Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 — Review

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 really proves the statement that good things come in small packages, with some significant advantages over the Galaxy Tab 10.1, Galaxy Tab 8.9 and many other tablets on the market in an ideal 7.7 form factor. Our review unit is the 16GB silver 3G model kindly provided by Mobicity and I’ve been using it daily for the past few weeks on my commute to work.

The Tab 7.7 looks impressive with a silver metal (or white) rear and a gorgeous 16:10 1280×800 Super AMOLED Plus screen up front producing 196 ppi pixel density, this is the same resolution screen as the 8.9 and 10.1 in a smaller size and it looks amazing. The Tab weighs in at 340g and 7.9mm thick, compared to the Tab 8.9 which is 455g and 8.6mm and Tab 10.1 which is 560g and 8.6mm thick. A dual core Exynos chip clocked at 1.4GHz together with the Mali-400MP power the 7.7 (same chip as the Galaxy S II and Galaxy Note), as opposed to its larger Tab siblings which use Tegra 2. Onboard memory is 16GB, 32Gb or 64GB further expandable via the microSD slot. The battery is a 5100mAh Li-Po which is apparently amazing on the wifi version but I found drained quicker than I liked on the 3G version. Placing the Tab in airplane mode when you don’t need 3G will increase battery life significantly and lasted me 2 days. The primary rear camera is 3.15MP and the secondary front camera is 2MP.

Pros

  • Amazing Super AMOLED Plus screen
  • Light and thin, great form factor
  • Exynos chipset
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Cons

  • Runs Honeycomb 3.2
  • Accessories are hard to find
  • Samsung 30-pin connector rather than microUSB
  • What we like

    The most attractive feature of the Tab 7.7 is its size; it’s the perfect compromise between size, weight and hardware specs. My primary use for the Tab is watching movies, and on the 7.7” 16:10 aspect ratio screen a movie is almost exactly the same viewing size as on a 10” 4:3 aspect ratio screen since the movie is letterboxed. The 1.4GHz dual-core Exynos chipset has no problems with playback of movies up to 1080p MKV and they look fantastic on the 1280×800 super AMOLED Plus screen. The colours are rich, bordering on over-saturated, and details are sharp. I found headphone volume a little low, but this can be easily boosted with supercurio’s Voodoo Louder app from the Android Market, *ahem*, Google Play.

    There are two versions of the Tab 7.7 – the P6810 wifi version and the P6800 3G version. Of course you can tether the wi-fi version to your phone for internet access on the go, but the P6800 has its own internet access with the added benefit of being able to send and receive phone calls and SMS. The Tab has an earpiece at the top centre so you could use it as a handset that would make a Galaxy Note owner jealous, or you could more sensibly use a Bluetooth headset. I made a few test calls which worked fine, but I prefer to use the Tab for data only. The P6800 is quad band 850/900/1900/2100 so will work on all Australian 3G GSM networks.

    As much as Touchwiz has its faults (which we’ll get to later) it occasionally adds useful features. There is a quick launch from the bottom menu bar giving you quick access to some Samsung apps such as the music player, calculator, alarm, calendar and others. What makes this so useful is that they do not open dedicated full screen apps, but instead a window app that sits on top of your current app. There is also a screenshot button on the menu bar – I have no idea why this warrants a full-time button, but at least it is easy to find and use.

    What can be improved

    Software performance is less than satisfactory due to a combination of Honeycomb 3.2 and TouchWiz. Anyone who has used a Galaxy S II knows the stellar performance to expect from Exynos but unfortunately performance is throttled by the combination of TouchWiz and Honeycomb. An upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich is due for release in Q2 and this tablet will be really hard to beat running ICS. Touchwiz is.. well, Touchwiz, same as any other Samsung device where the overlay provides some useful features but impacts performance more than it should.

    Another small but majorly annoying issue with Touchwiz – the apps in the app drawer are not ordered alphabetically! This may sound like a small issue, but if you have 100+ apps like I do then it becomes very difficult to find things. An alternative launcher such as Go Launcher HD or ADW Launcher Ex solves this problem but you will lose access to some of the Samsung Touchwiz widgets.

