Tag Archive | "galaxy tab"

Mobile Reporting Kit Success!

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In my last report  – How Was my CES 2011 Mobile Reporting Kit? I didn’t have much positive to say about my plan for quick-fire mobile blogging. 3G failed me and I ended up scrabbling around trying to find WiFi hotspots. Not only is it a pain in the neck, it’s also a security risk. I connected to 18 different SSIDs in Las Vegas!

In Barcelona last week, it was a completely different story. On day-one I used the hotel WiFi but as soon as my 3G card was configured, I didn’t touch another Wi-Fi all week. Everything, including video uploading, was done via Vodafone 3G and finally, because of the 3G, the kit worked together in harmony, including a new photo blogging process that I’ve detailed below.

A reminder of what I’m using:

I took my Atom-powered Gigabyte Touchnote netbook (in use since April 2009) and the Canon S2IS (In use since Mid 2007)  I added the Galaxy Tab and the Nokia N8 Smartphone (thanks to Nokia UK for the loan of the phone) and a pay-as-you-go SIM card and 3G data service from Vodafone Spain. Although there’s a nice range of tech there, it certainly isn’t high-end across the board.

photobbloging equipment

Photoblogging 2011

As always, the netbook was for long-form typing and video ‘finishing’ and uploading. I didn’t do any live blogs with the Canon S2IS attached via USB this time but the S2IS was used for  videos. It’s a rather embarrassing 640×480 resolution and I only get about 9 minutes in before the card runs out because it records in M-JPEG and only supports SD cards, not SDHC but, the optics and Mics are great and the video file is easy to process on a netbook. With the long zoom it also works well in keynotes and press events although I do realise that none of the images taken in low light are anywhere near print quality!

Despite my love for this camera I have to find something that is faster, supports 720p video, is more sensitive and, somehow, supports external audio input. The rotating viewfinder is a must for self-filming too. I really would love Bluetooth support on my next camera for instant sharing/pushing but for the time being, I’m considering an Eye-Fi solution and the Canon SX20 or new Fujitsu HS20. I just cant afford to go to four-thirds and and I can’t justify 1 Kg of DSLR equipment!

The reason I’m so bent on having Bluetooth on my camera is due to the way I’ve been using phone cameras for the last 3 years. The Nokia N82 gave me the ease of transferring images to PCs and other mobile devices for easy editing, sharing and photo blogging. At MWC I used the N8 for just that and the experience was amazingly stress free and flexible. Far more than simple photo-bogging.

Photo blogging like never before, without a PC!

Take one Nokia N8. Pair it over Bluetooth to a Samsung Galaxy Tab, connect the Galaxy Tab to the internet via a 3G service and boom! You have one of the easiest, richest photo blogging solutions I’ve ever seen. The solution was so liberating that I ended up posting about half of my content last week without the use of a PC. In most of those cases I was standing up and in some cases, even walking! The solution also allows for multiple images in a post. Here’s an example that was posted on the Samsung booth just minutes after shooting a video.

Here’s a video demo of the solution.

Here’s the blog entry I created during the video.

Note that this process also works with Twitter, Email, Pixelpipe, Evernote, Facebook and other sharing targets. That’s the flexibility of the Android sharing subsystem coming in to play.

Unfortunately, the size of the N8 720p videos and the low speed of the Bluetooth 3 protocol (remember, the N8 and the Tab don’t have the ‘HS’ Wi-Fi extension that speeds up transfers) mean it can’t be used for that but 480p is possible on the Galaxy Tab, with video light and pause capability. There’s no continuous auto-focus but if I can find a video splicing application that fits my needs, it might work! [I’m currently testing Clesh the web-based service which now has an Android client]

Other improvements could be made too. Ideally I’d like to be able to auto-send an image to the Galaxy Tab although selective sending isn’t exactly a problematic or time-consuming task. The best improvement would be in the WordPress editor. Inclusion of html source, bullet-point support and positioning of photos (rather than just at ‘top’ or ‘bottom’) would make posts look less samey and if the WordPress application could support the sending of ‘custom-fields’ I could feed more layout info to my back-end.

Some of you might be thinking – “Why not use Pixelpipe or get a slider phone or Use the camera on the Galaxy Tab.” Yes, this is something I’ve tried to do in the past but there are a few problems with that. Number 1 – The N8 takes extremely good low-light and close-up photos without flash. 2 – The large screen of the Galaxy Tab allows me to thumb type and review a lot of text (see pic below. )The WordPress application adds a lot of value to the processes enabling auto-resizing, links, tagging, geo-tagging and more. The portrait mode keyboard on the Galaxy Tab is superb. Haptics and Software work well together.

