November 20 2010
When the techie magazine T3 recently announced its annual list of the 100 most influential figures in technology – a list to which I contribute, I must tell you – I was amazed to see that up there with Steves Jobs and Ballmer, Page and Brin and Mark Zuckerberg, at number seven, was the CEO of Samsung, Yoon-Woo Lee.
It seemed a perverse choice. Samsung, to me, doesn’t even rate with LG. And LG is still knee-high to Sony or Panasonic. I still find it hard to think beyond my first Samsung product, a TV with the VCR on top that looked as if it had banged its head and suffered an unsightly swelling.
Well, IFA, September’s giant technology fair in Berlin, showed how much I have been underestimating Samsung. It stole the show with two products. The second I’ll introduce to you when it’s out; the first, this wannabe iPad, should be hitting the stores for Christmas about the time you read this.
There’s no shortage of wannabe (but 7in rather than 10in) iPads; IFA was full of them, many from Chinese hopefuls you’ve never heard of. Toshiba and others have since launched them. The Galaxy Tab, however, is very nearly good enough to break my Apple habit. It does a lot that the iPad can’t in that it has a camera, a SIM and can make phone calls (best with a headset to avoid looking an idiot). Because it’s basically a large Google Android phone, it also has Flash and can browse a heap of websites the iPad can’t – howtospendit.com included.
The Tab is smaller than the iPad, but not too small to view video comfortably on plane or train, or to type on – especially with the natty plug-in keyboard that should also be around soon. The size is key to the attraction; Samsung has hit on a shape, dimension, weight and feel that just begs to be picked up and used. The device is 190mm x 120mm x 12mm and weighs 380g, giving it a similar heft to an e-book reader – which, of course, it is, along with dozens of other things.
The Tab is a really serious competitor to the iPad. Unless Mr Jobs has a riposte up his black sleeve, which he swears he doesn’t.