John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7″ review

The tablet market is on fire. Microsoft originally tried to market tablets and it was a total disaster. They could not have pooched it better if they tried. Enter Apple and they invent a market for these devices. Credit where credit is due. Android vendors jumped aboard the idea early on. Problem is the early devices especially the lowest end of them were utter crap. I played with a few that were terrible.

I bought a Coby 7015 from Dell for $150. For the price the unit is great. The screen is ok but insensitive. Processor a little slow (600MHZ). Battery life was fine. No GPS, no cell radio, and no GPS limited it’s uses. There was no Google Aps, including no marketplace but I was able to add them. The unit is a terrific ebook reader, great media player but was limited beyond that. It did have a USB port so adding a keyboard was easy but the mouse pointer doesn’t work. Internal memory was good so installing programs was no problem. Size and weight were both great!

I’ve been watching the Tab since it’s introduction. It has gotten great reviews. I picked one up used on Craigs list for $300. There were a number in the 350 range and I just bargained. It’s got a rogers cell in it! The hardware wise is very good. 1G processor, and a bright vivid, sensitive screen. It comes with 16G built in and you can add more using the microSD slot. Battery life is excellent. A day even with hard use is possible and multiple days with management of the radios is also possible. The browser includes pinch to zoom, flash support and is VERY functional. It’s not as smooth on zoom and pan as an iPad but it works VERY well. This adds a new dimension to usability. Software load is light, it is a slightly modified Android 2.2 which is not a bad thing. Not a whole lot included. They have modified the music player. I prefer the original or Winamp. They also modified the calendar program. This I quite like. Fortunately it does include all the Google aps including the market place. They do an odd job of arranging the aps, they are not alphabetical which is odd to me. I find myself searching for apps. Maybe a setting somewhere. The problem from these deviations from stock Android and HTC heavily modify Android with SenseUI is it makes it challenging to go between two Android devices as I am. Oh such hardship. Someone pass me a tissue 🙂

The screen is 600×1024 Vs 400×800 on most phones. A lot of Android programs were designed for 400×800. But when this gets sized up to 7″ it becomes grainy and jerky let alone 10″. By choosing to up the resolution the screen looks better but not all programs display properly sometimes they only show in a partial window.

The overall experience is smooth and professional. The device feels like mini iPad. Quite impressive and a leap forward in comparison to the Coby (which was not a bad device for the money). Remember this is worth over 600 off contract.

I like the 7″ form factor. Small enough to easily carry. Big enough to enjoy watching movies on.

There are plenty of accessories on ebay for the Tab.

They made two decisions I don’t like. First of all they left off a USB on the Go port so no easy way to connect a keyboard and mouse. Now a bluetooth keyboard and mouse are possible but more expensive. Also it turns out a few carriers like Sprint and Verizon apparently disabled bluetooth keyboards and mice. Nice. Rogers did not. Yay! Be careful the one being sold at Factory direct for 299 right now is a Sprint one so no bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Research pays off!

Second they did not include any video out. You can buy a proprietary composite video out cable or there is a dock that includes HDMI out. It’s not something I would use so I don’t really care.

The Samsung on screen keyboard is pretty bad set to defaults. What I found is they had not set a default language, and for auto correction and prediction you had to turn on XT9? Huh? T9? Are you kidding? Now what wasn’t obvious now was it? WTF … They do include Swype if you like that but it only takes up half the screen. Good I guess if you are swyping bad if your actually trying to type. I tried a couple other on screen keyboards and they too did not like the odd resolution of the screen.

The audio jack includes support for both stereo and support for phone based mic + stereo jack. My HTC headphones work perfectly. Including the play and pause.

Bluetooth streaming also worked perfectly.

The GPS also worked perfectly.

Another limitation imposed by the carriers is it can not make phone calls. Now holding this thing to your head would not be comfortable and would define you as a Uber geek but I don’t like the limitation if for no other reason than an emergency. Now you can use Skype or Fring but none the less.

For now tablets are being treated like phones by the carriers. They are subsidizing them through contracts, controlling their contents etc. Carriers are also having to rethink their plans. A device like this needs only a data (no voice plan). And most customers would appreciate a data sharing plan. Where two devices use the same plan. Fido right now offer data only for $25 for 500M or $30 for 1G. They do not offer a data sharing plan. Rogers on the other hand apparently does offer a data sharing plan. On the positive side the iPhones and my Android phone now support WIFI tethering allowing the tablet to share the phone’s internet connection. The only catch with this is it chews through your phone’s battery pretty quick. Yet another reason to carry a spare battery (or two :)).

I installed CoPilot (car based navigation) on it thanks to the onboard GPS and tons of storage. Wow on a 7″ screen this is incredible. Now mounting this puppy in a car is not going to be an easy feat. The 1G processor makes this run VERY smoothly.

The battery on this puppy is a bruiser, 4000MAH. This means it takes a lot of current to charge it. The charger is a custom one that puts out a lot of current, 2.1A. Also, the USB cable for plugging into a computer is more of a data cable than a charger. It will maintain the charge on the device but won’t charge the battery.

The onboard 16G of memory seems to be the equivalent to about a Class 4 card around 4MB/s on writes so pretty good!

All in all I love major improvements the Tab offers. It really is a great product. For now they are not saying if there will be a honeycomb upgrade. For now I’m not sure I care and I will get to enjoy this wonderful product!

A complete list of specs


June 5, 2011 - Posted by | Android

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