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The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 tablet is Samsung’s new low cost small size Android tablet running Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich O.S.. At the price of $249, this tablet is competing to lower the cost of entry for Android tablets and take a shot at Amazon’s Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet.
The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 has a 1GHz Dual Core processor which is a little bit smaller than the Galaxy Tab Plus 7.0 that we reviewed last year. The Tab 2 has a 7-inch 1024 x 600 screen capable of displaying resolutions of up to 720p. This tablet weighs 12 ounces and is .41 inches thick. The screen size is good for typing with thumbs while holding the tablet in portrait mode and while typing works in landscape mode, you have to stretch to reach all the “t” and “y” positionsed letters. The tablet runs Android 4.0 called Ice Cream Sandwich with Samsung’s Touchwiz UI.
The speakers are located at the bottom while holding the tablet in portrait mode. The top of the tablet has a 1/8″ plug for headphones and the right side of the tablet has the physical power button and the volume buttons. The microSD card is housed on the left side allowing you to expand the memory to 32GB. The rear of the tablet has a 3MP camera and the front camera is a .3MP camera able to do 640 x 480. The unit also comes with the ability to control TV, DVD’s and cable boxes with the built in IR functionality and Smart Remote app that comes bundled.
The Galaxy Tab 2 is a responsive and snappy tablet, though doesn’t feel quite as snappy as the Galaxy Tab plus which had a slightly faster processor. Regardless of the difference in performance, the responsiveness is far from distracting while using the tablet and will be quickly forgotten after just minutes. Fully charging the battery takes hours and a full charge can last a day or more of use. Only after heavy use for a full day would the battery be drained nearly fully, and this is with settings like the brightness turned on fully and running multiple apps the entire time. The camera on the rear is only 3 megapixels but takes pretty good photos for the lack of Megapixels when comparing to today’s phones. The front camera is low resolution and it shows.
The tablet will, after a time of inactivity, go into standby mode. Restoring the tablet from standby mode involves holding the power button for 7 to 15 seconds until the Galaxy Tab splash screen is displayed on the screen. This tablet, like the Galaxy Tab Plus 7″, does not have any form of visual indicator showing whether the tablet is on, in standby or that a message was received. You have to turn on the tablet to check if an email was received which is fine in the grand scheme of things, but a visual indicator that can be seen from a distance would be nice.
The screen rotates 4 ways and this works smoothly. The widgets, background and shortcuts format well in either the portrait mode or the landscape mode. This is also a great to deal with the accidental covering of the speakers while holding the tablet for rotating the tablet upside down will place the speakers on top for projection. The audio output can get quite loud from the speakers and from the headphone output. The tablet will always remind you that listening to music at loud volumes can hurt your hearing, but Samsung doesn’t prevent you from pushing the envelope if you choose to.
The Galaxy Tab supports a large amount of audio and video formats including Mpeg4, H.264, H.265, Divx, AAC, WMA and AC-3. As an audio person myself, the lack of .WAV and .AIF formats is a bummer but many devices like this do not support those audio formats.
The installation of apps works similar to other Android devices and can be managed from the tablet as well as from web browsers. The Galaxy Tab 2 is an Android tablet with the full Google services including Gmail, Google Talk, Maps, YouTube and more. Besides the Google Play store, this also means the tablet will work with the Amazon Store, Samsung’s own app market and allow users to install third party apps from “non-market” sources. The installation of these apps are effortless and works as advertised. If you’re the user of a Android devices, the tablet will give you a full list of apps that you own on other devices making it quick and easy to reinstall any favorite apps.
Also included are Samsung’s built-in apps that include Media Hub, Reader Hub, Music Hub and Game Hub which are for the purchase of TV / Movies, books, newspapers and magazines, music and games respectively. The Galaxy Tab 2 also comes with third party apps as Netflix, Amazon’s Kindle and Dropbox. The Dropbox app also includes the $99 one year 50GB subscription package to the cloud service.
The functionality is similar to other Android touch devices. Because the Galaxy Tab 2 is running Android 4.0, it features a full Chrome browser that follows your desktop, the ability to swipe applications to close them and other features that make using this tablet an organic experience. The zooming into web pages is smooth and the pages scroll smoothly, but internet pages sometimes take a second to load up while scrolling down rapidly.
At the bottom of the screen is the Mini Apps button which gives access to utilities like a calculator, a calendar, email, the alarm clock and more. While open, these apps will sit on top of the screen similar to a desktop and can be used for quick reference to an email that just popped up without stopping another action. The task manager menu is on the bottom toward the left and this is where you can jump from app to app as well as close them by swiping. The Google search is in the top left part of the screen and the apps and widget menu is in the top right. The tablet starts off with five home screens but that number can be increased and decreased to an individual’s liking. Overall, the UI looks good, is extremely functional and doesn’t hang up but rather enhances the tablet experience.
The Galaxy Tab 2 is an excellent tablet, Android or otherwise. The Android 4.0 features are wonderful to use and integrates perfectly in Google’s ecosystem. The tablet is light, feels good in your hand and looks good. At the average street price of $250, this full featured tablet is an excellent buy.
Pros: The UI is smooth and works well, the tablet is light and thin, the tablet is responsive to the touch and well built, speakers perform well, great suite of bundled apps, built-in IR remote, price.
Cons: Rear camera is good but not great, the front camera is abysmal, speakers fire down from the bottom of tablet causing them to be covered up while holding.