Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 Preview

Introduction and Design

Last year was a very interesting one for technology, as it saw the birth of the tablet computer... at least as we know it today. Apple once again took the mobile world by surprise by unveiling its iPad, which quickly managed to transform itself from a “gigantic iPod”, to the latest craze, proving that tablets have a significant spot in the present and future of consumer computing. Naturally, everyone else followed suit and started work on their own tablet solutions. Samsung was among the first ones to deliver a product to the market, in the form of its Galaxy Tab. However, the 7” slate was never really considered a true opponent to the iPad. Aside from its smaller form-factor, what actually left it uncompetitive was its software platform. It was near the end of 2010, and Honeycomb wasn't quite finished yet. Thus, the Galaxy Tab ran Froyo – a fact, which, for the most part, wrote its unfortunate destiny.

Now we're deep in 2011, a Honeycomb tablet is spawning every now and then, and we're really beginning to see the first worthwhile, non-iPad offerings hit the shelves. Among the most noticeable ones are the new additions to Samsung's Galaxy Tab line, which includes the 8.9, 10.1, and most recently, the 7.7. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 can be purchased right now, while we've already played with a prototype version of the 8.9, but what should we expect from the 7.7? The device got announced just recently at IFA, and fortunately, Samsung was quick to bless us with an unfinished unit of those as well, so that's what we'll be looking at here.

Armed with a slightly bigger, 7.7” screen, and more importantly, with a “true” tablet-optimized OS, will the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 successfully take the place of Samsung's debut tablet, and aspire it to new heights?


Samsung has done a terrific job with the design of the Galaxy Tab 7.7. It's way better than the OG Galaxy Tab, and even than the 10.1 and 8.9, which are all-plastic. In comparison, the Tab 7.7 has a stylish metal back cover, which, for the first time in a Samsung tablet, provides for a more classy feel. Not only that, but the 7.7 is also noticeably thinner than the iPad 2, and Galaxy Tab 10.1/8.9, at just 0.31” (7.89mm).

Obviously, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 will be targeted towards consumers who want a smaller and lighter tablet, which they can bring anywhere with ease. Since it's only marginally bigger than the original Tab, the 7.7 is still quite easy to pick up and go, while it's actually even better in the weight department, at only 11.82 oz (335 g), versus the original Tab's 13.40 oz (380 g).

The screen is where it gets interesting with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, as it makes the jump to using a Super AMOLED Plus display, instead of the traditional LCD. This is a first for a tablet, so it is inevitable for us to ask ourselves if this is a major step forwards in development of screen technology. Well, for the most part – it is. The AMOLED screen makes the experience of viewing pictures and video much more enjoyable, as it presents the user with incredibly deep contrasts, and lots of lively colors. It's indeed somewhat as if images come to life with such a big AMOLED screen. As you can imagine, colors are a bit colder on the AMOLED display, compared to a high-quality IPS-LCD for example, which manages to output a more natural balance, but this isn't really a big downer, as the difference isn't that big.

The Galaxy Tab 7.7's display sports a resolution of 800x1280, which is great for this screen size, making even smaller text and other details appear crisp.

Since this is a Honeycomb device, controls like “home”, “back” and so on are on-screen commands, instead of dedicated keys below the display. An interesting feature here is the infrared port on the right side of the tablet. We don't imagine that too many users will go crazy over it though.

Overall, we're quite happy with the direction Samsung is taking things with the Galaxy Tab 7.7, in regards to build quality. With a brushed metal finish to the back and an extremely thin profile, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 takes the “amateurish” design of the OG Galaxy Tab and transforms it into a mature, classy product.

Interface and Functionality:

While the advancements that Samsung has managed to achieve in the design department with the Galaxy Tab 7.7 are pretty significant, what it has done in the software field is even more important. Largely thanks to the helping hand of Google, the Tab 7.7 now runs Honeycomb 3.2. It goes without saying that the tablet experience is now much better, compared to what we had with the OG Tab and its Froyo power.

