Today I visited Green Robot, who were kind enough to let us take a good look on the Galaxy tab and test out it’s gaming capabilities. Since the Galaxy Tab is one of the hottest gadgets at the moment, we won’t bother you with a device review, because you can already find good user impressions on the net, I recommend engadget in english and golem in german.
Instead we will focus on it’s gaming capabilities, which could very well be the secret weapon for the 7 inch tablets, give tips for developers on how to optimize for the device and show some videos of popular android games running on it.
At first glance, the Galaxy Tab feels like a oversized Galaxy S, which isn’t a bad thing. The only difference is the higher resolution of 1024×600 and the new LCD screen Technology, which delivers saturated colors and a higher dpi then the Ipad (which still has a marginal better screen), the effect is pretty much the same as on the Iphone4, with the same source material you get a slightly sharper image, but only when you support the higher resolution with your game assets you will see a real difference.
Gaming wise the Galaxy Tab is blessed with Android Market support, which grands it access to every game that is reviewed here on Androidpimps and to the thousands that aren’t. There are just a few problems, the biggest one is that not all games will run full screen. Some games have a fixed canvas size of 480×800, which leaves big black borders on the screen, others have a mish mash of scaled graphics for pictures and a border in game and some run correctly in full screen. Also if a game solely relies on a Navkey, it won’t work because there is none, but usually all games use that as alternative controls, so I doubt it will be a huge problem.
Markus Junginger gave a lecture about screen sizes this week (that’s how this article came to be) and uploaded the slides, which explain how you modify your app to support small and big screen sizes. (They are only available in german, if you need a translation, please ask for it in the comments)
To show the different behaviors I made a few videos that show some games running on the device. I’m sorry for the bad video and audio quality, I wanted to shoot it in HD and something went wrong with the cam driver and after playing around with the device we had very little time left and couldn’t fix it.
Anyway, here is Zenonia, one of the most popular Android games on Galaxy Tab, it runs always in scaled mode with black borders. As you can see the on screen controls are still perfectly usable while holding the device in both hands.
Next is Zombie Defense, a game made with the Unity Engine. Scaling is all over the place, some screens are full screen, in game there are borders, but items and fired shots are still displayed in the top border.
And finally we have Kumpa, which scales full screen and shows accelerometer gaming, these games are way easier to control with a bigger device:
All in all, even with scaling problems every game was perfectly playable and performed even better on the bigger screen. The 7 inch size lies perfectly in your hands and you always have control over on screen displays. If you have experience on the Ipad, you know that most games need to rearrange the whole User Interface, so it is still playable, that won’t be needed for this device class.
Personally I was surprised by the quality Samsung put into the device, I don’t care that it is just an oversized smartphone ( it even refers to itself as a phone when shutting down etc.), if I would guess how the usage of my smartphone is, all the media capabilities outweight my calling time 100:1. Since we use these devices as pocket pc’s, a bigger screen with a higher resolution and more horsepower is a logical step for hardcore users (the hummingbird processor used in the Galaxy S and Tab is still the most powerful mobile processor on the market). On the other side of the spectrum, I can also see this device in the hands and handbags of trendy women, since it has the form factor of a small book, which seems to be the approx. size that all these small handbags have. It could even double as an emergency mirror thanks to the front camera. I think the Galaxy Tab does a wonderful job introducing 7″ devices, having such a device in your jacket/bag and a bluetooth headset for emergency calls could be a great alternative for people that do everything with their phone except calling.
Here are two more videos with popular games running on the Tab, the newest 3D game and the most popular free game (which runs perfectly in full screen):