Pad vs Tab

by Ryan Bailey

Some people have adopted tablet computing as a new standard, while others remain skeptical.  This skepticism is justified, not because tablets are useless, but because the naysayers are probably comparing tablets to computers in a more traditional sense.  I recently had the chance to test-drive both an iPad and a Samsung Galaxy Tab, both available through Verizon. I found that the use of a tablet lies somewhere between using a smart phone and using a personal computer.  That’s not a bad thing; in fact, I found that tablets can do some things better than either phones or PCs can.

Stats Comparison
  iPad Galaxy Tab
Screen Size 9.7″ 7.0″
Resolution 1024×768@132ppi 1024×600@169ppi
Processor 1GHz 1GHz
Memory 16, 32, or 64GB 16/32 + (up to)32GB MicroSD
Camera 3.0MP w/LED Flash (rear); 1.3MP(front)
Network WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G(optional) WiFi, DLNA
Location/Orientation Detection WiFi; Digital Compass; GPS; Cellular GPS; Gyro Sensor
Cost $499+ $249.99
The iPad is an electronic coffee table book.  The difference is that the iPad can contain within it many, many books — or photos, or videos, or games.  I found that it works great as an e-reader, whether you’re reading e-books from Amazon or documents in PDF form.  It’s a nice size, fitting on a shelf and accomodating fingertips on hands of any size, but it’s definitely not portable unless you’re carrying a bag that can transport a standard-sized notebook.  The display is not only big, but detailed and vibrant, and most of the apps found on the smaller iPhone can be found on the iPad as well in the iPad’s higher resolution.
The Tab is basically a smart phone, but bigger.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  The only downsides to its size are that it’s not quite big enough for comfortable reading, and it’s not quite small enough to fit in a pocket.  You can, however, hold the Tab in one hand with ease: while I often found myself being overly cautious with the iPad, as if it were a tray covered with glassware, the Tab was comfortable and easy to hold.  Some of the basic, pre-installed apps on the Tab are slightly different then their smart phone analogs, taking advantage of the larger screen to present a less crowded interface.  I’m also a fan of the swype input method which, while still easiest to use on a phone-sized screen, is miles ahead of the iPad’s basic tap-out-letters-one-by-one keyboard.
The iPad, like I said before, is a coffee table book.  You’ll prefer the iPad if you plan to use your tablet heavily, but not outside your own home.  The extra screen real estate is worth the additional cost, but only if you use the iPad frequently, and only if it’s kept in a safe place.  If you own a smart phone, go with the iPad, because the Tab doesn’t have much that your phone doesn’t have already.
The Galaxy Tab is like a large smart phone. You’ll want the Tab if you plan to use it on-the-go and have a bag or pocket large enough to carry it.  If you store your data on SD cards, or intend to use your tablet for taking photos and videos, you’ll definitely need the Tab. The Tab is also great for those who use Google’s free online services, which integrate with the Tab nicely. Though they’re both referred to as tablets, I would say that the iPad and Tab are in different categories of product entirely. If you’re willing to wait for it, there’s also a 10-inch version of the Tab in the works, which should give the Tab a chance to play on the iPad’s field.
If you’ve never tried using a tablet, I recommend you visit your local dealer and goof around with one of their test units for a while.  You can’t experience the entirety of the joy of tablets while in the store, but hopefully you’ll at least understand what I mean when I say that tablets aren’t computers, nor do they need to be.  If you’ve got opinions, leave them in the comments!