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Road Warrior Dave Reynolds

The iPad’s newest rival? Samsung’s Galaxy Tab.

With sales expected to more than double to 100 million units by year’s end (according to Gfk Boutique Research), it should be obvious by now: There’s no stopping the tablet PC. Just ask Samsung, who — determined to unseat Apple’s iEmpire — is launching a string of new models and even pioneering hardware categories (see the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note, which occupies a no-man’s-land between phones and tablets). Pondering an upgrade but confused by all the geek-speak? We break down the stats on three of the manufacturer’s hottest new Androids.

Galaxy Tab 10.1
Wi-Fi: $600/32GB, $500/16GB
4G LTE + Wi-Fi: $530/16GB, $630/32GB (at select carriers, including Verizon and T-Mobile; see carriers for pricing and plans)
A 10.1-inch touch screen adds bulk, but it also boosts visual real estate, making the high-speed unit a preferred choice for wirelessly streaming movies and TV shows on-demand. Powered by Android 3.1 Honeycomb (a user-friendly, tablet-optimized interface) and capable of supporting Adobe Flash (rich multimedia), the unexpectedly powerful and slim display delights when viewing photos or reading digital books and newspapers. Beyond video output to HDTV and streamlined access to social-media services, thousands of downloadable apps and teleconferencing features may best illustrate the 10.1’s upside: Road warriors addicted to Shadowgun or wishing to tuck toddlers in from distant hotel rooms will see the difference at a glance.

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Galaxy Tab 8.9
Galaxy Tab 8.9
Wi-Fi: $500/32GB, $400/16GB
4G LTE + Wi-Fi: $480/16GB (at select carriers, including AT&T; see carriers for pricing and plans)
Smaller, lighter and easier to handle, this 8.9-inch gem reduces size without sacrificing power, performance or graphics capabilities. A slick interface and full Flash web browsing showcase all the popular file formats, and professionals will appreciate the business-in-the-front, party-in-the-back mentality. Packing solid horsepower and dual cameras for videoconferencing, there are some compromises, however, like no external storage-expansion slots and a lack of standard HDMI output jacks (although you can connect to an HDMI cable via the Tab’s desktop dock or with the Tab HDTV adaptor).

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Galaxy Tab 7.7
Galaxy Tab 7.7
4G LTE + Wi-Fi: Price TBD/16GB (Verizon)
Shrinks monitor to 7.7 inches but adds a crisper, brighter Super AMOLED Plus display (read: Super Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode, meaning a razor-sharp image that’s a cut above even the iPad/iPhone Retina display) and adds the ability to double as a speedy 4G Wi-Fi hot spot for up to 10 devices. Curiously, the gadget can also substitute as a universal remote control and directly connect with and transfer files between other mobile gizmos. Internal storage space can also be boosted to 32GB via an external microSD card. Less than half an inch thin, it supports accessories like a keyboard dock, USB connector and HDTV adapter. Collectively, it all adds up to quite a nifty digital-media hub.

Test Drive
Because we know the pressures of traveling 24/7, we surprised our 2011 Road Warrior ?Contest winners with a Samsung Galaxy Tab of their choice. After all, working remotely, keeping in touch with family and friends, and staying current with favorite TV shows and sports teams is difficult without the most current technology at your fingertips. Here’s what they had to say:

“I like the fact that the 10.1 Tab approximates the size of a laptop, making the virtual keyboard a cinch to use for those with big clumsy hands like me. Since it has Flash, I can see the entire web without frustration — and it’s great for email and working on Word docs, spreadsheets and presentations. Plus, I can fly cross-country (and back) on one battery charge.” —Neal Gottlieb, Grand-Prize Winner

“The little 7.7 is the cutest and most portable of the three — it’s like the slider of tablets. It seamlessly integrates with all of the Google products. I use the Tab more for leisure, but it gives me the ability to keep up with current events and legal trends, which helps me connect better with clients. And I have to be able to stay in touch on the road so that when I’m actually home, I still have friends and family to hang out with!” —Claire Luna, Second-Prize Winner

“The 10.1 Tablet has Flash compatibility, and it’s easy to use Microsoft Office applications on it. I bring mine on every business trip … I can watch movies on the plane and catch up on my favorite magazines in a digital format. Hands down, though, my favorite thing on it is Slingbox — so I can watch my World Champion New York Giants from anywhere in the world.” —Bruce Cacho-Negrete, Third-Prize Winner

“The 7.7 is incredibly light and about the size of a Kindle, yet the screen resolution is incredible — and it’s more powerful than my laptop for most applications. Also, I have a Samsung HDTV, and it automatically links to the tablet via Bluetooth. So anytime I want to check email or Skype at home, it’s in high-definition.” —Brian Van Flandern, Third-Prize Winner

“The 10.1 Tab fills the void between my smartphone and laptop. With the Bluetooth keyboard [attached to theTab], I can knock out emails on the plane and use it for product presentations for customers instead of lugging around the laptop all the time. It’s also great for downloading movies, doubling as a cookbook when I’m playing Chef Boyardave at home and for keeping up with my wife via Skype.” —Dave Reynolds, Third-Prize Winner