Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) review: Samsung's tablet gambles on 4G speeds

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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars 17 user reviews

The Good The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE (Verizon) includes dual cameras, memory expansion, and fast 4G LTE speeds with no contract.

The Bad $350 is a lot of money for a 7-inch tablet with the Tab 2 7.0's feature lineup. The screen resolution is lower than the Nexus 7's and the back camera lacks an autofocus feature.

The Bottom Line The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE (Verizon) delivers on 4G speeds and features, but is too expensive to recommend.

6.5 Overall
  • Design 6.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 7.0

Editors' note: Thanks to the release of recent, high-quality tablets, the overall score of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE (Verizon) has been adjusted down from 6.8 to 6.5.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 for Verizon is virtually the same 7-inch tablet Samsung released earlier in 2012, except now with fast cellular-powered speeds. The new version costs $350, $100 more than the Wi-Fi-only version, and that doesn't begin to count usage fees.

Thankfully, two-year contracts have gone the way of the dodo, but the tablet market continues to move on, and paying $350 for a 7-inch tablet of the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0's relatively meager capabilities is not recommended.

Design
The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE tablet from Verizon sports a slightly altered design from that of the original, Wi-Fi-only Tab 2 7.0. The 4G LTE version has a black textured back instead of the smooth silver-gray of the Wi-Fi version, and a SIM card slot now resides above the microSD slot. Other than those minor changes, no significant physical differences are apparent.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (Verizon) Google Nexus 7 Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Amazon Kindle Fire
Weight in pounds 0.76 0.74 0.74 0.9
Width in inches (landscape) 7.6 7.8 7.6 7.4
Height in inches 4.8 4.72 4.8 4.75
Depth in inches 0.3 0.4 0.3 0.4
Side bezel width in inches (landscape) 0.76 0.8 0.76 0.78 (power button side), 0.6 opposite side

The Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE is fairly thin, although not Tab 7.7 -thin. It's comfortable to hold, with smooth, rounded corners; however, I prefer the feel of the Google Nexus 7's more comfortable leatherlike back.

The microSD card slot enables you to add an additional 64GB of storage on top of the built-in 8GB. The Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE also has both a front-facing VGA camera and a rear-facing 3.2-megapixel shooter without LED flash. Thankfully, each camera is located in the upper left corner when you hold the tablet in landscape, decreasing the chance that unwanted fingers will creep into the camera frame when you're taking a picture.

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The microSD card now supports cards of up to 64GB and the SIM card means you'll actually be connecting to a cellular service. Josh Miller/CNET

On the right edge (or bottom edge if you're holding the tablet in portrait), equidistant from its surrounding dual speakers, sits a dock connector, and the left edge houses a headphone jack and microphone pinhole. The ambient light sensor sits about an inch away from the front camera on the bezel.

Sadly, as with most Samsung tablets, there's no HDMI port, requiring you to purchase an adapter if you'd like to play video from your tablet on your TV.

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The dual speakers aren't anything special, sporting adequate song quality. Josh Miller/CNET

Software features
The Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE ships with Android 4.0.4 installed. Samsung's TouchWiz UI skin is of course included and comes with custom Samsung apps like Music Hub, Media Hub, Game Hub, and a built-in screenshot app. No mini apps tray, however (the best thing about TouchWiz) is nowhere to be found.

The basic look and design of Android 4.0 are retained, just with a TouchWiz skin and a few extra shortcuts for quickly turning off Wi-Fi, GPS, screen rotation, and so on.

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The tablet's hot-spot feature can provide Internet access to all your devices. Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET

The settings menu now features a Mobile Hotspot feature, providing an easy way for wireless devices to connect to a Wi-Fi network facilitated by the tablet's 4G LTE cellular connection.

Peel Smart Remote
In conjunction with Peel's included Smart Remote app, the IR blaster helps turn your tablet into a remote control for your TV. Peel can take the place of your cable or satellite channel guide and display a list of shows currently playing locally on your cable or satellite provider's channels. Go to the currently playing tab and click on a show, and your TV switches to the appropriate channel. Peel does a great job of holding your hand initially through a step-by-step setup wizard. The setup only requires that you know your TV's manufacturer's name, your cable/satellite provider, and your ZIP code. Thankfully, Peel spares us from having to know any more detailed information; however, be aware that Smart Remote does not work with regular monitors, only TVs or monitor/TV combos.

Once Peel is set up, you can browse shows by category, mark shows as favorites, or prevent shows you'd rather not see on the list from showing up again. Thankfully, Smart Remote now syncs with over-the-air listings, though its accuracy as to which shows and channels were available to me left a bit to be desired.

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The IR blaster (kind of Samsung's tablet claim to fame) returns and along with the Peel software transforms the tablet into remote control for your TV. Josh Miller/CNET

Navigating the interface took some getting used to, but was easy enough to pick up; however, I took issue with the method by which cable TV screen menus are controlled by the interface. Peel went with a swipe interface that requires you to flick the screen in one of four directions to highlight different menus. While this method works and after some time could be gotten used to, I would have much preferred more-direct directional controls.

As I learned with the Tab 7.0 Plus and Tab 7.7, Smart Remote's accuracy is very closely dictated by the information cable and satellite providers choose to release. So, while the Smart Remote guide might indicate that "Law & Order" was on right now on Channel 12, selecting it didn't always take me to the appropriate channel. In addition, sometimes the channel wasn't available to me or there was a different show on the channel at that time.

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