Samsung bets on Galaxy Tab in race against Apple's iPad

In what could potentially be the first serious challenge to Apple's dominance in the tablet sector, Samsung Thursday debuted the Galaxy Tab, a 7-inch Android powered tablet device. It will initially be available in European markets later this month, with a broader worldwide launch shortly afterward.

Although the device's screen size is smaller than the iPad, much of the rest of the specifications are quite similar. The Tab includes a 1GHz processor; up to 64GB of storage space; 3G, Bluetooth, and 802.11 wireless connectivity, and high definition playback of digital content.

One thing it does have that the iPad does not is a front and back facing camera: the front one is 1.3 megapixels, while the back camera would support 3 megapixels as well as an LED flash.

No announcement was made as to the pricing for the new device, nor carrier partners for the included 3G connectivity.

Samsung says the Tab, which is part of the company's broader line of "Galaxy" Android devices, is only the first of a line of tablet devices from the manufacturer. "Samsung recognizes the tremendous growth potential in this newly created market," mobile chief JK Shun said in a statement.

He said that the Tab was designed to maximize the user's online experience, and would "push the market in new directions." Built upon Android's 2.2 "Froyo" update, the Tab also includes something that has notoriously been left out of the iPad: Flash.

Adobe Flash 10.1 is supported, which Samsung extols the Tab as being able to view every single web page as the developer intended. In order to make these same pages viewable correctly on the iPad, some web developers have had to tweak their designs to take advantage of HTML5 vis a vis Flash, which could be inconvenient.

Getting into the e-reader business is something that Samsung is also interested in: each Tab would come with an application called the "Readers Hub," which would link into a library of content. The hub concept would also translate into other forms of media discovery including a "Music Hub" and "Media Hub."

The Korean manufacturer did not specify if it would use proprietary or open technologies to deliver this content to users.

Among many of the first looks given of the Samsung Galaxy Tab today, mobile messaging and VoIP software maker Fring gave a quick peek at video chatting on the device.

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