Back when we reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, we lauded it for its excellent (albeit simplistic) design, outstanding battery life, and respectable processing power, but we took issue with its price tag.
Enter the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0.
Featuring an equally attractive build and some lowered specs, the Galaxy Tab 2 brings us almost everything we loved about Samsung's last 7-inch tablet, throws in the latest and greatest version of Google's Android operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich, and then lowers the price tag. So is the more modest spec sheet worth the appealing price point of $249.99 at launch?
Build & Design
With the exception of a bezel that extends beyond the top and bottom edges of the device, the build of the Galaxy Tab 2 is almost identical to the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus. On paper, the Galaxy Tab 2 is slightly bulkier, but not in any noticeable fashion; it's 0.41 inches thick and weighs 12.16 ounces (to the 7.0 Plus? 0.39-inch thickness and 12.1-ounce weight). The only other difference is that the Galaxy Tab 2 does not have a speaker located at the top of the device's front face, but this is no major loss, as the one found on the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus could only be used for VoIP calls.
Otherwise, everything is in the same location. When held vertically, the power/standby button, volume rocker, and IR blaster are found on the right side, while the left side hosts only a microSD card slot. The top edge of the Galaxy Tab 2 houses the 3.5mm headphone jack, and the bottom is where you'll find the proprietary Samsung jack for charging, as well as two speakers. Its rear-facing camera is 3 megapixels, and its front-facing camera, located in the upper right-hand corner of the front of the tablet, is a little on the weak side, sporting a VGA (640 x 480) resolution.
Given the similarity between the designs of the two tablets, my opinion of the Galaxy Tab 2's build is basically the same as that of the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus: I prefer the 7-inch form factor and I like that it's light, slim, and easy to hold with one hand. It's also marginally more portable than, say, its 10.1-inch cousin, but after a certain point that's not especially important, given that you still won't be pocketing a 7-inch tablet.
But the compact, minimalist design does not afford Samsung many opportunities to include other features like USB or HDMI ports, haptic feedback, or even a full-sized SD card. I also don't care for how slick the back of the device is, as I prefer to have some sort of rubberized or grippy finish on the back of my tablets (especially when they're small enough to hold one-handed, which increases the odds that I might lose my grip and drop it).
In the grand scheme of things though, these are relatively small complaints and users, especially those who are fans of the smaller form-factor tablets, will be pleased with the Galaxy Tab 2's lightweight, svelte design.
Display and Speakers
With a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels, the 7-inch display of the Galaxy Tab 2 does not exactly impress. Images come through grainy, and even on the highest brightness settings the screen is not particularly bright and can suffer from glare issues. And aside from visuals not being particularly sharp, colors don't pop at all especially in comparison to the recent Galaxy Tab 7.7 and its Super AMOLED Plus display. On the upside, the display isn't much of a drain on the battery (even on the highest brightness setting) given that it's not particularly bright or powerful. And sensitivity, thankfully, is not an issue with the screen which is perfectly responsive.
The speakers, in terms of quality, are what you would expect from tablet speakers. But on the other hand (and I know I said the same thing about the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, but their designs are quite similar), they are surprisingly powerful. Despite the fact that they fire out of the bottom of the device rather than toward the user, you never have any problem hearing whatever is coming out of your tablet -- and at max volume, these things can really make some noise.
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