The iPad bias and the Samsung Galaxy Tab

Samsung recently announced the release of their new mid-sized 8.9-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab (starting at $469 for the 16GB model). Personally, this is a device I’m very excited about. As an Android developer I’ve been dismayed by the lack of a good Android tablet, one that I actually want to own myself. The Motorola Xoom is powerful, but it’s ugly and unwieldy. The 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab looks promising, but like the Xoom, it’s just a bit too big for my liking.

Enter, the 8.9-inch tablet. Just a bit smaller than the Galaxy Tab, but packing the same hardware, it’s amazing they could fit all that into such a small package. Sounds like just the right size for me.

Now, here’s the disgusting part, the media coverage. The Galaxy Tab has been lambasted by bloggers for being too expensive. Ricardo Bilton over at ZDNet says this about the new 8.9-inch tab:

Interested in picking one up? We didn’t think so. With a screen size smaller than that of the iPad, Samsung’s asking price for its 8.9-inch tablet is a hair short of absurd.

Absurd, really? Since when does bigger equal better in the tech world. Has miniaturization not always been the goal of hardware engineers? Let’s look at the specs.

Surprisingly (or maybe not) the two devices have very similar hardware. Both tablets are available in a 16GB and a 32GB model; both run a 1GHz dual-core processor; both have equivalent WiFi support; both have a front and rear facing camera; both have bluetooth support and both can play full 1080p video and most of your favorite audio and video formats. Seeing a trend here?

Now, some of the major differences. The iPad 2 has a 9.7-inch (diagonal) screen with a 1024 by 768-pixel resolution, while the Galaxy Tab 8.9 has an 8.9-inch (diagonal) screen with a 1280 by 800-pixel resolution. The devices are both about the same thickness 8.8mm for the iPad 2 and 8.6mm for the 8.9-inch tab, but the tab is much lighter at 447 grams versus 601 grams for the iPad 2. The iPad 2 of course runs Apple’s iOS operating system while the 8.9-inch tab runs a skinned version of Google’s Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) tablet OS.

So here’s my question. Why on earth would anyone expect an .8-inch difference in screen size to equal a discount of several hundred dollars? This is not a discount tablet and in this case the size is more of a feature than anything. The 8.9-inch galaxy tab is absolutely as high-end a tablet as the iPad 2. It packs almost exactly the same hardware into a slightly smaller, slightly different form-factor. It runs a different, though equally capable and complex Operating System (Android) and offers an alternative to Apple’s walled garden app-store.

Seriously people, can’t we all just be civilized and have an adult conversation about our toys? Both devices obviously appeal to different sets of consumers. It’s about damn time we had a high-end piece of hardware in a svelte package running Google’s latest and greatest. Now if only we could get Samsung to offer a TouchWiz free model.