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9/17/2010
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Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Five Vital Samsung Tab Facts

Samsung's Galaxy Tab hits all four major U.S. carriers later this fall. Here are the must-know details that interested buyers need to consider.

Samsung Galaxy Tab
(click image for larger view)
Samsung Galaxy Tab
In most respects, the Samsung Galaxy Tab will share the same specs across the AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless variants. They all have the same seven-inch display, 1GHz processor, dual cameras, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, accelerometer, and Android operating system. There are some key features missing, however, as well as a game-changing announcement. Here's what they are.

No WiMax

The Sprint version of the Galaxy Tab will not have WiMax on board. This is a shame. Samsung actually produced one of the first WiMax devices for Sprint, the Mondi MID, several years ago. It also makes the Samsung Galaxy Epic 4G smartphone, which does have WiMax. Given what type of product this is, WiMax could have been a key draw for the data-hungry. This is a curious and regrettable omission. The Tab sticks to Sprint's EVDO Rev. A network for 3G data.

No HSPA+

The T-Mobile version of the Galaxy Tab will not have HSPA+ on board. This is a shame. T-Mobile recently announced the HTC G2 as its first HSPA+ device. T-Mobile has been trumpeting the roll-out of its HSPA+ high-speed data network. Adding HSPA+ to the Galaxy Tab would have been a perfect move for T-Mobile, as it could have garnered more interest from the data-hungry. Another curious and regrettable omission. The Tab sticks to T-Mobile's HSPA network for 3G data.

No Voice Calls

The Tab variants coming to the U.S. will not be able to make regular, cellular voice calls. This is a change when compared to the European version of the Tab, which can make calls when it is connected to a Bluetooth headset. My guess is the carriers played a big role in this decision. They are obviously setting the Tab up to be a data-only device, similar to the way they sell netbooks with 3G embedded inside. Until Skype offers its Android client to carriers other than Verizon Wireless, users will have to use other VoIP-based workarounds to bring voice functionality to the Tab.

Video Chat Over Wi-Fi Only

Following in Apple's footsteps, Samsung and its carrier partners said that the Qik video chat client on the Galaxy Tab will only work over Wi-Fi. Apple's FaceTime video chat app also only works over Wi-Fi. Again, I am sure the carriers played a significant role in shaping this policy. Surely they'd all claim their networks can handle the video chat load if they wanted it to, but they clearly don't want to deal with the bandwidth.

Wi-Fi Version On the Way

This is perhaps the best news to come from Samsung about the Galaxy Tab. It announced that a Wi-Fi-only version will be available at about the same time that the cellular radio-equipped devices hit the market. That means people will be able to buy the Tab without a mandatory data contract. Pricing is the biggest worry, though. Without carrier subsidies, the Wi-Fi version of the Tab will surely cost more than the carrier-branded versions. In other words, Wi-Fi users will have to pay for their freedom from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.

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