With the success of Apple’s iPad, it’s a no-brainer that competing manufacturers would soon come up with their own tablets to try and snag a piece of the pie. Samsung’s latest 7-inch creation, the Samsung Galaxy Tab is a tablet loaded with Android OS 2.2, but with a familiar interface from its smaller Galaxy S smartphone cousin. This gives it a much more polished feel compared to a stock Android build.

Having spent time with the Tab, we’re very much pleased with the device, from its snappy 1GHz Cortex A3 processor, 16G3 onboard storage (and another 32G6 expandable via the microSD slot), to the Wi-Fi, 3G and voice capabilities. While the TFT-LCD screen uses neither IPs (in Plane Switching) panel nor Samsung’s AMOLED technology, it’s still sufficiently bright and clear with decent viewing angles.

Factoring in GPS, gyroscope, accelerometer, light sensors and a digital compass, the Galaxy Tab is packed with features for both gaming and navigation. The size of the device, at 7 inches, seems just right for the hands too. With the Tab weighing just half that of the Apple iPad, the Tab turns out to be a really portable device.

Pro tip: Try not to rely on its 3.0-megapixel camera if you want to take pictures, as the image quality is quite frankly, terrible.

Like most tablets, the Tab has no keyboard and relies on a virtual set of keys. In this case, it comes with Swype, a virtual keyboard designed for Android that makes it easy to type on a mobile phone by simply sliding your fingers across the letters of the word you wish to type. Given the large screen size however, it’s not as easy to swipe your way through the keyboard, and you’re probably better off tapping each letter out the conventional way.

Since the Samsung Galaxy Tab packs in the latest Android 2.2 software complete with the Android Market, getting apps is pretty easy, Samsung also throws their own App Store into the mix. Combined with SingTel’s App Store (since the Tab is exclusive to SingTel for now) and the Readers Hub app, you’re pretty much covered in terms of apps where variety and availability are concerned.

Nevertheless, it’s important to note that some Android apps aren’t able to scale up to the resolution of the Galaxy Tab at 1024×600 pixels, much lighter than the 800 x 430 pixel resolution that most Android smartphones have. Apps like the popular Angry Birds game scale fine, and there’s a tweak called Spare Parts in the Android Market that provides a workable fix for most cases.

Since the Galaxy Tab uses a wide-screen 16:9 aspect ratio panel, watching videos with the tablet in the horizontal orientation feels comfortable and natural. When held in portrait mode though, you may notice that the screen feels slightly longer than expected, but on a 7-inch device, it still feels handy and usable.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab comes with the ability to play Adobe Flash videos out of the box, though this comes at a slight disadvantage of having Flash-based advertisements running on your browser. You should set the Flash plugin to run only on demand, which should help with the adverts. A quick word of caution however, having Flash turned on slows the entire Tab experience considerably and makes scrolling on the otherwise fine browser a sluggish aid irritating experience.
As for the Tab’s battery life, our battery tests with a 720p video loop came away with a result of 5 hours and 41 minutes. You can probably get away with a longer battery life with a lower-quality clip, or by turning off Push settings and lowering the screen brightness.

If you don’t already own a tablet device, then the Samsung Galaxy Tab is one to consider. It’s definitely a different machine compared to the Apple iPad, and one that stands out on its own. Given that other manufacture’s too are announcing. Their own versions of an Android tablet, it may be s good idea to play the “wait and see” game, but Samsung’s Galaxy Tab strikes us as one that’s sufficiently mature and worthy of purchasing.