    Unlike a phone, a tablet is not going to live protected in your pocket; it is going to be stored in bags or handbags so a protective case or pouch is a must. Even though the Tab 7.7 is available at a few retailers locally, accessories are not and must be imported from overseas. The quality of these accessories varies greatly and it can be a frustrating experience to receive a product which is nothing like the picture. I ordered the OEM Book Cover case from eBay UK for AU$40 delivered and it is worth every cent. Third party cases are also available on ebay.

    Conclusion

    I liked the Galaxy Tab 7.7 so much I bought one. It is perfectly suited for anyone who commutes daily since its size and weight make it comfortable to use while standing up or seated. The screen is perfect for watching movies or playing games and Exynos means it will be powerful enough for a long time to come. You can find the 3G and wi-fi versions at Mobicity, or you can find the wi-fi version at JB Hifi, Kogan and Officeworks among others.
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    • qldsparky

      I lashed out and bought,outright, the Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE from Telstra. Apart from the initial high(very high!) cost I’m very impressed with it. It has a good size. I thought the 7.7 was a little small for my needs and the 10.1 is too bulky. Since it’s mainly for data the LTE comes in handy. Some way of setting up an external antenna would be gr8 on any of these tabs though. I achieved up to 68mbs in and 48mbs out at Noosa last weekend using the Telstra 4g modem on my trusty laptop with 1 external omni directional antenna.(used speedtest.net). Wondering where the Samsung Galaxy s3 is atm??

      • Jay

        How do you find it? Is it worth the money? Am curious as I want to get one, was hoping to hold out for the asus transformer infinity but want a tablet for my overseas trip next month. The 4g is a nice selling point but not sure if it’s worth the high price tag….Will u regret purchasing this once 4g tablets become more prevalent later in the year? That’s my biggest worry.

        • qldsparky

           I guess the value is very much up to you. It is a lot more expensive.The 7.7 has more selling points like extra memory etc but I was really looking for the speed and the size suited me(I’m currently busy downloading ebooks from Amazon as this will be one of it’s more common uses and the size seems perfect for that). Hopefully this will be able to replace my laptop for a lot of stuff when I travel. I also tend to use a lot of data at times so once again the download speed is on my side when compared to the 3g units.
          Check one out first maybe-there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of reviews around for it yet.

        • fishman

          7.7 & 8.9 are both great tablets – either is superior to the 10.1 IMHO.

          I opted for the 7.7 – main reasons being the amoled screen (I’ve been blown away by the technology on my nexus); also the microsd expansion, exynos processor are nice and the dpi on the smaller screen looks amazing. Greater portability is also a factor, as this is a better form factor for the bus to work.

          I’d go the the 8.9 if you want lte, aren’t fussed by the amoled screen, and use more at home than on the go, where the bigger screen is nice.

          Great review!

          Fyi got ics cyanogen running on my 10.1 and its like butter compared to 3.2 and touchwiz, so bring I on for the 7.7 and 8.9. In the meantime adw ex launcher keeps me sane….

    • Rph35

      I have the 3g model as well and I love it. It has replaced my Kindle and is now my only reading device. I bought a 32gb microsd card and I was wondering if you have had the same issue I had where applications don’t have write permission to the microsd. I ended up having to root the device and then run a script from xda developers to fix the permissions.

      • Matt Booth

        Exactly the same as you – I bought a 32GB card and couldn’t write to it. This is due to Honeycomb rather than specific to the Tab 7.7. Once you are rooted then you can use this guide to enable write access forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1491954

    • Chris

      Amazing the 3g variant is not available here. As usual probably because of agreements with the carriers. Why is it that Apple can do it here but not Samsung.

    • Geoff Fieldew

      AppZorter Lite for TouchWiz https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.demidoes.appzorter.lite will fix those alphabetical sorting problems in the app drawer.

      • Matt Booth

         Thanks Geoff, I tried it but it’s not compatible with this version of Touchwiz. It wasn’t visible on the market for this device so I tried a manual APK load as well, didnt work.

