I’ve used it for close to over 2 months now and unlike the rushed reviews you will find all over the world wide web, mine is based on total interaction with the device, in-depth analysis, heavy use from a tech enthusiast’s end and from an ordinary user’s point of view. I promised to review Sasha, the name I gave my Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, and here it is.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is not the tablet that everyone in media circles and the blogosphere is losing their heads over, that crown is left to the Asus-made Google Nexus 7 tablet but that is not to say it plays second fiddle to anyone. In my opinion, it rises to the occasion and stands up there with the rest.
It is quite an old tablet (1 year since release is a century in the world of computing and mobile devices) having been released in October 2011.
It has all the standard physical aspects of a Samsung tablet with the volume rocker, the device on/off button and the sd-card and SIM card slots in the same places as in other Samsung tablets.
Design and General Look and Feel
I always look at my devices the same way I look at women and damn this one has a way too sexy curvaceous back! I hope that is graphic enough to leave an imagination of how it looks without having to see the image below. When holding it, you get the feeling that you are holding something, something of value. It feels a bit heavier than other tablets like the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 that I have used. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus actually weighs in at just 345 grams and is 9.9 millimetres thick.
It has a non-removable back. The back is also home to the primary camera and its LED flash.
Its two speakers (loud enough for game sounds, soft music and video playback at close range. Not suitable for a large audience) are found at the bottom, just below the Samsung branding, next to the second microphone (the first one is found at the top). The volume rocker and the power/screen on/off button are found on the right of the device. It took me some time to stop confusing one for the other. On the left side you find the SIM card slot (I have the 3G+Wi-Fi version of the tablet. The Wi-Fi only version of the tablet does not have this) and the sd-card slot. At the top there’s the standard 3.5mm headphone jack that works nicely with the headphones that the device ships with.
The one place where I have bones to pick with Samsung is the use of its own proprietary 30-pin connector instead of the industry standard microUSB. I have enough microUSB cables and having it here would have been awesome since it would’ve worked with all the accessories I have for other devices. Anyone remember the lightning connector? The connector is also placed at the bottom of the device. Alongside the two speakers and microphone.
The device was designed to be primarily held in portrait mode (indicated by the Samsung branding on one of the shorter sides unlike longer sides on the Galaxy Tab 10.1, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and the Galaxy note 10.1. The other indicator is the location of the front-facing camera.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus has a screen resolution of 600 x 1024 pixels measuring 7.0 inches diagonally to produce a pixel density of 170 pixels per inch. That is not the best that there is now with the Nexus 7 offering a resounding 1280 x 800 but I found nothing that I couldn’t do with the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus screen. The video viewing experience is good except that on closer look, you can easily see the pixels. As far as gaming is concerning, the graphics are rendered just fine on this PLS LCD display.
Processing power is something that is central to the hearts of any Android device enthusiasts. Droids are known to be the power monsters and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus does not fall short. With its 1.2 GHz dual core CPU with Samsung’s own Exynos 4210 chipset and a Mali-400MP GPU, the tablet packs just enough power for everything. So far I am yet to meet any app, game or otherwise, that is too much for this tablet. The latest resource demanding app I have is the most recent high powered game to hit the Android platform, EA Sports’ Need For Speed Most Wanted and it works like a charm. In fact being a big fan of the game on PC, I find the game on this tablet even better. There’s however some noticeable lag when launching some games like Asphalt 7 and Most Wanted. Aside from that, everything else is excellent.
After mentioning big games like Need For Speed Most Wanted for Android and Asphalt 7, it is only fair to have a good amount of storage on this tablet. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is well equipped here. It has 1 GB of RAM so whatever resource demanding app you are running, it’s got you covered. I have the 16 GB version of the tablet and after Samsung has installed everything necessary to make sure the tablet is usable, you remain with 12 GB user storage space. Unlike the Nexus 7 which lacks expandable memory capability, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus has a micro sd-card slot that allows you to increase storage upto 64 GB. I have a 16 GB micro sd-card inserted and all my episodes of Person of Interest are well accommodated as are my priceless moments captured on camera in campus.
The tablet has two cameras as you would expect; the front facing camera for video calls (I have never used that functionality on this device) and Skype video calls (works well but stutters at times not due to network issues but camera frequently switching. The Skype app says this device is not certified for Skype. It still works though, I only encountered this a few times after I upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich). The front facing camera is 2 megapixels while its rear counterpart is 3.15 MP. The back camera is a darling of mine. They say tablets are not meant to be used for snapping photos since we already have smartphones but with the amazing software that Samsung has added with its TouchWiz in Android 4.0, you’ll be tempted to keep on taking panorama snaps with this, never mind the awkwardness that goes with holding a 7-inch slate up to take a nice shot.
One more thing, the front camera can also be used for taking photos and is not just for video calls unlike in other tablets.
The device has all the wireless radios that you will need. With Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n I was able to access all the wireless hotspots in campus and while travelling via my favourite Coast Bus to and from home, I never fail to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi onboard. It is simply amazing.
Of course the device has DLNA capability and Samsung has included the All Share app for streaming content from your tablet to your smart TV when on the same wireless network. I never got to test this feature so I can’t prove its efficiency or lack thereof.
