The initial reviews of the Galaxy Tab are out, with the the New York Times' David Pogue giving it a near rave, except for the price. The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg offers a favorable but more mixed review and tech blog Gizmodo absoutely trashes it. How is this possible, are these guys all reviewing the same device? I've not seen such a difference of opinion on a gadget in recent memory.
So yes, the dawn of the would-be iPad is upon us. But the Android tablet concept represents more than just a lame effort to grab a slice of tablet hype. As with Android phones, it represents an alternative that’s different enough to justify its existence. You’re buying into a different approach to size, built-in goodies like cameras and GPS, and the more freewheeling Android app store.
The Tab is attractive, versatile and competitively priced, though monthly cell fees can add up. It’s different enough from the iPad, yet good enough, to give consumers a real choice.
Typically, the point of a compromise is to bring together the best of both sides. The Tab is like a compromise's evil twin, merging the worst of a tablet and the worst of a phone. It has all of the input problems of a tablet, with almost none of the consumption benefits. With more apps geared to its tweener size, it could be a lot better, but it's not clear they're coming anytime soon, if ever. The Tab is an awkward first attempt at this kind of tablet—wait for somebody else to do it better.
What's most disappointing to me is that the carriers aren't letting this be used as a phone. There's no reason why not technically. If the Tab were capable of being used as a phone (beyond VoiP) it would be a more attractive proposition. In this regard it's very much like the ZTE Peel + iPod Touch ("Sprint's iPhone") -- a connected mobile Internet device that can use VoIP to become a phone. The Tab is less like the iPad because of its screen size and its greater portability.
We're not yet at the point where someone seeking a single device will give up a more traditional phone (even a smartphone) in favor of a "connected device" with a larger screen + VoIP. But that time may be coming in the near future.