My latest Guardian column is a pretty unenthusiastic review of the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, hailed by many as the first serious Android-based iPad competitor. The Galaxy has all the right parts, but they're assembled without much care or forethought. Something I missed mentioning in the review is that the device hides the low-profile power key next to the low-profile volume key, and they're nearly indistinguishable to the touch, so every time I adjust the volume, I end up turning off the device. Try to imagine how that goes over with the three-year-old when I turn down the sound on a YouTube cartoon she's enjoying and inadvertently switch the screen off.
But Samsung's tablets – for no discernible reason – use a custom tip that isn't any of the standard mini- or micro-USB ends. Instead, it's a wide, flat connector, like the one Apple uses, but of course, it's not compatible with Apple's cables, either. I've already lost mine, run down the battery and now I can't use the tablet again until I find another one. I passed through three airports recently, and none of them had a store that stocked them.
I have phone charger cables in my office, my travel bag, my backpack and beside the bed. The very last thing in the entire world that I need right now is to have to add another kind of USB cable to all those places. The decision to use a proprietary connector in a device whose major selling point is that it is non-proprietary is the stupidest thing about the Galaxy Tab 10.1 – even stupider than calling it the "Galaxy Tab 10.1."
Likewise disappointing was the decision to omit the microSD card slot on the Wi-Fi-only version of the tablet. The 3G-equipped models come with a built-in microSD reader (handy to have, especially if you need to load some data onto the device and you've mislaid the stupid proprietary cable). This is integrated into the Sim assembly used by the 3G devices, and rather than leaving the empty Sim assembly in place and leaving the card-reader intact, Samsung removed the whole thing.
BTW, I did find a store that sold the Galaxy Tab proprietary cable, eventually, in the Miami airport. The wire cost $70, while standard USB cables were going for $3. What a rip-off.