I don’t like 7 inch tablets. Never have.
Kindle Fire. Blackberry PlayBook. Even the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0.
I actually thought about buying a Kindle Fire to use it as a magazine rack, albeit a very expensive one. This is the place that 7-inch tablets hold in my heart; somewhere between machine crafted plywood, and the July 2010 edition of US Weekly.
I told myself that I would never consider a tablet smaller than the 9.7 inches of the iPad as my main device.
That changed when I used the Galaxy Tab 7.7 on Verizon.
After going through every possible size in the imperial system, Samsung has found the perfect size for a smaller tablet. This is the first tablet size other than 9.7-inches that I can honestly say has a very good chance to stick. As a guy with pretty big hands, I can type effectively with two hands on the Galaxy Tab 7.7, something I have never been able to do with a 7-inch tablet.
The tablet is remarkably thin, coming in at 7.87mm thick. The brushed metal back is a nice touch as well, bringing a bit of class to the Android tablet. A microSD slot is included, with support for up to 32GB of extra storage, on top of the 16GB already on-board.
A front and rear facing cameras are also included at 2MP and 3.2MP respectively. The rear camera (photo above taken with it) can record in 720p and comes with an LED flash, but if you are concerned about taking photos with a tablet, you have bigger issues.
Samsung could have claimed the best display on a tablet for the 16 days between the release of the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and the new iPad. Surprisingly they didn’t. The 1200 x 800 Super AMOLED Plus display is the second best tablet screen on the market right now right behind Apple’s 2048 x 1536 IPS display. (although it only has a 196 ppi, the display is much better than the Pentile displays in its competitors). Sure, there are plenty of 9 and 10 inch tablets that have the same resolution, but when you shrink it down, the quality picks up and you get a truly great display. Colors pop, viewing angles are brilliant, and details show through in games like Dead Space and Frontline Commando.
A 1.4GHz Exynos dual-core processor is the muscle powering the Galaxy Tab 7.7, and it does an awfully good job. Games and video playback run smoothly, homepage switching is crisp, and the 1GB of RAM makes app switching a breeze. When it comes to hardware, The Galaxy Tab 7.7 is the best built Android tablet to date. A strong, quality build, a powerful processor, and a brilliant display makes this Samsung’s best achievement in the tablet space to date.
Android 3.0 is the biggest issue I have with the tablet. Honeycomb is horrible. Samsung is horrible at sending out updates in a timely fashion. These together could spell a serious problem for this tablet. Surprisingly, TouchWiz is very beneficial on the Galaxy Tab. Samsung’s Social Hub is probably the best Twitter app ever made for an Android tablet, which isn’t saying a lot, but it’s something. An arrow in the center of the bottom bar allows you to access a tray of mini widgets (calculator, task manager calendar, music player, etc.) that hover over the open application.
TouchWiz is a great addition, but it doesn’t make up for the inclusion of Honeycomb and the lack of Ice Cream Sandwich. Samsung did say that it will receive ICS in the near future, but the exact date is a mystery to us, and probably them too.
Data speeds were pretty good, as Verizon has the best 4G LTE network in the U.S. (and it will be that way for sometime), which helps considerably. During my testing, I routinely got speeds between 7 – 25Mbps down, and 8 – 16Mbps up. Web pages loaded up very quickly, and while I did sometimes experience scrolling speed issues, I attribute that to Honeycomb over data speeds, as I ran into them on Wi-Fi as well.
Battery life on the Galaxy Tab 7.7 is exceptionally good. During moderate to heavy usage browsing the web, playing games, and streaming music, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 lasted for three days before it needed to be recharged, right on par with the iPad 2.
The Galaxy Tab 7.7 is undoubtedly the best android tablet available, when it comes to the hardware, but Honeycomb — and not to mention the lack of quality tablet apps — is holding it back, along with a ridiculous price. At $499 on-contract and $699 off, the Galaxy Tab is dramatically overpriced. With ICS and a price tag of $299 — even $399 — I would take this over my iPad 2 that I currently own (the new iPad is a different story). LTE, great processor, brilliant screen — the ingredients are there, but when you top it off with an outdated version of Android and a ridiculous price, to which every single person that I asked gave me the exact same answer “for that I could buy an iPad,” you’re doing something wrong.
The good thing is, the software and price issues can be easily remedied (the software more likely than the price). The bad thing is by the time Samsung gets around to it, there will be five tablets better than the Galaxy Tab 7.7 — and they will most likely come from Samsung.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 is the best Android tablet on the market, but the price point and lack of ICS puts a damper on what it could be.