Samsung has definitely been striking gold recently. Not only did they create the Galaxy S2, one of the best-selling Android phones in history; they are also threading new grounds with the Samsung Galaxy Note. In Malaysia, the Galaxy Note has received such a high demand. Despite restocking efforts by Samsung, the Note is practically sold out at this point of time.
There must be something Samsung is doing right.
Here comes the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus. It’s a decent (and more affordable) tablet option that performs extremely well. We took the HoneyComb tablet for a review and below are the results:
Sturdy Built Quality
The 7.0 Plus feels solid in the hands. The Asian version of this tablet is similar to its earlier brother (the original Galaxy Tab). Considering it’s a tab, it is very lightweight – at 345g, measuring 193.65mm x 122.37mm x 9.96mm. The Tab carries an internal 4000mAh battery that should be more than enough for 2-3 days of moderate usage. The power button and volume rocker sits on the right, while the Micro SD and Sim card slot are on the left. Everything looks and feel sturdy – something very un-Samsung, which is a good thing.
Non An Amoled? Not A Problem
The Tab 7.0 Plus comes with a 7.0” 1024×600 PLS LCD display. The PLS LCD display provides double the viewing angles (compared to normal IPS technology) and 10% higher brightness than the IPS LCD in the Apple iPad 2. This is perhaps one of the better screens in the market and is a vast improvement from the first generation Galaxy Tab.
The Tab 7.0 Plus runs Honeycomb (Android 3.2) with the TouchWiz UX interface. The screen is fast, responsive, bright and colourful – a definite look and feel that Samsung has taken on this year. Everything swipes and scrolls smoothly – the way Android is supposed to be.
Solid Performance For Non-Gaming Purposes
The 7.0 Plus comes with the same 1.2GHz dual core Exynos processor as the SGS2 – and this results to a very smooth user experience. 1GB of ram ensures that multitasking is smooth and seamless, even when running at a higher resolution. The 7.0 Plus also carries the Mali 400 GPU – the same graphics processor that made gaming on the SGS2 exceptional. A quadrant test shows that the Tab reaches over 3700+ in performance, and that says a lot about the exceptional performance of this device. Quadrant detected that the resolution of the Tab was 600 x 976 instead of 1024 x 600, and this means that the current quadrant score will be taken with the benefit of a doubt.
To spice things up a little, we decided to throw Wind-Up Knight, an intensive 3D game at the Tab but the 7.0 Plus didn’t perform as well as the SGS2. This goes to show that Mali 400 is fine for browsing and work based graphics, but intensive 3D gaming isn’t what Mali 400 is up to at a high resolution. Keep in mind, this is not even a Dungeon Defenders test. (Intensive 3D games work very well on the Mali 400 resolution on the SGS2). Angry Birds addicts shouldn’t have to worry about graphic performance though. Granted, this isn’t a released device yet – hence most graphic intensive apps will not work like a charm (yet).
A Phone, But A Tablet
Like the first generation Galaxy Tab, the 7.0 Plus is able to utilize a simcard to make calls and messages. The tablet has a built in dialer and messaging app, similar to the previous generation. However, the device that we obtained could not detect our simcards and we were unable to make any test calls (sigh… engineering builds). That said, I doubt anyone will be holding this tab to their ears to make calls though.
We did test out Skype over Wi-Fi and we found that the speaker volume and clarity is decent. This should work well with conference calls and media playback.
Browser-wise, the tablet is solid enough to multitask several tabs at once, which should be a welcome for those who need a device to chew through the internet. The HSDPA, 21 Mbps capabilities help this tablet even more in this area.
Another Memo Taking Device
The Tab 7.0 Plus is very similar to the Galaxy Note in many ways. The Tab 7.0 Plus comes with a Pen Memo app, similar to the Galaxy Note’s S Memo app, but there aren’t any pens or styluses built into the device. We can only assume that you will have to do your entire note taking with your fingers, or with a separate pen device ~ ala HTC Flyer. I certainly hope Samsung doesn’t get consumers to purchase a separate pen – that would certainly anger consumers the way the HTC Flyer did.
The Pen Memo app feels like a downgrade from the Galaxy Note’s S Memo app – without any form of folder organization. However, taking screenshots are definitely easier with the 7.0 Plus. Along with the dedicated on screen Honeycomb buttons is a capture button that takes shots of your current screen. It’s a nice touch to eliminate the home+power button combo.
It feels like Samsung decided to trim down the Galaxy Note’s specs and make the screen bigger. That said, the 7.0 Plus isn’t an ideal note taking device and should not, at any point, be considered as one.
The 7.0 Plus comes with a 3MP back camera with LED flash and a 2MP front facing camera. The back camera does take 720p HD videos, but this isn’t the same quality you would expect from a 720p video shot with a SGS2. It works fine as a Skyping device for video chats and conference calls, but you shouldn’t expect compact camera quality from this device.
Supreme Audio Visual Capabilities
The Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus comes with Peel – a Smart Remote that is able to function as a remote for your home entertainment system. This could be a glimpse of future Android@Home integration, but it might only be limited towards home entertainment devices. Consequently, I foresee more geek pranks than actual functional use of the tablet’s IR port.
The Tablet is a multimedia powerhouse. It can play Full HD 1080p videos easily; and the viewing experience on this PLS LCD is phenomenal. It’s no surprise that the Smart Remote will come in handy with Full HD Allshare capabilities, but I’m still sceptical how this will work for mainstream users. Samsung’s wide range of video codec support on their Android devices is commendable, and shouldn’t pose any problem for the majority of video and audio formats.
The ultimate question now is – should you get one?
Make no mistake – the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is an excellent device – it’s a high performing daily device which is very capable. It’s an amazing multimedia and audio visual device – and on a screen that is beautiful to behold.
My only concern is time and cost. It does feel short of what it could be – a device running on quad-core and Ice Cream Sandwich. ICS will come in time, but most likely in early 2012. At that point, tablets would be going quad core with ICS built in, which will make it difficult to justify buying this tablet now. Samsung will still sell tons of this, like they did with the original Tab. It retails for about 400USD without contract, and should be very affordable after contract – and way cheaper than any ICS tablets that will be introduced in the future. There is also a question whether or not it can be considered as a solid contender for the Apple iPad 3.
If you’re upgrading from the original Galaxy Tab, this is a real breath of fresh air from Samsung. They’ve fixed everything that wasn’t great with the original Tab and made it 10 times better. If you need a competent tablet, this is it. But if you’re an Android Enthusiast, with an insatiable craving for the best and the latest – you will be comparing your device with the latest ones in a few months’ time.
7.0” 1024×600 (WSVGA) PLS LCD
Dualcore 1.2GHZ Processor
Quad band 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
16 GB space
3MP AF + LED (rear) / 2MP Front Camera
WiFi CH bonding & dual band / WiFi Direct
USB 2.0 & Host
4000mAh internal battery
Supports a wide range of Audio & Video formats