By Alexandra Burlacu | May 13, 2012 05:07 PM EDT
Samsung's recently released 7-inch Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 was generally well-received, and is considered a good buy at least for first-time tablet buyers. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which means it can run standard phone and tablet apps. The tablet reached the U.S. shores last month with a $250 price tag, though Macmall is currently selling it on eBay for $220, with free shipping.
And now, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 has made its way to the UK as well, though only the silver version is available for now. The white version is scheduled for release on May 18. In the UK, the tablet costs £199, and can be purchased from the Carphone Warehouse. For £199, purchasers will get a Wi-Fi-only version with 8GB of internal storage.
Galaxy Tab 2 vs. Kindle Fire vs. Nook Tablet
The Galaxy Tab 2 comes with a 38 percent lower cost than the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, a competitive price against the rival $200 Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook Tablets, both 7-inch tablets that use customized versions of Android 2.3. While each of their customized versions of Android can offer better integration for some applications such as reading books or magazines, it comes at the expense of wider compatibility with the Android app ecosystem. Users can only purchase apps via their respective storefronts, Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy Tab 2 runs on the latest version on Android, which means it works with standard Android phone and tablet apps in the Google Play store. Furthermore, Samsung's new tablet offers some features the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet lack, such as a rear-facing camera and an infrared port. On the other hand, it offers only half the storage capacity of the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, hence the lower price.
The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 features a similar design and build quality as the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus. Both tablets weigh 0.76 pounds, and both measure 4.8 x 7.6 inches, though the Galaxy Tab 2 is a hair thicker - 0.41-inch compared to the 7.0 Plus' 0.39-inch. The difference between the two lies in subtle tweaks in design. The Galaxy Tab 2 has a plastic bezel curved around to the front of the screen, and it features a larger infrared port at the top edge when held in landscape mode. The power and volume buttons are more rounded, and the MicroSD card slot is slightly wider and easier to open. The back of the case is made from light plastic in a "titanium" shade. The Tab 2 features the same 3-megapixel camera, but it lacks the flash found on the earlier model.
The Galaxy Tab 2 is powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor, therefore it takes a few seconds longer to boot than the Tab 7.0 did (the 7.0 Plus has a 1.2GHz dual-core processor). According to PC World, the Tab 2 "also turned in a noticeably slower frame rate on the two GL Benchmark tests we run."
Besides offering half the storage capacity of the previous model, the Tab 2 also has two megapixels less on its front-facing camera. Coupled with a 640 x 480 resolution, there is a considerable drop in quality, resulting in pixilated video chats. The PLS (Plane to Line Switching) display has a 1024 x 600 pixel resolution, the same as the previous iteration. The Galaxy Tab 2 offers better audio output than the 7.0 model, and it also features an equalizer option. The tablet also features Bluetooth and GPS, which neither the Kindle Fire nor the Nook Tablet support.
In addition to Android 4.0, Samsung also included its own TouchWiz UX skin, which provides several advantages. The overlay offers pop-up launcher tweaks for quick access to a bar of Samsung apps such as a world clock, calculator, and an email app, and it also provides an easy-to-use screenshot utility and convenient customizations to the settings pop-up. In addition, TouchWiz also offers some Samsung-specific software such as AllShare for DLNA network media sharing, as well as Samsung's app stores for games, music, books, and media.
The Galaxy Tab 2 also comes with a number of Android apps preinstalled, such as Dropbox - with a year of 50GB Dropbox service included, the Peel Smart Remote app, and Polaris Office. A Remote Viewfinder app works with Samsung's Wi-Fi cameras, while SmartView allows users to mirror content from a Samsung TV on the tablet. This function, however, only works with Samsung 7000 series LED HDTV and later versions.
(reported by Alexandra Burlacu, edited by Dave Clark)