The Android lightweight that’s won us over.
Screen and Touch Interface
The biggest win for the Tab 7.7 has to be its screen. Even though there’s so much of buzz around the new iPad’s Retina display, I have to say that the Tab’s 7.7 screen really blew me away. Videos and pictures were phenomenal, with colors and blacks being displayed beautifully. The Tab had no problems playing a full 1048p clip of “The Day After Tomorrow” from my network, and scrubbing to various parts of the clip just produced a 5 second pause as the clip re-buffered. The Tab’s screen also allows for a much better range of viewing angles – I was able to watch a clip with two friends sitting with me, and none of us notice any loss in contrast or peculiar shading.
Navigating around the Tab is for the most part responsive, as long as the widgets are kept to a minimum. But there are still plenty of occasions where apps take a few seconds to minimize or launch, or bringing up and dismissing the on-screen keyboard doesn’t happen at first. And this all boils down to the fact that Android 3.2 is running the show – I’ve noticed these blips occur in other Honeycomb tablets as well, which is why I wish Samsung really puts and effort into getting Android 4.0 onto their tablets. I ran Quadrant Standard Edition on the Tab, which benchmarks CPU, Memory, I/O, and 2D/3D graphics. The final score was a respectable 3,398 with 3D video tests clocking in a smooth 57fps.
Unlike the ones on smartphones, cameras on tablets tend to be quite awful, and sadly this is the case here as well. The rear-facing 3 megapixel camera is decent for taking outdoor shots in the sunshine, but when you turn on the flash for some night-time photography, images get very saturated and washed out. The front-facing camera has a permanent noise effect applied to it, so no matter what kind of lighting you’re in, you will always look like you have a million ants crawling across your face. Here are three sample images taken with the Tab:
Sound and Call quality
The two speakers at the bottom of the Tab are surprisingly loud, and are able to provide a nice deep bass for music and videos. The Tab can also emulate 5.1 surround on some videos, which didn’t make much of a difference except making the sound appear a little hollow at times. The one downside I noticed is that if you use the Tab in landscape view, your right hand will at most times cover up at least one speaker if you’re holding the Tab with both hands.
Since the Tab 7.7 can make and receive phone calls, I decided to give it a spin. Unfortunately, the results were absolutely tragic. The Tab does have an earpiece which will let you hold the tablet up to your ear like a jumo-sized cell phone, but I highly recommend plugging in a headset or pairing with a Bluetooth kit. When used with a wired headset, callers complained that I sounded faint and I had to often repeat what I had said. With a Bluetooth headset the call quality improved a bit, but then I had difficulty understanding what people were saying. There is an option for speakerphone, but this proved to be the worst experience of the lot – clearly the speakers on the Tab were designed for pumping out Tiesto remixes than trying to attend a conference call. So if you cheekily thought that you could use the Tab as your cellphone replacement, think again.
Battery life for the Tab was quite good – with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth always on, the occasional phone call and plenty of surfing on the web and YouTube, I was able to squeeze out a decent eight hours before being warned to plug in my charger. Given that’s roughly the length of a working day, I think that’s quite good. The device only got slightly warm when it was about 40 minutes through playing an HD movie, but otherwise remains cool to the touch.
If you’ve not yet splurged for a tablet of your own and you aren’t quite sure if the iPad is for you, then this tablet might just fill that little space in your heart. While it does suffer from some sluggishness due to Android 3.2, it’s still a gorgeous little tablet that is ultra-portable and gets the job done. While there are similar-sized Android tablets out already, the screen on the Tab 7.7 just has to be seen to be appreciated. While I don’t recommend using the call features of this tablet, it will work well for just about anything else you can throw at it.