If you're after a small, lightweight budget Android tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7in could be ideal. At just 345g, it’s one of the lightest devices in its class, and the elegant curves of its metal-rimmed body fit effortlessly into the hand. All tablet reviews.

One disadvantage of all this svelteness is that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7in's grey plastic back cover is so smooth it can be hard to hold on to. You'll need a proper stand for hands-free use, since leaning it against something will invariably end in the Tab 2 sliding on to its back. Group test: What's the best Android tablet?

The 7in screen has a 1024x600 resolution, which looks sharp and offers great colours. Text is crisp and easily readable, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7in tablet lacks the precision of the Blackberry Playbook 2.0's display.

Interacting with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7in is a fluid experience, thanks to an accurate touchscreen and the inclusion of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Apps open quickly and you’re rarely left hanging while the dual-core 1GHz processor does its job.

The tablet's camera app utilises the 3Mp rear camera, with dedicated Panorama and Smile modes. Our test results varied, but were acceptable; the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7in's stills tended to offer better colours than video.

With access to the Google Play store, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7in has no shortage of apps to download. All the social media regulars are present, including Facebook, Twitter and Google+, as are the various movies you can stream for a modest fee. We recorded a 7-hour battery life when playing video.

Games ran very smoothly on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7in. 3D action shooters showed no signs of stuttering, and driving sims, played nicely thanks to the light body and responsive accelerometers. The Kindle app turns the tablet into a decent e-book reader, while a BBC iPlayer app lets you catch up on TV - although we couldn’t find a way of streaming in HD, which was slightly disappointing.

Although it's more expensive than the BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0, a two-year warranty helps to justify the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7in's premium. Hunt it down online and you could pay as little as £200.

Read our original Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7in review on the next page.

Android phones and Android tablets are becoming increasingly affordable. With its new Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0), Samsung is hoping to claim its piece of the budget-price pie. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 should be available in the UK by the end of April. We don't yet have UK pricing, but it will cost $249 in the US, making it a very affordable option (for comparison the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 starts at £399 in the UK, and $499 in the States). However, while the price is new and noteworthy, there's not much else about this tablet that's fresh or exciting.

Don't get me wrong: the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) is a perfectly fine device. It has an attractive form and solid performance. The problem is that it seems like a sideways step - or in some ways, a backwards one - from the 7-in tablets Samsung already has available. And by simply recycling and remixing an existing concept, Samsung has doomed the product to be quickly outpaced. See also: New iPad review.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0: The many faces of Samsung's 7-inch Tab

Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) stands alongside two other current 7-in. Samsung Galaxy tablets: the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, and the Galaxy Tab 7.7. Generally speaking, choice is a good thing - but lined up next to Samsung's other 7-inch offerings, the only significant distinguishing feature the new Tab can claim is its price tag.

To be fair, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 does look a little different from its predecessors. The tablet has a gray plastic back and is slightly thicker than Samsung's other 7-in. devices, measuring in at 193.7x122.4x10.5mm. It weighs 345g, the same as the 7.0 Plus tablet and a touch more than the 7.7.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 tablet feels good in your hands; it's not at all slippery and is comfortable to hold, at least in the horizontal position. Because of its size, I found the tablet a bit awkward to use vertically; in that orientation, it's slightly too big to hold in one hand and slightly too small to hold naturally with two.

The display itself is good but not breathtaking. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 has a 1024 x 600 PLS TFT screen - the same kind as the Tab 7.0 Plus. It's easy on the eyes and certainly nothing to complain about, but it's also far less impressive than the high-quality screens we've seen on other recent devices - including Samsung's own Galaxy Tab 7.7, which uses one of the company's newer Super AMOLED Plus (1280 x 800) displays.  See also: Group test: what's the best tablet PC?

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0: Hardware and performance

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0Under the hood, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 has a 1GHz dual-core processor along with 1GB of RAM. Curiously, Samsung won't divulge exactly what type of processor the tablet uses - a spokesperson told me he couldn't comment on the matter - but I independently confirmed that the chip is not Nvidia's Tegra 2 processor, which powers many of the current dual-core Android tablets.

Compared to Samsung's more expensive 7-in. tablets, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is a bit of a downgrade in terms of pure processing power: The Tab 7.0 Plus runs on a 1.2GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM, while the Tab 7.7 uses a 1.4GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM.

Regardless, the difference is fairly minor and the tablet performed well in my hands-on tests. Apps loaded quickly, Web browsing and page-zooming were fast, and the system generally felt speedy and responsive. My only issue was with swiping through the five home screens, which felt far less fluid and snappy than I've come to expect from using similarly powered devices.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 comes with 8GB of internal storage, though my device showed only about 4.3GB free immediately after initialization (with no non-system apps installed). Samsung originally said the Tab 2 (7.0) would be available in three storage options - 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB - and its consumer website still reflected that multi-tiered structure as of this writing. A spokesperson told me, however, that the 8GB model I tested is the only version that will be available at launch.

Fortunately, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 has plenty of supplementary storage options. The device has a microSD slot that supports cards up to 32GB (no cards are included with the tablet at purchase). It also comes with a one-year subscription for 50GB of cloud-based storage from Dropbox, but take note: If you want to keep that subscription beyond your first year, it'll cost you. Without extending the subscription, you'll be defaulted back to Dropbox's free storage level, which gives you 2GB of space.

