I have no clue what Samsung’s tablet department is doing anymore

Samsung is one of the top companies for mobile tech these days, and with HTC's tablet offerings being what they are, Samsung is really the only company that matches Apple across devices. Or they were, anyways, last year when the company's tablet offerings made sense. These days, my reaction to Samsung tablets is somewhere along the lines of "what in the name of Thor is this". 

Last year's Samsung tablets consisted of four devices. About half way through the year, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 8.9 came out, sporting the then-common Tegra 2 chip in a package that was revolutionary at the time, being slimmer and more iPad-like than the oversized thingamajigs coming out of other companies. The Tegra 2 was never really that good of a tablet chip though, essentially being the last of the top of the line mobile chips that was limited in what it could do in terms of video playback. When Samsung later came out with the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus and Galaxy Tab 7.7, those tablets sported the much faster Mali-400 equipped dual core Exynos chips, which to this date are still fast chips that you'll also find in the Galaxy S II and Galaxy Note smartphones. Some people didn't think the 7.0 Plus/7.7 setup made sense with the 7.7 being just so much better with its higher resolution Super AMOLED+ display, larger physical screen, yet lighter and thinner body. The price difference was the whole explanation though, and as the $399 MSRP Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus dropped down to $349 and $299, it became an increasingly attractive tablet. 

Now we're in May 2012. The Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus has been discontinued from a lot of markets, having been replaced with the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. The latter is slower, thicker, has fewer features, but seems to be getting away with it because of a $249 MSRP and ICS. I have to assume that Samsung was losing money on the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus going for $299, as that's the only way this makes any sense. However with the two devices being practically identical in terms of parts, I somehow doubt that a $299 7.0 Plus would have more then $50 extra in parts in it, especially not when you consider the development cost of a whole new tablet to replace it for seemingly no other reason than saving $50 on the end price. I guess that's just the result of a world driven by consumers who don't do research, and would rather save $50 than have a tablet that is arguable more than $50 better. 

Then there's the 10.1. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 has been replaced by the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, which actually manages to be a very slight improvement to the original, but the original is a year old! With a MSRP of $399, Samsung is now selling a tablet with 2011 specs at the same price as Asus is offering the Transformer Pad 300, which with its 8 megapixel camera and a Tegra 3 chip on board, is going to be the better choice for the vast majority of users out there with such a margin that the USS Enterprise could park in it. Had the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 been a $299 device then yes, but it isn't. 

The only thing that gives some credibility to Samsung's tablet plans these days is the Galaxy Note 10.1. And by "some" I don't mean much. How did Samsung announce the Galaxy S III? Teasers, huge press event, PR budget that could run a small country for a year. How did they announce the Galaxy Note 10.1? Announced at Mobile World Congress, then rumored to be halted to upgrade the specs with no actual communication from Samsung, and now the thing has popped up again, sporting a new housing and apparently also a new quad core chip. Don't get me wrong, it really needed those upgrades, but this isn't how you launch a product that you have faith in. You announce it at a huge press even that the entire world is following and then make it available for pre-order for a set launch data a month or so in the future, you don't put it on a table at a trade show, then hide it for a few months while you poke it with a sharp stick to improve it slightly, and then slap it on another table at another trade show. 

I'm hoping that Samsung is just stalling for time here, waiting for the inevitable move to 1080p screens (or higher) for Android tablets that is going to happen soon. I'm hoping that a few months from now, I'll be writing up a post about a new Galaxy Tab with a 1080p screen, quad core Exynos chip, 8 megapixel camera, S Voice, and whatever else you can imagine in such a thing. I'm hoping that will happen, but I'm not sure if I believe it. Samsung is at the top in the smartphone game, and it was on top in the tablet game. These days Asus isn't just occupying that spot, it's basically occupying the entire list, along with perhaps Toshiba's new Excite line of tablets, which was recently announced and kicked the final Samsung tablet off its throne, the Galaxy Tab 7.7.  I just hope that Samsung will be able to get back up there, and that it hasn't given up on tablets. 

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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