The Tab 2 7.0 houses a 1GHz dual-core OMAP 4430 CPU, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage. Tablet mainstays like 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth 3.0, and GPS are included as well as gyroscope, accelerometer, and digital compass support.
The two speakers on the bottom of the tablet deliver typically "OK, I guess" tablet-quality sound that gets a bit staticky and distorted if you increase the volume too much.
The Tab 2 7.0 uses the same PLS-based panel tech the Plus does, running at a resolution of 1,024x600 pixels. I consider that resolution middling for a 7-inch screen, as some run as high as 1,280x800 pixels and look considerably sharper doing so. The Tab 2 7.0's screen clarity isn't bad, but it doesn't reach the pixel-dense heights of other 7-inchers, like the Thrive 7-inch.
Also, either there are different tiers of quality when it comes to PLS panels, or Samsung really didn't devote much time or effort to calibrating the Tab 2 7.0's color. Compared with the 7.0 Plus, its screen looks noticeably greener and colors appear washed out.
|Tested spec||Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0||Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7||Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus||Amazon Kindle Fire|
|Maximum brightness||379 cd/m2||110 cd/m2||214 cd/m2||424 cd/m2|
|Default brightness||150 cd/m2||51 cd/m2||0.17 cd/m2||147 cd/m2|
|Maximum black level||0.31 cd/m2||0.0049 cd/m2||0.17 cd/m2||0.45 cd/m2|
|Default black level||0.12 cd/m2||0.0049 cd/m2||0.04 cd/m2||0.15 cd/m2|
|Default contrast ratio||1250||10,408||1,250||980|
|Maximum contrast ratio||1,222||22,449||1,258||963|
When swiping through screens and navigating menus, the screen matches the sensitivity of some the most responsive Android screens out there, like the Transformer Prime. Also, apps launch without delay and settings menu options appear readily after tapping them.
Web and app download speeds matched most other Android tablets when within 5 feet of our test router and even when up to 20 feet away the connection retained much of its strength. While scrolling through Web sites was smooth, there was a noticeable degree of clipping as the processor attempted to keep up with its rendering duties. Nothing that broke the experience, but it was definitely noticeable.
Thanks to its hardware scalability, I used Riptide GP as a games performance benchmark. Depending on the speed of the tablet's CPU, Riptide GP will deliver a noticeable increase or decrease in frame rate. Thanks to its faster 1.2GHz dual-core Exynos 4210 CPU, the Tab 7.0 Plus renders the game with a high frame rate that looks to approach 60 frames per second. The Tab 2 7.0's TI OMAP 4430 CPU, in comparison, fails to come close to that performance. It's not choppy and it's pretty consistent, but it's just not as buttery-smooth.
In 2D games like Angry Birds Space, we didn't notice any performance difference aside from slightly slower load times on the Tab 2 7.0.
As mentioned, the Tab 2 7.0 has a front-facing VGA camera and a 3-megapixel back camera. Compared with the Plus, the difference between images and video recorded on the front camera was quickly apparent. A picture of my face taken with the VGA camera, for example, lacked many embarrassing and detailed blemishes, while a similar pic from the Plus' 2-megapixel retained many of my facial "features" I'd rather people not see.
The 3-megapixel back camera fared better, capturing more details, but the Tab 2 7.0's pictures still looked washed-out and lacked contrast. While the 7.0 Plus' camera took a longer time to focus, it resulted in higher-quality pictures.
720p video playback from outside sources was smooth and crisp; however, try as I might, 1080p video files would not play on the tablet, though Samsung claims it's compatible with the format.
Our Tab 2 7.0's battery drained fairly quickly with normal use over the course of several hours. Here are our official CNET Labs-tested battery life results. More tablet testing results can be found here.
|Video battery life (in hours)|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0||7.1|
Though it gives up a few things to get there, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0's very competitive $250 price does a great job of making you ignore those sacrifices. However, there may be tablets on the horizon that could shine a light on corners Samsung cut.
The Asus Memo 370T is, as of this moment, still slated to be released in the second quarter with a higher-resolution screen, an 8-megapixel camera, and a quad-core Tegra 3 CPU. All for the same $250 price. There's also the rumored $150-$200 Tegra 3-powered Google Nexus tablet possibly coming in July to consider as well.
That said, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is out this month, on April 22, while the aforementioned tablets have yet to receive concrete release dates.
The $200 Kindle Fire is available now, however. The Tab 2 7.0 is $50 more than the Fire, and doesn't give you full access to Amazon's impressive content ecosystem. On the Tab 2 7.0, books, magazines, and newspapers are accessible via the Kindle app, and you can stream or download Amazon's Cloud Player music, but "free" Amazon Prime books aren't available, nor is any Amazon video content. With the Tab 2 7.0 you can stream movies through Netflix or rent them on Google Play, but there's currently no way to purchase TV shows on Android, unless through a Kindle Fire. Still, that might be worth the trade-off for Amazon fans who want the Tab 2 7.0's extra features. Expandable storage, Bluetooth, IR blaster, dual cameras, microphone, and GPS isn't a bad deal for just $50 extra.
There's something to be said for convenience, though. Once your Amazon account is installed on the Fire, you can begin consuming all of your books, video, and music immediately, rather than deal with different apps and log-ins during your initial setup. It may not sound like a big deal on paper, but it's one of those intangible conveniences you only truly appreciate once you've reset your system a few times.
Also, Amazon has been very consistent with Kindle Fire updates, making many useful and tangible performance and interface improvements. Meanwhile Samsung tablets launched last year are still waiting for ICS. Something to consider when making your decision.
The Fire is a simply a gentler introduction into the world of tablets that's relatively safe, controlled, simple, and convenient. If that sounds appealing and you don't care about cameras, and 8GB of storage sounds like all you'll ever need, then the Kindle Fire is your best bet.
However, if you don't mind paying the extra money, don't need hand-holding, and are open to a more complex experience that ultimately you can do more with, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is an excellent choice.