Take a look at this pic, taken with the N8 and transferred by Bluetooth of-course! You can see how much screen area is still usable with the keyboard on-screen.

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The N8 also has an excellent photo gallery application (fast, smooth, usable), high quality audio recording capability and good outdoor screen clarity. Its the perfect device for this set-up.

In terms of rich photo blogging, I’ve found a great pair of devices in the N8 and Galaxy Tab. So much so that I might reverse my original decision to hand back the N8 and look for a different phone.

As far as the camera and netbook go though, a move to 480p 720×480 or similar is a must. This is potentially a 1000 Euro and 2KG decision so I’m not going to do it without a lot of thought. The ideal solution will give me 720p source and 480p editing in 1.5 Kg but that will be very tough to achieve. The AMD Fusion platform (Toshiba NB550d perhaps?) and a Fujitsu HS20 could be a good place to start. I’ll be testing soon so keep an eye out for the next mobile reporting kit.

I’ll be at CeBIT, Hannover next week where the kit will be in action again.

2nd Attempt at N8 / GTab photoblogging starts at MWC

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Hands-On. Sunspider Test – Good!

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On the last day of MWC I just had one more task to do and that was to spend as much time as possible with the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Contacts at MWC had already told me that it was good so I headed over to Samsung with time to spare.

Galaxy Tab 101 (14)

Yes, the Galaxy Tab is a quality bit of industrial design. The back feels slightly disappointing if you’re looking for appeasing materials but it’s practical and I’m sure that it’s going to be of long-lasting quality. The camera is good – not awesome, but good enough. The speakers disappoint. The other part of the product that disappoints, and you might hear this from other reporters is that the UI was a bit underwhelming. Beware, this is incomplete software so we should’nt use it as any sort of indicator. In its current state it’s worse than that Galaxy Tab so I feel certain it can’t go out of the door like that. It was missing Market, some BT features and the browser had a lot of trouble with Google Mail and iGoogle.

In a Sunspider test I managed to get some idea of how Honeycomb and Tegra 2 are going to perform together. The score you see below is 4x better than the iPad and a lot better than results I have from Android 2.1 on Tegra2. A 7 inch Galaxy Tab returns about 7000 ms

17022011872-1

Yes that’s 2256. Over 2x faster than the Galaxy Tab 7 inch-er!

Sunspider live test on video.

Galaxy Tab 10.1 Gallery

Here’s my hands-on video. I’ll be happy to answer questions below.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Hands-On. Sunspider Test – Good!

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On the last day of MWC I just had one more task to do and that was to spend as much time as possible with the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Contacts at MWC had already told me that it was good so I headed over to Samsung with time to spare.

Galaxy Tab 101 (14)

Yes, the Galaxy Tab is a quality bit of industrial design. The back feels slightly disappointing if you’re looking for appeasing materials but it’s practical and I’m sure that it’s going to be of long-lasting quality. The camera is good – not awesome, but good enough. The speakers disappoint. The other part of the product that disappoints, and you might hear this from other reporters is that the UI was a bit underwhelming. Beware, this is incomplete software so we should’nt use it as any sort of indicator. In its current state it’s worse than that Galaxy Tab so I feel certain it can’t go out of the door like that. It was missing Market, some BT features and the browser had a lot of trouble with Google Mail and iGoogle.

In a Sunspider test I managed to get some idea of how Honeycomb and Tegra 2 are going to perform together. The score you see below is 4x better than the iPad and a lot better than results I have from Android 2.1 on Tegra2. A 7” Galaxy Tab returns about 7000 ms

17022011872-1

Yes that’s 2256. Over 2x faster than the Galaxy Tab 7”-er!

Sunspider live test on video.

Galaxy Tab 10.1 Gallery

Here’s my hands-on video. I’ll be happy to answer questions below.

Samsung Announce 10.1” Honeycomb Galaxy Tab

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tab1

It’s not been long since the Galaxy Tab first hit retail stores however Samsung have wasted no time in announcing their next tablet device, the Galaxy Tab 10.1. If the name doesn’t give it away, Samsung’s latest Android tablet sports a 10.1 inch display, is powered by a 1GHz Tegra 2 core and of course runs the latest and greatest Android 3.0 firmware.

