John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 Plus

I’ve been positively thrilled with my Samsung Galaxy Tab but I had a chance to play with one of these. I liked it so much I bought it. The tablet market place is moving so fast it’s amazing. The 7″ form factor is my preferred size. Ultimate in portability while large enough and powerful enough to be VERY useful. I played with a Playbook for a bit but in the end knew it would become an expensive paper weight, left behind while I carried my Samsung so I got rid of it. I looked at other devices in this form factor including the Toshiba Thrive 7, the Acer Iconia A500 and a few others but was smitten with this one from the start. A friend has an Asus Transformer and this device (the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 Plus) had the best overall feel, and closest to the Tranformer.

The physicals on this device are a nice improvement. Nice rounded edges, good weight, excellent build quality etc. Very well done. The size is still small enough for it to be easily carried in a breast pocket of a coat or even in the back pocket of pants. It’s so portable I rarely go anywhere without it.

The screen is bright. Not as bright as say a Samsung Vibrant but very nice. I don’t find it quite as sensitive as the previous Tab 7, and it doesn’t feel as physicall smooth either. The processor is a dual core 1.2GHZ which is a nice boost over the 1G single core on the previous Tab.

This tablet runs Android 3.2 Vs 2.2 on the old model. The new model will be upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwhich while the old one will not. This was one of the motivating factors to move. Right now we are in a holding pattern. The tablets went to Honeycomb (Android 3) while the phones stayed on Android 2. ICS bring the phones and tablets back on the same release. For me the divergence of the tablets and phones is annoying. I really liked have the same UI, same aps, same everything on both my phone and tablet. I am looking forward to ICS when they reconverge.

Honeycomb is a beautiful, much more elegant experience. Everything flows well. The elegance has it’s price. Horsepower. I’ve yet to see a single core device on Honeycomb.

This tablet is minor upgrade on the older tablet. Samsung did what was necessary to insure it is a device with a future and left everything else alone. A wise decision. My old docking station and charging cable work fine on the new model. The only thing that didn’t was the composite video out cable. This is something that is important to me because I use the device as a portable media player and hook it up to a big screen. Checking on the Samsung web site for the 7 plus and many other places I discovered a there is an HDMI video cable (PN EPL-3PHPBEGSTA) but had a hard time getting a conclusive answer as to whether it would work on the 7 plus. I called Samsung tech support and they said it would. The 10″ Tab is sold many more places than the 7 plus. In fact Rogers, Bell and others carry it. So I called around and found the cable at a local Rogers store. They assured me if it didn’t work I could bring it back! So I bought it and brought it home. On closer examination I noticed on the back side of the adapter is a plug for the charging cable. Turns out Samsung require you to be on AC for the HDMI to work, but work it does! This is great news and solves one of my hiccups with this tablet. When first plugged in the output shows on both displays in hires. When you play a video it shuts down the primary display and outputs only to the HDMI output. The full 1080p video looks amazing. Video playback is perfect. You can connect it up to a large screen add a bluetooth keyboard and mouse (both of which work perfectly by the way) and use this just like a PC! It works well. Its fast and gives you access to all the Android aps you love on a bigger screen. The only catch is if the program only uses portrait display … then you find yourself looking at the screen on it’s side 🙂

The only fly in the ointment of video playback is that this device does not support exFAT, ext4 or NTFS on the SD card meaning you are stuck with 4G max file size. The internal flash is formatted with ext4 so you can store large files on it. This means no hi res videos on the SD card. I am so disappointed by this oversight. I can only hope they will fix that. My friend Lance has a Asus Transformer and it does not suffer this limitation. This also means you might want to consider the larger size internal storage 😦 Too late for me, I chose the 16G.

