Samsung Tablet 2.0

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Samsung unveiled its new tablet, the Galaxy Tab, last night in New York City. Important details about the device–such as pricing–remain a mystery, but what’s clear is that Samsung hopes to compete with the iPad. A key to this strategy will be offering service through all major U.S. cellular networks and having a wide variety of content ready to go.

The Galaxy Tab is one of the first iPad competitors to be launched by a major electronics manufacturer, and it could test whether consumer enthusiasm for the Apple product will transfer to other devices. ABI Research, a technology research firm, predicts that 8 million to 12 million tablets will sell in 2010, depending on how well iPad competitors are received.

The tablet’s hardware capabilities are fairly similar to those of the iPad. It has a seven-inch touch screen (somewhat smaller than the iPad’s 10 inches), weighs about 13 ounces (compared to 24 ounces for the lightest model of iPad), and comes with 16 gigabytes of memory. Where Samsung really hopes to compete is in software and availability.

Whereas iPad users can only get a data plan with AT&T, the Galaxy Tab will also be offered through Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

Jeff Orr, principal analyst for mobile devices at ABI Research, says any company that wants to compete with the iPad needs to make sure that its device is very easy for consumers to buy. Samsung’s tablet, in this case, will benefit from appearing in retail stores selling products for all four major carriers. “It was always more a question of when and who would be making these partnerships,” he says.

Samsung also hopes to stand out through its use of the Android operating system. The tablet runs Android 2.2, which supports Adobe Flash 10.1, a browser plug-in that makes it possible to view a wide variety of Web video and multimedia content currently unavailable on either the iPhone or the iPad.

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