On top of Google's futuristic Android 3.2, however, Samsung has naturally chosen to layer its TouchWiz UX user interface. Thinking about it, it actually makes much sense for the company to do so. After all, who would you like your product to appeal to – a relatively small group of geeks, or the much broader mass audience, which doesn't care about robots and stuff, but just wants a quality product to cater to its daily internet communication and multimedia needs. TouchWiz does just that – makes the Galaxy Tab 7.7 look like a friendlier tablet, which is here to help, rather than wow.

The so-called TouchWiz UX comes with a Live Panel menu for customizing the home screens on the Galaxy Tab 7.7 with pictures, bookmarks and social network feeds. It also includes a “Mini Apps” tray for commonly used features such as task manager, calendar and music player. Not much added value here with these mini-apps, but as long as their presence doesn't bog down the interface speed, we can live with them. Of course, Samsung's Social and Music Hubs, as well as the Samsung Apps store are also here.

Apps like Contacts and Calendar have also been customized in order to have a more from-this-world appearance and feel. We were pleasantly surprised to find that typing on the portrait QWERTY keyboard of the Galaxy Tab 7.7 is actually a comfortable experience, due to the appropriate width of the device, coupled with its light weight. Our feelings aren't the same when it comes to the landscape keyboard, as: a) the 7.7” tablet isn't big enough for the purpose, and b) you'll surely need to have the device rested on a table or dock or something else, in order to be able to type this way. The latter, of course, is valid for all tablets out there, but it's just one more reason why you should rather stick with the portrait QWERTY here.

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Thankfully, the web experience seems to be pretty good with the Galaxy Tab 7.7. Due to the fast dual-core processor of 1.4 GHz, basic navigation is comfortable, with smooth scrolling and zooming (panning while doing pinch-to-zoom is available), while the Flash Player performance is just great, and we hope it will get even better in the final version of the device.

The Galaxy Tab 7.7 has relatively straightforward camera interface, with minimalistic fonts and plenty of options to play around for the 3MP camera on the back, and the front-facing one for video chat. We took a few shots for you to check out, but would not comment on their quality, as this isn't a final unit.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 Sample Video:

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 Indoor Sample:

In terms of multimedia capabilities, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 features the above-mentioned Music Hub that allows you to make music purchases, as well as Samsung's own music player app. With its dual-core Tegra 2 chipset though, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 is capable of flawlessly running 1080p videos, and, as you can imagine, watching them on the big Super AMOLED Plus display is awesome. This area, along with photo viewing, is where the screen shines the most, with its saturated colors and glorious contrast levels.


It doesn't take a genius to see that Samsung is unleashing the Galaxy Tab 7.7 in order to replace its now aging OG Galaxy Tab. So, we should be looking at it in two contexts: one is how it performs as a successor, and the other is simply how it compares to the rest of the similar tablet offerings out there.

First of all, we are convinced that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 is indeed a great improvement over the manufacturer's pilot tablet. This is backed by a number of things, including the much thinner and better feeling chassis, the cheerful and hi-res Super AMOLED Plus display, along with the faster, dual-core processor, allowing for superior Flash Player performance in the browser. The most important advancement however, has been made with regards to the software running on the tablet. Without a doubt, the Android 3.2 operating system makes a world of difference, as the device faster, more productive and efficient in its performance and capabilities.

Shifting our attention to the rest of the tablet landscape, we do believe that compact solutions like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 have a place there. The Tab 7.7 will be the tablet of choice for many of those users, as its dimensions are comparable to those of current 7” products, but at the same time it packs a slightly larger screen. In addition, it steps up its game with regards to design and build quality, utilizing some nice materials and having that ultra-thin profile. Also important is the fact that it is very lightweight, at only 11.82 oz (335 g). For comparison, the 7” HTC Flyer weighs 14.82 oz (420 g).

Before we jump to a conclusion however, we should all remember that this product isn't yet launched on the market, and a concrete release date is still missing. This means that pretty much anything can change until then, so we'll just cross our fingers and hope that it won't be long before we finally see the retail units hit the shelves (and that their price will be somewhat reasonable).

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 Video Preview:

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