Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 hands-on

It's not the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, but it's pretty close. Here are my impressions of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0.

Samsung will be the first major vendor to release a tablet full-featured tablet that can compete with the Kindle Fire on price. The company's Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (pictured) makes only a few sacrifices to get under $300. Josh Miller/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO--Going into today's Samsung media event in San Francisco, there was one device that I was having trouble wrapping my head around: The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0.

The 7.0 Plus released last year was quite a good tablet and not four months later, here was Samsung showing what it called the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. Surely this device would be thinner, sexier, and more powerful than any Samsung tablet before it right? Wrong.

Samsung announced that the Tab 2 7.0 would house a 1GHz CPU (down from 1.2GHz on the 7.0 Plus) and that it would be replacing the 7.0 Plus's 2-megapixel camera with a "I'm here to cut costs, but at least I'm here!" VGA one.

Needless to say, as a tech geek always looking for the latest and greatest, I was a bit disappointed and honestly kind of confused at this strategy. That is until today, when the price was announced.

Dat price
Samsung has announced a $250 price for its Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, which immediately puts it in direct price competition with the very successful $200 Kindle Fire.

It's still $50 more than the Fire, and you won't get full access to Amazon's impressive content ecosystem. Books, magazines, and newspapers are accessible via the Kindle app, and you can stream or download Amazon's Cloud Player music, but "free" Amazon Prime books aren't available, nor is any Amazon video content. Still, that might be worth the trade-off for Amazon fans who want the Tab 2 7.0's extra features: expandable storage, Bluetooth, IR blaster, dual cameras, and GPS isn't a bad deal for just $50 extra."

Like the 7.0 Plus, but different
Design-wise, the Tab 2 7.0 sports a slightly altered aesthetic from the 7.0 Plus, but you'd be hard-pressed to notice those differences at first glance, unless of course you were as intimately familiar with the Plus as I am.

The shapes and weight are about the same with some slight dimensional differences. Each is fairly thin, although not Tab 7.7-thin. It's still comfortable to hold with smooth, rounded corners. According to Samsung, the color is "titanium silver" which seems fitting enough.

The microSD card slot allows you to add an additional 32GB or storage on top on the built-in 8GB.The 2-megapixel front camera from the 7.0 Plus has been replaced with a VGA one, but the rear still manages 3-megapixel quality, however sans an LED light.

There's also a dock connector, dual speakers, headphone jack, microphone, and ambient light sensor. The power/sleep button and volume rocker round thing out.

The IR blaster found on the Tabs 7.7 and 7.0 Plus also makes its way to the Tab 2 7.0. In conjunction with Peel's Smart Remote app, this helps to turn your tablet into a remote control for your TV.

Play

Speaking of software (spoiler: it runs ICS)
Maybe the biggest selling point (other than its price) is that the Tab 2 7.0 ships with Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0.3 to be precise) installed, making it the first Samsung tablet to do so.

Samsung's Touchwiz UX skin of course is included with custom Samsung apps and that handy Task Manager shortcut.

OK, enough about software
Thanks to the previously mentioned downgraded CPU, games ran at a lower frame rate than the 7.0 Plus, but Web surfing and page scrolling seemed about as fast.

The Samsung proprietary PLS-based screen sports a 1,024x600-pixel resolution and during our brief time using the device not surprisingly delivered wide viewing angles and richer color than what we're used to on IPS panels most tablets use.

The device is capable of full 1080p playback at 30 frames per second, and of course includes support for GPS, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 3.0.

Again, dat price
Though it makes sacrifices to get there, the Tab 2 7.0's very competitive price makes you immediately forget them. For now.

Asus Memo 370T is as of this moment still slated to be released in the second quarter with a higher resolution screen, an 8-megapixel camera, and a quad-core Tegra 3 CPU. All for the same $250 price.

There's also the rumored $150-$200 Google Nexus tablet possibly coming in July to consider. And lest we forget, the Kindle Fire follow-up rumored to be slated for release sometime this year.

That said, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is out this month on April 22, while the aforementioned tablets have yet to receive concrete release dates.

Look for a full review of the Tab 2 7.0 very soon.

Editor's note: This article was updated on April 12, 2012, to more accurately reflect the different levels of Amazon ecosystem access between the Kindle Fire and Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

 

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