Monday, April 02, 2012

Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

The bottom line: An excellent screen and great battery life makes this 7-inch tablet one to get if you can afford its high asking price.

When it comes to Samsung's Android tablets, the company seems to be taking a page from the fairy tale, "Goldilocks and the Three Bears". Samsung's Galaxy Tab series counts four models with screens ranging from 7 to 10.1 inches, allowing consumers to choose the size that best fits their needs. While they all share a similar look and feel, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 definitely has the best display in the lineup with its vibrant colors and deep blacks. It's also the slimmest and lightest of them all.

Besides the standout display, the hardware is good for a tablet that was first announced last year at the IFA tradeshow. The dual-core processor may not be the fastest with Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 chip in the market, but it remains competitive with others. Battery life is also excellent and the Tab 7.7 will easily last more than a day without charging.

Our main criticism of the Tab 7.7 is its high price--the Wi-Fi and 3G version is going for S$898 (US$714) without a contract in Singapore (it's available in Asia, but please check with the manufacturer for local prices). That's more than the latest 16GB Wi-Fi and 4G Apple iPad (S$828 or US$629), which has an equally, if not more, compelling screen (and a larger one, too). Even other 7-inch tablets do not come close to the Tab's retail price.

There's also the fact that you're paying a premium for a Honeycomb device that has its sluggish moments--there 's been no word yet from Samsung on whether it will get an official Android 4.0 update. Samsung also didn't do its product any favors by announcing a new 7-inch Galaxy Tab 2 that's expected to arrive in the next few months running Android 4.0. It's enough to make us wonder if Samsung has a cohesive strategy for its tablets.

You probably won't find a more handy tablet than the Tab 7.7. Measuring less than 8mm thin and weighing just 340g, this 7-incher is one of the lightest slates in the market. While the weight certainly bears comparison with e-book readers--the Tab 7.7 is just 127 grams more than the Kindle Touch--it has a certain heft, so you likely won't mistake it for one.

With its rounded corners and sloped back, the Tab 7.7 has the same design DNA as Samsung's other Galaxy tablets. The back is a mix of brushed aluminum and plastic, giving it a solid feel that's not found on the plastic Galaxy Tab 10.1.

1.4GHz dual-core processor (Exynos 4210)7.7-inch (1,280 x 800-pixel) touchscreen
When oriented in portrait mode, the power button and volume rocker are on the right side of the tablet. The other end has a SIM card slot and a microSD slot (supports up to 32GB) hidden behind flaps. A headphone jack is located at the top of the unit while the speakers and the proprietary 30-pin connector are at the bottom.

While other tablet manufacturers also use a similar all-in-one connector for charging and data transfer, we don't think that it's too much to ask for a micro-USB port, too.

The Super AMOLED Plus display screen technology first used in the Samsung Galaxy S II makes its debut in the tablet form factor with the Tab 7.7. This makes for a bright and vibrant display with deep blacks and higher contrast ratio than competing panel technologies.

The screen resolution of 1,280 x 800-pixels is also higher than most 7-inch tablets, which usually come with 1,024 x 600-pixels--only the Huawei MediaPad has such a native resolution. In fact, the Tab 7.7 has a pixel density of 196 pixels-per-inch (ppi), which is higher than the original iPad's ppi of 132. Icons actually look pretty sharp and nice on this display, though we could discern a slight jaggedness on text when using the browser. However, even with the Retina Display on the new iPad setting a new standard for screen quality, the vibrant colors on the Tab makes a strong case despite having fewer pixels onscreen.

Despite its small size, Samsung has packed in a 5,100mAh battery that's rated for up to 10 hours of uptime. This is larger than the 4,000mAh version that's found on the company's other 7-inch slate, the Tab 7.0 Plus. AMOLED screens are also known for consuming less power when displaying blacks compared with whites, which could lead to even better battery life when you optimize for it.

2-megapixel (front), 3-megapixel (rear)Accelerometer, light sensor, digital compass, proximity sensor, gyroscope

The Galaxy Tab 7.7 comes with a pair of cameras--a front-facing 2-megapixel shooter and a 3-megapixel version at the back with LED flash. While you'll look less silly taking pictures with this tablet compared with a 10-inch model, you're likely to get better quality with the camera on most smartphones. There was some shutter lag when using the camera and the images we took looked grainy.

Android Honeycomb 3.2 comes preloaded on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 and while it remains a capable OS, the arrival of tablets running Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), such as the Acer Iconia Tab A200 and Asus Transformer Prime, has made it less appealing. If you have tried Ice Cream Sandwich, then the flaws of Android 3.2 will be even more apparent and you may be less forgiving. Samsung hasn't indicated when (or if) there will be an upgrade to Android 4.0, but the biggest roadblock to this is the company's TouchWiz interface.

Yes, like all of Samsung's Galaxy devices, its proprietary user interface is integrated with the host OS. Those who have a Samsung Android smartphone will likely be familiar with its colorful icons, which look even better on the Tab 7.7's AMOLED screen. Samsung also has its list of custom apps, including those that duplicate some of the functionality in the OS, from its own app store to software for reading e-books and magazines, gaming and social media. As a reviewer, we found the built-in screenshot feature to be most useful, though it's something that Google has already added in its latest Android 4.0 OS.

Among the handful of 7-inch Android tablets here, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 is the most expensive--it is almost twice the retail price of the similarly 3G-capable Huawei MediaPad, which also has a comparable 1,280 x 800-pixel display. The Tab 7.7 does have more internal storage and is also the lightest of the bunch. It opts for a single proprietary 30-pin connector for syncing rather than separate micro-USB and power ports found on its competitors.
In the SunSpider benchmark, the dual-core Samsung Exynos processor on the Tab 7.7 was slightly faster in running JavaScript than the Galaxy Tab 10.1, which uses Nvidia's Tegra 2 processor, though the 7.7 fell behind the Tegra 3-powered Asus Transformer Prime. In normal usage, we could easily tell the difference between the Tab 7.7 and the Transformer Prime, as screen transitions were more fluid on the latter. Of course, some of the differences are due to the improvements in the newer Android 4.0 OS on the Prime. Compared with the other 7-inch tablets highlighted earlier, the Tab feels the most responsive.
We tested the battery life on this tablet by looping a standard definition video at 50 percent brightness with the audio muted and the Wi-Fi radio disabled. The Tab 7.7 lasted 14 hours and 10 minutes, which is the best we have seen on a tablet.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 comes with a one-year warranty. Samsung's support Web site has a list of commonly asked questions and driver/manual downloads are easily accessible. Samsung's 1-800 service number is also prominently displayed, which isn't always the case on support pages.
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Source From CNET

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