November 15, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Samsung ushered in the Android tablet era with the original Galaxy Tab, the first legitimate device to take Android to a bigger screen. But the original GTab, for all its portability and uniqueness, was a placeholder. The proper Android tablet experience arrived with Honeycomb on the Motorola Xoom, and then the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Those devices introduced bigger screens, better hardware, and a few more app options.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could somehow merge the two? Having the power of Honeycomb in a compact device can be very appealing, and that’s exactly what happens in the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 Plus. Available for $399.99, the Galaxy Tab 7 Plus is portable and high-powered. Does that make it the best of both worlds or just another placeholder for Samsung’s ever-growing portfolio?
In certain ways, the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is a kid brother tablet that’s capable of emerging from the shadow of its predecessor. The tablet is palm-able with one hand, slender in height, and light enough to tuck into a coat pocket without being distracting. The thick aluminum back cover and rounded edges make for a device that looks good and feels better. While there’s definitely a benefit to having the larger 10.1 version, the GTab 7.0+ has enough screen real estate to offer an almost equally-powerful experience. That screen is not as beautiful as the big boys, but the 7-inch PLS LCD still emits bright colors to go with a 1024 x 600 resolution.
You can see a full list of the key Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus specs here, but let’s cut to the chase of what will really make users smile: the Exynos chip and external storage. Manufacturers keep trying to push users towards a cloud-dependent ecosystem, which has influenced decisions to eliminate microSD slots on flagship devices. That’s not the case here. While the 16GB of internal storage should handle all the storage needs of most users, having the optional to double that capacity with a 32 GB microSD slot means more music, videos, photos, and books are available for offline access as well. And all of that content will be readily accessible thanks to a 1.2 GHz dual-core Exynos chip. Samsung’s dual core processor handled everything we threw at it without flinching once. There was no stuttering or feeling of limitation when playing games or browsing the web, so there’s plenty to smile about there. The only traces we saw of slowdown appeared on the home screen, which we suspect has a lot more to do with Touchwiz UX than it does the hardware.
Battery life is great. The GTab 7+ has a 4,000 mAh battery, and the Exynos dual-core processor is as efficient as it is smooth. I spent hours reading Pulse, listening to podcasts, and playing Flick Kick Football. Watching video drains the battery faster, but you should see good performance.
Samsung inexplicably put both audio speakers at the bottom of the GTab 7+ when held in portrait view. By not placing Left and Right speakers on opposite sides like on GTab 10, there’s no balance of sound and it’s very noticeable.