The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 had an almost scandalous premier when it launched at IFA last September. A day after the reveal, a court order made at the behest of Apple forced Samsung to remove all exhibition copies of the Tab 7.7 from the consumer electronics show, making it impossible for the visitors to see IFA's most attractive device. What sort of a tablet could have reduced Apple to such a panic reaction?
Now, following a big CES re-unveiling and international release, it is not difficult to see why Apple felt so threatened. The Galaxy Tab 7.7's impressive features offer the same experience in practice as promised on paper, complete with a 7.7-inch Super AMOLED Plus screen, Android 3.2 (Honeycomb) with TouchWiz UX UI user interface, a dual-core 1.4 GHz processor on an Exynos chipset, and exceptionally slim and compact design.
Hardware-wise, this is the most powerful Samsung tablet available on the market at the time of this review, which, compared to the previous top model Galaxy Tab 8.9, includes even more advanced screen crafting technology and a faster processor.
This review covers the international Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7. The American version coming to Verizon does not support voice calls, but the hardware is nearly identical.
(Note: For another close look at the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, complete with Verizon 4G LTE support, please see our Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 second-look review.)
Build & Design
This model has about the same width and height as the original 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab. It is evidently slimmer and lighter, and has .7 more inches of display. Its dimensions are 7.7 x 5.2 x .3 inches and it weighs only .75 pounds. Such exceptionally elegant numbers make the Galaxy Tab 7.7 splendidly practical for frequent use and mobility. It is not the least bit larger or heavier than an eInk Kindle. The team at TabletPCReview surely appreciates the fact that Galaxy Tab 7.7 can be held in one hand for hours without strain. Some were even able to hold it and type on the display keyboard with the same hand, regardless of its position: landscape or portrait.
Despite its slight mass, Galaxy Tab 7.7 is not entirely made out of plastic. Nearly the entire back side consists of brushed metal, while the upper and lower edges of the back side are solid silver plastic. The Galaxy Tab 7.7 looks very modern and is slightly reminiscent of Samsung's slim notebook line. Its edges are rounded towards the back side, which contributes to its natural position when held in one hand.
The display dominates the front, which is surrounded by an unusually slim black edge, bearing only the Samsung logo, the user-facing camera and a phone speaker (yes, this review unit can also be used to make calls the old-fashioned way - holding the device next to one's ear). The back includes only a 3.2-mega pixel camera and a LED flash.
There is a standard 3.5mm audio jack on the upper side and a tiny microphone, while the bottom has a proprietary charging input, alongside which are speakers and another microphone pinhole. It is a shame that there is no microUSB hub for charging and peripherals. There is also no HDMI slot with which the tablet could be connected to an HDTV, however MHL technology is supported (Mobile High-Definition Link), which can be used with an adapter that connects the Galaxy Tab 7.7 to a TV's HDMI slot (third-party product, not included with the tablet) in order to achieve image mirroring.
The left tablet edge includes SIM and microSD card slots, while the right edge holds the volume control and power buttons. It also has an infrared port for universal remote capabilities.
The new Galaxy Tab's 7.7-inch Super AMOLED Plus screen is its biggest selling point. It has a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution, which provides an impressive 196-pixel per inch (PPI) density (the iPad 2 by way of comparison, has a 132 PPI count).
With a super contrast thanks to the Super AMOLED Plus technology (essentially, the black pixels are extra dark because they are not lit), the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 has the best display of any tablet on the market at the time of this review. It's essentially the same display found on the Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone, only bigger and better. Thanks to its resolution and contrast, edges of objects look very smooth, and it almost seems the application icons and widgets float on the screen glass. It's effective and even futuristic.
The colors are incredibly vivacious, irrelevant of the lighting conditions, and this screen is better than the "usual" Super AMOLED screen, found on the Samsung Galaxy Note and some smartphones. All this results in a wide visibility angle with minimal effect of image quality. A wide viewing angle is really not that important with smaller tablets, but image quality, contrast, sharpness and color vivacity are, and they are not lost when the tablet is exposed to direct sunlight.
The screen's surface is smooth and it takes a very light touch or a finger movement for it to precisely interpret taps and swipes. It's also a fingerprint magnet. Luckily, powerful colors and contrasting imaging annul all fingerprints while the tablet is powered up.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 specs:
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