We had very nice things to say about the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 Android tablet when we reviewed it earlier in the year. We called it the “best tablet in its class for early 2012” and lauded its “fantastic Super AMOLED display” as well as its “exceptional speed.”
But that was before Apple unveiled the third-generation iPad and brought the high-resolution Retina Display to tablets. Soon Samsung will also face competition in the form of quad-core Ice Cream Sandwich tablets from ASUS, Lenovo, Acer and others, and some of those will have screen resolutions approaching Apple’s vaunted 264 pixel per inch count.
So does this 4G LTE tablet still hold up? Can it remain the best tablet in its class for mid 2012? Find out in this Galaxy Tab 7.7 second-look review.
Build & Design
The Galaxy Tab 7.7 is probably Samsung’s best built tablet. It’s both thin and light, and makes the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus released mere months ago, seem bulky by comparison. Samsung is no stranger to thin and light, as both the Tab 8.9 and 10.1 illustrate, but unlike those all-plastic tablets, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 has a brushed metal backing punctuated by two silver plastic edges. It’s hard to understate what a difference this makes. The brushed metal looks better, feels better, and gives the impression of a solid device.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 also has something many other Samsung Android tablets lack, a microSD card slot. This is a big plus, as is the IR sensor that enables universal remote functionality. The power and volume buttons along the landscape side are also easy to access and blindly identifiable.
Unfortunately though, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 does not have a standard microUSB input, relying instead on a proprietary pin connector for charging and USB hosting, with the latter of which actually requiring the Samsung-provided USB cord adapter and a female to female USB connector. USB hosting is one big advantage Android has over iOS, and it’s a shame Samsung cripples it.
Samsung also cripples any sound output by placing the speakers on either end of one short portrait side. The speakers actually output some decent sound, for tablets anyway, but are underpowered, and thanks to their placement, do not direct sound at the user. It’s a common complaint with tablets, and one that Samsung actually addresses with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, which both have front-facing speakers, even though it might make for a slightly longer device.
The 7.7-inch Super AMOLED Plus display is by far this tablet’s biggest selling point. For those not acquainted with AMOLED display tech, it has three distinct advantages over traditional LCD/LED displays: power savings, deeper blacks, and more vibrant colors. A pleasant side-effect is that these displays cut through screen glare from the sun and bright lights much better than their counterparts.
This is all very apparent when you compare the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 with any other tablet, including the new iPad, head to head. The Tab 7.7 display is crisp and vibrant, and the black levels are extremely deep, as if the display were off entirely. Colors can appear over saturated, which can make some viewing experiences a bit jarring, but the fact that the Tab 7.7 shrugs off glare as well as it does reinforces my belief that this is a superior display technology.
So what about the third-generation iPad and the Retina Display? Well, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 has a 1280 x 800 resolution and 196 pixels per inch. The new iPad has 2048 x 1536 resolution and 264 ppi. Where individual pixels are still visible on the Tab display, they are not on the new iPad, which has a bigger screen. Text on the new iPad looks like ink on a page, and comic books look incredible. Movies too.
Both the Tab 7.7 and new iPad have phenomenal displays, but for day-to-day use in an ideal environment (like away from the sun’s glare), I think the new iPad just narrowly edges out the Galaxy Tab 7.7.
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