Verizon Wireless Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7-inch) 4G LTE Review
Samsung has made it’s Galaxy Tab line of tablets in every size imaginable. I won’t even being to try naming them all, I just know there has been a lot of different Galaxy Tab models. The latest is a slight refresh of the original Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) and its available from Verizon Wireless now.
Verizon’s version takes Samsung’s agile, Wi-Fi only Android tablet and makes it better by adding a speedier processor and 4G LTE connectivity. The upgraded specs do come with a cost though, the new version retails for $350 ($100 more than the Wi-Fi only model) and on top of that, you will have usage fees to pay. All told, it can add up to a fairly large investment. Especially when you consider that the Google Nexus 7 can be had for as little as $200.
Verizon’s Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) is obviously meant for users that require portability and built-in 4G LTE connectivity. For anyone requiring those two features, this may be the best tablet available today.
Design and Hardware:
Design wise, the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 looks nearly identical to the Wi-Fi only model. The most noticeable alteration is found on the back of the device, with the 4G LTE version featuring a textured black plastic panel instead of the smooth gray plastic found on the Wi-Fi only model. Also, with this being a 4G LTE device, there is now a SIM card slot.
The Tab 2 7.0 measures 7.6 by 4.8 by 0.41 inches (HWD) and weights in at 12.13 ounces. On the right side of the tablet, you will find the Power and Volume buttons, as well as the IR-Blaster. While the SIM and microSD card slots can be found behind two plastic flaps on the left side. Up top there is a 3.5mm headphone jack. Dual speakers and Samsung’s proprietary docking port are located on the bottom of the tablet. Overall, I really like the design Samsung came up with for this tablet, it feels very solid while remaining comfortable to hold and everything is well-placed.
The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 uses Samsung’s Plane to Line Switching (PLS) technology for the display. Allegedly, PLS technology provides an increase in brightness, image quality and viewing angles while being cheaper to manufacture than IPS displays. I am not sure if each of those claims are accurate or not, but I will say that the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 has incredible viewing angles when compared to other tablets I’ve used.
Unfortunately, the Tab 2 7.0’s screen resolution is only 1,024 x 600-pixels. That isn’t horrible, but other 7-inch tablets – such as the Nexus 7 – are using displays with as high as 1,280 x 800 pixels. The difference is easily noticed when comparing Samsung’s screen to the Nexus 7’s side-by-side. The Tab 2 7.0’s screen simply doesn’t have the pixel density and that results in a slightly less clear image.
Internally, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE features a Dual Core 1.2GHz processor and 1GB worth of RAM. While fairly standard for Android devices these days, this combination worked great at providing a smooth and lag free experience. Apps launched immediately with no lag and navigating the UI was fast and smooth.
Other hardware specs include Bluetooth 4.0, 8GB worth of internal storage, a 3.2MP rear–facing camera that can capture 720p HD video, a standard VGA front–facing camera and of course, Verizon Wireless 4G LTE connectivity.
Samsung makes some of the most software feature-rich devices available and the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE is no exception. At it’s core, the Tab 2 7.0 runs Google’s Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) operating system with Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface. It also features an array of custom apps to keep you entertained and productive. Preloaded apps include everything you expect to find on a Android device plus Movie Maker, Photo Editor, Polaris Office, Netflix, Media Hub, Game Hub, Music Hub, S Suggest and many more.
Also included is Peel’s Smart Remote app, which uses the Tab 2 7.0’s IR blaster to turn the tablet into the smartest Television remote ever. Peel displays your cable or satellite provider’s channel guide on your tablet’s screen. Which allows you to view a list of currently playing (or upcoming) TV shows and movies, once you see something you would like to watch, simply click on it and your TV will change to that channel. Setting up Peel is very quick and simple thanks to the step-by-step instructions from the app itself.
Another great app for entertainment seekers is Verizon’s own Viewdini, which makes it easy to find and watch thousands of titles from several different content providers. Users can search for a title, topic or an actors name and Viewdini will display available sources for those videos. Available content providers currently include Netflix, Comcast’s Xfinity TV, Hulu Plus, mSpot, TV sites and movie studios. Results include titles that are available for no additional charge, to rent, for purchase or by a subscription. Viewdini is really useful for users that have multiple subscriptions to different streaming services and want to find out who is offering what.
The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is also a SAFE (Samsung Approved For Enterprise) device and it ships with Polaris Office, which makes this tablet as useful for work as it is entertainment. The Included Polaris Office application allows users to easily create and edit documents and has support for various file types like Microsoft Word, Adobe PDF, PowerPoint, Excel, Zip files and more.
Verizon’s 4G LTE network is currently available in over 370 cities nationwide and its rapidly expanding. That is a very good thing because Verizon’s new network is pretty incredible. From my office, the Tab 2 7.0 averaged speeds of 10.7Mbps for downloads and 8.1 for uploads. The tablet hasn’t had any trouble finding or keeping a signal the entire time I’ve used it. Also, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 will work as a mobile hotspot that supports up to 10 devices.
Samsung equipped the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 with a 4000mAh Battery that typically provided 8 hours of normal use. Certain activities, like streaming videos over 4G, drained the battery much faster. While using the tablet as hard as possible, I drained a full battery in 4 hours and 13 minutes of constant use. Which isn’t bad considering most of that time was spent watching videos or playing games. The longest I’ve seen the battery last was just shy of 12 hours with light use through out the day.
The one major complaint I have with this tablet is the included charging/data cable. Like all Samsung tablets I’ve used, the Tab 2 7.0 uses a proprietary cable for charging and transferring data. Personally speaking, I hate all proprietary charging cables. My house and office are filled with BlackBerry PlayBook chargers, I own several of them and they’re the only chargers I typically use. They charge most micro USB equipped devices very quickly and come with a nice, long cable. If I had it my way, everything would charge via micro USB.
In my opinion, all proprietary cables are wasteful, anti-consumer and inconvenient, but Samsung went and made it even worse by making their cable ridiculously short. View the photo above. That is a 3 foot long charging cable. To be exact, it’s 40.8 inches long. That makes it shorter than the average kindergartner and very inconvenient for anyone that occasionally uses their tablet while it is plugged in. It isn’t a deal breaker, but I can’t help but wonder why Samsung would decide to go with such a short cable.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) is meant for users that absolutely depend on having built-in 4G LTE connectivity in a small tablet and for those users, its the best option available. Some of the available Wi-Fi only tablets may have better screens or a faster processors, but it’s what they lack that matters to some users.
I thoroughly enjoyed using the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 over the last few weeks. It is a great performing Android tablet that offers a lot of nice features for a reasonable price. I would recommend it to anyone that wants a small Android-powered tablet and needs built-in 4G LTE connectivity.
The 4G LTE Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is available from Verizon Wireless for $350 without a contract.