Review

Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, a compelling tablet with compromise

The tablet market is quickly evolving, while there used to only be one player in the market, the segment is now filled with hundreds of options. Neowin has Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.7 with LTE for Verizon and we take this small but mighty tablet through our daily journey to see how it compares to others such as the recently reviewed Droid Xyboard.

Hardware

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 with LTE has a beautiful 7.7in AMOLED display that brings out the true beauty of this device. The screen is a dream to use but at times, especially at full brightness, does feel a bit over-saturated. The dual core 1.4 GHz processors gives it the chops to keep up with the Joneses and the 3.2MP rear camera and 2.0 MP front facing camera fill all of the major needs of most tablets users. The full spec sheet is posted below.

Design

Holding the 7.7in tablet feels incredible; the device is sleek, well built and quite thin. There is most certainly a feeling of quality to the materials that Samsung selected when building this tablet and it shows in the final product.

The standard buttons are all accounted for with a volume rocker on the right side and the power button is positioned above the volume rocker. The volume rocker has a satisfying click to it when pressed and leaves no doubt that the button has been pressed properly.

One issue we do have with the design is the rear camera has a protective ring and lens cover that protrudes from the sleek profile. Now, this extension is small and does not hinder from the sleek lines but when you place the device on its back on a hard surface the protective covering contacts the surface. Why is this a big deal? Well, for starters, it will be sliding around on the ring and has the potential to scratch the covering.

It’s a small issue but for those who will keep their tablet for many years, it is possible that the scratched cover could degrade the camera quality.

Software

One of the biggest disappointments with this tablet is that it ships with Android 3.2. The lack of 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is a major letdown as 3.2 has consistently had subtle fluidity issues that 4.0 should fix in the tablet environment. We should note that this device has been promised by Samsung to get ICS but when that will occur, has not been detailed by Verizon or Samsung.

Other than running 3.2, the device ships with the standard Verizon applications including Blockbuster, Netflix, VZ Navigator, and a few others.

Samsung also feels that it is important to slap its TouchWiz UI on top of Android that we must argue against; skins had their time and place when Android launched, but at this stage, they add bulk to the OS that is no longer necessary.

One of the applications that is included that we love is called Peel which uses the built in IR to act as a television remote. The setup with this application was simple and took us 10 minute to get our Samsung TV and DVR programmed.

Performance

Running Quadrant on this tablet returned a score of 3770, which places it above the previous Tab. But, benchmarks do not show the entire picture and bluntly, benchmarks are not important to the average consumer who simply needs a device to perform instead of outperforming others in a synthetic test.

There are times when this tablet feels as if there is not enough horsepower under the hood as transitions between applications feels disjointed and web pages load in a way that appears to be stair stepped rather than simply popping up as you might expect.

But, we do believe that ICS will remedy these small occurrences of lag that is if you are willing to wait for the update.

Camera

Tablets and cameras have a funky relationship as typically your smartphone will have a superior camera to the tablet and using a tablet to take a photo feels (and looks) awkward.

That being said, there is horrendous camera lag, upwards of 3 seconds from when you press capture to when the image is snapped, that renders the camera useless for capturing moving objects. When the pictures do finally take, they are a bit grainy and occasionally washed out; don’t expect to be the next Ansel Adams with your tablet.

The front camera will get the job done for video calls but was typically a bit cool but does not present any barriers to use.

4G

One of the key selling points of this device is the 4G connectivity and for that we averaged 12 down and 6 up which is astounding for a wide band network such a this. There is not much else to say other than LTE is a game changer and we love devices that sport the new technology. 

Battery Life

Running a video on loop that was streaming across a home network, the device lasted a bit under 8 hours but non-streaming web browsing the tablet will run about 11.5 hours without needing to hit your nearest outlet. The battery actually exceeded our expectations given the size and should hold up well for most users.

Conclusion

There is a lot to like about the 7.7 Tab as the size is perfect for frequent travelers. In fact, the size is, in our opinions, better for those on a plane where space is limited as the device is small enough to easily be tucked away but large enough for watching videos on a long flight.

But, while there is a lot to like, there are several key downfalls with the 7.7 Tab with the biggest being price. The device hits the register at $499 with a two-year contract or $699 contract free, which for us, is a deal breaker. 

