Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 WiFi Review

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Samsung wants to make an Android tablet for everyone, which is why they have four screen sizes: 7.0″, 7.7″, 8.9″, and 10.1″. For many, their 7.0″ and 7.7″ tablets provide an excellent level of portability while also giving you plenty of screen to warrant a great tablet experience. The Galaxy Tab 7.7, in particular, is a special tablet because it’s the only Samsung tablet to utilize their Super AMOLED Plus panel. It also uniquely has a dual-core Samsung Exynos 1.4GHz chip, instead of the Nvidia Tegra 2, found on the Tab 8.9 and 10.1. It’s the only Samsung tablet to use real metal materials. It’ll be coming to the US as a Verizon LTE tablet in the first half of 2012, but for now, you can get it as a WiFi or unlocked GSM model from online retailers. Is the Galaxy Tab 7.7 the ultimate Android tablet? Read our review to find out!

BOX CONTENTS



The Galaxy Tab 7.7 comes with earphones and a wall charger.

HARDWARE



The Galaxy Tab 7.7, weighing in at just 335grams with a depth of only 7.9mm, comes with a 1.4GHz dual-core Samsung Exynos CPU, plus 1GB of RAM and 16GB of ROM (with microSD expansion). The 7.7″ Super AMOLED Plus screen is 1280×800 resolution, granting a pixel density of 196dpi (compared to 169ppi on the Tab 8.9, 149ppi on the Tab 10.1, and 131ppi on the iPad 2). It ships with Android 3.2 Honeycomb but an Ice Cream Sandwich update will be provided in Q1. It has aGPS, WiFi a/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, a 3MP rear-facing camera, a 2MP front-facing camera, and a 5100mAh battery. There’s also a proximity sensor should you choose to use the Tab 7.7 as a phone companion (more on that later). The GSM version ships with the 850/900/1900/2100 UMTS bands, allowing it to work on AT&T 3G.

frontal


As with most Android tablets, the Galaxy 7.7 has a sleek buttonless design that calls attention to the display.

top


On the top of the Tab 7.7 there is a 2MP front-facing camera. There’s also a proximity sensor and an earpiece? Why an earpiece? Because you can actually use the Tab 7.7 to make calls…

voicecalls


…which might seem odd, considering that holding a tablet to your head to make a call might seem strange. In the software on the Tab 7.7, we could find no reference to the Receiver Mode function. Perhaps this is a feature that will come with a future software update.

pixels


The 7.7’s screen is of the Super AMOLED Plus variety, the largest of its kind. This means you can expect fantastic contrast, vivid colors, and better power efficiency. With a pixel density of around 200PPI, the screen is quite crisp and clear.

speakers


On the bottom we have Samsung’s syncing and charging port, which resides between dual speakers that provide ample volume.

microsd


The Tab 7.7 WiFi ships with 16GB of storage, though you can upgrade the storage with microSD.

rar


On the back we have a mixture of real brushed metal and plastic. The metal contributes to a great in-hand feel.

camera


The camera on the rear shoots photos at 3MP and can record video at 720p, and not 1080p.

comp1


This gives you a sense how the Tab 7.7 compares to the iPad 2 in terms of size.

comp2


The Galaxy Tab 7.7 is thinner than the iPad 2, and even thinner than the Galaxy S II smartphone.

inhand


The Tab 7.7 is light enough to not require two hands to operate.

SOFTWARE



The Tab 7.7 comes with software that is nearly identical to what is found on the Tab 7.0 Plus, 8.9, and 10.1. It’s based on Android 3.2 Honeycomb, with a heavy TouchWiz skin on top. Let’s dissect TouchWiz as it applies to this Android tablet.



On the homescreen, Samsung gives you a wide variety of widgets, like AccuWeather, Agenda, AP Mobile, Digital Clock, Pen Memo (similar to what is found on the Galaxy Note), Program Monitor, Social Hub, and more. You can then customize the number of homescreens you have from one to seven, and then go on to rearrange the homescreens and pick which one you want to set as your main.



