With the Kindle Fire firmly in its sights, can Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 douse Amazon's tablet flame?
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 – overview
Samsung’s new 7-incher wants to extinguish the Kindle Fire before it even launches here. The Galaxy Tab 2 is lighter, sleeker and more powerful than Amazon’s tardy tablet, with all the tech you’d expect from a grown-up device, including GPS, Bluetooth and a brace of cameras.
If that’s not enough to give you brain freeze, it’s also the first tablet to ship with Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 – standard screen
Nothing screams ‘budget tablet’ like a 1024x600 7-inch display, but the Tab 2’s pixels are a step up from the cheapest of the cheap. Colours are punchy, pinch-to-zoom is smooth and there’s no blur when gaming. Sit it next to the Kindle Fire, though, and e-books take on the slightly yellowed hue of an oft-borrowed library book. Brightness and viewing angle are just fine.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 – Ice Cream Sandwich
This mash-up of Android 4.0 with Samsung’s Touch Wiz UI won’t win any prizes. While voice dictation, resizable widgets and the Recent Apps button are ace, Samsung has unwisely opted out of Google’s Face Unlock and whizzy camera for weaker, home-made apps. The Tab 2 auto-synchs with Chrome bookmarks but lagged a second or two behind Kindle Fire’s cloud-accelerated Silk browser in our head-to-head test.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 – media
Thumbs up to Samsung for cramming in two cameras on the Tab 2. The 3MP snaps and 720p video from the rear camera are a bit flat and smeary but a sharp front-facing webcam means the Samsung is perfect for Skype calls.
Built-in speakers sound good as long as you keep them under full volume, and cloud apps like Google’s Play Music stream smoothly. Video is crisp and flicker-free.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 – average apps
Samsung’s pre-loaded Hubs offer ebooks, music, apps and games – but little to tempt you away from your usual sources. Less bloatwarey are an AllShare Play app to push content to recent Samsung tellies, and slide-up mini apps that include a handy calculator, clock and task manager.
Peel is a universal remote app that uses the Tab 2’s built-in IR blaster (pictured above) to control TVs and DVRs of any brand, but currently only in the US.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 – build and design
Like the gorgeous iPad it will never become, the Tab 2 could double as hand-warmer when it’s working hard. Despite this, expect six to seven hours video or web on a single charge. GPS works well and Wi-Fi sensitivity is good.
Another plus over the Kindle Fire is a microSD slot to boost the meagre 8GB of storage. The Tab 2 is also a Mars Bar lighter and an After Eight skinnier than Amazon’s tablet.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 – verdict
It might be priced like a pocket money product, but the Galaxy Tab 2 has the DNA of Samsung’s full-fat, full-priced tablets. The 1GHz processor is plenty powerful to keep Ice Cream Sandwich zipping along, and both audio and video are reliable – if never exactly exciting. Only patchy apps and the lack of a well-integrated store is keeping the Kindle Fire ahead on our tablet wish list.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 review
Parade, meet rain. The Galaxy Tab 2 soaks existing budget tablets with solid performance, the latest Android OS and a very decent spec for the cash.