Samsung, in a seeming attempt to have the most tablets on the market at one time, has just recently released their Galaxy Tab 7.7 with LTE from Verizon. Similar in most respects to the original Galaxy Tab 7.7 (you can read our review on this variation here), this newest rev also includes LTE/CDMA radios from Verizon. An exciting form factor with a high-speed data connection, how could we resist taking a look? But can it survive against the current tablet market? Were any of the problems mentioned in our previous coverage resolved in this version? Read our review to find out!
The Galaxy Tab 7.7 from Verizon, unlike its WiFi counterpart, only comes with the wall charger and, in this case, the LTE SIM.
The Galaxy Tab 7.7 from Verizon weighs 12 ounces, just a few grams heavier than its WiFi counterpart. Like its older sibling, this tablet has a dual-core 1.4GHz Samsung Exynos processor, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of ROM (with microSD expansion).
The brilliant 7.7″ Super AMOLED Plus screen has a 1280×800 resolution, with a pixel density of 196dpi (compared to 169ppi on the Kindle Fire, 149ppi on the Tab 10.1, 131ppi on the iPad 2, and 264ppi for the new iPad).
It has aGPS, WiFi a/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, a 3MP rear-facing camera, a 2MP front-facing camera, and a 5100mAh battery. The LTE version has 1x/EV-DO RevA/LTE: 850/1900/700MHz for Verizon’s network.
No hardware buttons on the face of the Galaxy Tab 7.7 from Verizon. Just a thin black bezel surrounding the brilliant Super AMOLED Plus screen. At the top of the device is also a 2MP front-facing camera. Missing from this device compared to the WiFi/GSM version is the earpiece speaker and proximity sensor. Verizon apparently did not want you to be making calls from this device very easily (or perhaps to save you the embarrassment of holding this up to your head).
The back of the device is a combination of brushed metal and plastic which makes the device a little difficult to hold on to, but also gives it a very solid feel.
Near the top left is the rear-facing 3MP camera and flash. Also, if you look closely on the right side, you can see a small dent in the metal backing which we found when unboxing the device. A subsequent drop just before writing this review did not incur any further damage to the back casing, so this must have been a fairly hard hit to cause such a mark.
In this shot you can also see the headphone jack (and out of view to the right, the microphone).
On the left side of the device, near the bottom, are two ports covered by door flaps: the LTE SIM and microSD card slots. Expandable up to 32GB (but no included card), the optional microSD expansion is a nice addition, especially considering the 12GB of usable internal storage.
On the right side of the 7.7, we find the power button, volume rocker, and the IR port (which can be used with the Peel app to control your IR devices). An unexpected addition, but a nice perk.
The bottom of the device sports the dual speaker, and the data/charging ports. Speaker volume is plenty loud and relatively distortion free. While we don’t really care for proprietary charging adapters, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 from Verizon charges very quickly, and there are so many other ways of getting content on and off devices these days, you hardly ever need to attach it to a computer.
The Tab 7.7 comes with software that is nearly identical to what is found on the WiFi version: Honeycomb. And the performance is the same: inconsistently poor. If you want to read a more in-depth review of some of the functionality, make sure to check out our full review of the previous iteration of the 7.7 here.
The Galaxy Tab 7.7 runs with Samsung’s 1.4GHz dual-core Exynos CPU, but for some reason, the device is laggy (compliments of Honeycomb or TouchWiz). The benchmarks show a lot of potential (although oddly performing slightly worse than the WiFi version), but this isn’t translated into the user experience with any consistency. As mentioned in the software and hardware videos above, the device stutters quite a bit.
Smartbench 2012: Productivity 2812, Games 1605
LinPack (multi-thread): 89.86 MFLOP, 1.88 Seconds
3G speeds were on par, ranging from 450-1444kbps down and 130-940kbps up. LTE speeds ranged from 2500-8800kbps down and 980-9900kbps up. These tests were taken throughout the area, hence the wide differences.
The Galaxy Tab 7.7 from Verizon has a very serviceable 3MP camera, but it is anything but stellar. As you can see in the examples above, it had a hard time with indoor lighting and white balance, especially with the flash, coloring the photo yellow. Changing the white balance manually allowed me to get shot number two, which is much more accurate. The photos are unsurprisingly noisy as well (it’s only 3MP, what did you expect). The last photo, taken outdoors with no flash did a much better job of capturing the color, but had issues with the focus point (which should have been the foremost daffodil). But looking closely, it is barely in focus while the ground behind is much sharper.
The front facing 2MP camera does about what you would expect it to as well. Fine for video chat, but very little else.
Rather than rehashing what Brandon has already demonstrated in the original 7.7 review, here is how the Tab 7.7 performs when shooting 720p video.
Even with the LTE/3G radio, the Galaxy Tab 7.7, thanks in part to the power-sipping Super AMOLED Plus display, provides plenty of battery life. AnTuTu’s battery benchmark rates the battery at 549.
And for those of you interested in comparisons between tablets, we found the 7.7 to be a strong contender in the marketplace, but the price point is simply too high for what you get. Especially considering there is only the Google infrastructure to support the experience. This is only going to get better as time goes on, but for now, it’s not enough.
PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY
The Galaxy Tab 7.7 is available from Verizon for $499 with a 2 year contract.
+ 7.7″ form factor
+ Very thin and lightweight
+ Super AMOLED Plus display is fantastic
– Sluggish interface at times
– Some crashes and unexpected hiccups
– 3MP rear camera is less than stellar
Once again, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 has almost everything perfect: a 7.7″ form factor, lightweight, plus a brilliant screen, what should be a fast processor, and a high speed antenna to wrap it all together. But something still isn’t right – namely the sluggishness which seems to raise its ugly head just when you are starting to enjoy the hardware. Perhaps ICS will change this, but it could be due to TouchWiz. At the current price point (with a contract), it’s extremely hard to recommend this device without some noticeable improvements to the user experience.
After all is said and done, we still rate the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 from Verizon a 3.5/5. One can only hope ICS will be able to improve the experience in the future.