Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 Android tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 review: A superbly designed 7.7in Android tablet let down by the Android Honeycomb OS

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Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

Pros

  • Slim and lightweight design
  • Great display
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Outdated version of Android
  • No 3G in AU models

Bottom Line

Samsung deserves plenty of credit for the design of the Galaxy Tab 7.7, one of the thinnest and lightest tablets on the market. However, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 is ultimately hindered by Google's Android 3.2 "Honeycomb" operating system, which makes the user experience less than stellar. If you are hellbent on owning a 7in tablet, we'd give the Galaxy Tab 7.7 another look once it gets upgraded to the latest Ice Cream Sandwich verion of Android.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7: Software and performance

If the formula for creating a successful tablet was all about impressive specifications, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 would be near the top of the pile. A 1.4GHz ARM Cortex A9 dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory along with a microSD card slot gives tablet plenty of grunt. It's a real shame, however, that 3G connectivity is absent: Australian models of the Galaxy Tab 7.7 are Wi-Fi only variants.

The internals keep the Galaxy Tab 7.7 kicking along: this is a zippy tablet and we didn't experience too much lag or slowdown during general use. It runs the 3.2 "Honeycomb" version of Google's Android operating system, though Samsung has stressed it will by upgraded to the latest 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" version in the coming months. Samsung has skinned the user interface with its TouchWIZ UX software which adds a number of additional features. The most notable is the "quick panel", which adds a handy set of toggles in the notifications pop-up for Wi-Fi, notifications, GPS, sound vibration, auto rotation, Bluetooth and flight mode. There's also a screen capture button next to the standard back, home and recent apps keys, some "mini apps" that can be used while regular apps are open, and a range of resizeable Samsung widgets.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

A core part of TouchWIZ is Samsung's software hubs: social hub, readers hub, game hub and music hub. The music hub is a subscription based music service that costs $9.99 per month, $54.99 for six months or $99.99 for 12 months in Australia. The game hub merely lists compatible games from the Android Market, while we feel both the social hub and readers hub can be replaced by more effective third-party apps in the Android Market.

Despite all the positive aspects of both Android and TouchWIZ, the overall user experience isn't as slick as it should be. The Galaxy Tab 7.7's browser still automatically switches to mobile versions of many Web sites, the home screen jitters if there are more than a few widgets on the screen, and performance is hit and miss, especially when using the browser. A software upgrade to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is likely to fix most of these issues, so it can't come soon enough.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

Android's most significant tablet issue, however, is third-party apps. There are minimal apps that have been designed with a tablet in mind, so most of them simply expand to fit the larger display of the Galaxy Tab 7.7. There is also no easy way to quickly determine if an app in the Android Market is designed to work on a tablet. We feel Google needs to create a filter in the market that only shows apps specifically designed for tablets in order to create a better user experience.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7: Other features and battery life

The Galaxy Tab 7.7 has a 3 megapixel rear camera and a 2 megapixel front camera, and is capable of recording 720p HD video. The camera is fine for the odd happy snap, but excess image noise and poor colour reproduction does negatively affect the quality of images.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 doesn't have a USB port: both charging and connecting the unit to a computer via USB is achieved through the proprietary cable. The main disadvantage is that you'll need this included cable to synchronise the tablet and can't use any old micro-USB cable. However, the proprietary connector charges the tablet much faster than a standard micro-USB port could. Disappointingly, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 does not have a HDMI-out connection, so it can't be connected to a high definition television or projector. Samsung however sells an optional HDTV adapter that includes a HDMI-out connection.

A 5100mAh battery powers the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and it was good for about nine hours of use during our testing. If you don't pick up the Galaxy Tab every five minutes like we did, the battery should last a few days: it didn't really show significant drain unless the screen was constantly on.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 is now available outright through major Australian retailers, including JB Hi-Fi and Dick Smith.

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