When you compile that it runs Android 3.2, has an underwhelming camera, and lack of fluidity in transitions, it’s hard to decide if the high quality build and form factor outweigh the downfalls.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Interview: Spiral Game Studios talks about ORION: Dino Beatdown

Next Story

Nokia Windows 8 tablet rumor surfaces again, landing in Q4?

15 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

It is Verizon who has dropped the ball on this one. Telstra in Australia is selling the 8.9 LTE version fully subsidized for comparison.

The Galaxy Tab 7.7 is being sold separate here in the Netherlands for around €560, which I still find pretty expensive considering the specs it carries. Carriers have nothing to do with that. But yeah, the €380 + two-year contract Verizon is asking is insane. You can get it for free here too on contract.

Astra.Xtreme said,
Why the heck would they price this piece of junk at that much? They are just begging for Android to be wiped off the tablet market.
Carrier subsudy

$699 for 16 GB a 7,7-inch screen, Bluetooth 3, no Retina Display, outdated Android version etc.? You gotta be kiddin' me… I can get a new iPad 4G 16 GB for $629.

It really strikes me that Samsung keeps putting out brand-new products with outdated Android versions. Completely unacceptable, especially at this prince point.

I guess if the price is too high a thrifty spender could wait a month for the next new Samsung tab, and buy this one used on the cheap... perhaps?

.Neo said,
$699 for 16 GB a 7,7-inch screen, Bluetooth 3, no Retina Display, outdated Android version etc.? You gotta be kiddin' me… I can get a new iPad 4G 16 GB for $629.

It really strikes me that Samsung keeps putting out brand-new products with outdated Android versions. Completely unacceptable, especially at this prince point.


Of course there wouldn't be a retina display since it's not an Apple product. "Retina display" is not a general technical term, but something Apple made up.

floopydoodle said,

Of course there wouldn't be a retina display since it's not an Apple product. "Retina display" is not a general technical term, but something Apple made up.

Regardless of it being a technical term or not you knew exactly what I meant.

.Neo said,
It really strikes me that Samsung keeps putting out brand-new products with outdated Android versions. Completely unacceptable, especially at this prince point.

Not really unacceptable at all, in fact it's perfectly understandable if you hold the rants and stop to think about it for a minute. How many other devices have been released with ICS on them so far besides the Nexus (which was developed in tandem with ICS)? Not many.

Developing a new phone and modifying an OS to work on it doesn't happen overnight. These phones have been in development for a long time, possibly a year or more, but certainly over 6 months. The source code for ICS 4.0.1 was only released in November (4 months ago). It takes time to develop hardware drivers and kernels for new OS versions.

Have patience, any devices being released now with Android versions less than 4.0 will be getting an update in the near future.

"The device hits the register at $499 with a two-year contract or $699" .. hahaha,, yeah good luck with that.

abysal said,
"The device hits the register at $499 with a two-year contract or $699" .. hahaha,, yeah good luck with that.

Well I paid $446 (£279 x 1.6 approx exchange rate) with a 2 year contract for my iPad 2 32gb WiFi+3G about 12 months ago. $499 isn't THAT much more, and you get the flexibility of Android. However I agree that given those prices, alot of people will probably just go for the iPad. Also I think it's a fairly safe bet that any device launching now will be getting an update to ICS at some point the near future.

TCLN Ryster said,

Well I paid $446 (£279 x 1.6 approx exchange rate) with a 2 year contract for my iPad 2 32gb WiFi+3G about 12 months ago. $499 isn't THAT much more, and you get the flexibility of Android. However I agree that given those prices, alot of people will probably just go for the iPad. Also I think it's a fairly safe bet that any device launching now will be getting an update to ICS at some point the near future.


I gotcha, but the the iPad 2 is also a 10" device?

I definitely agree that $700+ for the device is way too much. I like the device and all but thats not a "small chunk of change" to me! (especially for a device such as this one.)

este said,
I definitely agree that $700+ for the device is way too much. I like the device and all but thats not a "small chunk of change" to me! (especially for a device such as this one.)

No ICS No Sale
With iPad release in next few days, this tablet has impossible task ahead.