Samsung ups Android tablet ante with TV remote access features in new 7- and 10-inch Galaxy Tabs

by David Needle

April 12 2012

Samsung's new Galaxy Tab 2 comes in 7- and 10-inch models.
Samsung's new Galaxy Tab 2 comes in 7- and 10-inch models.

Samsung refreshed its Galaxy line of tablets with new models that include something different -- an integrated universal remote and a more easily accessible memory card slot.

The new tablet’s Smart Remote App and built-in IR Blaster turns the Tab 2 into “a universal smart remote,” the company says, that you can program to work with your TV. 

On the price front, Samsung’s 7-inch Galaxy Tab 2 comes in higher than the Amazon Kindle Fire ($250 versus $200), while the 10-inch models undercuts the iPad by about a $100 ($399.99 versus $499 for the iPad). 

Both models will come preloaded with the latest 4.0 version of Android (Ice Cream Sandwich), but the 10-inch Galaxy Tab 2 won’t be available until May 13 (the 7-inch model goes on sale next week, April 22). The Kindle Fire runs a variant of Android and is limited to apps available from Amazon’s own app store, while the Galaxy Tab 2 offers complete access to Google Play (formerly Android Market).

Both Galaxy Tab 2s include a range of connectivity options including WiFi, Bluetooth, USB 2.0, a 3.5mm Ear Jack, 30 Pin IF Connector and the integrated IR for the remote control features. 

The remote control capabilities are an interesting twist that could eventually become a standard feature across most if not all tablets. A new report by Forrester says tablets are replacing PCs and smartphones as the “couch computer” of choice. A whopping 85% of U.S. tablet owners use the device while watching TV, according to the study. 

The tablet’s complementary nature to the living room TV gives a raison d’etre to ‘second screen’ apps like Miso, GetGlue, and Viggle that engage consumers in conversation and content related to what’s on the big screen,” said Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps in a blog post. 

She also said the TV/tablet relationship is poised to go well beyond entertainment: 

“If your product is something else besides media — a software application, a bank account, or apparel, for example — assume that the living room is the primary place where consumers will engage with you from their tablet, and that the TV will most likely be on.” 

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