The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is the best Android tablet we have ever used - hands down.
No contest, nothing else comes even close.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is probably the next best thing (with TouchWiz UX), but it seems downright slow next to the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus at times.
Follow us after the break to read a detailed review of the excellent (but over-priced) Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus.
Design And Build Quality
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is just as attractive as its larger Galaxy Tab 8.9 and Galaxy Tab 10.1 siblings - perhaps even more so.
Its aluminum back cover has no interrupting seams around the camera, giving it a very uniform look.
All the ports and buttons sit very flush to the frame, and even the microSD card cover feels sturdy - not cheap.
It all feels very un-Samsung - and that's a good thing.
Power, volume, IR transmitter
Button press actions are very natural, giving you a sense surety when you tap the power or volume controls.
The device hasn't let out a single squeak, crack, or snap since we received it.
It feels as thought every little component has been tightly packed into the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus's razor-thin 9.9mm profile, lending a sense of density to the device which seems to almost belie the fact that the Tab weighs significantly less than 500 grams.
The Galaxy Tab's size (the actual dimensions are about 19.5 x 12.2cm) makes it ideal for gaming and reading.
Our thumbs can reach halfway across the screen, and the light weight of the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus means there's almost no hand-fatigue when holding it for long durations - even in portrait mode.
The Amazon Kindle has shown that a 7" device seems to be the "sweet spot" for eReaders, and the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus has made a believer out of us.
The Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus's size also means that typing is much easier than on a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1" tablet, because you can enter text in portrait mode without having to fight the top-heavy effect of a larger device.
Hardware And Performance
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is packing a 1.2GHz dual-core Exynos processor made in-house by Samsung.
This processor powers Samsung's Galaxy S II smartphones, and is probably the most powerful processor / GPU combo available in any Google's Android device currently.
While NVIDIA's Tegra 3 is on the way in the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, the Exynos in the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is no slouch.
This Quadrant benchmark was about the average we got after a handful of tests:
Comparatively, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 (running TouchWiz UX, stock kernel, non-custom ROM) clocks in around or below 2000, while the Galaxy S II smartphone lands in the low 3000's.
The Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus hovered between 3600 and 3800 in our tests.
In fact, the whole reason we ran the benchmark was because the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus just felt so much faster than previous Android Honeycomb devices we've used - especially for one having a manufacturer's User Interface (UI) overlay running.
The browser scrolls extremely smoothly, even with large amounts of content on-screen.
Menus scroll very smoothly, and this is the fastest we've ever seen the Android Market app run on a tablet.
Even Gmail, which we've often found unbearably slow on Honeycomb tablets, is faster.
Samsung's Exynos can clearly push Android a lot harder than NVIDIA's Tegra 2.
As for storage, 12 of the 16GB advertised are available for your personal use, and space can be expanded via the microSD slot on the Galaxy Tab.
The real hardware trick up the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus's sleeve, though, is its infrared transmitter.
This is the first Android device to feature an IR transmitter, and Samsung has created a Smart Remote app to make it useful.
What's it do? We'll talk about it in the software section.
One gripe we do have about the Galaxy Tab's hardware is in the WiFi department.
The Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus constantly seems to be dropping the WiFi signal whenother devices aren't having any problems with signal strength, and on a Wi-i only device, this can be a major frustration.
Of course, we're pretty far from a router in the first place, so it could be that the Galaxy Tab 7.0's antenna is just marginally weaker to the point where it's causing a problem.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is running a TouchWiz UX-skinned version of Android Honeycomb 3.2.
Running 3.2 out of the box means that many of the bugs and compatibility issues which plagued the first Honeycomb tablets have been eradicated, but it's not all roses on the OS end.
Honeycomb is still kind of buggy.
Random crashes in certain apps still happen (Market), capacitive touch can still occasionally wig out, the recent apps menu takes forever to load, and text input on the browser can be god-awful slow.
But we will say, one thing we like about the software are Samsung's additions to it.
Except the settings menu - the bright colors on white looks very dated when compared to stock Honeycomb's Tron-style black and blue.
Samsung's AccuWeather.com app and widget, for example, are absolutely gorgeous.
The resizable widget feature is something we really enjoyed, too - we think widgets are much more suited for tablets than phones, and the extra screen space means they can convey a lot more information and imagery on a single home screen.
Samsung's TouchWiz UX also adds floating "windows" for certain built-in apps, like Pen Memo, which lets you leave hand-written notes.
There's also the app we previously mentioned, Smart Remote.
The app aims to take the place of your universal remote (and apparently your Google TV) by acting as a control and channel guide.
Smart Remote has the transmit codes for hundreds of TVs, cable boxes / DVRs, and stereo receiver systems.
We got it working with a Sony LCD on a first try, and it'll even grab local listings from your cable or satellite provider by giving you a list of the available services in your area to choose from.
It really works, too - and we were kind of surprised it did.
Hats off to Samsung for providing a real, working value-added feature the Android experience.
