Samsung Galaxy Tab, Hello and Goodbye

Every now and then a product comes along that makes me want to sit down with the product manager, buy them a beer and ask “So…What was going through your mind when you made these decisions?” The Galaxy Tab is one such product.

First of all, it’s an awkward size; just a little bit too big to comfortably hold (even in my basketball-palming hands), a little bit too heavy to hold up comfortably, and (here’s the magic) as smooth, featureless and slippery as a slab of polished glass. I can’t believe I haven’t dropped it yet.

In the world of hand-held devices, this one is Helen Keller. It has all the brains you could want, but is completely handicapped in its ability to communicate. There is no USB port, for example. And even though it is running one of the world’s most powerful phone operating systems, is purchased from a cell phone company and is connected to the cellular network, you can’t use it to make phone calls. There is no video output (even my phone has an HDMI connector). And then, just to keep you on your toes, they swapped the positions of the HOME and MENU keys so that they are backwards from every other Android device in the world. Had enough yet? The charging connector is absolutely unique in this world, so you’d better carry the custom cable with you since you will never be able to borrow someone else’s, use one from another of your devices, or buy a replacement at Walgreen’s if you forget it.

I want to love it. I was excited when I read about it, I waited and waited for it, and now I’m the first kid on my block to have one. For the moment, anyway, because I’m not keeping it. I simply can’t figure out what to do with it.

Functionally, it’s the part of the Venn diagram where my phone and my laptop intersect. It doesn’t replace either, and it doesn’t do anything unique. And if you were thinking that it might make a nice “instant on” replacement for a laptop in light duty situations, don’t forget about the single-window user paradigm which makes it very tedious to move information from one application to another (for example, sending an excerpt of a word document in an email.)

No, sadly, the perfect device for me hasn’t been invented yet.

Still, I hear Google is working on this Chrome-based netbook to be released early next year. I’m on the waiting list. [Here we go again…]