with its competitors that I've tried – its performance in bright sunlight leaves something to be desired.

As with my Galaxy phone, the Galaxy Tab's touch screen is very responsive. Perhaps too much so; as with my phone, I found myself launching apps by mistake sometimes. I suppose in the grand scheme of things, however, it's better than having to hammer on the thing to get something working, as long as it isn't running up your data plan.

Browsing on the seven inch screen is fine, though I did miss the extra size of the iPad's screen. I also thought the Galaxy a tad slow, compared to the iPad, though I didn't really run them side by side and app by app. It was just an overall impression. On the other hand, the Samsung didn't freeze up as much as my iPad does, though to be fair I didn't use it nearly as long as I've had the iPad.

Battery life is fine. Like the iPad, it seems to require about a charge a day if you use the thing a lot.  

I didn't like typing on the on-screen keyboard which, because of the unit's size, is very much shrunken compared to the iPad's. And the nifty Swype feature I like so much on my phone doesn't lend itself as well to the tab's larger size because you have to drag your finger a lot farther than on the phone.

Samsung does offer a separate keyboard, and this might be a worthwhile purchase if you plan to do a lot of typing on the Galaxy Tab. I didn't try it, though.

I'm of two minds about the Galaxy Tab. While its smaller size compared to the iPad could make it more compelling to some – since it's easier to carry – I missed the iPad's extra real estate while surfing the web. It didn't bother me as much with videos, though, which surprised me. Perhaps it's the difference in the comfort zone of my middle-aged, reading glasses-wearing eyes between watching video and reading text.

I like the Samsung's Flash capability, which lets you surf a broader variety of websites than you can with the iPad, and the Android environment means you can take advantage of third party apps instead of being a slave to the Apple Gods.

It appears Samsung may be onto something with this iPad competitor.

Mini-Me Maxi-Me

Micro-size Yourself

Speaking of smaller gadgets, have you ever thought about having a miniature version of yourself created? I'm not talking about a clone gone wrong, or a tiny slave, but rather a mini-you statuette you can use to amaze your friends.

Or maybe you'd like a reasonably lifelike representation of a loved one you can keep on your desk instead of a photograph?

If so, the folks at Sculpteo think they have your answer – and maybe they do. All you have to do is email them two pictures – front and profile – and send them about $75, and the next thing you know your approximately three inch high mini-me shows up at your door.

I was intrigued enough when they introduced me to the product to send them a couple of photos of my wife and I, taken at our youngest son's wedding. I wanted them to make a model of her but I guess that got lost in the process, because when my mini-me showed up it was a mini-me of me, not my dear wife. And now she thinks I'm the biggest narcissist on the face of the earth…

Anyway, the people transform your digital files into a real, 3D model that, if nothing else, is bound to become a real conversation piece. I've had people run away screaming when they see mine!

SculpteoOne advantage to ordering your figure yourself via their website is that they give you an approval process I didn't know was available or I would've told them they modeled the wrong person.

You can apparently even pick your model's clothing and colors, though mine came clad in the same clothing as in the original shot – which, unfortunately, shows people that I do, in fact, own a tie. But you can choose to be rendered in your favorite sports team's colors, for example, or decked out as a college grad, in a wedding dress or tux, whatever.

I saw no evidence on their website to suggest you could have a nudie statue of yourself…

Sculpteo says the finished product can be shipped from their headquarters in France to any European location within six days. Naturally, delivery could take longer to other continents.

I'm a bit of two minds about this Mini-me thing. It's certainly an interesting little statuette, and I like mine quite a bit, in a weird sort of way. The technology behind it must be pretty interesting, too. But at the end of the day, it seems like a lot of money for what you get.

And now everyone I knows thinks I have the biggest ego on earth. I hadn't wanted that to get out.

Copyright 2011, Jim Bray

Jim Bray's columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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