Samsung's never been shy about releasing tablets and smartphones in a bajillion different screen sizes. The new Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (henceforth called the GT2-7.0) is the successor to the original Galaxy Tab released in 2010. The GT2-7.0 isn't going to make waves as any iPad slayer as the original did (remember, the original Tab was the first major Android tablet released). The GT2-7.0 is an evolutionary product — thinner, lighter and faster — with a killer price — $250 with no contracts in sight.
A Fast and Inexpensive Tablet
The most jarring problem with Android is that there aren't many Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) tablets available. Samsung's GT2-7.0 fills the void up with a 1GHz dual-core tablet that sports a 1024x600 resolution display, 8GB of internal storage and 4,000mAh battery that's good for about seven to eight hours of moderate use.
Generally speaking, the GT2-7.0 is fast and responsive — far more fluid than Samsung's older Honeycomb tablets. Even with 10 Internet browser tabs open the GT2-7.0 didn't show any signs of slowness nor did it choke when playing HD videos. Audio is also loud and clear (but can get muffled if your hand covers them in landscape position).
Of course, there is Samsung's TouchWiz UI skinned over ICS, so it's not quite Google's
stock version of Android, but I'm one of those guys who actually likes the skin.
One feature Samsung was eager to talk up about the GT2-7.0 was its built-in IR Blaster. The port allows the tablet to be a universal remote with compatible Samsung Smart TVs. You can even stream content from the HDTV to it or use it as a second screen. Not a bad idea, but with only a handful of compatible Samsung Smart TVs (read: high-end), most people won't get much use out of it.
For $250, Samsung's obviously targeting Amazon's Kindle Fire ($200/6GB) and Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet ($200/8GB). The GT2-7.0 could probably take on the sub-$200 "Nexus" tablet being built by Asus and Google.
The Yucky Parts
Fast and furious, the GT2-7.0 isn't without its share of faults. Its cameras are just awful (3-megapixel rear cam and VGA front camera) and I found the onscreen keyboard buttons to hog up way too many pixels. It's most noticeable when you're browsing the Web and the top of the screen wastes space with a navigation menu and the bottom has the Android menu buttons. Content ends up looking cramped and tightly packed in landscape mode. On a tablet that's only got 600 pixels to work with in landscape mode, every pixel lost hurts.
With 8GB of storage, the GT2-7.0 doesn't have much space to stash lots of media, but then again, at this price you can't expect too much. To "fix" the problem, Samsung tossed in a microSD card slot that can be maxed with 32GB memory cards. It's a great idea, but the way the slot was designed is just terrible because it's so recessed into the tablet's side that slotting microSD cards in and then trying to get them out is a nightmare. If you don't have fingernails, you better start growing some.
Alongside the announcement of the GT2-7.0, Samsung also upgraded the 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab with Ice Cream Sandwich. The Galaxy Tab 2 10.0 still has a 10.1-inch 1280x800 display, but it's now got those front-facing speakers flanking both sides of the bezel (as seen on the Galaxy Tab 10.1N). Inside is a 1GHz dual-core processor, 16GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot that tops out at 32GB, 3-megapixel rear cam/VGA front-cam, IR blaster and 7,000mAh battery.
Again, the GT2-7.0 is $250 and will launch on April 22. Pre-orders start today. The GT2-10.0 is $400 and hits stores on May 13. Pre-orders for it start on April 22.
All photos by Raymond Wong for DVICE.