On the technical side, then, this Tab 7.7 includes a 1.4 GHz Samsung Exynos dual core processor, the in-house competitor to the Nvidia Tegra and Texas Instruments OMAP. There’s 1 GB of RAM, which isn’t a lot for running both Android 3.2 Honeycomb and TouchWiz, Samsung's additional interface. There’s 16 GB of internal storage and a microSD slot allows you to increase this up to 32 GB.
In line with the Galaxy Tab spirit, you'll find just the 40-pin proprietary port on one edge of the device. This allows you to connect it up to a PC to transfer or load data. There’s a three Megapixel photo-video sensor with LED flash on the back of the tablet.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 16GB WiFi is available for upwards of £430 and the 3G version costs another £100.
Design & Handling
Light, thin and very well finished, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 differs slightly from its larger counterparts by the introduction of aluminium on the back (previously in white plastic). Denser and more robust, this model feels like the finished article in Samsung's new generation Tab concept.
If you have long fingers you’ll find it comfortable holding it in one hand. Otherwise you’ll have to get both hands out your pockets or simply accept the fact that you're going to smudge the screen with your thumb.
The microSD slot cover seems solid enough and the speakers, positioned under the logo on each side of the proprietary connector, don’t get obstructed, mainly because of the reduced size of this tablet meaning that you‘ll rarely have it on your knees.
This is THE big point of discussion on this tablet. Given as partial justification for the Tab 7.7's positioning, in theory the Super AMOLED Plus screen represents a very high quality display. Taking the contrast first of all, remember that OLED and its derivatives always give perfect blacks, making the contrast ratio impossible to quantify. The contrast is therefore given here as ‘infinite’
There’s a little surprise with the colour accuracy. The average deltaE (colour accuracy reading where 0 is best) is better than is often the case with AMOLED screens. The average score of 7 isn’t far from the readings we got on the Galaxy Note or the updated Galaxy S II. It’s a shame however that the Galaxy Tab 7.7 doesn’t have the Dynamic, Standard and Video display profiles that are available on the two mobiles.
Note that the colour temperature of 5999 K gives a barely noticeable red tone to the image. The white still suffers from tendency towards blue however.
At 8 ms, the ghosting time is one of the best recorded on any mobile device! Note also that this fluidity is accentuated to the naked eye by a progressive display system, which works very much like drawing a curtain. This is an improved version of what we had already seen on the Galaxy S II or the first Galaxy Tabs.
Another constant with AMOLED screens is the level of brightness: across the panel as a whole the tablet maxes out at 145 cd/m², but slightly exceeds 220 cd/m² on a precise area. This is both a strength and a weakness of OLED screens: the whites aren’t as bright but the infinite contrast gives a result to the eye that is comparable to most LCD screens. Outside however this AMOLED is less convincing. It suffers very badly from reflections and we would like to see less blue in the white so as to give a bit more bite to the image as a whole.
The Tab 7.7 does however do very well with video and photos.
Interface & Navigation
Owners of a Galaxy S II, Galaxy Note or Galaxy Tab 10.1,8.9/7 Plus will be very much at home here. The TouchWiz interface provides a layer over Android Honeycomb 3.2. This has its advantages and disadvantages. For the advantages, take a look at our tests on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Tab 8.9.
Broadly speaking, you still get the ‘Tab’ exclusives, like the VOD type content for children (Dora The Explorer), MTV and video gaming. Mini Apps (unmoveable) are still available and are displayed on screen at any time on top of any page you might be looking at.
They consist of a notebook, a calculator, an alarm, access to a music player, a task manager and a calendar.
We were very disappointed at the lack of fluidity on this tablet. What with Honeycomb’s propensity to create glitches between desktops (no longer a feature on Android 4.0) and the lack of RAM for the TouchWiz interface, the power of the processor is somewhat wasted when it comes to browsing the tablet. We are therefore impatient to see this model running Ice Cream Sandwich and hope that Samsung will revisit TouchWiz, which is far too resource hungry for our liking.
Browsing the Internet is more or less identical to other latest generation Honeycomb tablets. Loading pages is rapid and reading text isn't an issue. While the zoom is effective, it’s still less rapid and fluid than on an Asus EeePad Transformer Prime or a Sony Tablet S. The same goes for scrolling. It should be remembered however that the Asus and the Sony models are particularly rapid.
Video and audio playback still benefit from the ‘Galaxy’ effect, with Samsung’s own player facilitating things and showing up the narrow range given by the basic Google Android player. Here life is simple. Take any file you like and run it through the Tab and you have a 99% chance that it will play!
The Samsung Exynos also supports video up to Full HD 1080p (DivX HD, MKV...). Subtitling support is generous and you can set the colour and size of subtitles.
When it comes to video gaming, the Tab compares well with the Nvidia Tegra 2 solutions though unfortunately it can't access the TegraZone. A few TegraZone games are however available on the market and the Exynos chip has nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to graphics performance and fluidity.
The audio section performs well. Clean and clear, whether using the speakers or headphones, the sound on this tablet simply lacks a little power.
There was a nice surprise in store with the camera on this model: in spite of having just a 3 Megapixel sensor, it does better than most other tablets with their 5 Megapixel sensors. In comparison to the 3 Megapixel sensors on the Galaxy Tab 8.9 and 10.1, this sensor gives sharper, more precise and more neutral results.
With a 5100 mAh battery, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 gives 9h45 video playback on average, without wi-fi. With wi-fi on, you get somewhere around 9h20 (with a good quality signal).
In mixed usage (mail, Internet , video, downloads), the Tab 7.7 still manages 9h hours minimum, which makes the Galaxy Tab 7.7 one of the best when it comes to battery life, which is after all to be expected, given its size.
Note also that on standby, this model also does better than most: we class it alongside the iPad 2. You can leave it for an entire week-end and you’ll find that it has only lost 10% of its power, which is very good indeed.
- Highly-contrasted screen and colour accuracy not too bad
- Excellent Samsung media player
- Rapid Internet browsing and general processor performance
- Very good battery life
- Practical shape and size, good finish
- Proprietary connector
- Not yet running Android 4.0
- Slowdowns and glitches thanks to TouchWiz
- Audio lacks power (both on headphones and speakers), but is clean
We think Samsung has struck the right balance between mobility and screen size with this 7.7-inch Galaxy Tab. However, undeniable processor power but the odd technical hitch mean this Galaxy Tab is a bit of a halfway house. HD playback is impeccable and the gaming potential is definitely there, but use as a phone is too constricting. To sum up, it's like a big Galaxy S with a few creases to iron out.