Monday, March 12, 2012

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

One thing you can say for the Koreans, they certainly know how to give things names, as I remarked the other night to my wife as we sat watching our Samsung LA37B53 television. Admittedly, iPad is quite a ridiculous and charmless name too, but I keep thinking I must be missing some Korean allusion with the word 'tab'. This is either a synonym for 'cigarette' if you're from the Grim North of England, or a small bit of cardboard sticking out the side of a box. Hardly redolent of a brave new world of technology.

Still, a name isn't everything. Moving to Singapore, and unsure on how easy it would be to access the internet, I bought a Tab so that my wife could check emails and not feel cut off from the rest of the world. We could have bought an iPad, but as it was only three weeks until iPad3 was announced (now just 'iPad', apparently), and because we wanted something more pocketable, we plumped for the Samsung.

Plus I'm a magpie for gadgets, and I've never had an Android toy before.

I'm not sure if I will again, either. Although physically the tab is quite nice (flimsy cover to the sim-card slot notwithstanding) the software feels half-baked at best. Applications crash without warning for no apparent reason, there's seemingly two different Gmail applications, neither having the same functionality, and it took us three days to figure out how to answer the phone.

All the icons and the backgrounds are a bit too garish, a bit too overblown. I suppose this is because I've seen a lot of Microsoft's seductively minimalist Windows Phone interface recently, but come on. Samsung are proud of how they've extended the Android user interface, but if that's improved, I dread to think what the standard version is like.

It only runs Honeycomb, not Ice Cream Sandwich, and I'm unclear on the differences, except people think Ice Cream Sandwich is good and Honeycomb not. Which is all very nice, but I remember people saying how good Honeycomb was. Compared to Gingerbread. That's like suggesting Sisyphus had a productive role in society, because of all the stones he'd rolled uphill, without thinking about the net change in stones atop hills at the end of the day.

Still, we must imagine Sisyphus happy, and I'm not unhappy with the Tab. Disappointed, perhaps, at the way the screen constantly flickers between portrait and landscape with the slightest change in the Earth's gravitational field. Saddened that there isn't a single case with a hand grip to make you feel secure while reading near hard surfaces. Frustrated by the random setting of the keyboard. And yet pleased that we can easily navigate Singapore via Google Maps and Google Places, which really come into their own on a tablet.

I'm sure that people might say that all these problems are fixable, if I tinker with the tablet. If I install a different keyboard, or download a rom image of Ice Cream Sandwich, or say fifty hail Marys then all my problems will dissolve. And that's all very well, but I'd prefer to pay my money and get something that works out of the box, not have the spectre of completely crocking our expensive lump of plastic and glass by trying to be clever.

Perhaps I'm just a pessimist. Perhaps I'm angry that my wife uninstalled Fruit Ninja before I could beat her score. Perhaps I need to keep taking the tablets.


Anonymous said...

Just bought one and not as initially easy to use as the previous model, I'm getting there. The horrible orange start up screen has to go! There is also constant screen flicker as if the tab is deciding the amount of ambient light near it. Hoping to get used to it. Great post though, had me laughing

Mr Cushtie said...

Wow - I didn't realise that it was more difficult than the previous version. Glad you liked this :)

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