This device follows the recent trend of large screen Android Honeycomb tablets however it’s quite surprising that Samsung decided to transition from the original 7 inch sized Galaxy Tab as the original device was extremely popular for it’s fairly mobile form factor.

tab2

Unlike the original Galaxy Tab, the 10.1 provides a stock Android experience like many other Android 3.0 tablets and will not have a modified user interface that is often present on many Android phones, including Samsung’s Galaxy S range.

Samsung are yet to announce when the Galaxy Tab 10.1 will be launching.

Source: Engadget

Samsung Announce 10.1” Honeycomb Galaxy Tab

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tab1

It’s not been long since the Galaxy Tab first hit retail stores however Samsung have wasted no time in announcing their next tablet device, the Galaxy Tab 10.1. If the name doesn’t give it away, Samsung’s latest Android tablet sports a 10.1” display, is powered by a 1GHz Tegra 2 core and of course runs the latest and greatest Android 3.0 firmware.

This device follows the recent trend of large screen Android Honeycomb tablets however it’s quite surprising that Samsung decided to transition from the original 7” sized Galaxy Tab as the original device was extremely popular for it’s fairly mobile form factor.

tab2

Unlike the original Galaxy Tab, the 10.1 provides a stock Android experience like many other Android 3.0 tablets and will not have a modified user interface that is often present on many Android phones, including Samsung’s Galaxy S range.

Samsung are yet to announce when the Galaxy Tab 10.1 will be launching.

Source: Engadget

2nd Attempt at N8 / GTab photoblogging starts at MWC

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My masterful plan to use the Nokia N8 and the Galaxy Tab for some photoblogging for Carrypad and UMPCportal via the wordpress application failed at CES in Las Vegas. Internet connectivity was terrible (despite having a Sprint MIFI) and so I abandoned it quickly. Barcelona should, if last year is anything to go by, be a lot better so stay tuned for a lot more posts. I’m going to be trying hard no to post photo after photo without any information. That would be boring.

Again I’ll be dragging along my trusty old Canon S2IS with its simple video capability that allows me to edit on Windows Movie Maker and to connect via USB for live blogging. I still can’t find a combination that beats it. It should allow me to upload some videos fairly quickly too.

Total kit list goes something like this:
Nokia N8
Samsung Galaxy Tab
Gigabyte Touchnote netbook (with ssd and 2Gb upgrade)
Canon S2IS
Universal power pack (50wh)
USB cables
SD cards

Total weight is still going to be in the ‘backpack’ range unfortunately.

One extra service I want to try out this time is Audioboo. I’ve been testing it on the Galaxy Tab and I’m impressed. The audio quality is fine and it slots nicely into my Twitter stream. I won’t be including it on the website though as I want it to be something unique for my Twitter followers. If you haven’t heard of Audioboo,  check it out. It allows you to record a piece of audio, in my case through the Samsung Galaxy Tab built-in Mic, and send it to their servers in a single press. They then send it into your Twitter stream and make it available, with RSS, in your own channel. You can find a few segments I’ve done with the Galaxy Tab here

Join me over at Carrypad and UMPCPortal over the next week. It will he fun!

[This post written on the Galaxy Tab]

Mo-Tabbing

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The sun is out, the Galaxy Tab is charged and I have a few things to do in town so its time to hit the road and go mobile today. I want to do some more Galaxy Tab photography too so stay tuned for that along with a few posts via WordPress. All this practice will help with my work at MWC next week.

50 Ways to Improve the Galaxy Tab (and other Tablets)

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If you need to know what’s really important in a tablet design, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve done a LOT of research. In this article I pull all that knowledge together in a huge list of tablet improvements, based on the good old Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Also read: things to consider when designing or buying a tablet-style device.  Acheckist for a quality handheld internet tablet.

Galaxy Tab and iPad _10_

The iPad and Galaxy Tab were great, great examples of early consumer tablets in the market and for me the quality and mobility of the Galaxy Tab meant that it worked well in my family of devices. I’ve used it for over 3 years and in in the early monthf of ownership I compiled a list of issues and improvements. The list applies to other tablets too so if you’re designing or buying tablets for the market, this is the sort of list you should already have on your whiteboard. If not, take this one and make it better.