    • Igoforthebest

      I’ve ordered a 3G one from Kogan, hoping to receive it by Friday.
      After playing with it at retail stores at JB HiFi and Officeworks I can highly recommend this tablet.
      Yes! Touchwiz in an issue, but there are alternatives.
      Hardware wise you wont go wrong! As far as the software side is concerned…. hopefully samsung brings out the ICS update soon.

    • Matt Booth

      Here are some of my recommended accessories for the Tab 7.7:
      - Rock folio leather case: 
      http://www.minihotsale.com/rock-samsung-p6800-galaxy-tab-77-tablet-light-cool-folio-leather-case_p1435.html

      - or the official book cover case (should be able to find for around $40):
      http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/120860281215#ht_4839wt_1396 

      - MicroUSB dock charging adapter:
      http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/220942137750?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649#ht_1371wt_1163 

      - USB OTG host adapter, to mount USB drives:
      http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/220929749979#ht_5862wt_1163 

    • mark0Z

      Got a Wifi version and I have to say this is truly the BEST Samsung tablet by far…Excellent screen and premium metallic finish…now, if only the rest of Samsung’s mobile devices are built like this!

      Ditto with the Touchwiz on Honeycomb performance though – that is why I use ADW Launcher EX, with which this thing flies! The Exynos core is a blessing, playing encoded full HD videos like mp4, mkv etc buttery smooth unlike (the honestly crappy) Tegra 2 offerings plus no discernable lag even with live wallpapers active (both orientations).

      Not sure if you’re aware, but the default Quick Launch button (screen capture) next to the usual Honeycomb ones can be customised to function as an app drawer shortcut/search etc. Check options under Settings>Screen>Quick Launch. Solves the niggly problem of always mis-hitting screenshot everytime I wanted the multi-task button.

      • Matt Booth

        Did not know that about the Quick Launch button, thanks for the tip!

      • Chris

         I agree on ADW Launcher, it is so worth the money. I also have SBP 3D for my GS2 and love it. Will see which one is best but Touchwiz I don’t want.

    • Frank Benign

       Any burn-in issues, dots, circles etc.?

      • Matt Booth

        Not on my particular unit, but I know some of the guys on Whirlpool had screen issues. It’s not common enough to be concerned, but people have experienced problems with it. 

    • http://twitter.com/AJPascoe James Pascoe

      Ive currently got a Nexus S,
      Tossing up between getting a Note or Galaxy Nexus or getting a 7.7 or 8.9 tab
      Anyone got some wisdom to share about my decision???

      • fishman

        Here’s my take on the differences (I’ve got a 7.7 & 10.1, and played with the 8.9)

        7.7 & 8.9 are both great tablets – either is superior to the 10.1 IMHO, as they are both a more comfortable weight and size to hold for long periods.
        I opted for the 7.7 – main reasons being the amoled screen (I’ve been blown away by the technology on my nexus and its amazing on the 7.7); also the microsd expansion, exynos processor (way better than tegra 2) are nice and the dpi on the smaller screen looks amazing. Greater portability is also a major factor, as this is a better form factor for the bus to work. I’d go the the 8.9 if you want lte, aren’t fussed by the amoled screen or memory expansion, and use more at home than on the go, where the bigger screen is nice.I also think the 7.7 is better value right now, but again IMHOFlag1 person lik

      • Tony

        Well, I was in the same boat – wanted a Note. But I couldn’t relate to having to toss out my Xperia Arc. Then I saw this and after reading reviews found the perfect compromise. Got the WiFi version for $472 (don’t need two 3G’s on my person). After getting it home I knew I made the right choice because I would have found the Note too limiting. This screen size really rocks. Now I can make calls, watch decent sized movies, Skpe my arse off with WiFi tethering. Holy torpedo! It’s all just come together brilliantly without even breaking my budget.The Note would have cost me an extra hundred bucks. Okay, I could have sold my a Arc for $150 but I’m way ahead screen size and I have a tab AND a smartphone all working together as one medium-sized happy family. Not too big – not too small. Lovely.Just lovely.
        Hope this helps if it’s not too late.

