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.
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.