This tablet runs on a 1 GHz dual-core Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 processor and 1 GB of RAM. There's an 8 GB internal memory, but one major change compared with the Galaxy Tab 7.7 (AMOLED screen), is that there's now a microSD card slot for boosting the storage capacity.
While that's certainly a welcome addition, Samsung has still only equipped this tablet with a 3.5 mm headphones jack and a 40-pin proprietary connector (for charging and accessories)—nothing more. The Galaxy Tab 2 has a PLS-type touchscreen (1024 x 600 pixels), which is basically Samsung's own version of IPS (as seen in the Apple iPad, Asus EeePad Transformer Prime, etc.). There's a 3-Megapixel camera on the back, but no LED flash, and a VGA webcam on the front. The tablet comes loaded with the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system with Samsung's custom TouchWiz interface.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 is out now with Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi/3G versions available. Selling for well under £300, this tablet is clearly lined up to rival models from Archos, or even Acer and Asus. And, like Archos, Samsung loads its mobile devices with a full media player system with comprehensive file support.
The Galaxy Tab 2 is easier to handle than the first-generation 7-inch Galaxy Tab thanks to a more compact build. Samsung hasn't sought to stand out too much with this model's design either, with a casing finished in both matte and glossy grey, while the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 8.9 were available in black or white. In fact, with the layout of its buttons, design and general appearance, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is quite reminiscent of the Galaxy Note.
The Galaxy Tab 2 isn't as sexy as its predecessor, with a generally more basic design. However, Samsung hasn't forgotten to fit the microSD card slot with a cover.
By positioning the speakers on the bottom edge of the tablet, in portrait mode, you won't end up covering the speakers with your hand ... although you may be aware of one of them.
One rather annoying thing about this tablet is that it can't be charged via your computer's USB port, only via a mains-to-USB connection (which is powerful enough to activate the charging process).
Note too that our version of the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 didn't come with the infrared sensor (IR) seen on the left-hand edge of the model sold in the US, which allows the tablet to be used as a universal remote (like the Sony Tablet S).
PLS is Samsung's home-grown version of IPS screen technology, which has been used in the firm's tablets since last year. These PLS tablet screens seem to get better with each product generation. The panel used in the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 delivers contrast at around 1128:1—that's among the highest values around for a tablet screen. This, twinned with a maximum brightness of 330 cd/m² makes the tablet display nice and easy to read both indoors and outdoors.
While some tones are reproduced well, Samsung seems to have overlooked primary colours. The average Delta E of 6.4 (this should be under 3 for accurate colours) comprises near-perfect grey shades equivalent to what we've seen in the latest-generation iPad, but the red, yellow, blue and also the green hues are far from perfect. That won't be too much of a problem for general, day-to-day use, but anyone looking for precision results—for viewing photos from an SLR, for example—might want to look elsewhere.
The colour temperature of 7280 kelvins is relatively even over the whole spectrum, which means that colour overtones (blue, for example) are nicely avoided.
Horizontal and vertical screen viewing angles are wide, with barely any change in the onscreen image or its contrast when viewed from even pretty extreme angles. The ghosting time is disappointing, however, as we measured 31 ms and Samsung hasn't integrated any compensation system to make things look smoother (inserting extra frames, for example).
The Galaxy Tab 2 comes with a new version of Samsung's custom TouchWiz interface. This version has already been seen on the Galaxy Note 10.1 at the Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona. The new version brings improved stability, options for customising mini apps (direct access to features like notes, calculator, calendar etc. which can be used over the top of what your doing at any time). The various hubs have also been bolstered with more content.
There are hubs for music, VOD, electronic newspapers and magazines with content from Samsung's various partners. The 'Kids Hub' for example contains content from Nickelodeon. As in other Samsung tablets using the 'hub' system, most videos are pretty poor quality. It's almost a good idea, then.
Samsung does, however, have quite a particular approach with its TouchWiz interface, as it modifies Android quite heavily. In fact Google's OS doesn't look anything like the Android 4.0 you'll find in other manufacturers' tablets. Fans of TouchWiz and Samsung mobile devices in general are sure to be pleased, especially since the OS and its interface run ultra-smoothly with no hangs, no matter what you happen to be doing. Anyone who's less keen can always look for a custom ROM (although we didn't tell you that).
In a nutshell, then, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 keeps things running fluidly with no delays or slow-downs.
Web browsing is fast and is on par with other entry-level and even mid-range tablets like the Acer Iconia Tab A200/A510 or the Archos 101 G9 Turbo.
With a screen resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 displays web pages well in landscape mode, with text looking clear and easy to read. In portrait mode, however, you'll have to zoom in to be able to read a page properly, even though you can figure out most of what's there. The zoom is smooth but is still lacks precision, so you often find yourself having to adjust the position after you've zoomed.
As usual with Samsung mobile devices, the Galaxy Tab 2 does a first-rate job with multimedia. You barely even have to ask yourself whether a given file format (audio and video) is supported as there's very little chance you'll find something incompatible. The processor plays AVI and MKV in HD resolutions up to 1080p without even flinching. Note that very high-quality video can get a bit glitchy when you start moving around in the video (flicking backwards and forwards), but it soon picks up again.
For games, you'll have to make do with what's on offer in Google Play when it comes to power-packed titles. It'd be nice to see more processor manufacturers to follow Nvidia's lead with its TegraZone market for games specially designed for its processors.
Note that the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 can be used for 3D gaming (ShadowGun, Grand Theft Auto 3 etc.)
With a 4,000 mAh battery on board, we half expected the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 to have a disappointing battery life. However, it proved to be something of a nice surprise, as in video mode with Wi-Fi on, the Galaxy Tab 2 held out for 7 hrs 14 mins. While that's still no match for market heavyweights, which easily clock up 9 hrs 30 mins to almost 14 hrs, the Galaxy Tab 2 still does a more than respectable job for an entry-level tablet.
We found that the battery life was about the same for mixed use too (e-mail, web browsing, games, etc.), which means that the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 delivers about 7 hours of use per full charge, on average. Charging time is within the norm, taking around 3 hours to recharge from flat.
- Screen quality, especially contrast and brightness.
- Smooth, fluid operation at all times
- TouchWiz brings some practical extras
- Compact, portable design
- Decent battery life
- Design and appearance aren't particularly imaginative
- Camera and VGA webcam aren't up to much
- Can't be recharged via a computer USB port (mains only)
- There's no IR port like on the US model
The 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 gets four big, fat stars. For well under £300, this tablet offers good performances, a compact, easily portable design and can run Android AND TouchWiz smoothly and seamlessly in spite of the fact it doesn't have the most up-to-date processor. Add to that a tried-and-tested media player and a good-quality screen, and you get the best 7-inch tablet on the market right now!