Samsung Galaxy tab 680 & 620 — arguably the best tablets money can buy

Samsung has just launched its latest and greatest tablet — the Galaxy 680 — in India at Rs 33,570 or about $685 (cheapest price, as on Letsbuy.)

Before going into the specifications and a review of the Samsung Galaxy 680 tab, it must be noted that the tablet is priced at a nearly 30% premium to the Galaxy 620 launched last month.

In addition, Samsung’s main competition is, well, Samsung itself, at least in the Indian market. As a result, the Galaxy 680 has to prove itself against the Galaxy 620, priced at Rs 26,000.

Most other tablets fail and pale in comparison to the Galaxy 680 and 620, not just in specifications, but also in value.

So, does the Galaxy 680 really warrant the Rs 7,500 premium that Samsung expects consumers to pay?

An initial review of the specifications seems to suggest that there is very little setting the two apart.

Both are about 7 inches in size, with the Galaxy 680 having an extra 0.7 inches in length. Both have the same camera specifications (3 megapixel, 720p HD recording), both have the same amount of RAM, the same graphics processor and almost the same weight.

So, what sets the Galaxy tab 680 apart from the rest, particularly from the 620?

The short answer is that the Galaxy 620 seems to be totally focused on the mid-range market, while the 680 is Samsung’s strong come back into the high-end market.

The biggest difference between the two, and indeed between the 680 and all its other competition, is perhaps the display’s vividness. The 680 is the first model to sport the AMOLED plus displays that have captivated fans of Samsung’s Galaxy S range of smartphones.

Unlike normal TFT displays, which are lit up by lights at the back of the screen, AMOLED displays emit their own light and consequently produce much more vivid colours and higher contrast. Due to their high price, almost none of the other tablets have them, making it the most noticeable asset of the Galaxy 680.

When compared with the 620, the 680 has a ‘denser’ screen. It has 1 million pixels (megapixel) on its 7.7 inch display while the 620 has only 60% of that (click on chart above.) In other words, the display will appear sharper. Of course, most other high-end tablets have this feature already.

There are three more features that make the Galaxy 680 more advanced that any other tablet in the market — weight, processor speed and a new graphics processor.

The 620 was the first tablet from Samsung to break out of the Nvidia Tegra platform — which powered its earlier Galaxy tablets as also others like the Motorola Xoom, Asus Transformer etc..

While decent, the Tegra 2 platform has been getting older and will soon be replaced by the Tegra 3.

With the 620 and 680, Samsung has moved to a new experiment as far as graphics are concerned. While most, if not all, other tablets pair ARM’s processors with graphics units from other vendors such as Nvidia or Imagination Technologies (PowerVR), the Galaxy 620 and 680 have gone with an all-ARM solution.

Both are powered by the Mali-400 MP graphics processor, designed by ARM Holdings. Like Tegra-based ones, both can playback full HD 1080p video. But the real advantage may lie elsewhere.

As ARM puts it, Mali-400 is the world’s first multi-core GPU that is fully compliant with the industry standard of OpenGL ES 2.0, while maintaining ARM’s leadership on power and bandwidth efficiency. The latter part is notable because ARM has a long history of making power-efficient chips.

Even if the Mali-400 may not be more powerful than other solutions, it perhaps has something to do with an advantage the Samsung Galaxy tab 680 has in review — its weight.

The 680 weighs just 340 gm. Compare this with the 607 gm that the iPad2 — the icon of style and slimness — weighs. In other words, the 680 weighs almost half of what the iPad2 does.

In fact, despite its bigger size, the 680 weighs less than the 620. It is also much lighter than most other tablets, including the Xoom, the older Galaxy tabs etc..

With a 5100 mAh battery, the galaxy 680 promises 10 hours of continuous video playback and 49 hours of 2G connectivity.

The 620 has a smaller 4000 mAh battery and has a 2G life of only around 40 hours.

The final advantage is in the raw speed of the central processor, at 1.4 GHz multiplied by two, compared with 1.2 GHz on the 620 and 1 GHz on the iPad2.

In short, if you are looking for a tablet that you would like to lie in the bed and read from, the 680 is for you — due to the weight and the display.

If, on the other hand, you are not too hung up on the display specifications and would like to save some money, the 620 is your candidate.

Pros of Galaxy Tab 680

    Amoled display hits the tablet world
    New graphics processor from ARM
    Weighs half of what iPad does