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
Under 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.
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