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On July 7, U.S. consumers will have three new Android(s goog) tablets to choose from and they’re all called the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3. The third iteration of Samsung’s basic tablet is offered in three size choices: 7, 8 and 10.1 inches priced at $199, $299, and $399 respectively. Pre-orders for the new tablets begin Tuesday and all three are available in either White or a new Gold Brown color.
Although Samsung has taken some heavy cues from its main competitor, Apple(s aapl), outing a Galaxy Tab 3 lineup itself is very un-Apple-like. Where Apple creates singular products — I consider the iPad and iPad mini to be distinctly different — Samsung has always offered a range of similar devices in varying sizes. Look at Samsung’s overall mobile device lineup and the “Galaxy” branding makes sense: There’s a device size for everyone in our corner of the universe.
The 7-inch slate is poised to compete with Google’s Nexus 7 and other small tablets, but based on the specs alone it seems priced a tad too high. The 1024 x 600 screen resolution is the same as the original Galaxy Tab I purchased in 2010, for example, and that’s somewhat surprising. Even a 720p screen would be more appropriate here. A 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and 8 GB of internal storage (which can be expanded through microSD cards) and Android 4.1 are included. Why not Android 4.2, Samsung?
For an extra $100, you can bump up to the 8-inch Galaxy Tab 3, but you don’t get just an extra inch of screen real estate. Screen resolution gets a boost to 1280 x 800, which is far more appropriate for a tablet of this size. Android 4.2 is pre-installed and the dual-core processor is boosted to 1.5 GHz. Internal storage, still expandable, is doubled to 16 GB and Samsung includes 1.5 GB of memory. This model also gains the multi-window feature I first saw on my Galaxy Note 2 phone last year. With it, you can run two apps at the same time.
The 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab 3 keeps much of the same specifications as the 8-inch model, just in a larger form factor. For $399, you get the same 1280 x 800 resolution, 16 GB of storage and microSD expansion. Internal memory is capped at 1 GB of RAM but the processor should keep the tablet performance high. This is the first Samsung tablet running Android that uses Intel’s(s intc) 1.6 GHz dual-core Atom processor. The tablet also has an integrated IR-blaster for remotely controlling a television set.
All three devices come with some free goodies from Samsung, perhaps helping to convince you if the prices seem high:
“In addition, each of the devices in the Galaxy Tab 3 portfolio will come with a bevy of content value through pre-loaded content and Galaxy Perks available at www.samsung.com/us/galaxyperks. Specifically, hundreds of dollars’ worth of content, including a $10 voucher for the purchase of applications, books, movies and music in Google Play; one year of free Boingo hotspot service; three months free Hulu Plus service; two years free DropBox Service with 50GB storage space; and more.”
When it comes to mobile devices, I’ve always said that size matters and that this is an individual choice. However, even without using any of these Wi-Fi tablets, my long history of experience with Samsung slates tells me the best bang for your buck is probably the “medium” size, or 8-inch slate. Having said that, I’m still curious to try the Intel-powered “large” tablet, even though I wish it had a better display.