Nov 11 AT 8:40 AM Clark Wimberly 11 Comments

Samsung Tab video series: Browsing the web

Instead of rushing out a written review, we thought it’d be fun to do some incremental videos highlighting the main features and interesting bits we’d discovered in our daily use of the Tab.

We’re going to start with what we seem to be using this thing for the most: browsing the web. Check out the video below or read on for more details…

For the most part, browsing on the Samsung Galaxy Tab is an awesome experience. The 7.0 inch TFT-LCD looks simply gorgeous running at 1024×600- text looks crisp, images render huge- it’s a browser’s delight.

Aside from the extra screen real estate (although that really is the key selling point here), the stock Tab browser has a couple of trick features up its sleeve. It’s got a separate brightness control from the device itself, which would be pretty handy when doing a large amount of screen reading. The favorites menu pops in nicely and combines with “Most Viewed” and a history tab for easy navigating. The multi-window view, while not as handy as tabbed browsing, is still pretty slick and totally useful.

The Tab also scores big points for replacing (or supplementing, at least) the default system fonts, Droid Sans and Droid Serif. I can’t even put into words how sick I am of seeing all type rendered in the same two (mediocre) fonts. That’s probably a nerd problem but clearly someone at Samsung was thinking the same thing.

One drawback of browsing on the Tab and its gigantic screen is mobile sites no longer seem appropriate, yet most major sites are still serving them (ourselves included). With a screen this large, being served the mobile site sometimes feels like a disservice and I’m really surprised Samsung didn’t build in an easy mobile/desktop agent switch. I had some success with Dolphin Browser HD, but even it sometimes isn’t able to access the desktop versions of my favorite sites. Don’t get me wrong- it’s a minor annoyance and it mostly lays in the hands of website developers- I’m simply saying I wanted even more of the full web on my Tab.

The Tab is also sporting Adobe Flash 10.1, allowing in-line video playback and the like. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: while Flash isn’t a necessity, it sure is nice to have. Yes, it can load slowly. Yes, it can get clunky. But the bottom line is my device can still access the content, and that’s my main concern when browsing the web. During our tests we hit a number of heavy desktop sites and the Tab was able to render most of them with a passing score.

The Verdict

All things considered, I’d say the Samsung Tab offers one of the best Android-powered web browsing experiences to date. When browsing mobile sites, the stock browser is beyond speedy. When viewing desktop sites, things look awesome. When viewing a Flash heavy site, the Tab makes do. The text is crisp and perfect for reading. The UI is clean and extremely easy to use.

The only downside is the Tab has alerted me to an entire new segment of devices I’ll actually have to code for: Android tablets that don’t suck.

PS: Big thanks to @bigkeivan for the video assist.

Clark is a developer living in Austin, Texas. He runs ClarkLab, a small web firm with his wife, Angie. He's a big fan of usability, standards, and clean design.

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