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Opinion: An iPad for everyone, they're just not all iPads

The Galaxy Tab is no iPad killer, it's just the latest pretender

Apple's iPad is a success. The speed with which Apple flogged a million units of its sugar-coated 9.7in tablet PC was unprecedented, and anyone who's visited a US hotel recently will have thrilled at the site of business titans hanging around the lobby to get online. (Note to hoteliers: the iPad has no ethernet port. Give the rooms wireless.)

The biggest sign that Apple has a winner is when punters start using its product names as generic names. Just as every digital audio player is referred to as an 'iPod', I can't be the only person who has been asked what brand my iPhone is.

No one talks about 'tablet' or 'slate' PCs – they're iPads, even though alternatives are arriving. Take the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Samsung's 7in tablet that's also a smartphone (of sorts).

Samsung has form here. The Galaxy S is the handset that, in the US at least, came closest to knocking the iPhone off its 'most desirable gadget' perch. Combining Samsung's trademark beautiful screen with Google Android, the Galaxy S is a bona fide success. So the Tab will be too, right?

I'll leave the rational Samsung Galaxy Tab review to my more rational colleagues; but I'm not tempted for two reasons. Price is one: despite being smaller than the iPad, the Tab costs more. And while its portability is good, a 7in device isn't small enough to fit into a pocket. It should be cheaper.

Add in the fact that I've invested a fortune in iTunes over the years, and the old iPod-alternative argument applies: I'm locked into Apple's ecosystem, so your device has to be better and cheaper.

Which leads to reason two: the Tab doesn't look like a better device. Two out of every three people I showed it to lifted it to their ears and shouted "Hello! I'm on the train!" Far from being a desirable gadget, the Tab resembles a PDA from a decade ago.

But don't trust a journalist, ask a retailer: they live and die by judgments of products. "While the Samsung Galaxy Tab is a capable device, it lacks the sophistication of the iPad, which is why it will struggle to compete at the current asking price," says Brian Trevaskiss of More Computers.

But, he adds, things could change: "The next revisions of the Android platform and tablet devices could well be a different story," he says.

The Galaxy Tab is far from the only tablet in town. With upcoming products from a plethora of big-name manufacturers, there'll be a tablet for every budget. And once you've used a tablet PC, sofa-surfing on a laptop feels like browsing cave paintings.

The bad news is you may need to buy a new device. The good? Christmas is coming and Santa may provide.

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