The list is over 50 items long and is split into three sections. Changes that could be made to the current Galaxy Tab are listed first and this is a good place to scan through if you’re looking to buy a Galaxy Tab. The second section includes what I would call reasonable hardware expectations for second-gen or late 2011 high-quality tablet. I don’t expect all of these features to be included but it’s a list of possible improvements. The third section is a little way-out there and includes hardware changes that may not be possible this year or could be too niche. I did have a section including third party software but that list got very long indeed and is not really relevant here.

IMPORTANT: There’s more to be added to this list and a great discussion about tablets to be had here. Chip-in with your thoughts too. You’ll have ideas that no-one has through of yet so don’t be afraid to dump them in the comments below. If it’s not too wild (lets keep it within a 2-year timeframe) i’ll add it to the list and credit you.

Software and experience changes

  1. Web browser.  Faster, mouse/finger over. Higher quality. Plugins. Password sync. Common gestures.
  2. Better protection of UI experience under load. (Run UI in separate core? Possible hardware change required for that.)
  3. Improve UI physics. Response rate needs to be 20ms or less. (I believe from my audio work in the past that 20ms is where delays become noticeable. I could be wrong but you know what I’m getting at right?) Try a drum-machine programme, It’s impossible. (Android 2.3 bring in features that can improve this through the use of the NDK)
  4. DLNA improvements. (Receivers and senders need to improve compatibility.)
  5. Protect the audio playback from stutters in multitasking scenarios. Critical. (How about a ‘dedicated’ mode where the application is brought to ‘realtime’ status, in effect, like iOS does.
  6. Vastly improved audio library features. playlist import/export, cross-fading, id3 tag editing, jukebox mode, cover retrieval, radio streams, integration with Last.fm amd similar services. Much quicker media scanning.
  7. Easier way to auto-organise applications list. Sort-by: most used, alphabetical, recently added, categorise (based on market categorisation) Apps list is as important as an audio catalogue. Genres, personal ratings on client should feed back to Market.There are a ton of improvements that can be made here.
  8. Samsung apps style improvements. Lose the wood-grain effect or allow theaming! Some feature improvements are also possible.
  9. More video content to buy / stream. Major issue outside the U.S.
  10. Full BT 3.0 (wifi TX support, near-field pairing)
  11. Longer battery life (of course!) Important – battery save mode that schedules network usage. Significant improvements will require hardware changes.
  12. More tablet / pro apps to be included via the Samsung catalogue
  13. Better gallery with sort, date search, rename, tagging, face detection etc. Stock Gallery is very limited.
  14. Better printing support. Google Cloud Print service should fix this.
  15. Apt-x codec support over BT A2DP. (Or some other HQ wireless audio transmission capability)
  16. SMS remote kill feature
  17. Compatibility with camera applications
  18. Timed profiles, turn to silence.
  19. Improve speed of re-scanning WiFi access points. Can be extremely slow in some situations.
  20. Occasionally boot-up time can run into 2 minutes or more. This needs to be improved
  21. Hot-swap SIM cards (where applicable)
  22. Slippery when dry. The smooth, easy wipe finish needs a couple of high-friction areas for book-reading
  23. AC3 and DTS soundtrack handling. (Down-sampling to 2-channel and pass-through for HDMI)
  24. Lower the lowest screen brightness (for in-bed, next-to-partner usage.)

Essential Hardware changes:

  1. Longer charger cable (and micro-usb port)
  2. Camera Quality: Glass lens, better sensor, continuous AF when recording video. Lens cover.  Flash options.  HD recording.
  3. Camera shutter release button
  4. Fm receiver + transmitter
  5. USB OTG support for external storage, keyboard, mouse, other peripherals (midi, dvb-t, external cam)
  6. Better GPS.  Sensitivity, speed.
  7. Analogue video out built-in. Is that old-school? E.G. VGA, S-Video, Composite
  8. HDMI-out port.
  9. Storage improvements. Speed of core storage needs improving. 32GB, 64GB option.
  10. Indicator lamps – multiple for use with different applications. Programmable colour.
  11. indicators and alerts need to feed to paired Android phones.
  12. Replaceable battery
  13. Kick-stand
  14. SDXC card compatibility
  15. Higher quality screen (at same or lower power utilisation.)