Bluetooth 3.0. It works well, infact until I upgraded my laptop to Windows 8 and lost the ability I had with my Windows 7 installation of streaming audio content via Bluetooth, I used to stream my music from the tablet to the PC and control it from anywhere I am in the house making sure I don’t skip a beat, literally!
The 3G+Wi-Fi device available in the Kenyan market lacks the Infrared blaster found in the other variances of this tablet available in other markets.
The software on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is awesome. The device ships with Android 3.2 Honeycomb but an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich is available (READ: How to upgrade the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus to Ice Cream Sandwich). I only spent a week on Honeycomb and I never liked it. The device was sluggish. All that changed when I upgraded to ICS. A whole new world opened before me. A smooth, clean interface is what awaits you on ICS. Samsung has promised a Jelly Bean update for this device (possibly to be rolled out in early 2013 since they are always slow with the updates and with the list of devices to be update being long and this device being a bit older, a time frame of January to March 2013 absolutely makes sense. Another reason is the long time it took to avail the ICS update for this tablet. Samsung is notorious for a slow rollout of updates to its devices so no surprises there. ICS was released late last year and only appeared on this tablet towards the end of August).
I have never been a big fan of custom skins like Samsung’s TouchWiz, HTC’s Sense, Sony’s Timescape UI and Motorola’s MotoBlur but in Android 4.0 on this tablet, the stability and fluidity that Samsung’s Touchwiz brings is commendable. Everything is just in the right place. You get a piece of the ICS magic and more. There’s the quick bar that is started by pressing the middle most button on the Android candy bar that brings very useful quick use versions of apps like the calculator and the phone dialer (wait, I never told you that this tablet can be used as phone right? Well, now you know. However awkward it may be to put a 7-inch slate next to your ear, it works. Tried and tested!).
Samsung has also included handy apps like Pen Memo that lets you jot down notes while on the go in a way you want either by directly writing down the notes using your finger or typing using the on-screen keyboard. The S Planner calendar app that ships with the flagship Samsung Galaxy S III is also available on this device as are the Music and Reader’s Hubs.
A built in screen shot button available on the notification bar alongside the standard Android home, back and task switching buttons made sure that I could take screenshots on the device without having to do my favourite past time on Android devices: rooting. In fact this is one of the devices that rooting just enables deeper system access and nothing more unlike in other devices where rooting means access to more functionality. By tweaking the stock Android, Samsung has managed to bring in so many features here that tampering with the device’s stock firmware as I always do with other Android devices is out of question. The experience is exceptional.
I am pretty sure if the experience with TouchWiz I have had on this tablet is Samsung’s deep hardware-software integration policy (it is already evident in the Galaxy S III, the Galaxy Note II, which I will review soon and the Galaxy Note 10.1) then they are going places and will surely change our perceptions of custom skins and the usual insistence on stock Android experience.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus has a 4000mAh battery. I will not dwell on official talk time and video playback times but on my actual interaction with the device. The battery normally lasts me 6 hours after serious usage continuously on a 3G network while playing games, surfing and playing video. That time lengthens to about 6.5 hour if it is on Wi-Fi and rises to 10 hours when put to heavy use while on airplane mode (games and video playback only). When I use it only for reading my huge collection of eBooks and magazines like my favourite Men’s Health then it goes well over a day.
The battery however tends to drain faster as you increase the number of power apps that you install on the device. I have been experiencing this lately.
Pricing & Accessories
This tablet is pocket-friendly. At an equivalent cost of around $350 in local shops and online, it is quite a bargain. The GT-P6200 has everything that one would want from expandable storage to a back camera to 3G network access (that the competitors like the Nexus 7 lack).
There are also so many accessories for this tablet in local shops ranging from smart covers of all types to screen protectors to Bluetooth keyboards and docks to suit everyone’s needs and tastes. All the quality accessories start at $30 or thereabout.
What I liked about this tablet (the good)
- Like any other 7 inch tablet, the portable nature of the device is awesome. The bezel is neither too thick nor too thin so holding it with either one hand or both when gaming or reading is just fine.
- The software just works. Since the Gingerbread and Honeycomb tablets that had rather clunky software, this one is a testament that the gap between software and hardware functionality has finally lessened on the Android platform.
The bad (What I did not like about this tablet)
- No direct HDMI slot. One will have to get a HDMI connector that can connect to the 30-pin connector. While not that necessary, a tablet is meant mainly for content consumption and a HDMI port is almost like a must.
- The display. As much as I said it get things just done, it could’ve been better.
- The 30-pin connector. This one simply sucks. I always prefer the standard microUSB port over this.
To sum it up, my time with this tablet has been fulfilling. It delivers even what it never promised. I do not run benchmarks on this device but you can easily find out these from a quick Google Search. The nature of its 7 inch screen means unlimited portability as well as continued streaming on 3G even when away from the college Wi-Fi. Android 4.0 and its new features like Face Unlock means more security. Heck, the ability to switch user accounts is coming with the Jelly Bean update sometime early next year. Before you get carried by all the hype around the Nexus 7 or the charm of its brothers the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, you will not want to ignore this silent guy.