Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 review

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 is an Android tablet with a 7.7-inch display and a compact body.

Although 7.7 inches may seem like an odd size for a tablet screen, but the compact size means that it works nicely. The Galaxy Tab 7.7, which has an excellently built chassis, weighs just 335g and its body is only 7.9mm thick.

Along with the display, the body houses stereo speakers, a headphone jack, volume controls, a microSD card slot, a proprietary dock connector and a power button that also function as a screen lock.

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The screen is superb, with a resolution of 1280x800, which is the same resolution of many larger Android tablets. It is an AMOLED Plus that offers excellent brightness levels and impressive colours.

On the inside of the tablet is 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage (which can be expanded thanks to the card slot) and a 1.4GHz ARM Cortex A9 dual-core processor. Sadly, in Australia Samsung is only selling Wi-Fi versions of the Galaxy Tab 7.7; if you want mobile internet access while on the road you will need to use your smartphone or a Wi-Fi equipped mobile broadband modem.

The impressive specifications mean that it's quite a speedy tablet, and there was no feeling of lag when the Galaxy Tab 7.7. Sadly the tablet only runs Android 3.2 (aka Honeycomb). According to Samsung the tablet will be upgraded to Android 4.0 (aka Ice Cream Sandwich) in the coming months. On top of Android runs Samsung's TouchWIZ interface which offers extra features, such as a panel in the notifications menu for quickly switching features like Wi-Fi and GPS off and on, as well as a collection of widgets.

TouchWIZ offers access to four "hubs" for social networking, reading and playing games, as well as accessing music through a subscription-based service that costs $9.99 per month, $54.99 for six months or $99.99 for a year. The gaming hub just lists compatible Android games, and both the social hub and reader's hub can be replaced by better third-party apps.

The user experience offered by the software could be better, with mobile websites typically displayed instead of regular websites and the home screen jittering if you load it up with too many widgets. Ice Cream Sandwich is likely to fix most of the issues we encountered.

The biggest issue remains that there are too few Android apps designed to work with the larger screens of tablets, and when browsing the Android Market for new apps it's hard to tell if a particular offering will take advantage of all the screen real estate. It would be much better if Google offered a filter to find tablet apps quickly.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 can shoot 720p video, and it has a 3-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front camera. You won't want to shoot a lot of photos with the tablet due to image noise and poor colour reproduction.

The proprietary connection is used for charging and transferring files to and from a PC. It means you can charge the tablet faster but you are stuck with using the included cable instead of a regular micro-USB one. I was disappointed by the lack of an HDMI cable, which means you can't directly connect the tablet to a TV, although an adapter is available.

During tests the tablet's battery lasted for about nine hours, and if you aren't constantly using it, it should last several days.

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 is a mixed offering: The design is superb, but the user experience offered by this tablet will be much better once Ice Cream Sandwich is deployed.

Score: 3.75/5

Review: Ross Catanzariti.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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