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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 reviewed

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 is packed with features.

During the last year, the tablet PC market has become increasingly competitive. Since the launch of the iPad, more and more manufacturers have been pushing their tablets, pads and portable devices onto the public at a lightning pace.

With all those devices crowding the tablet market, there are basically two ways manufacturers are looking to stand out from the crowd: price or features. Amazon did it with price. The Kindle Fire was the first true tablet PC to crack the sub-$200 barrier.

So recently, I got to try out Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.7, which is a compact tablet running Google’s Android. And while it doesn’t try to undercut competitors by price, it does stand out in the features category.

Basically, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.7 is a 7.7-inch device running Android’s 3.2, or Candybar, operating system. The tablet comes with a Super AMOLED Plus display, access to Verizon’s LTE 4G service and is loaded with several top-notch features missing from some of the lower-priced, smaller tablets, such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

The 3.2 Megapixel camera with LED flash is, surprisingly, a nice addition. I never thought I would be a fan of cameras on tablets as they are so big. Yet, I found myself using the camera often and was happy with the quality. It’s also kind of nice to have a 7.7-inch viewfinder from which to train your shot.

TV shows and movies from Netflix
look great on the AMOLED screen.
The battery charges quickly with the included USB-to-wall adapter, though it was a little sluggish when charging via my computer’s USB port.

The tablet also comes with the other standards we’ve come to expect, such as a built-in gyroscope, accelerometer, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and so on. But the big attention-grabber is, without a doubt, the screen.

I’ve seen organic LED screens many times before on smartphones, but this is the first time I’ve seen it on a tablet-sized display — and it is nice. It’s easy to try and compare the Galaxy Tab to the Kindle Fire because, at first glance, they appear similar in form and size. Still, even though the 7.7-inch screen is not much larger than the Kindle Fire, it just feels a lot bigger when you’re looking at it because of the high-quality display.

The colors are so rich and dynamic that it’s kind of hard to describe. It would be like living in a mono world all of your life and suddenly being introduced to stereo speakers at the age of 50. The high contrast of the AMOLED display means that the parts of the screen that have no text or photos are truly black. And that’s something you can’t get out of an iPhone or any other smartphone with an LCD screen. It’s something you have to see to truly get.

And Samsung didn’t skimp on hardware. Under the hood, the Galaxy Tab sports an impressive dual-core 1.4GHz processor with a graphics co-processor. It comes with 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. And, if you need more, you can augment that with the micro-SD card slot on the side of the unit.

In addition to the rear-facing 3.2 megapixel camera, there is also a 2 megapixel front-facing camera for video chats. The battery life on the tablet is an amazing 12 hours and the stand-by time on the tablet is over 10 days. And I've already talked about how great the screen is. It's so nice that it's actually a little disappointing every time I pick up my iPad after using the Galaxy Tab. I truly hope more manufacturers begin switching to OLED displays.

Loaded with Android 3.2 — or Candybar — the Galaxy Tab’s high-powered processor runs Google’s operating system quite smoothly. TV shows and movies streamed via Netflix look great with the AMOLED screen, and it’s rather easy to set up your email, Facebook and other accounts on the tablet.

And whether you like it or not, the tablet comes pre-loaded with several apps, such as YouTube, Firefox, Google Search, Photo editor and many others. And if you’re a gamer, you’ll definitely want to check out the Dead Space app. Dead Space is a sci-fi game set on an extra-terrestrial outpost in space. The game’s graphics are impressive and are even further enhanced with the Galaxy Tab’s display. The game ran very smoothly on the dual-core processor.

Overall Impressions
The Galaxy Tab 7.7 is not an ordinary small tablet PC. The screen, processor, 4G access and pre-loaded apps are just a few of the features that make it worth the $400. While it may not be as inexpensive as the Kindle Fire, you definitely get what you pay for. Actually, it’s hard to even put then Kindle Fire in the same category since the Kindle doesn’t even offer 3G access. That means you’re tied down to Wi-Fi wherever you go. And as another plus, the Galaxy Tab has a volume control. That fact makes it much more valuable than the Kindle Fire to me.

While the Galaxy Tab 7.7 at first glance does look a bit like the Kindle Fire — or any other small tablet out there — the similarities end there. The tablet is jam-packed with features that rival the iPad and blow away the Kindle Fire.