Yesterday’s Champ Vs. Tomorrow’s Heroes: Galaxy Tab vs. Motorola XOOM.

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It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that we were praising the Samsung Galaxy Tab for finally cracking the Android tablet market. With a four-carrier spread, consumer demand was sure to be met thanks to the various cellular options. Combined with carrier availability, the hardware inside of the Samsung Galaxy Tab was world class and top of the line — and this all inside of a smaller, more pocketable 7″ form factor.

Fast forward to early 2011 and the tables are already turning. Tablets such as the Motorola XOOM offer a bigger size, more performance, and most importantly, an all new experience thanks to the tablet-specific OS, Android 3.0 (Honeycomb). The two devices are worlds apart in terms of hardware. With that said, is the Samsung Galaxy Tab still worth it’s price (as of writing ~$250 w/ 2-year contract)? Maybe, just maybe…

On paper, the fight is clearly weighted towards the XOOM — 10.1″ 1200 x 800 display, Nvidia Tegra 2 processor running at 1GHz, 1GB of RAM, 32GB of user accessible storage, 3G/4G (LTE) WiFi, 720p video capture, 1080p video playback, 5-megapixel rear facing and 2-megapixel front-facing cameras, and a claimed 10-hour battery life when watching video. The underdog Samsung Galaxy Tab has a smaller 7″ 1024 x 600 display, ARM Cortex A8 single-core processor running at 1GHz, 512MB of RAM, 16/32GB of user storage, 2G/3G/WiFi, 3-megapixel rear facing/1.3-megapixel front facing cameras, and Android 2.2. Clearly, the XOOM has the upper hand.

But is it really all that better? In our hands on review, we praised the XOOM for it’s top of the line hardware, amazingly fluid and beautiful Android 3.0 eye candy, and overall good feel. The Galaxy Tab we’ve spent the last two weeks with are amittingly a bit late all things considered, though enjoyable nonetheless. We found ourselves in many different scenarios and situations where we kept reaching for the Galaxy Tab over the XOOM.

Case in point: A trip to Chicago via train means traveling light. Without a backpack or some other bag, taking the XOOM wasn’t the best choice. The Galaxy Tab — perfect. Typing for extended periods or using more as a text-based communications device — Galaxy Tab again.

Regarding the latter point above — typing on a 10″ tablet is not comfortable nor very efficient for anything more than a quick tweet or jotting down of a note. We found the 7″ tablet to be a perfect size for portrait-oriented texting on Google Talk and Facebook, as well as sending lengthier emails to colleagues.

At the same time, we came across several situations in which we put the Tab down and picked up the XOOM — namely reading intensive tasks. Browsing through tweets, checking friends on facebook, browsing through our favorite forums, and most importantly, watching movies and playing games were all exponentially more fun on the XOOM thanks to its bigger screen, higher resolution, and more powerful internals.

Of course, both tablets suffer from the tablet app blues. Right now there are only a handful (literally) of tablet-specific apps. What it means is that you’re left running smartphone apps on higher resolution screens which results in pixel puke all over the place. Not exactly flattering for either device, but something that will be remedied over the coming months.

The Motorola XOOM with 3G/4G costs ~$799. I say “~” because more frugal shoppers will be able to find some pretty decent discounts. The Galaxy Tab is now $250 after 2-year subscriptions to a carrier of your choice. Money will obviously factor into your decision when choosing a tablet to purchase. Which one would we choose? The Galaxy Tab. Just barely. Even though the specs were utterly defeated on paper, in real world usage, we found ourselves reaching for the tab more than the XOOM. As for concerns that the Galaxy Tab won’t receive Android 3.0, it’s only a matter of time before the talented developer scene ports 3.0 over to the Tab. It’s smaller, making it more pocketable and useful on the go. And most importantly, it is a great deal cheaper — $550 cheaper to be exact.

Yeah, the WiFi-only XOOM will be out soon and reportedly cost half of the 3G/4G version. And to some, that’s the winning combo. But to us, we see a tablet as something that not only upgrades the smartphone experience, but also allows you to take that experience on the go. Why else have a tablet? If you wanted something more stationary, pick up a laptop or netbook.

Picking last year’s tech over this year’s new hotness is certainly a risky thing to admit and publish. But hey, it’s how we feel. And don’t discount the XOOM. It is a very fine piece of technology. In the end, it comes down to what you want in a tablet. Do you want something to carry around at the office and/or come home to after a hard day at work, pop off your shoes and chill on the couch while you catch up on your favorite TV shows? Hands down go with the XOOM. But, if you want a tablet to take on trips outside of the home or office, a tablet that you can take just about anywhere and not look like an idiot wielding it out in public, the Galaxy Tab wins hands down.

We’ve made our decision, now it’s your turn to make yours. Small and portable or large and luxurious?

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  • gizmogirl

    I completely agree with this. There is something to be said for the 7-inch form factor. If only they would come out with 7-inch honeycomb tablets already! I’m quite tired of waiting…

  • Pacificstorm

    I opted for the 7-inch Galaxy Tab as well and 7-inchers are my choice for tablets because of it’s PORTABILITY. It’s totally rad. I take it to work everyday with me and always using it every time I have a chance. It simply cannot be beaten.

  • Wester

    media soul sellers

  • Anonymous

    absolutely…7 inch honeycomb, tegra 2, dual core, decent battery….would be the way to go !

  • Anonymous

    absolutely…7 inch honeycomb, tegra 2, dual core, decent battery….would be the way to go !

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Justin-Sanchez/100000491835565 Justin Sanchez

    um, I do believe ipad was the champ of 2010, not galaxy. I mean i like galaxy, it’s good, but it most certainly wasn’t the “champ”. Ipad sold 15 million units in less than six months, and 42% of store bought galaxy tabs were returned. That’s NOT the definition of champ. And besides, ipad vs Xoom would make a way more entertaining article, don’t you agree?

  • Mike

    I was focusing on Android tablets. Everyone knows the iPad is an amazingly popular device. On one front, yes, iPad vs. XOOM would have been more symmetrical, but along with comparing two Android tablets, I was comparing two different form factors.

  • TabUser

    I agree - the Tab wins - of course it wins for the same reason i picked it over the iPad- size.

    As for honeycomb - I have no need of that on my Tab - Android 2.2 is perfectly servicable for a device of this size.

    I’ll get a 10″ when they weight as little as my Tab.

  • TabUser

    I agree - the Tab wins - of course it wins for the same reason i picked it over the iPad- size.

    As for honeycomb - I have no need of that on my Tab - Android 2.2 is perfectly servicable for a device of this size.

    I’ll get a 10″ when they weight as little as my Tab.

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Author: Mike

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Gadget lover, smartphone collector, and beer connoisseur. I've been writing about gadgets for three years now and loving every minute of it. Outside of the digital landscape, I enjoy being active outdoors. I'm always up for a good conversation, so feel free to drop me a line!