In terms of cameras, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 has an adequate but not exemplary 3-megapixel rear-facing camera and a VGA-quality front-facing camera -- the latter of which is a drop-down in quality from the 2-megapixel front-facing camera found on the other two 7-in. Galaxy Tab models. The Tab 2 (7.0) also has a built-in IR port that, combined with the preloaded Smart Remote app, allows you to use the tablet as a remote control for your TV. I found the function to be easy to configure and novel to use.

NEXT PAGE: The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 and Ice Cream Sandwich >>

It's affordable, and portable, but can the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 bring anything new to the budget Android tablet table?

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0: Ice Cream Sandwich

The Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) ships with Android 4.0, a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich - the latest version of Google's mobile operating system. Samsung did modify the OS with its proprietary TouchWiz skin, as it typically does, but the changes here are far less severe and regressive than what we saw recently on Samsung's Galaxy S II smartphones.

Samsung added a "Mini Apps" button in the bottom-centre of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0's screen that brings up a menu of applications.

With the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, for the most part, you're getting the actual ICS-level interface with some arbitrarily changed colors and fonts that make it look a little less classy and polished. Samsung added a handful of features, too, such as a "Mini Apps" button in the bottom-center of the screen that brings up a menu of applications, all of which can be loaded in small overlay windows from anywhere in the system.

Samsung replaced the stock ICS Camera app with its own, too -- a cosmetic change, more than anything -- and added a somewhat intrusive screen-capture icon to the main system navigation area. (Ice Cream Sandwich has a native screen-capture command that can be activated by pressing the volume-down and power buttons together, making Samsung's addition rather redundant.)

The Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) has Samsung's usual sets of Hubs (interfaces for buying and managing music, games, multimedia and news/magazine content) and bloatware as well, but Ice Cream Sandwich gives you an easy way to disable and hide most of these if you don't plan on using them and want them out of your way.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0: Bottom line

All considered, Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) is a pretty good tablet at a really good price. However, I find myself wondering why Samsung bothered creating it. The tablet bears no real improvements over its eerily similar predecessors; the few changes that it does have are either lateral or marginally regressive.

If the company's goal was to offer a respectable 7-in. tablet at a lowered cost, I think a far more customer-centric approach would have been to deliver an ICS upgrade and a price drop to its existing 7.0 Plus model (which is still awaiting Android 4.0, with a vague promise but no specific time frame for delivery). As it stands, the Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) lacks any "wow" factor and leaves Samsung's existing Tab users looking like second-class citizens in a waiting game with no end in sight.

In addition, Google's I/O developers' convention is just over two months away. Asus has already discussed plans to release a quad-core 7-in. tablet between now and the end of June, and Google is rumoured to be working on a next-gen 7-in. tablet for this summer.

NEXT PAGE: our expert verdict >>

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0: Specs

  • HSPA+ 21Mbps 850/900/1900/2100
  • 1GHz Dual-Core Processor
  • 7in WSVGA (1024x600) PLS TFT
  • Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • Main (Rear): 3 Megapixel Camera, Sub (Front): VGA for Video Call
  • Video: Codec: MPEG4, H.263, H.264, VC-1, DivX, WMV7, WMV8, WMV9, VP8
  • Format: 3GP, ASF, AVI, MP4, WMV, FLV, MKV, WebM
  • Playback/Recording: Full HD@30fps, HD@30fps
  • Audio: Codec : MP3, AAC, AC-3, AMR, FLAC, MID, WMA, WAV, OGG
  • Music Player with SoundAlive
  • 3.5mm Ear Jack
  • Bluetooth technology v 3.0
  • USB 2.0 Host
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct
  • Accelerometer, Digital compass, Light, Proximity
  • 8/16/32GB User memory + 1GB (RAM). microSD (up to 32GB)
  • 193.7x122.4x10.5mm
  • 345g
  • Standard battery, Li-ion 4,000 mA
  • HSPA+ 21Mbps 850/900/1900/2100
  • 1GHz Dual-Core Processor
  • 7in WSVGA (1024x600) PLS TFT
  • Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • Main (Rear): 3 Megapixel Camera, Sub (Front): VGA for Video Call
  • Video: Codec: MPEG4, H.263, H.264, VC-1, DivX, WMV7, WMV8, WMV9, VP8
  • Format: 3GP, ASF, AVI, MP4, WMV, FLV, MKV, WebM
  • Playback/Recording: Full HD@30fps, HD@30fps
  • Audio: Codec : MP3, AAC, AC-3, AMR, FLAC, MID, WMA, WAV, OGG
  • Music Player with SoundAlive
  • 3.5mm Ear Jack
  • Bluetooth technology v 3.0
  • USB 2.0 Host
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct
  • Accelerometer, Digital compass, Light, Proximity
  • 8/16/32GB User memory + 1GB (RAM). microSD (up to 32GB)
  • 193.7x122.4x10.5mm
  • 345g
  • Standard battery, Li-ion 4,000 mA

OUR VERDICT

Samsung has done well to pack a fast, fun, and useful package into such a slimline case. The screen is good, but could be of a higher resolution, and the back cover is a little slippy for our liking. Overall, though, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7in has much to offer and is a great budget choice.

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