My Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Review

My Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Review

This will be my second attempt at writing a gadget review so I preface this by saying that my experience with these types of reviews is still rudimentary but, since I’m not being paid by anyone to write these or working for anyone nor do I necessarily choose sides in the fierce Apple versus Android debate, it should help you make an unbiased decision.

I’ll be starting with some history regarding my tablet adventures but if you’d rather skip straight to the review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, then click here.


My first tablet was none other than the inaugural iPad.  Like many, its then crisp, eye dazzling display and the small nuances like the page turning animation for reading e-books immediately enchanted me.  I had the iPad for about a week before the effects of the enchantment wore off and I realized it was a pricey device that I didn’t really need considering I had a laptop and a smartphone that did pretty much everything the iPad did. Thus, I returned the device (blasphemy!) even if it meant paying Best Buy’s now defunct restocking fee.

Sometime afterwards I bought an Amazon Kindle, the second-generation gray model that was slimmer and had the keyboard.  Being an avid reader and being able to sideload e-books onto it was convenient but for reasons which I cannot remember, I decided to go purchase a Motorola XOOM after I stepped into a Best Buy before casting my anti gadget hypnosis spells and was enchanted by the sleek interface of Android 3.1 (Honeycomb).

I had a great time with my XOOM.  Despite its unwieldy ten-inch size I read magazines and e-books and after I discovered I was able to hook up my Xbox controller and use it wirelessly, it essentially became a portable old school gaming console.  Playing games like Mega Man, Dr. Mario, ActRaiser and Double Dragon was a delight but I wasn’t really doing that very often and reading books on a somewhat thick ten inch tablet was tiring when trying to hold it in one hand.

The Motorola XOOM was sold to a friend and finally realizing that what I needed was just something for e-books, I purchased a Nook Color.  This device was smaller, lighter and had a few extra bells and whistles that I never used (i.e.: Pandora).  I loved my Nook Color and kept it until the release of the next model, the Nook Tablet.  It did everything the original did and a little more like Netflix along with improved specs.

The question you may be pondering now assuming you’ve read this far is why I chose to ditch the Nook Tablet if I was so pleased with it.  I suppose it was Android Police’s fault.  I wasn’t aware of the existence of a second generation seven-inch Galaxy Tab until I read on the website that it was being sold at a discounted price as part of an eBay daily deal.  And with that, I decided it was worth the investment for the following reasons:

  •  The price of $219 with no taxes and free shipping.
  • Slightly thinner but significantly lighter than the Nook Tablet.
  • Access to the Google Play store.
  • Access to the Nook app as well as the Kindle app.


And so, I switched from the Nook Tablet to the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 and this is where the actual review begins.


Design / Build

Appearance wise, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is unremarkable.  It looks like nearly every other tablet out there with the exception of the Motorola XOOM 2 and its angled corners.  I won’t go into details since it’s all pretty standard stuff except to mention the IR blaster on the right side below the volume controls.  It allows you to use the tablet as a massive remote to control your cable or satellite box as well as your television.


Samsung Galaxy Tab 2


You may want to seriously consider purchasing a microSD card to stick in the slot on the right side.  While the tablet has 8GB available internally, a significant portion of that is taken up by software included by Samsung that cannot be removed (more on that later).

I was slightly disappointed that the connector port is proprietary and didn’t have a miniUSB port like my old XOOM did but it’s a minor quibble.

Since I’m comparing it to the Nook Tablet, as I said previously it is thinner and lighter.  I’ve used it for a few days now reading with one hand and it feels very comfortable.


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Keeping in mind that this is a $250 device, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 display will not—and does not—match what you’d find on the larger, more expensive Galaxy Tabs.  That being said, the colors and resolution looked just fine.  You may notice pixelization if for example you choose an HD wallpaper that surpasses the device’s resolution, as illustrated in left photo below.  However, as you can see from the right photo it does just fine for the most part, including e-books.


Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 homescreenGoogle Books app


There is the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus and the 7.7, both of which have Samsung’s popular Super AMOLED technology but those tablets cost twice as much as the Galaxy Tab 2 and if I’m not mistaken, they also don’t come with the latest version of Android which brings me to the next section.



The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 ships with Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS).  This latest version combines the previous features of Android 3.1 along with new enhancements and a visual facelift that makes using Android a lot more pleasing to the eye and less well, geeky.  Even if you’ve never touched an Android device in your lifetime, it’s pretty simple to learn the ins and outs of the operating system.

Interface/Usability: Android 4.0 is a pleasure to use but just like with its phones, Samsung insists on adding its own TouchWiz interface on top of it.  I never liked it on my previous Samsung device and I still don’t like it now but these are very much personal preferences.

One TouchWiz feature that has annoyed me greatly is the presence of the screenshot button.  While it’s highly convenient, its placement was not the wisest decision.  It’s located right next to the recent apps button and since I jump between apps frequently I end up pressing the button more often than I’d like to.  What exacerbates my annoyance is the unwise decision to automatically open the Gallery app as soon as the screenshot is taken which disrupts whatever one may be doing at the moment.  I couldn’t find an option to disable the feature so I guess for the time being it’s a matter of adjusting.

