The Android lightweight that’s won us over.
Intro and Packaging
Every other week there seems to be a new tablet in the market, vying for attention. Better apps, brighter screens, lighter materials – there are so many tricks that can be pulled off that I simply don’t know where I would begin.
The latest contender to head my way is the sleek new Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7. Clearly Samsung can’t make up their minds on what the ‘ideal’ tablet size should be, so they decided to flood the market with different sized tablets in the hope that consumers will be able to decide what they want. And don’t forget the hybrid phone and tablet that is the Galaxy Note.
But I don’t want to talk ill of the Galaxy Tab 7.7, for it actually is a decent tablet with a few saving graces. Will it be your next tablet of choice? Read on to find out more.
Build quality & Design
The first thing that struck me after unboxing the Tab 7.7 is just how sexy it is. The last time I handled a Galaxy Tab I was met with shiny black plastic for the body, but the Tab 7.7 sports a wonderful brushed-metal backing that makes it easy to hold and doesn’t register any unsightly smudges. The back is also where you’ll find the 3 megapixel rear camera and LED flash. Despite its sleek look, the Tab 7.7 generally feels well build and is light enough to slip into your backpack or handbag. For anyone who feels that an iPad is too big to carry around, then this is the tablet for you.
Moving around the device we have the headphone jack at the top, with the power/sleep button on the right along with the volume rocker. At the bottom are two inconspicuous speakers and a slot for connecting the charging cable. On the left hand side are two small covers than house slots for a full-sized SIM card and microSD cards. Unfortunately the Tab 7.7 doesn’t have a micro-USB port for connectivity or charging, and lacks any kind of video output such as a micro-HDMI, which really is a bit of a disappointment. Like the iPad, you will need to buy additional hardware to connect to the bottom to enable HDMI out. Just near the top of the device is the front-facing 2 megapixel camera and a tiny slot for the tablet’s earpiece if you’re not using a headset when making calls. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that – as with previous Tab models, the Tab 7.7 supports phone calls and text messaging with a valid SIM card inserted (more on call quality later).
The Galaxy Tab 7.7 is powered by a dual-core 1.4GHz processor and comes with either 16 or 32GB of internal storage and 1GB of RAM. The tablet weighs in at around 335g, and measures 196.7 x 133 x 7.9 mm. It also features a gorgeous 7.7 Super AMOLED Plus display at a resolution of 1280×800, which I drool over later. And as I previously mentioned, the Tab’s size and weight makes it extremely desirable for anyone who hasn’t snapped up a tablet yet. Unfortunately the Tab 7.7 runs Android Honeycomb 3.2, which is now becoming unacceptable given that Android 4.0 has been out for months now. While Honeycomb was once the preferred Android OS for tablets, Android 4.0 could certainly bring along some much needed flair that 3.2 seems to lack.
UI and Apps
The tablet’s interface is powered by Samsung’s own TouchWiz interface, which at times can be a bit of a mess. The surplus apps that are on the screen the first time you start it up are a bit of an information overload. They also tend to drag the interface a bit, so I highly recommend binning any unnecessary widgets like YouTube or Email and just keeping your screens clutter-free. Having said that, TouchWiz does have a few hand tricks to boast – there’s a clever screenshot button near the bottom left which you can tap at any time to take a screenshot. The image is then displayed for you to edit or draw upon, after which you can then save it or email it across. There is also a handy little bar at the bottom which you can tap to bring up a selection of useful apps, such as Calculator, Memo, Phone, Messaging, and a basic Task Manager which is great for closing unnecessary background apps.
Samsung has also included its own app store, called ‘Samsung App’ – the content available here depends on the region read from your SIM card, so if there is no SIM installed then the app will not launch. It’s a bit weird that Samsung would want its own app store when Google’s Play Store is already available, but who am I to question their rationale? There are also a variety of ‘Hubs’ that you can access – Game Hub will let you download games, Reader Hub gives you subscriptions to newspapers and books, while Social Hub lets you view your social media feeds and messages. There’s a few other apps such as a file browser and Polaris Office, and Pulse for linking up news feeds.