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

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.

While Peel's Smart Remote is still missing some features, it's implemented well overall. However, I'm still waiting for Hulu and Netflix integration, and an actual search feature would be useful. Also, while I found that the remote reliably functions from 10 to 20 feet away, performance is definitely more reliable within 8 feet. And the tablet does not handle obstructions like coffee tables as well as my normal remote does, requiring much more precise aiming.

Hardware features
The Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE houses a 1GHz dual-core OMAP 4430 CPU, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage. Tablet mainstays like 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth 3.0, and GPS are included as well as a gyroscope, accelerometer, and digital compass.

The two speakers on the bottom of the tablet deliver typically "OK, I guess" tablet-quality sound that gets a bit staticky and distorted if you increase the volume too much.

Performance
The Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE uses the same PLS-based panel tech all Samsung tablets have made use of so far, running at a resolution of 1,024x600 pixels -- a resolution I consider middling for a 7-inch screen, as some tablets, like the Nexus 7, run as high as 1,280x800 pixels and look considerably sharper doing so. The Tab 2 7.0's screen clarity isn't bad, but it doesn't reach the pixel-dense heights of more advanced 7-inchers.

The PLS panel used here failed to impress. Josh Miller/CNET

Also, either there are different tiers of quality when it comes to PLS panels, or Samsung really didn't devote much time or effort to calibrating the Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE's color. Compared with, say, the 7.0 Plus, its screen looks noticeably greener and colors appear washed out.

table.geekbox th{background-color:#E6ECEF;text-align:left;font-weight:bold;} table.geekbox tr.even{background-color:#CCCCCC;} .ratingGood{color:#093;} .ratingAverage{color:#666;} .ratingBad{color:#C00;}

Tested spec Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (Verizon) Nexus 7 Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Kindle Fire
Maximum brightness 454 cd/m2 288 cd/m2 379 cd/m2 424 cd/m2
Default brightness 174 cd/m2 190 cd/m2 150 cd/m2 147 cd/m2
Maximum black level 0.27 cd/m2 0.28 cd/m2 0.31 cd/m2 0.45 cd/m2
Default black level 0.15 cd/m2 0.18 cd/m2 0.12 cd/m2 0.15 cd/m2
Default contrast ratio 1,160:1 1,055:1 1,250:1 980:1
Contrast ratio (max brightness) 1,681:1 1,028:1 1,222:1 963:1

When swiping through screens and navigating menus, the screen matches the sensitivity of the average Android screen, but doesn't approach iPad or Transformer TF700 levels of ultrasensitivity. Apps launch without delay and settings menu options appear readily after tapping them.

In Web and app download speeds the Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE matched most other Android tablets when within 5 feet of our test router and even when up to 20 feet away the connection retained much of its strength. Scrolling through Web sites was smooth with much less clipping of assets than on the Wi-Fi version we tested, which ran a slightly earlier version of Android 4.0.

The back camera gets a slight upgrade from 3-megapixel to 3.2-megapixel. Or they could be the same camera and Samsung was just rounding down with the previous tablet. Here you can also see the textured back. Josh Miller/CNET

4G LTE speeds virtually matched what I saw under Wi-Fi, downloading a 258MB file from the Google Play store in 170 seconds, 10 seconds longer than it took over Wi-Fi. Devices connected to the tablet via its hot spot achieved a similar level of speed.

Thanks to its hardware scalability, I used Riptide GP as a games performance benchmark. Depending on the speed of the tablet's CPU, Riptide GP will deliver a noticeable increase or decrease in frame rate. The Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE's TI OMAP 4430 CPU performed well, delivering a good frame rate at the default resolution. In comparison, the game on the Nexus 7 looked sharper, ran more smoothly, and included the Tegra 3 screen-splashing effects.

In 2D games like Angry Birds Space, I didn't notice any performance difference from the Nexus 7 aside from sharper text due to the Nexus 7's sharper resolution.

As mentioned, the Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE has a front-facing VGA camera and a 3.2-megapixel back camera. The front VGA camera was of the typically low video-chatting quality I'm used to at this point. The back camera fared better, producing decent picture quality, but with washed-out colors. It's not a bad camera per se, just not the first thing you'd reach for if a photo op popped up.

Google Nexus 7 on the left; Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE (Verizon) on the right. Josh Miller/CNET

Playback of both 720p and 1080p (downsampled) video from outside sources was smooth and crisp.

Here are our official CNET Labs-tested battery life results. More tablet testing results can be found here. table.geekbox th{background-color:#E6ECEF;text-align:left;font-weight:bold;} table.geekbox tr.even{background-color:#CCCCCC;} .ratingGood{color:#093;} .ratingAverage{color:#666;} .ratingBad{color:#C00;}

Video battery life (in hours)
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE 8.4

Conclusion
The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE for Verizon is essentially the same tablet Samsung released earlier in 2012, only now with 4G LTE speed at its disposal. The price has been raised by $100 to $350 in addition to monthly usage fees. Thankfully, now that Verizon has done away with subsidized tablets, there are no annoying two-year contracts to speak of.

Still, $350 is still a lot to pay for a 7-inch tablet, especially since the release of the $200 Nexus 7, which has a better screen, faster performance, Android 4.1, and NFC capabilities.

The 4G LTE counters with dual cameras, memory expansion, and of course a 4G connection and hot-spot capabilities; however, $350 (plus usage fees) is too high an investment. A starting price of $280 to $300 would have been much easier to swallow, especially since Verizon will continue to siphon cash from your pockets every month after you've paid that initial fee.

While the original Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is still a good investment at $250, $350 is asking too much for a 7-inch tablet of the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE's relatively meager capabilities.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Wireless Connectivity IEEE 802.11n
    IrDA
    IEEE 802.11b
    Bluetooth 3.0
    IEEE 802.11g
  • Type Android 4.0
  • Weight 12.2 oz
    12.1 oz
  • Operating System Android 4.0
  • Storage 8 GB
About The Author

Eric Franklin is a section editor covering how to and tablets. He's also co-host of CNET's do-it-yourself and how-to show, The Fix and is a 20-year tech industry veteran.