Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7: first-look review of the best tablet at CES
Tablets have come in many shape and forms at this year’s CES, but there’s only one that’s made us go “wow”. And that tablet is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7.
It is, quite simply, drop dead gorgeous. Of course we can reel off the specs – it’s 7.9mm thin and weighs 340g – but that doesn’t do it justice. When you pick it up for the first time your arm jumps up too quickly; it expects to be lifting something heavier.
The Tab’s 7.9mm thickness is truly remarkable too. If anything, it looks even thinner in the flesh.
This might lead cynics to think the Tab 7.7 is too fragile, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. A firm backing gives it a solid feel, and that’s backed up by a high quality finish; every bit as good as the iPad.
That lightness also means you can hold it for long periods without your arms growing tired (one of the iPad’s few flaws), and that you can chuck it into a bag without worrying about the extra weight.
Battery life sounds respectable too: Samsung claims ten hours of continuous video playback. Obviously we’d like more, but compromises have to be made to keep the weight and size down.
The Galaxy Tab 7.7 also boasts a terrific screen. Sony may have fallen out of love with OLED technology, but Samsung’s AMOLED screens produce eye-popping colours compared to the LCDs most people will be used to.
Then there’s the resolution. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to see 1,280 x 800 pixels in a 7.7in screen when seemingly all the phones announced at CES boast “HD” displays, but it works beautifully at this size. That means the interface is crisp and detailed, and helps photos and videos look great.
Naturally it’s quick to respond to commands. There is, after all, a 1.4GHz dual-core processor inside, and 1GB of RAM helps keep the OS flying along.
But this is one of the disappointments: Android OS 3.2 powers the Tab, and while we can hope/expect an Android 4 update, bitter experience has taught us never to assume.
One of the reasons for using 3.2 is that Samsung has heavily customised the interface with its “TouchWiz” design (and yes, the person who came up with the name TouchWiz should indeed be shot).
The only aspect of it we prefer over vanilla Android 3.2 Honeycomb is the “Mini Apps” tray, which gives quick access to “background” apps such as the task manager, calendar and music player.
We also like Samsung Apps. This is a so-called recommendation engine that essentially filters apps suitable for Honeycomb. Admittedly this feels like a kludge – surely such filtering should be Google’s job – but it’s very useful until the Android Market becomes easier to browse for tablet users.
We don’t think many people will be dumping their cameras and camcorders for the Tab’s built-in 3-megapixel camera, but it’s there with an LED flash and does support 720p recording. A 2-megapixel camera on the front is present for video calls too.
On the subject of calls, this first version of the Tab is going to be released in tandem with Verizon Wireless in the US, and there’s a 4G chip inside. There are no details for a similar 3G partnership in the UK yet, but we’re pretty confident discussions will be taking place.
Nor do we know how much the Galaxy Tab 7.7 will cost, but it’s notable that this first release only includes 16GB of storage; no doubt this is to keep a lid on the price. You can add up to 32GB more via the microSD card slot.
The final neat feature we should mention is the infrared port. This turns the Tab into a universal remote control, which may sound frivolous but is exactly the sort of thing people will end up using every day.
With Samsung already releasing some nice extra accessories – a keyboard dock, multimedia dock, a USB adapter that allows you to connect printers/mice/keyboards, and an HDMI adapter – it should be obvious why we think the Galaxy Tab 7.7 is the pick of the CES tablets.
Let’s just hope it lives up to our expectations when we eventually get one to test for ourselves.