Samsung was responsible for releasing the very first Google-sanctioned Android tablet, the Galaxy Tab, roughly one year ago. So it's no surprise that it has making Android tablets down to a science, which is evident in the remarkably solid Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus. This is a powerful, albeit simplistic, Honeycomb 3.2 tablet that is light on unique characteristics but runs smoothly and executes its basic feature set very well. It's an efficient, bare-bones device, like the netbook of tablets.
The one characteristic of the Tab 7.0 Plus that isn't very bare-bones or netbook-like, however, is its price point. At the time of launch, for the lowest-end, 16GB Wi-Fi only version of the tablet, customers have to shell out $399.99. Is the Tab 7.0 Plus worth that much cash?
BUILD & DESIGN
The Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus' build is probably the best thing it has going for it, at least in my opinion. Admittedly, I'm very partial to the 7-inch form factor because I think it's a lot more comfortable to hold than the 10.1-inch (and larger) tablets, especially with one hand; with 7-inch tablets, instead of having the awkward experience of holding a device the size of your average legal pad, you get to hold something about the same size as a compact novel.
With that being said, I love the dimensions of the Tab 7.0 Plus, which measures in at 7.6 x 4.8 x 0.39 inches. So besides avoiding being unwieldy or clunky in terms of its width and height, it's also spectacularly slim (and light, as it only weighs 12.1 ounces), providing a welcome upgrade from the original 7-inch Galaxy Tab. In all, it's a very sleek device with a build that I love.
And while the Tab 7.0 Plus is a little light on features (which is generally a drawback, but more on that later), this does help keep its design simplistic and streamlined. When held in portrait orientation, the top edge of the device has a headphone jack while the left side features only the microSD card slot, which is covered with a plastic plug and blends in seamlessly with the side of the tablet. The bottom edge has two speakers, a mic, and a proprietary jack, and the right side has the most action with a volume rocker, the power/standby switch, and an IR blaster. That's it; very few buttons and controls, all very uncomplicated and uncluttered.
There is another speaker that is on the front of the device directly above the screen, which I think is ostensibly a great idea (that way, no matter what way you're holding the device, you're never covering all the speakers), but it only works for making and receiving VoIP calls with third party apps like Skype. So if you want to hold your tablet like a comically oversized smartphone and make VoIP calls, then you can use this speaker. Otherwise, you won't be able to get sound to come out of it, which is a real shame, because it would have been a smart design choice to have a third speaker firing in a different direction from the other two.
As for the cameras, there is a 2.0-megapixel front-facing that is in the upper right-hand corner (again, when holding the tablet in portrait orientation) and a 3.0-megapixel rear-facing camera in the upper left-hand corner of the back along with an LED flash. The rear-facing camera is the only thing to adorn the smooth, non-removable back of the device.
But the minimalist design of the Tab 7.0 Plus is a double-edged sword; it may make for a slick build, but it also makes for a device that is very light on features, and that's why it isn't really worth the $400 starting price tag. Some may bemoan the absence of any HDMI and USB ports (be they full-sized, mini, or micro) and other features like a dedicated camera button or a more powerful rear-facing camera?or at least one capable enough to allow for a digital zoom. While other tablets have certain unique aspects -- the HTC Flyer has its pen, the G-Slate has 3D, the Xoom was the first Honeycomb tablet, etc. -- the Tab 7.0 Plus has only its IR blaster and not much else to make it stand out in the crowd. It's a powerful, but basic Honeycomb tablet that does what it does very well, but sports a starting price tag that consequently makes little sense.
Display and Speakers
I find the display on the Tab 7.0 Plus to be just fine. With a resolution of 1024 x 600 and 169 ppi, the Tab 7.0 Plus has a lower resolution than the Tab 8.9, but images don't look a whole lot worse for it. Plus, colors are still bright and rich and generally look outstanding (and, should you not care for the default level of color saturation, you can also adjust it using two other presets). The viewing angle is also quite generous, while screen glare is no worse than what you would encounter with any other tablet.
Using the only other tablet we have on hand in the office, I did a side-by-side comparison with the screens of the Tab 7.0 Plus and the iPad 2. Overall, I found the Tab 7.0 Plus' display to be superior in almost every sense. It looked sharper (because it has the same resolution as the iPad, but on a smaller screen and therefore a greater ppi), it was brighter (both were set at maximum brightness settings), and colors looked crisper and were better saturated. Also, the iPad screen has a slight reddish tint to it that tends to affect the appearance of whites, whereas the Tab 7.0 Plus had little to no tint to its display, therefore producing clearer and better-looking whites.
The sound unit above the display notwithstanding, the speakers on the Tab 7.0 Plus are remarkably good. The two downwards-firing speakers can output sound at a surprisingly high level when cranked up to full volume and, while they don't sound like Beats-level audio or anything of the like, they still produce decent-quality sound. Heck, I'm just surprised when I can hear bass at all on built-in speakers.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus Tablet specs:
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