One issue we have noticed with the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is that a number of high-end games we tried to play on it just wouldn't work - Dungeon Defenders being the most well-known example.
This is likely just an issue of developers needing to update their games so that they're compatible with the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, but it's an annoyance nonetheless, especially on a device with such hardware horsepower.
But, as a gaming device, the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, when games work, definitely is our favorite form factor - it's the perfect size for the job.
The big looming question about the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus's software is, of course, when is the Android Ice Cream Sandwich update coming?
We don't know - Samsung hasn't made any specific statements about Ice Cream Sandwich coming to the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, but you can rest assured that an upgrade is very likely, it's just a matter of when.
But if you're that anxious about Android Ice Cream Sandwich, the custom ROM community will probably come to the rescue long before Samsung.
Display, Battery Life, And Cameras
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus's LCD display is bright and vivid, and looks just as good as the displays you'll find with the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Tab 8.9.
However, given that the Galaxy Tab is a new device, we kind of expected a bump in this department, particularly because the 7.0 Plus is so much smaller than than the 10.1 or 8.9.
The 1024x600 resolution is adequate, and 170DPI is fine by our standards, though we certainly wouldn't complain if the pixel density had been upped a bit more.
Viewing angles are no better or worse than most other Android tablets out there, and this is one area where we think manufacturers should be striving for improvement.
They're not bad, but given the amazing viewing angles Samsung has achieved with its SAMOLED Plus displays on smartphones, this is a letdown by comparison.
Battery life has been, on the other hand, exceptional.
For a small tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus packs a lot of juice into its diminutive form factor.
A day of heavy use would likely be fairly easy to achieve, as would two to three days of moderate to light usage.
Some 10.1" tablets can't manage that, so the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus gets high marks in this area.
As with all Samsung's tablets, the battery is not removable.
As for the Galaxy Tab's cameras, we took a test shot with the rear camera, and it's not bad at all for a 3MP sensor with a single LED flash.
Take a look:
The front-facing camera seemed adequate, but it was no where near as good as the one on the rear, obviously.
While it is 2MP, the quality seemed no better than VGA to our eyes when looking at the results on the Galaxy Tab's display.
Speaking from a price-agnostic standpoint, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus gets very high marks, it's definitely the best Android tablet we've ever used.
And if you want a fully-featured Android tablet, but don't dig the larger 10.1" models out there, this is the device to buy - it's even cheaper than some of them.
Samsung's Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus aims to occupy the same price point that its predecessor, the Galaxy Tab originale, once did - US$400 (€290).
Unfortunately, with the new Barnes & Noble Nook and Amazon Kindle Fire on the way, the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus may get overshadowed in the market by cheaper alternatives which, though they aren't as powerful, fully-featured, or maybe even as well-built as the Galaxy Tab, will probably catch consumers' eyes with their much lower price points.
If I had US$400 to spend on a tablet today, this is the one we'd buy, but it's hard to ignore the fact that you could pick up two Kindle Fires for the price of one Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, then, will most likely end up relegated to the enthusiast crowd, much as its predecessor was - making it the greatest tablet ever you'll probably never buy.
Unless Samsung realizes that they should change their pricing strategy.
- Blazingly fast. Android Honeycomb + Exynos processor = buttery smoothness.
- Browsing is exceptionally smooth.
- The 7" form-factor feels great to hold, even with one hand. Two-thumb typing in portrait mode is pretty easy, too.
- Battery life is great (you'll easily get a day of heavy gaming or video out of it, 2-3 days of moderate use).
- TouchWiz UX is something we're actually starting to like, especially the resizable widgets.
- The Smart Remote app that allows you to control your TV/stereo/DVR via IR actually works - this is the first tablet to have such a feature.
- Extremely sturdy feeling, not a single creak or snap the whole time we've used it.
- Proprietary chargers are a blatant money-grab at consumers - we don't want to buy your overpriced cables, Samsung.
- WiFi signal strength is weak - we constantly seem to be losing connection.
- Display viewing angles are average, not bad, but we'd expect better of such a new device from a company known for its display technology.
- Android Honeycomb was never really "fixed" - there's still some occasional glitches and oddities.
- Compatibility issues with high-end games (such as Dungeon Defenders - which simply crashes).
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus 16GB WiFi Version
- Price: US$400 / €290 (US$500 / €364 for 32GB version)
- Availability: 13th November, 2011 in stores (available now online)
- 1.2GHz dual-core Exynos processor with Mali 400MP GPU
- 7" LCD display (1024x600 - 170DPI)
- 1GB RAM
- 16GB storage (approximately 12GB usable)
- microSD card slot
- Bluetooth 3.0
- Proprietary multi-pin USB connector
- Google's Android 3.2 Honeycomb w/ Samsung TouchWiz UX overlay
- 4000mAh battery
- Infrared sensor for use with home entertainment systems and televisions (it actually works.)
- 3MP rear camera, 2MP front camera
- Weight: 345g
- Thickness: 9.9mm (throughout)
Source: Android Police