Along the bottom bar where the Android system buttons are, Samsung has added a Quick Apps function that lets you open up certain apps that will hover above any app you are currently using. These Quick Apps include a Task Manager, Calculator, World Clock, Calendar, Memo Pad, Alarm, and Music Player.



Also along the bottom is a customizable button that can be used to take a screenshot, do a search, open your app tray, or launch the camera. You can specify how the button should act through the Screen Settings.

Additionally, Samsung has improved the appearance and functionality of the notification area by including toggles for system radios, screen lock, and more.



There are plenty of choices if you want to be able to pick your keyboard. You get Samsung’s keyboard in two sizes, as well as Swype, which can either take up the entire width of the screen, or be shrunken into a move phone-sized version.



TouchWiz doesn’t stop there, for better or for worse. It touches every stock application included on the device, including Settings, Email, Calendar, the DLNA app and more. While TouchWiz provides a consistent and different look to what you’ll find on stock Honeycomb devices, we can’t help but feel that the UI of TouchWiz is far too heavy, especially for a device already burdened with the slowness of Honeycomb.

SPEED

The Galaxy Tab 7.7 runs with Samsung’s 1.4GHz dual-core Exynos CPU. While that sounds nice on paper, the device is actually quite laggy thanks to Honeycomb. As mentioned in the software video above, the device stutters with web browsing, going back to the home screen, and launching the camera. That said, our benchmark tests review that the Tab 7.7 has a lot of raw power that ought to be tapped fully once it’s upgraded to ICS.

Quadrant: 3420

Smartbench 2012: Productivity 2852, Games 1610

LinPack Pro: 67.90 MFLOP, 2.48 Seconds

CAMERA





The camera on the Galaxy Tab 7.7 takes shots at 3.2MP. As you can see, the results are quite impressive for a tablet: while colors aren’t saturated as much as we would have liked, all images, even macro shots, are in focus with a minimal amount of noise.



And here’s a look at how the Tab 7.7 performs when shooting 720p video.

BATTERY LIFE

The Galaxy Tab 7.7, thanks in part to its power-sipping Super AMOLED Plus display, provided plenty of battery life. We easily got through an 8-9 hour day of heavy usage without needing to recharge.

PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY

The Galaxy Tab 7.7 will be available on Verizon in the near future as an LTE device. Right now you can get a Tab 7.7 WiFi for $572 at Negri Electronics. There you can also opt for the GSM version, which will work with an AT&T SIM, for $668.

PROS

+ Thin and light

+ Excellent battery life

+ Great build quality

+ Gorgeous Super AMOLED Plus display

+ Screen size is just right for portability

+ Decent camera

CONS

– Device is quite slow at times (thanks to Honeycomb)

– TouchWiz UI is too heavy

– Camera only records 720p video

REVIEW CONCLUSION

The Galaxy Tab 7.7 has got almost everything right: it’s a great size, it’s lightweight, plus has terrific battery life, a fast processor, and a gorgeous display. It is Honeycomb that hampers the Tab 7.7 almost to the point of rendering it unusable at times. The Tab 7.7 is promised an upgrade to ICS in Q1, which can’t come soon enough. We recommend that you hold off buying the Tab 7.7 until ICS is available.

We rate the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 a 3.5/5. If the upgrade to ICS fixes the slowness, we’d bump the rating to a 4.5/5.

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About The Author
Brandon Miniman
Brandon is a graduate from the Villanova School of Business, located near Philadelphia, PA. He's been a technology writer since 2002, and, in 2005, became Editor-in-Chief of Pocketnow, a then Windows Mobile-focused website. He has since helped to transition Pocketnow into a top-tier smartphone and tablet publication. He's so obsessed with technology that he once entered a candle store and asked if they had a "new electronics" scent. They didn't.