Look and feel
The design is almost a little too stripped down, but you could say it’s uncluttered. Just a few buttons around the tablet’s sides, with a plastic metal-effect backplate
Ease of use
Same Android customisability with some welcome Ice Cream Sandwich flourishes
Comes with loads of useful preloaded apps that are bound to be of use for work and play, plus Samsung adds its own stamp with its Readers, Music and Games Hubs
The 1GHz dual-core processor keeps things ticking over nicely for the most part, but games and media played very well
USB charging took forever, but the battery life held out rather well. Usual suspects of games and video guzzled most of the battery life within a few hours but on standby this tablet is a marathon runner
The spectre of the iPad continues to linger over the landscape of the tablet market, but one name is keeping up the fight, and that name is Samsung. It’s not much of a David and Goliath battle: computing conglomerate vs gadget giant. That said, Samsung is the closest to nipping on the heels of the iPad.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 made quite an impression and its little brother looks set to do the same. Of course, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0's USP is its portability. The 10-inch tablets have the media powerhouse credentials, but write off the handbag or pocket-friendly tablet at your peril.
At first glance the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0’s black-rimmed seven-inch screen looks like any other tablet but the back is made of metallic-looking grey plastic, no doubt chosen to keep it nice and light, and feels rather nice in hand. Not as scuff-proof as we might’ve liked but the odd scratch can be forgiven.
It’s not that inspiring a design but it is uncluttered. There are no physical buttons on the Tab 2 7.0 - it’s all about the screen. The 3.5mm headphone jack sits on top, a latch which opens to reveal a microSD slot on the left and top right is the power/standby button and volume rocker. The charging port is built into the bottom of the device and flanked on either side with a speaker. A front-facing VGA camera lies just above the screen’s edge up top, and flip the device over to find the three-megapixel camera. It’s very no-nonsense.
Portability is where tablets of this size shine, and at just 341g (Wi-Fi version, 344g for 3G) the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is very light indeed – close to peers like the new Google Nexus 7 (340g) and obviously streets ahead of the 10-inch competition like the new iPad (652g) and its own big brother the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 (587g). It’s also pretty damn skinny as well, just 10.5mm thick, again close to the Nexus 7 which just manages to be half a millimetre thinner.
The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 feels more natural to hold than larger tablets and if you’re browsing or watching movies you’re less likely to get restless holding the damn thing, which is a definite plus.
Under the hood
Fresh out of the box the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 comes with Android’s latest OS, Ice Cream Sandwich. New flourishes like incognito tabs for furtive web browsing (we don’t judge) coupled with Samsung’s own stamp in the shape of its preloaded Hub apps make the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 feel very fresh but still clearly recognisable to the seasoned Android user. As you might expect, it’s a colourful and easy to use interface, and anything you can’t find on the tablet you can search for on Google Play.
The 1GHz processor is dual-core and for the most part, fairly slick. Watching video on iPlayer was free from glitches – once you installed Flash that is. We tried out a few games and even with some email and Twitter notifications coming through there wasn’t much slowdown. You can also switch between actions then pick up where you left off.
The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 has six home screens for you to customise. Nudge the app grid on the top right of the screen and you can find all the preloaded and downloaded apps saved to the device, as well as the selection of widgets on offer, ranging from clocks and bookmarks to traffic information and music player.
It’s very straightforward to get to grips with the controls and settings. Along the bottom are the on-screen buttons: Back, Home, Recent tasks and a new addition in the form of a Screencap button. That’s a great function which not only allows you to save screengrabs to your clipboard, but also means you can edit and draw on them. Nudge the arrow in the middle of the taskbar to expand and edit your mini apps, such as calculator, S Planner or alarm functions and press the time in the bottom right to check your settings.
The VGA camera isn’t fantastic but for the odd profile snap and Skype call – which is, let’s face it, all it’s going to be used for – it does what it needs to. The rear camera is three megapixels and took some OK daylight shots but was a bit fuzzier in low light conditions.
A niggle or two
Where the Tab 2 7.0 did frustrate was on its Wi-Fi connectivity. We discovered wireless black spots we never knew existed at Mobile Choice HQ and sometimes that was a tad frustrating (please note that we didn’t test out the 3G model). Sometimes Wi-Fi dependent apps struggled during these little blackouts, which again was a bit irritating, but generally the Tab did what we wanted it to.
The touch-screen of the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is average, and this has a bit of a negative impact on the user experience. You’ll sometimes perform an action twice because it’ll appear that the screen hasn’t registered your swipes, when in fact it has. This is particularly noticeable when browsing the web, which was hampered by the touch-screen’s average sensitivity and because the display was a bit on the dull side – you may have to zoom in a little to read all the text on any given webpage.
Battery life was a mixed bag. With the occasional bit of browsing such as checking Facebook and Twitter and the odd email or two, the Tab 2 7.0 lasted a few days on a single charge. However, games positively guzzled battery life and an afternoon of watching Olympic coverage via the iPlayer also had us reaching for the charger. USB charging works but it’s very slow; it took six hours to get to just 50% while switched off.
As one of the first tablets to run on Ice Cream Sandwich, we have a lot of good things to say about the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. However, it does have the odd irritation attached to it such as the touch-screen sensitivity and occasional Wi-Fi issues. You can pick up the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 for £200 or thereabouts. Frankly that’s a bargain, and while there were some niggles, for the most part this is a great little tablet.