Honeycomb has presented some challenges to me. Google have moved the options soft button around. Sometimes it is on the top right hand corner of the screen, sometimes on the bottom right. This causes me to be clumsy with the device. I don’t like this lack of continuity. Google also made a decision that Aps don’t need to write to the SD card which built in aps can. This is a terrible decision. This means the FTP/SFTP solutions I use to use to manage content don’t work to the SD card. They can write to the local storage only. Built in apps can write to the SD card. Strangely enough the transformer does not have this limitation so I don’t know if Asus removed it or what. There are lots of articles on this issue. I can only hope this decision gets reversed. Another issue is to do with the task bar. Google has chosen to put it on the bottom. It can not be moved or hidden. When an onscreen keyboard comes up, and this is especially true on a 7″ screen, I find myself constantly hitting the task bar instead of the space bar. This dramatically slows my typing speed. Now I know I will eventually get use to it, but what a pain in the ass. And so simple to fix. Allow the user to move the task bar to the top. just like on Windows.

Honeycomb has also dropped support for the right mouse button that worked perfectly in Android 2.2. A shame. Aps like 2X (which is an RDP client) are much more efficient to use with the right mouse button.

For me, Honeycomb has been a major step backwards. Especially when you include the current disparity between phones and tablets.

I found a USB on the go cable on ebay, a cheap Chinese knock off. It is designed for the Galaxy Tab 10 but I bought it to see if it might work. Go figure it does. This is great! One of the limitations I found with the previous tab was the lack of USB. This solves that! I was able to get USB keyboard, mouse and flash drives (no NTFS of course) all to work. Higher power devices like a USB hub or hard drive won’t work but you get given a clear message saying high power USB device ignored. Nicely done. Plugging in a flash drive works but the media scanner that populates the music and video aps ignores the USB space. So you have to use the internal My Files ap to see the files and start videos. But it does work! There are also lots of 7″ cases with keyboards in them on ebay and they are USB so this is a great option! The ones I found with bluetooth keyboards were unuseable because the keyboard had an awful feel with no feedback.

Battery life is quite good on this device as it was with the Tab 7.

I also discovered a docking station that was designed for the Tab 7. There’s about 2 mm difference in width between the two (the new one is wider) so I took a chance and bought one. It’s a tight fit but it works like a charm. The dock is a great option and offers the same charging port as on the bottom of the tab, a 3.5mm audio jack and a mini HDMI cable. That’s right mini. Not micro. So a quick trip to Bewawa’s web site and I got myself a cable. It works perfectly and makes a nice way to connect the Tab 7 plus. The only humorous thing is that when you plug in the HDMI cable the display changes to Landscape when the device is in the dock which holds the tab in portrait. So the screen is on it’s side. Ooops.

Google have changed the way the SD card from the tablet as well as the internal storage have been mounted when you plug into a computer. My 2.33 phone and now this 3.2 tablet use what is called MTP. In the past they just appeared as if they were USB flash drives, mounted as a drive to Windows. This required the user to select to mount the space onto the PC on the Android device. This unmounted the card/storage from Android and made it available to Windows. This made using the space easy but a bit tekkie. So Google decided to look to MTP. The tablet now appears as a Media player with the onboard storage and SD card appearing as separate spaces from each other. The drivers when properly loaded work ok and allow you to sync content with Windows Media player, or you can simply drag content into the storage. Each and every time it asks you if you want to convert the file or just copy it. This is a little annoying. Additionally you can not copy to both storage spaces at the same time. This is unfortunate given the bottle neck is not the interface but the storage speed. But it is what it is. On the positive side Android still has visibility to the storage (except when a copy is going on) at the same time that Windows does.

This device is very well done. I am shocked more companies are not carrying it. When I first went to buy it there were no retailers in Canada carrying it. Expansys starting carrying right after I bought it. It is pricey for sure. At $399 plus shipping and taxes. Accessories specifically for this device are not easy to find either. Cases an the like too are not easy to find.

If you have to have something that is VERY portable, this is THE only device IMHO! The playbook totally lacks aps (yes I know they are adding Android compatibility), the Thrive 7 gets bad reviews for build quality, and the Acer Iconia A500 gets slammed for poor battery life and no GPS. Now other devices will come into this form factor, but for now it is the best out there. Asus are making one so we will see.


January 30, 2012 - Posted by | Android

1 Comment »

  1. Hi colleagues, good article and good urging commented here, I am in fact enjoying by these.

    Comment by To Get A Loan | November 2, 2012 | Reply

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