60 Days With A Galaxy Tab

by Stephen Fluin 2011.09.07

For the past 60 days I have been experimenting with using a Galaxy Tab as my tablet computer. I bring it with me to work, I take it home with me at night. I carry it in a padfolio to meetings. This review is specific to the Galaxy Tab, but any Android tablet running Honeycomb should enable the same workflow and applications.

Galaxy Tab Applications

I have installed numerous applications in a continuing quest to find the best-of-breed applications that are fun, engaging, productive, etc. After two months, the following are the applications that I find myself using all of the time.

  1. Thumbs - Thumbs is the best tablet keyboard I have found. It allows you to hold the device by the corners and use your thumbs to type. On phones I prefer Swiftkey, but for some reason the tablet-optimized version doesn't live up to the same level of accuracy.
  2. Gmail - Most of the time I use the tablet, I am reading emails, labeling and archiving email, replying, and occasionally composing emails.
  3. Calendar - The calendar app on the Galaxy Tab is quite good. It's easy to view multiple calendars, as well as to create calendar tasks.
  4. Camera - It feels a little silly at first to take pictures with the device, but once you get past the stigma, it definitely meets the needs of a basic phone camera. At only 3MP on the rear camera, the picture quality isn't great.
  5. Gallery - The real value of the device is in being able to review the photos you take, and the photos from your Google Photos album.
  6. Google+ - Google Plus is not very well tablet optimized, but it grants access to the standard Google+ experience. More importantly, this application allows you to automatically synchronize your photos with your device.
  7. Evernote - Evernote is a great application for syncing text, recording, and audio. It's tablet version is extremely well optimized. The presentation of the past notes is excellent, and all of the functionality of Evernote is exposed.
  8. YouTube - The YouTube application on the tablet is arguably better than the web interface. The application uses RenderScript and a Carousel view to present video thumbnails. The YouTube application makes it easy to flip through videos, and watch or fullscreen videos.
  9. Games - I won't list all of the games I have played, but several fun games work extremely well on the tablet.
    • Nano Panda
    • Plants vs. Zombies
    • Dungeon Defenders
    • Angry Birds
    • Tank Hero
    • Gun Bros
    • Blast Monkey

Galaxy Tab Workflow

There are several important places where the tablet has fully entered my workflow. When I attend a meeting, I launch Evernote, begin taking notes, and press the record button at the bottom. This allows me to have a full audio recording of meetings, in addition to my manually typed notes.

The second place that the tab makes a lot of sense if for photo sharing. I take a lot of photos that are automatically synced to the cloud via Google Photos (formally Picasa). Sharing these photos with friends is very natural via the gallery application compared to huddling around a desktop.

Often when I have spare time, or am away from my desk, I'm able to sit on the tablet and read and respond to emails. It feels very natural to do so in spare moments.

The Galaxy Tab works better than the three other tablets I have tried (Iconia, Xoom, and Transformer) because of its size, solid construction. Despite it's lack of dedicated HDMI port or dedicated charging port, it's a very good tablet. It hasn't found a permanent place in my life yet, and there is a lot of overlap with what I want to do with Laptops and Desktops. Despite this, I have definitely found use for it.