For the ultimate tablet:

  1. Digital radio reception.  DAB (Update: and other standards)
  2. Digital TV reception. DVB (Update: and other standards)
  3. Digitiser for graphics and handwriting input.
  4. HQ audio recording. External mic over BT? Array mics.
  5. Near field payments support (Probably best on a phone tho)
  6. Daylight readable screen (transflective)
  7. Quick Fingerprint reader for security.
  8. Midi support (be a midi sequencer/controller)
  9. HQ Audio synthesiser and audio effect support in hardware. (for use as effects unit)
  10. Built-in mini projector
  11. Remote mini handset accessory for using tablet as a phone. (Over BT with address book, dialling, voice dialling, CLI
  12. Screen extension (slide-able, removable)
  13. PVR facility and dock. (hardware video encoding – 720p)
  14. Wi-Di and wireless audio over Wifi
  15. Rear panel controls and gestures area.
  16. Glasses-free 3D (plus content)

…and lastly. Lets have a penta-boot system with Windows, Android, MeeGo, Ubuntu and WebOS!

Update: Reader contributions

  • Better device security including encryption of sensitive information (BryanB – via comment below)
  • Good design and implementation of user interface frameworks and the design/implementation of the applications. Really poorly coded application user interfaces can use all the CPU available. [Chippy: I think that’s really part of the Android framework though.] (Sam – via comment)
  • Samsung Keyboard Editor – (Max – via comment)
  • A hinged back cover with a kick-stand that would allow easy battery replacement, SSD upgrades, and safe storage of extra SDHC cards. (jjsjjsva via comment) [Chippy: I love that SDHC storage area idea. That’s a winner!]

Opera Tease Tablet Browser

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You have to love this time of the year, CES is starting and companies are providing all sorts of sneak peaks into what they have been working on to keep our gadget appetites suitably moistened.

Opera haven’t disappointed with quick preview of a new version of their popular mobile browser designed specifically for tablets. Announced on the Opera blog, this new version appears to be tailored for the larger screens of tablets.

Opera used the Samsung Galaxy Tab to preview the browser meaning an Android version is certain although I also suspect an iOS version for the iPad will be announced, especially with the rumored iPad2 looming for sometime this year.

As you can see the browser uses Operas visual bookmarks layout called Speed Dial and appears to run smoothly on the Galaxy Tab although its hardly surprising given the hardware.

As far as I am aware this will be the first browser customised specifically for tablets so it should be interesting to see what other features Opera can pack into this new edition to differentiate it from the vanilla mobile version.

Via jkOnTheRun

Phone, Tablet and Netbook. All Needed on Holiday.

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What a perfect test it was to be away from home for 5 days. I took the Nokia N8, the Galaxy Tab and my Gigabyte netbook with me for Christmas in England and all three were needed. Convergence doesn’t exist.

The N8 makes a perfect phone. Voice calling is strong and reliable. It’s a perfect pocket, internet-connected camera too. In typical low-light, moving kids scenarios it beat my old N82 hands down. Video footage has been great too. I’m confident that there isn’t a better personal camera out there. Try having a compact camera ready for all the moments I captured! As for maps, well it wasn’t the best. I didn’t have to do much with turn-by-turn and when I searched for an address offline. I couldn’t find it. I had to go online to resolve that problem. Clearly I need to download the local map again but with Google maps supporting caching now, the advantages for OVI maps are fading. MP3 capabilities are good, the always-on clock is useful and timed profiles are a winner. Structurally I feel its going to last and although internet is relatively slow compared to my Galaxy Tab, it’s there if needed in an emergency. I used Gravity quite a few times.

The Gigabyte netbook came out twice in the last 2 days and I’m glad I had it because I had a server issue. Try ssh, server testing, ping, traceroute and submitting a ticket on the Tab. Under pressure, it’s no use in these scenarios at all. For admin work, there’s no way you can survive without windowing,  a full browser with mouse and keyboard. No way!

As for the Tab, it became my buddy. Used way more than the phone or netbook it was used for comment handling on my blogs, emails, chat, sms, Facebook, Twitter, maps, contacts, calendar, ebooks, casual web, RSS reading, games, photo presenting, pdf reading (stored itinerary) and this – blog writing. I even used it for remote access to my PC although that was more of a more webcam experiment than anything else.

I knew there was a space. Carrypads are here, are valuable and show just how much fits into the ‘tweener’ space. The Origami concept of 2006 was spot on.  Shame they didn’t have the technology to actually make it happen back then!

Anyone else out there, enjoying the three-device strategy?

