Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus Hands-on (Video)

Daniel Bader

April 8, 2012 12:26pm

There isn’t much to say about the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus that hasn’t already been hashed out numerous times in previous reviews, hands-on and articles. Picture the Galaxy Tab 8.9, but shrunk and devoid of cellular connectivity, and you have the 7.0 Plus.

Ok, that’s not entirely fair, but it’s close enough. Picture the original Galaxy Tab — the single-core 7-inch behemoth that emerged as practically the only iPad competitor in mid-2010 — slimmed down, rounded off and much, much lighter.

The tablet runs Android 3.2 Honeycomb, which was released to accomodate tablets such as this one. When the 7.0 Plus was released last year, Honeycomb had yet to be succeeded by Ice Cream Sandwich, and for this the Canadian release of the tablet is somewhat behind. While it is a pleasure to pick up at 9.96mm thick, and at 345g immeasurably lighter than most other tablets (the new iPad, by contrast, is 652g and the original Galaxy Tab was a portly 380g and 12mm thick) there is nothing otherwise remarkable about it. Which is just fine, because as 7-inch Android tablets go it is one of the best.

My first test was using the Galaxy Tab as an eReader, and it succeeds at this task very well. Since it is running Honeycomb, tablet-optimized apps such as Play Reader and Aldiko Reader render beautifully, and the crisp 1024×600 screen is crisp enough not to be a nuisance.

It must be said, however, that the TFT display poorly reflects the capabilities of recent tablet screens, even without bringing the new iPad into the equation. Considering Samsung is outfitting the only-slightly-bigger Galaxy Tab 7.7 with a Super AMOLED Plus HD at 1280×800 resolution, the 7.0 Plus seems dull as a result, its potential largely untapped but is priced accordingly at $349. On the positive, viewing angles are fantastic for a TFT display, with saturation, brightness, clarity and contrast on par with the BlackBerry Playbook’s excellent screen.

The 1.2Ghz dual-core processor and 1GB RAM keeps everything zipping along nicely, though TouchWIZ is the bottleneck here. Everything from screen transitions to scrolling through widgets to opening the app drawer appears to strain the tablet, though realistically the Exynos processor is capable of that and more. In many ways, the Exynos processor is still one of the fastest on the market, and the Tab 7.0 Plus is only the second product in Canada to utilize it.

The Tab 7.0 Plus excels where it counts, though: browsing and gaming. The tab renders web pages effortlessly, and makes even the most graphics-intensive games like Shadowgun look easy.

It also does very well in benchmarks, achieving a 2639 on the Quadrant Standard suite, and 59.53MFLOPS on Linpack multi-threaded.

To say that its oversized nature seems out of place on a tablet is putting it mildly; on the Tab 7.0 Plus, everything just seems really big and unwieldy. You can install a custom launcher such as ADW EX or Go Launcher HD to cure the home screen problem, though, and save yourself the aesthetic eyesore.

The Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus has a 3MP back camera that can shoot 720p video, and a 2MP front camera, both of which are inconsequential as features go. The back camera will do in a pinch, and even though the size of the tablet is far easier to justify the artifice of photography on such a device — certainly more so than on the iPad — it still performs rather poorly, with 1+ second shutter speeds and questionable quality even in the best of conditions.

Besides being a fantastic eReader, a consummate browsing companion and possibly the best 7-inch tablet I’ve used since the original Galaxy Tab, the 7.0 Plus has great battery life. Despite being significantly smaller than most 10-inch tablets, the 4000mAh cell provides about 7-8 hours of regular use over WiFi.

The tablet-specific app selection still trails the iPad by a lot, and the quality of cross-platform apps is hardly comparable. But due to the size of the screen, phone-specific apps work much better at 7-inches than at 8.9- or 10.1-inches, so I found myself gravitating towards this one over the larger Galaxy Tab in most cases, especially with apps developed in the new Holo style.

There’s no word on whether the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus will be updated to Android 4.0, but there is a work-in-progress port of CyanogenMOD 9 for the GT-P6200, and for $349 you’re getting one of the best 7-inch tablets on the market for a decent price. Hopefully it will drop below $300 soon enough, and will then be one of the best values in that size category, hands down.

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  • Abe

    Yeah i wouldnt pay anymore then $300 before tax for this. Im sure its a nice tablet though.

    • PkaTka1

      looks ok. wouldn’t buy it though.

  • AhCup

    When many Terga2 10.1″ Android tablet drop price to around $350, why will anyone buy this?

  • Matt

    TouchWiz is really a killer in here. A Motorolla Xoom is just so much smoother. Just go to Futureshop and flip around the homescreens on a Xoom and the Galaxy Tab and you’ll see a world of difference.

  • Mike Neufeld

    so many better spec’d tablets for the same price – ill pass…

  • Big 3

    Out of all the tablets, the 1st one(P1000) is still the best one since it’s a smartphone(talk/text capabilities) and it has real buttons so you can escape from “frozen situations” easily without waiting for the tablet to “unbrick” or giving you delays.

  • Tom

    Wow, lots of negative comments here.

    But this phone is so much lighter and more portable then the 10″ tablets you are comparing it to – I think this tablet would be a great portable companion.

    The biggest problem with this is TouchWiz and the danger that it will never get ICS. Thankfully, Daniel has done some research for us and it sounds like CM will solve both those problems.

    So this would be a great choice for those looking for portability and who have the inclination to use CM.

  • Rich

    Waiting on Nexus Tablet~

  • Djami

    Still waiting on the Tab 7.7″, whose Canadian release was announced back in January…

  • Greg

    I picked one up at Best Buy last week and right away noticed a crack in the silver plastic border in two corners. Poor build quality and hard to hold. Almost dropped it a few times.
    Also, Honeycomb on a 7″ screen is too small. The task bar takes up too much of the screen all the time.
    Returned it the next day.

    My PlayBook is a much better 7″ tablet.
    My 10.1 Transformer is a much better Honeycomb tablet.
    My iPad 3 is not to shabby either.

  • Jim Shorts

    -1 from lack of cellular network support. This is a step back from the original GTab.

    I have the original GTab with a WIND SIM and enjoy that I am able to (among other things)send & receive SMS notifications and also turn it into a wireless hotspot. The battery life on the GTab is great for that.

    They were able to do it with the Note, I don’t understand why they took cellular support out of this one.

  • iamkennypowers

    get a playbook. meow

  • Mike

    Already going for $299 on Best Buy’s website, bought my wife one last week for her birthday. Seems to be the best 7 inch for the price, and comparing it to 10 inch tablets like some here in the comments is like comparing a full size truck to a sports coupe; different class and purpose.

  • jimmy

    Thought this was the new Note when I saw the picture. A phone really needs to be bigger than 5 inches. I read that Samsung is going to introduce the Note 10.1, which is really what a phone should be. Seven inches might be acceptable in the meantime.