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Samsung Galaxy Tab is in Muscat.

If you’ve been waiting for this one, well here it is: Samsung’s long-awaited Android tablet, the first in a salvo of tablets that will flood store shelves from here until next CES.

To begin with, let’s talk about the physical characteristics. This thing is pretty hefty. It’s 7.48 x 4.74 x 0.47 inches and weighs 13 ounces. The iPad weighs 1.5 pounds but the size of the screen makes it seem lighter than it is. This thing is dense and thick and using it makes you think you want something small. I held this over my head in bed one night to watch a movie and my arm started to hurt. That’s kind of bad. [To explain, I usually lay the edge of the iPad on my chest. The screen is big enough for that. This is obviously more Kindle-sized but the Kindle is lighter.]


In terms of design, the Galaxy Tab is remarkably smaller than you might expect, measuring roughly 7.5-inches wide, 4.7-inches tall, and 0.5 inches deep. The chassis is a carbon fiber-esque plastic, while there is a 0.5-inch bezel around the glass screen. Along the edges, there are dedicated volume controls, a power button, headphone jack, a MicroSD port, speakers, a microphone, and the proprietary connector port for charging and PC syncing.

The quality of the construction is solid, though the plastic materials make it feel a little cheap, and considering that pricing starts at around $599, ( in US ) its hard not to be disappointed by its build.

Still, the Galaxy Tab fits comfortably into one hand, though it'll take a fairly large hand to fit from edge-to-edge when held vertically. The Galaxy Tab is 0.84 lbs, roughly 0.66 lbs lighter than the iPad, but since it is smaller, the weight is more densely distributed. As a result, the Galaxy Tab is actually more comfortable to hold during extended use than the iPad.

The Tab's dual cameras are a big differentiator against the iPad, and we do have to say they both came in pretty handy over the last few days. We warn you: people will look at you oddly when you pull it out and take shots with its giant viewfinder! The 3 megapixel cam with LED flash on the back aren't going to replace your point and shoot, but it did take some decent still shots. There's a few samples in the gallery below: the flash was helpful when nabbing some stills on a darkly lit street and the outdoor pics are quite sharp. The camera interface consists of the standard Android controls, and per usual it handled auto-focus and white balance. Oddly, there's no macro mode, but the panoramic mode was great for taking wide-angle shots -- just make sure to hold it extremely steady to avoid blur. There is also a continuous mode, which will take a sequence of nine shots -- it took us a while to figure out that you've got to hold down the camera button to get it snapping. We should note that the panoramic and continuous modes are limited to taking 800 x 600-resolution photos.