Samsung bundles in a lot of software, which I find not only mostly useless but also unnecessarily redundant.  For example, there are apps for movies, music and general apps.  Unlike the Nook or the Amazon Kindle Fire that have their own app stores, you get access to the official Google Play store which has oodles of apps, music and movies so I find little reason why you’d need Samsung’s “Media Hub” as it’s called.

E-books: No compromising between Barnes and Noble or Amazon here!  I was able to install the Nook and Kindle apps and all my previous purchases showed up just fine, as you can see in the images below.  I was initially concerned when my issues of Entertainment Weekly (I subscribe to the electronic version) didn’t show up alongside my subscriptions to Men’s Health and Consumer Reports but that situation was easily remedied with an app called Next Issue.


Amazon Kindle appBarnes and Noble Nook AppEntertainment Weekly


I don’t believe the Kindle app allows you to sideload and read your own non-Amazon e-books and I know for a fact the Google Books app doesn’t.  The Nook app does it without a problem so if you have books you’ve obtained from other sources, consider the Nook app since it’s free and does pretty much everything you need it to.

Entertainment:  I keep all of my music in “the cloud” as they say and use Google Music as my primary player as well as Amazon Cloud Player as a backup of sorts.  Both apps loaded all of my music just fine via Wi-Fi.

Netflix worked flawlessly and though Hulu Plus was there, upon opening the app it claimed my device wasn’t supported yet and outright refused to let me watch the third episode of Grimm.

Regarding the previously mentioned IR blaster, it works with another pre-installed app called Peel.  Setup your television and provider and you can control everything including your DVR.  It’s a nicely designed app and shows you what’s on but I haven’t found much use for it.


Peel Remote App


Productivity: As mentioned, Android 4.0 improves the already great multitasking with that nifty recent apps button.  I installed the Google Drive app, fired up my cloud storage app (Dropbox, more on that below) and Documents to Go and I was editing Word and Excel documents on my Galaxy Tab 2 with zero problems.

If you use Google Chrome as your primary web browser like I do, you’ll be pleased to know there is currently a beta version of it for use with ICS devices.  I tried it out and it synced my bookmarks without a problem.  It’s pretty much the same experience minus the extensions.

Communication: There’s the built-in Google Talk that does its tried and true job just fine.  Skype claimed my device wasn’t supported but unlike the Hulu app which simply gave me no choice and didn’t allow me to watch videos, Skype simply warned me that it may not work but it ended up working just fine.

A few things you should also know regarding the software:

  • Just as you can on most, if not all Android phones, you can install the Amazon Appstore as well as any other unofficial app if you so choose.
  • One very useful app that is included is Dropbox for storing files.  You get 50GB free as a perk for owning a Galaxy Tab.


One last thing regarding the software: As I mentioned in my review for the exhaustively titled Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch, the company is notorious for its molasses-like speed when it comes to updates.  In fact, that phone has yet to see any Android 4.0 updates and it’s been out since September of last year.  Of course this is an issue with all Android phones and their manufacturers but Samsung is among the worst offenders.

Why do I mention this?  It’s something you may want to consider when investing in any Android device made by Samsung.  Thankfully the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 already comes with Android 4.0 and the next version of Android (Jellybean) isn’t scheduled for announcement until around October or November of this year so there’s considerably less of a concern of being stuck with an outdated operating system.



I really don’t care much for all the numbers and technical jargon most tech websites spit out but I do have to reiterate that this a $250 tablet so you’re not going to see the mindblowing specs or speed like on a $500+ beast.

The great news here is that the Galaxy Tab 2 is a zippy device.  I played casual games, watched Netflix videos, all without a noticeable hiccup.  I’ve only encountered lag once and that was when I tried playing a game called Cordy Sky.  It’s a somewhat graphically intensive game that involves jumping and flying through the air at rapid speeds while collecting coins so I assume that either the processor had a little trouble keeping up with all of the fast action or the game was poorly coded for devices without the latest and greatest specs.

Camera: While I appreciate having a front and back facing camera unlike the camera-less Nook Tablet, I most certainly did not buy this device because of the camera.  With that being said, the cameras are decent as long as you have sufficient light.

Audio: I am not an audiophile but I also know that iPod earbuds provide terrible sound quality and 128kbps is a poor excuse and should have disappeared during the final days of blazing fast 56k modems.  As for the Galaxy Tab 2’s speakers they can output pretty loud sound but it can become tinny if you crank the volume to its maximum setting.  I hooked up a pair of my overhyped marketing gimmick for people who don’t know any better Beats Studio headphones and my Google Music and Amazon Cloud Player music sounded wonderful.  I suppose the fact that I rip everything at 320kbps also helps.


Google MusicAmazon Cloud Player


Battery: To put it simply, the Galaxy Tab 2’s battery is a champ.  It can go for several days if left alone and if you’re someone like me who uses it primarily for reading news, books and magazines and the occasional Netflix video or casual game then it will last you quite a long time, at least more than sufficient time to find its charger.


The Final Verdict

I’ve spent nearly an entire week now with my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 and I must admit that despite its irksome but minor annoyances, it’s an excellent tablet/e-reader and aggressively priced device when comparing it to its direct competition, the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet.  It does nearly everything those two can do and more and you get access to the Google Play store.  It doesn’t have the bleeding edge specs of a more expensive tablet but if you already own a laptop computer or a smartphone…do you really need one?


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