Until Amazon's Kindle Fire hit the market late last year, no Android tablet had the slightest impact on the market. With its $ 199.99 price tag and customized user interface, the Kindle Fire was a real hit.
Samsung is now aiming to make a significant part of that success by building its own inexpensive Android tablet. The catch is that Samsung's new entry, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, looks anything but inexpensive. In fact, it has a much better spec sheet than the Kindle Fire and uses the same streamlined case design as its more expensive brothers.
At $ 249.99 for the Wi-Fi-only model, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is an instant best buy. And when you consider that it's one of the few devices on the market that offers Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich as an operating system, it's even more of a bargain.
From a hardware point of view, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 looks like any other current Samsung tablet. This particular model has a black front with a titanium silver back cover and is very easy to hold. There's a lot to be said for the 7-inch tablet form factor.
The 7-inch TFT display on the Tab 2 7.0 offers users a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels. The colors it produces are very bright, and the viewing angle of the display is surprisingly good for such an inexpensive device.
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Two speakers flank the 30-pin Samsung connector on the bottom of the tablet (in portrait orientation). The volume and power buttons are located on the upper right edge of the tablet. There is a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top. The 3.5 mm jack also supports a line-in function.
The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 measures 193 mm x 122 mm x 10.4 mm (7.6 x 4.8 x 41 inches), making it slightly thinner than Amazon's Kindle Fire, although its tapered design makes it even thinner feels like it really is. It weighs 345g, making it a device that you can hold for hours without getting tired.
While Android isn't as user-friendly as webOS or iOS, for example, Samsung has at least added a few things that make the system more user-friendly than standard Android. For example, users will enjoy the mini apps that can pop up on the screen at any time. Mini-apps like the calculator and music player are invaluable. Samsung's updated main menu is also a big bonus as users can rearrange apps in any order.
While Android 4 has a lot to do with the 3.2 Honeycomb operating system that we saw in the first round of Android tablets, the way it works is a bit more sophisticated, and the result is a better overall experience. As long as you use the included apps. That being said, there are currently few third-party apps that are actually designed with tablet form factors in mind.
Still, the apps built into Samsung, such as the email client and the screen recording function, feel good and make optimal use of the tablet's form factor. Contacts can either be accessed via Gmail or Facebook, otherwise there is no real social networking support on the device. For this you have to load your own apps. The keyboard offered on the 7.0 is pretty basic too, and you won't find high-end input systems like Swype preinstalled.
But at least the dual-core 1 GHz processor seems to have more than enough power to ensure a smooth experience while using the tablet, and that is worth a lot. Especially at its bargain price.
Call / data
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 has no built-in wireless network support other than Wi-Fi 802.11b / g / n for connecting to a private or public Wi-Fi access point. The 7.0 has a microphone and speaker, and a front-facing camera, making it ideal for use with VoIP applications such as Skype.
The Tab 2 7.0 also offers USB connectivity through its proprietary 30-pin Samsung connector. Bluetooth 3.0 is always available for using the Tab with devices such as wireless stereo headphones and speakers. The tab can also be used as a TV / home entertainment remote control via an infrared port.
Users looking for an HDMI out port will need to use an adapter or docking station (not included). However, the tablet supports DLNA through Samsung's AllShare application.
One thing that the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 does really well is messaging. Although the 7-inch screen offers a relatively low resolution, it is more than sufficient for a nice split-screen email messaging experience. There's a dedicated dedicated Gmail client for Gmail users, but the Samsung Email app can be used to access most types of email accounts – including corporate Exchange servers.
Samsung's ChatOn messaging system is also available, and Google Talk instant messaging users can find their app right there as well. Social network users can download Twitter, Facebook and other apps for free from the Google Play Store if the Google+ client included does not contain any information.