Nokia N8 + Galaxy Tab Companions for CES Tested

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We’re all unique customers and all have our unique requirements. I categorise myself as the ‘boy scout’ type. I am not a fan of highly converged devices (the Nokia N900 was not something for me) but I do like being prepared with a good, mobile set of computing and communications kit. I have a tendency to want to cover as many scenarios as possible with my mobile devices but I balance that with the realisation that you can’t have one device for each task. Some convergence is needed. But how much?

Read the full story

Galaxy Tab HDMI Dock Review

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Dock in action _2_ Sometimes we’re lucky in Europe, sometimes not. With the Galaxy Tab we’re generally lucky because Germany was one of the first countries to get mass-market availability. It’s also one of the first places to get the Galaxy Tab HDMI Docking Station. Model number: ECR-D980

Recommended price is 49,90 Euros but let me just say this now – don’t buy it for that price. Not only is it available for much less (I bought it for 36 Euro) but it simply isn’t worth 50 Euro. It’s nothing much more than a stand and a break-out cable and once you’ve bought the HDMI cable to go with it, you’re looking at a lot of money just to get the digital video signal from one connector to another.

Yes, there’s no HDMI cable included which completely caught me off-guard. I ended up heading out to the local electronics shop where, of course, the lowest cost cable was out of stock. I paid 29 Euro for a mini HDMI to HDMI cable which is again, too much. The other thing you’ll need is the power cable from your original Galaxy Tab because again, it’s not provided and you need it to activate the HDMI port. That means if you want to charge the Tab somewhere other than the dock or use the cable for PC connectivity, you need to remove it from the dock. A royal pain in the arse and certainly not user friendly. The other cable problem has to do with the original USB cable. It’s all of about 50cm long and just doesn’t reach to most plug locations. Samsung have not thought this one through.

One more thing, there’s no 3.5mm audio cable proved either but I guess that won’t surprise you now.

As you’ll see in the images, there are just the three ports on the dock. Mini HDMI, 3.5mm audio and the power cable input. Analogue video is not exposed on the docking port so you’ll have to buy another cable for that (17 Euro street price) which means you’ll have to remove the device from the dock, stop charging and connect the A/V breakout cable. Again, not elegant. The build quality is good and the base-located speaker openings are routed well.

Galaxy Tab Dock Galaxy Tab HDMI Dock (4) Galaxy Tab HDMI Dock (3)

Galaxy Tab HDMI Dock (12) Galaxy Tab HDMI Dock (8) Galaxy Tab HDMI Dock (11)

You can also flip the Tab into landscape mode and use the dock as a stand…

hdmi dock as stand (1)

More images in the Gallery.

Video Playback

Once you’ve got over the cable issue and got things connected up, you’ll see various output styles that depend on device orientation and application control. For example, the home screen flips to fill the screen when you put the device in landscape mode. YouTube plays in full-screen regardless of device orientation. Games, such as Asphalt 5 HD, only show in landscape mode and video playback through the local video player or through the DLNA ‘AllShare’ player always show in full-screen.

I tested the output on two devices. One, an LG digital TV, the other, an LG monitor (both 1080p capable) and got two different results in terms of quality. It also highlighted some audio issues that you need to be aware of.

The LG digital TV worked well and seemed to display in a ‘native’ resolution although there were a few lines missing at the top and bottom of the screen. If the monitor has 1080 vertical resolution and the Tab, 1024, why are there lines missing? There’s some overscan or scaling issue here on my TV. Playback of videos from the local storage was great and a 1080p trailer played just beautifully although without sound due to the lack of AC3 down-conversion. I’ll talk more about that in a minute. Google Earth was fun too although the up-scaling from 1024×600 definitely shows up on-screen! I even tried a racing game. By holding the dock and device in landscape mode you can use the Tab as a controller and watch it on the screen. It’s fun but not that practical with two cables hanging out of the back. Roll-on wireless HDMI because that game/controller scenario could really be something special.

On the second screen, an LG monitor, I got poor results. The screen showed the Tab as a 1080i input at 30fps but the resolution was very poor indeed. The home screen and browser text was pixelated and ugly; The scaling on this device just didn’t work-out, even after checking monitor configuration. For reference, the display is an LG W2261VP as seen here on Amazon. Interestingly, when I played out a 1080p video, the quality was perfect as on the LG TV.