      • Tony

        Oops. I’m talking about the new 7.7 tab.

    • Tom

      Great review Matt, informative, to the point, and you didnt mention quadrant scores and viewing angles (who views a tab at 90 degree angles anyway?) that tech reviewers always seem to bring up.

      • Chris

         Agreed. Nicely said.

    • Gregmcph

      I want one.
      I keep stepping into JB Hifis to play with them. But they are expensive buggers

      Hard to go home and show my new toy to the wife. “How much did it cost?” “Ummm… Five hundred”
      Icey stares…

    • Tazeem Naqvi

      Does it come with an IR blaster?

      • Matt Booth

         No it doesn’t. Some pre-production models had the IR blaster but it did not make it to the retail version, unfortunately.

    • Stan

      bought one and very happy so far

    • aige

      Anyone have any thoughts on the 7.7 vs say the upcoming asus memo/”nexus” tablet? I’m after something more portable than my sony tablet but with 3g. It’s hard to know whether to wait or not.

      • Chris

         No idea about the Asus, got my 3g 7.7 yesterday and love it.
        To be honest in the end they are nearly all the same. If you move from touchwiz for example as I have to another launcher (sbp 3d) then no matter who makes it they are the same. Go for the hardware combination that best suits you, not the manufacturer (apart from build quality and the Sami is solid)

        The 7.7 has a nice processor, the screen is brilliant, it’s fast wifi is good and I am impressed with the 3g reception. I am using it for work and they supply a 3 SIM which I am using.  I am getting better data speeds and much stronger connection on 3 than I do on Optus using my GS2.

        The 7.7 is out now, is getting ICS soon and has an amazing screen. It’s the perfect size to hold and use however the smaller screen with the higher res means text isn’t large so if you don’t like small text you might need something else.

    • Krjal

      Got the wifi 7.7 a week ago and it’s close to perfect.
      I can tether to my SGS2 when i need data and the screen is brilliant.

      The only thing I’m disappointed about is missing out on the active digitiser from Wacom in the Note range.

      You have to see the screen, it just looks great!

    • IHATEHIPSTERSSS

      Hey guys im looking for a case for this device but with a built in battery?

    • Charles Handy

      The font size on the 7.7 is terrible – samsung should be shot for releasing a product that needs a magnifying glass to read.

      • Chris

         I have no problem with it, love it. Maybe you should get glasses.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=849570248 Kitt Foo

      just ordered one from mobicity. cant wait for ICS update for it. any ETA?

      • Matt Booth

        Samsung have committed to a Q2 update to ICS, so anytime between April and June

    • Francis Siasat

      Great review, Matt. I purchased one through kogan recently. I’m loving the device. Except that when I press the upper left and lower right corner of the glass, there’s a slight ‘click’. Does this occur with yours as well?

      • Matt Booth

        Thanks. No I don’t have that problem with the screen and it doesn’t sound good! There is a thread on xda regarding build quality, take a look on there and see if it’s a common problem

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=849570248 Kitt Foo

      just a heads up for anyone wanting to buy from mobicity, i just got placed on back order.

      • Chris

         Cheaper from Kogan

    • Adlinawee

      Why i cant make or receive calls from it? Whenever i try to make calls, the calls ended automatically and the screen will be off. Any suggestion on how can i resolve this problem?

    • Alexhunt

      Keen to get one of these! Keep playing with it in stores! The screen is amazing! Love the size and dimensions! Man its zippy too! Would love to see how fast it is with ICS! Just need to sell my Sony Tab and extras for it!

    • Skintone5

      I would like to use it as a replacement for my laptop at work with a usb keyboard, in order to surf the net .
      Is this feasible?

    • brian

      I bought a 7.7 wifi version recently and would have considered 3g version, as I do not have a phone, but was told by the retailer the 3g was no longer available.any info pls.

    • Updatemytabletsamsung

      Its a good tablet, but Samsung doesn’t support their product…6 months after europe gets icecream sandwich Australian users are still crippled with honeycomb….