Samsung to Challenge Apple With Innovative 'Galaxy Tab' Android Tablet

*See photos of the Samsung Galaxy Tab below*
Berlin -- It's hard to know if Samsung's Galaxy Tab Android tablet will take much marketshare from Apple's iPad but based on the demonstration I saw at the announcement in Berlin, it does appear to be a serious contender.

The new tablet, which was announced at the IFA consumer technology show, is a tablet with a 7 inch TFT display that runs Android 2.2 ("Froyo"). The device, which weighs 13.4 ounces is not only lighter than the 1.6 pound iPad, it's also smaller, measuring 7.5 by 4.7 by .5 inches which makes it quite a bit narrower than the 9.6 by 7.5 by .5 inch-wide iPad. The Samsung executive who showed off the device pulled it out the inside pocket of a suit-coat and, though a bit tight, it does fit in the pocket on my sports coat. Samsung is positioning the Galaxy Tab as a device you can hold in one hand and use as you walk around.

While the iPad has no camera, the Galaxy Tab has two -- including a front-facing camera for video conferencing. It's also a phone. Samsung plans to sell the device though cellular carriers. Pricing for the tablet and the service hasn't been announced. The phone's price will be subsidized by carriers, but it's not clear whether the service plans will require that you buy a voice plan along with a data plan. The tablet is also a phone although I'm not sure there are too many people who want a phone that's too big to fit in most pockets or to hold up to your ear without looking pretty strange.

Another thing that's not clear is how well the device will work with most Android Apps. Samsung, of course, will bundle several apps that are optimized for the tablet but not all apps will work well with the tablet's larger screen size. Google is reportedly working on a tablet version of Android (called HoneyComb). In response to a question, a Samsung executive said that the company is working a separate HoneyComb tablet for "next year," even though Google has yet to confirm that it's working on HoneyComb.

The device will be bundled with an e-reader and Samsung's media hub but should work with any compatible Android apps including the Kindle e-reader and any Android media players.

Samsung expects the device to go on sale in October in Europe but did not give a specific date for the U.S. Exact timing and pricing is up to the cellular carriers. Samsung did not specify the names of the carriers that will offer the product.

The Galaxy Tab is powered by a Samsung Cortex A8 1.0GHz processor. Samsung said that it makes all the major components for the device.

First Impression

Disclosure: I'm speaking on a couple of panels at the IFA and the show's organizers are paying my travel expenses.