Getting started with the Samsung Galaxy Tab


The T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless versions of the Samsung Galaxy Tab are now available for purchase in the US.

There's a lot to discover and enjoy on the 7-inch Froyo tablet and if you're familiar with Android 2.2, then you'll instantly feel right at home when looking at the spacious screen. If the Tab is your first Android device, however, then you might be a little overwhelmed. With so much to explore, where do you start?

I got my T-Mobile Tab today (none of the stores would sell it off contract yesterday, so I had to wait until today) and before I started customizing my home screens and downloading all of my favorite apps from Android Market and elsewhere, there was some housekeeping to be done. What follows are the first things I do on most Android devices (after signing into my Google account and inputting my WiFi network password) after performing a factory reset, flashing a new custom ROM, or just setting it up for the first time.

1. Disable network notification. Although it seems like a handy feature, allowing the Tab to notify me when it discovers an open WiFi network drains the battery unnecessarily because it's always scanning for networks. If I want to connect to a network other than my own, I'll look for it myself. To do this on your Tab, tap the Menu button then Settings -> Wireless and network -> Wi-Fi settings. Uncheck the "network notification box."

2. Change WiFi sleep policy. I'm using my Tab without 3G service, but making sure that WiFi never sleeps is something I do on phones with 3G service too. Keeping WiFi awake at all times is better on the battery than falling back to 3G, as the latter uses more resources. To change the sleep policy on the Tab, tap Menu -> Settings -> Wireless and network -> Wi-Fi settings. Then tap Menu -> Advanced -> Wi-Fi sleep policy and select Never from the list.

3. Get a new home launcher. I knew from my brief time with the Samsung Captivate that I hated the TouchWiz 3.0 UI, so I headed to Android Market immediately to get ADW.Launcher (Market link). Some people like LauncherPro and other home replacements, but I like ADW. It's highly customizable and uses the vanilla Android launcher, which I like.

4. Enable sideloading. By default, the Tab (and other Android devices) is set up to not allow users to install apps obtained from outside Android Market. Considering how many talented hackers and devs are creating apps and making them available in forums and file-sharing sites, being limited to Market apps is unacceptable to me. Fortunately, it takes nothing more than a quick tap of a checkbox to enable sideloading: Menu -> Settings -> Applications -> Unknown sources.

5. Turn on airplane mode. Since I'm using the Tab as a WiFi-only device and it doesn't have phone functionality in the US, there's no reason to keep the cell radio on and waste battery life. You can still use WiFi in airplane mode, so it makes sense to do it if you don't have 3G service. Just go to Menu -> Settings -> Wireless and network -> Flight mode.

6. Change screen timeout. By default, the Tab's screen is set to turn off after 30 seconds of inactivity. I keep mine set at 10 minutes, which gives me enough time to do anything I want without being interrupted by a black screen. To change it on your Tab, go to Menu -> Settings -> Display settings -> Screen timeout.

7. Disable lock screen. When I'm using the Tab around the house, having to unlock the screen every time I pick it up just makes it take longer for me to get to the content I want. So I disable the lock screen from showing up when I turn on the screen with an app from Android Market called No Lock (Market link). There are other apps that do the same thing, but I've been using No Lock without issue for months. I keep a 1×1 widget on my main home screen so that I can enable/disable the lock screen with ease.

8. Make all apps run in full screen. This is specific to the Tab because of its WSVGA resolution. Although many apps scale properly when run on the Tab's 1024 x 600 screen with no problem, some don't and will display within a black box. To overcome this little annoyance, I followed jkkmobile's tutorial by installing Spare Parts (Market link), unchecking and checking "Compatibility Mode" before rebooting, unchecking it again, and then rebooting it again.

9. Change web browser plug-in use. Froyo natively supports Adobe Flash 10.1 and although people have been complaining about the lack of Flash on mobile devices for years, it doesn't come without compromise. Having Flash enabled at all times can slow down webpage loads and make scrolling less smooth, so it's better to select the "On demand" setting when you're in the stock browser and you go to Menu -> Settings -> Enable plug-ins.

10. Adjust web browser brightness. Assuming you're using the Tab's stock browser (and not DolphinHD, Firefox 4, Opera Mobile, Skyfire, etc.), then it's important to know that it has a separate brightness control that can only be adjusted if you've disabled auto-brightness in the system. This is Samsung's doing. It isn't a problem if you're using the auto-brightness setting (Drag down notification shade to enable or tap Menu -> Settings -> Display settings -> Brightness -> Automatic brightness), but it's something worth noting if you're not.


After doing all of this, which really only takes a few minutes, my Tab is now at what I consider to be its starting point. All of the basics are set up to my liking, so now I can start playing.

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Jenn K. Lee

Jenn K. Lee is the founder of Pocketables. She loves gadgets the way most women love shoes and purses. The pieces in her tech wardrobe that go with everything are currently the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Tablet P, and Nexus 7, but there are still a couple of vintage UMPCs/MIDs in the back of her closet.

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