BGR–which isn’t an unimpeachable source, but one that sometimes gets stuff right early–says that it hears that the Sprint version of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablet will go on sale on November 14th for $399 with a two-year contract, or $599 without a subsidy.
The $399 price is $100 less than the cheapest flavor of iPad, but that’s not a very useful comparison, since the $499 iPad doesn’t have 3G and the Galaxy does. You want to compare the Galaxy against the cheapest 3G iPad, which goes for $629. And you want to compare against the $599 Galaxy, since the iPad is always sold unsubsidized, and lets you buy AT&T data at a reasonable price without committing to a contract.
It’s tough to be definitive about how the two tablets stack up as deals. On one hand, the Galaxy Tab has a 7″ screen instead of the iPad’s 9.7-incher. (For some folks, 7″ is better, but it should lower the cost.) On the other, the Galaxy has two cameras to the iPad’s zero. It will apparently come with 2GB of fixed storage and a 16GB MicroSD card; the iPad has 16GB of fixed memory.
Any way you slice it, the iPad is competitive–there’s no “Apple Tax,” unless you want to argue that the iPad needs to be sold with a subsidy. (Anyone who buys a Galaxy Tab to save a meaningful amount of money over the iPad will be getting the $399 version, which carries the considerable baggage of a contract.) It’s a way different situation than exists with Macs and Windows PCs: Macs may not cost a lot more than truly comparable PCs, but their starting prices are far higher than typical PCs.
Some people are so reflexively certain that Apple products are pricey that they’d complain about the iPad’s cost if Apple paid you $629 to take one. But Apple seems to have priced its tablet aggressively enough that it may be hard for other manufacturers to get an edge by selling tablets for appreciably less.
Then again, Amazon currently has Verizon’s Fascinate–a Galaxy S phone that’s essentially a pint-sized Galaxy Tab, and which lists for $599–for a penny under contract. The Galaxy Tab would certainly fly off the shelves if it were more or less free…