There is no shortage of tablets for Samsung. They had the first mainstream Android tablet with the Galaxy Tab back in 2010. That was a 7-inch tab and since then, they’ve released the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Galaxy Tab 8.9, the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus. and the Galaxy Tab 7.7. Samsung has admitted that sales haven’t blown anyone away. For now, the only real successful Android tablet is the Amazon Kindle Fire. Amazon changed the game when they started selling it for $199. No more can Android manufacturers continue to put out tablets costing $500+. It’s now a price war and Samsung is all in. At $249, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is still priced higher than the Kindle Fire, but it includes Ice Cream Sandwich and the full Android experience with the Google Play Store. Will the mainstream flock to it? This is my full review, but you can also check out my quick hands on.
Samsung rarely impresses me when it comes to build. Most of their devices have too much plastic and is either too shiny or glossy. The Galaxy Tab 7.7 LTE really impressed me, but that was a $499 tablet with LTE capabilities. Knowing this tab is priced at $249, I didn’t expect much, but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s plastic, but it’s not as slippery or glossy. It’s also very solid. I think the build of the Kindle Fire is a little better, but it’s also thicker and heavier. The Tab 2 comes in at 10.41mm and weighs 344 grams. The Kindle Fire is 12.7mm thick and weighs a whopping 414 grams. I prefer the Tab 2.
As far as buttons and ports go, there isn’t anything extraordinary in the design as opposed to previous Galaxy Tabs. When holding it in portrait mode, the power button is on the right side at the top and below that is the volume rocker. The proprietary charging port is at the bottom along with the stereo speakers. On the left side you will find the micro SD port and the IR port. At the top you will find the microphone jack.
The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 has a 7-inch (1024 x 600) PLS display, 1 GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 3MP rear camera, VGA front camera, 8 GB of internal storage, microSD for up to an additional 32GB of storage, 4000 mAh battery, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS, and WiFi.
The 1 GHz dual-core processor seems ancient right now. The original XOOM has a 1 GHz dual core and that was released a little over a year ago. Still, even though it seems so 2011, a 1 GHz dual-core should satisfy most consumers. Everyone knows by now that I’m not into benchmarks, but I always do the AnTuTu just because. It came in at 5006, which puts it a little above the Kindle Fire as expected. What is most interesting is that this score is higher than the Galaxy Tab 7.7 (4948) and the DROID XYBOARD 8.2 (4587). Both have better processors. This is why I don’t care for benchmarks. Bottomline is that it acts like a 1 GHz dual-core, and for a $249 tablet, you will find it’s quite snappy.
The PLS display is simply not as stunning as the Super AMOLED Plus on the Galaxy Tab 7.7, but Samsung makes great displays and the viewing angles are really good. It’s on par with it’s main competitor, the Kindle Fire and is also better than the ARCHOS G9 80 Turbo ICS I reviewed recently.
Samsung gives you stereo speakers unlike the ARCHOS G9 (one mono), which sound better. They certainly aren’t going to wow you, but they get the job done
The 4,000 mAh battery is around 25% smaller than the Galaxy Tab 7.7 LTE and it shows. I ran the continuous video test where I run continuous video while the display brightness is set at about 2/3’s. Since this doesn’t have a cellular radio, I did it while connected to WiFi. I was able to get about 7 hours, which isn’t all that great. Since the battery is about 75% of the 5100 mAh that’s in the Tab 7.7, this seems low considering the Tab 7.7 was able to get about 12 hours (.75% of 12 would be 9 hours). It’s actually worse when you consider The Tab 7.7 battery numbers were while it was connected to 4G LTE. So basically the Tab 2 couldn’t even get 75% of the performance of the Tab 7.7 while only connected to WiFi. I would’ve liked to have seen more, but I do think 7 hours is enough for the average consumer between charges.
The Tab 2 7.0 might not be as great specwise as many of the newer tabs, but the one thing that it has going for itself is Ice Cream Sandwich. You won’t find that in any of the previous Samsung tablets. It’s definitely a treat, but unfortunately Samsung’s TouchWiz pretty much has the same look as the Honeycomb version. You will find the ability to swipe to kill apps and folders, but other than that you really wouldn’t know it’s ICS. People familiar with TouchWiz will probably welcome it.
It’s not all about the UI as Samsung has included some decent apps. To go along with the IR port, they added the Peel Smart Remote app. This is something they started with the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus. Here’s the quick hands on video I did for that tab of which I spent a little time with the Peel Smart Remote app. It starts at around 4:20 in.
Dropbox is also included, but the big news is that you will get 50GB of storage for one year. This is double the space that HTC users get, but HTC users get their 25GB for 2 years. I would rather have the 25GB for two years, but I won’t complain about 50GB of free space.
As far as the bloatware, you get Amazon Kindle, Dropbox, Netflix, and the Peel Smart Remote. Samsung’s included app extras include All Share, ChatOn, Game Hub, Media Hub, Memo, Music Hub, Music Player, Photo Editor, Samsung Apps (app store), Screensaver, S Planner, and Video Player.
Samsung threw in a 3MP rear camera for what I don’t know. I guess to one-up Amazon. but when it comes to tabs, you really only need the front facer. Samsung gave us a VGA (640 x 480) front facer, which is a little low. I would rather have seen them do what ARCHOS did and only put a front facer in and make it better quality then trying to cover both. The front facer is more likely to be used with video chatting than taking pictures. Nonetheless, it’s something the Kindle Fire doesn’t offer so I guess we can’t complain. I’m not going to post any pictures because honestly, if you’re really worried about the quality of pictures this tab takes, you probably shouldn’t be buying it. The picture taking abilities are good enough for what it is.
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced Android tablet (in the 7-inch range) with Ice Cream Sandwich, you won’t find a better deal other than the ARCHOS G9 80 Turbo ICS. Both are priced the same, but Samsung has a better name. The real question is if this is a better buy than the Amazon Kindle Fire? The Tab 2 is $50 more, but lets look at what you get that you won’t find on the Fire. You get an IR blaster, a microSD slot for added storage, a rear camera, a front facing camera, Bluetooth, widgets, 512MB more RAM, and access to the Google Play Store for over 450,000 apps. These items more than outweigh the $50 in extra cost. If you think about it, there’s nothing the Kindle Fire offers more because the Kindle app is available for the Tab 2 so you can still buy and read your books from the Kindle store. In fact it’s already installed out of the box.
So is the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 the Kindle Fire killer? Probably not, but not because it isn’t better. It will most likely fail because of marketing. I don’t see Samsung spending the dollars to get mainstream consumers to buy it. Unfortunately they’re relying on sites like this one and word of mouth to spread the word, which won’t cut it. Still, it’s up to me as a reviewer to recommend the tablet that makes most sense. If you’re thinking about buying a Kindle Fire, or a Nook for that matter, you need to turn your attention to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. It simply is the better tablet and offers you so much more.