It's easy to get confused by the variety of 7-inchers coming out of Samsung's gate; you might even speculate that the category is getting a bit crowded. But with the arrival of the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, it appears the popular Android manufacturer has an ace in its sleeve. The slate leaps past its cousins with the latest build of Ice Cream Sandwich out of the gate, although it still reps the same 1024 x 600 PLS TFT display, 3-megapixel rear camera, 4,000mAh battery and dual-core setup. We had a chance to get a real feel for the tablet, so join us after the break as we parse through our initial impressions.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) hands-onSee all photos
If you've ever held any of Sammy's previous 7-inch slates, you'll immediately notice that this iteration is a bit thicker. It's unclear exactly why the Tab 2 7.0 sports a slightly fuller 10.5mm waistline as compared to the Plus' 9.96mm, but it's by no means a deal breaker. Certainly, the device is well-crafted and much thought has gone into how it rests in the hand. With a smooth, matte plastic enclosure that sidesteps the collection of smudges, 12.2 ounces (345 grams) and its curved edges, you likely won't experience much fatigue when holding onto the unit for long stretches of time to consume video or carry on an extended Gchat.
Much of the design incorporated into the Plus remains the same here, as covered slots for microSD and SIM cards take up the left side of the device, power and volume hard keys are relegated to the right, the 3.5mm headphone jack sits up top, while the proprietary charging / connector port lies surrounded by dual speakers at the base. There are a few downgrades where specs are concerned, as you won't find the same 2 megapixel camera up front; here, it's VGA. And that dual-core processor (of which, Sammy won't specify) powering this TouchWizzed Android 4.0.3 affair is clocked at a lower 1GHz and buffered by 1GB RAM. Again, that's a step down from the Plus's 1.2GHz CPU, but the difference in performance is hardly noticeable. In fact, overall navigation throughout the UX is fluid and unfettered.
As we just mentioned, touch recognition on the tablet is exceptionally responsive -- most notably when utilizing the software keyboard and scrolling through web pages. As for the browser, we noted that full desktop sites loaded fairly speedily, at just under 15 seconds and evincing no lag or stutter. Pinch to zoom was similarly brisk, though there is a bit of delay for images to re-render. The only performance quirk we noticed had to do with the unit's accelerometer, which had a hard time registering the change in orientation from portrait to landscape and often required abrupt movements to be triggered.
All told, it's a solid product and one that should make for a smart purchase when it hits the UK this March in 8GB / 16GB / 32GB versions, although at the wrong price point that summation could reverse itself. Our only concern is that without the massive marketing support currently bolstering other Sammy devices (the Note 10.1, for one) consumers will certainly have a hard time discerning the appreciable differences between this 7-inch line and the Galaxy Tab 2 might not get the attention it deserves. The end result? This fab tab might get lost in the clutter.
Dana Wollman contributed to this report.