Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus Review

Sure the tablet scene is getting bogged down with every week it seems a new tablet it hitting the market.  When Samsung debuted the Galaxy Tab 10.1 they ushered in a great new era of Android Tablets.  Then they started to shrink down the tablet.  Making it even more portable for the user while not taking away and functionality.  Here is where the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus ($399 MSRP 16GB WiFi) comes into the mix.

It is slim, elegant, quite portable, focuses on entertainment and is probably the best 7″Android Tablet on the market.  While this tablet takes care of a huge Honeycomb problem with a custom app store it still gets lost between budgets and high-end tablets like the iPad 2 and the aforementioned Galaxy Tab 10.1.  Let’s see how this tablet stacks up to our testing.

The Look and Feel of Tab

Upon first glance you might have a hard time distinguishing between the Galaxy Tab 8.9 and Galaxy Tab 7.0.  Samsung has been producing the best Android built tablets and the 7.0 Plus is no exception.  There are some drawbacks that could use some tweaking but when you can have a full fledged 3.2 Honeycomb in your pants pocket you just feel so much better about what it can do.

It looks pretty much like the rest of the Tabs on the market, slim black design as usual, and only has two real buttons on the device.  The power button and the volume up and down rocker.  Along the edge is two small speakers, a microSD expansion slot, on the back is a 3-megapixel camera and in the front is a 2-megapixel camera.  As I mentioned before it is a WiFi only tablet, connecting to 802.11b/g/n networks.  Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth and wireless syncing, so you can have the extra advantage of being able to connect to a Wi-Fi Direct capable computer to transfer files.

What’s the Apps

The Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus runs Android Honeycomb 3.2 on a dual-core 1.2GHz processor. Even with TouchWiz gumming up some things it still benchmarked amazingly well.  You get a boatload of Samsung custom widgets.  You have my favorite “quick action” bar at the bottom of the screen that gives you direct access to a task manager, calendar, world clock, memo pad (which you can hand write notes), calculator and music player.  Samsung also threw in a custom e-book reader, magazine subscription and photo editing apps, sadly none of them are deletable.

Of course one huge bonus is the Samsung custom app store, Samsung Apps.  In the past it has been a hodge podge of lackluster apps that Samsung just throws in there to sweeten the product.  Well now they have jumped it up a few notches.  The Samsung Apps now connect to several hundred apps now.  The links all connect you to the Android Market, so you don’t have to sign up for a new account.  Now the problem I have had with other tablets not named iPad is the lack of quality tablet apps.  Luckily the 7-inch tablet can run Android apps in a zoomed mode, it isn’t a cure-all but it isn’t all that bad.

The 4000mAh nonremovable battery delivered 6 hours, 33 minutes of continuous video playback, a very good result for a 7-inch tablet.

Entertainment packed and it has a remote

Samsung is pitching this as an “entertainment tablet” with the Peel Smart Remote app, which has the potential of being a fantastic TV buddy, if it worked more often.  Now on paper it is supposed to show you all the programs playing on your TV as graphical “cards” you can sort by genre.  Now say you select a card to watch, it should set your TV to watch the show, however it won’t tell your DVR to record it.

Now my main problem was always trying to get it to set up right.  I tried it at home with my TV and sure it started to pop up some programming however it never actually went further than that.  In retrospect I had such high hopes for this app as it has great potential to be a universal remote with portable solutions for TV viewing.  Yet it never gets passed the crawl phase for me.

The Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus comes with Media Hub and Google’s own video rental service, Samsung’s Meida Hub elegant but pricey video store ($2.99-$3.99 to rent movies, $9.99 and up to buy movies, $1.99 to buy TV shows). Google’s own video rental service runs H.264, MPEG4, XVID and DIVX videos smoothly at up to 1080p resolution. If you want to play your video on a TV, you’ll have to shell out for a $34.99 Multimedia Dock which provides HDMI output.

You got two cameras that aren’t very high-res but they are high quality.  The rear camera handles pictures fairly well.  I found at times the images would be soft and lacking distinct features, and when moved outdoors the pictures turned out just a bit better.  The front facing camera did ok in low light situations however both cameras have a very long shutter which makes taking some actions shots down right forgettable.  So when you are using Skype the front facing camera can really hold its own so you are good on that front.

Video recording was a tossup.  Indoor movies you get 720p movies at 24 frames per second and outdoors you get cleaner videos that bump up to 30 frames per second.  However you do get some blown-out bright areas which I hope Samsung would stop wimping out with camera quality.

Per usual you can get the tablet in 16GB and 32GB models; with the 32GB version running $499.  I tested out the 16GB model and the expansion slot worked just fine with my MicroSD card.

The results are in

Overall it is one of the more complete feeling tablets I have used.  However the Peel app seemed to be a rushed project and not very strong.  The app selection of Honeycomb is pretty limited however it doesn’t seem to be getting any better as Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 coming around the bend industry interest will start moving towards that build of Android OS.  Now the ICS update is slated to come to the Tab 7.0 Plus, however if you can handle the features on the tablet (Peel App not withstanding) then you should go out and get it.

I will wait for the ICS update to see if it brings on a slew of great tablet apps that would make Android tabs rival that of the iPad 2.  So now we got to the Kyle Scientific Scale-o-Rama we calibrate the scales and give it a ranking based upon 3 categories, Skip It, Flip It, Buy It.  For this we must weigh the Pro’s and Con’s of the tablet.

Pros

  • Very portable
  • Geared for entertainment
  • Feels more complete build of Samsung Apps

Cons

  • Incomplete Peel App
  • Weak camera
  • Shady video
  • Lack of major apps

So with all that said and done the Kyle Scientific Scale-o-Rama rings this up as a Buy It.  If you are looking to get in on the ground floor with some potential to go upwards with the ICS update then this tablet is for you.  While the camera is something you can overlook and the video isn’t the best thing ever this tablet is geared for the entertainment nut in mind and in that aspect it handles the job spectacularly.

Article first published as Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus Review on Technorati.

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