Audio playback

Audio is presented in digital format over the HDMI cable so you have the opportunity to break that out from your TV or HiFi system if supported but it it would have been nice to see an S/PDIF or TOSLINK connector for direct routing to a Hi-Fi system. Sure, many A/V Amps have HDMI inputs now but many (including mine) still use dedicated digital audio connectors. On my LG TV the digital audio pass-through worked and allowed me to connect my home Hi-Fi through an optical digital link.

In the monitor configuration mentioned above you need to be careful about audio because although an analogue audio out put is provided on the dock, this is disabled when HDMI is working. If you are using a monitor without audio subsystem and speakers, you need to make sure that monitor can decode the audio to an analogue audio port or pass it through to another digital audio port.  With a TV, you’ll probably be OK. At least you’ll have built-in speakers and you’re likely to have a digital audio pass-through too.

Multi-channel audio

I experienced a problem with digital audio when you get to surround-sound tracks like AC3 WMA multi-channel or DTS. The Galaxy Tab does not decode these tracks to a stereo track for playback, either on-board or through the HDMI port. It would be OK if the raw digital audio track was simply passed through to the HDMI cable but doesn’t appear to be. There’s no way at all to get a surround soundtrack to an external decoder and this is something that could catch a lot of people out.  The only hope here is that Samsung include this in the next firmware or that I’m an idiot and have missed some configuration somewhere. [It could be that my TV is not passing through the raw digital stream to my Hi-Fi. Let me know if you have a the dock and have success with raw multi-channel digital audio pass-through]

Powerpoint Presentation

The ThinkFree Office presentation software outputs in landscape mode only which means that although the HDMI output is always full-screen, you’ll have to rotate the HDMI dock through 90 degrees for on-Tab viewing. I tested a demo presentation with an image and default transition and although the transition wasn’t smooth (see performance issue below) it was acceptable and interesting to see. A downloaded PPT with no transitions, worked well.

Bedside dock problem

The main reason for me buying the dock (apart from testing it for Carrypad) was to use it as a bedside dock. It would be an easy way to charge and an easy way to bring my media server content up to the TV I occasionally use. I also wanted to hook up some mini speakers for music. The problem is that as long as the HDMI cable is connected and there is some form of connection at the other end, the backlight stays on. If your TV completely disconnects the HDMI (and any terminating resistance I that I suspect is being detected) then it might work for you because unplugging the HDMI cable turns the backlight off but if you’re not lucky, the backlight stays on. Even at low levels it’s too much for many people and in my situation, i’ll have to leave the HDMI cable disconnected until needed. That’s not what I call user-friendly! A ‘bedside’ app that fixed these problems would be perfect. Timed profiles, easy access to alarms, backlight off (or very low-light clock) and other features would make it perfect.

Performance issues

Plugging in the HDMI cable affects performance. It’s easy to see. The UI goes choppy and things take longer to operate. For video playback, the Galaxy Tab screen is frozen so there’s no real issue there but you’ll notice it in mirrored-screen scenarios. Although this is a noticeable issue, it hasn’t affected the way I wanted to use the dock for A/V operations. If you’re thinking of anything like PowerPoint presentations (from ThinkFree Office for example)  then there is a slight smoothness hit.

Remote PMP using DLNA

If you have the mini-HDMI cable though and are confident that you have content in the right format and a TV that will work then the dock could make a really nice and good-value remote video playback unit. I’ve been testing out various DLNA solutions and although Windows Vista media server doesn’t work and Twonky Media Server (on Vista) isn’t working 100% with the Tab,  I’ve been getting better results from a pure Windows 7 solution although not without the occasional problem. In a working set-up it makes quite a tidy remote media player using the provided ‘AllShare’ application. Note that large libraries take a long time to show on the AllShare application and don’t appear to be cached for future use.

Dock in action (9) Dock in action (4) Dock in action (11)

Dock in action (2) Dock in action Dock in action (1)

Click to enlarge. More images in the Gallery.

Round-Up

For most people, I don’t think the HDMI dock is worth it. If it was 30 euro with a cable then, yes. If it was 35 Euro with a cable and power adapter – a must-buy but I’d recommend waiting for price drops or and aftermarket solution before going ahead unless you have a specific need that is covered above.

However well it works out though, I’ll probably always be reminded of the poor power cable solution and that 20 euro HDMI cable I had to buy and when those surround-soundtracks don’t play, I’ll be annoyed all over again. The HDMI dock hasn’t really worked out for me yet. Be careful when you make your purchase because it might not work out for you too.

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