Editors' note: Thanks to the release of recent, high-quality tablets, the overall score of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE (Verizon) has been adjusted down from 6.8 to 6.5.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 for Verizon is virtually the same 7-inch tablet Samsung released earlier in 2012, except now with fast cellular-powered speeds. The new version costs $350, $100 more than the Wi-Fi-only version, and that doesn't begin to count usage fees.
Thankfully, two-year contracts have gone the way of the dodo, but the tablet market continues to move on, and paying $350 for a 7-inch tablet of the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0's relatively meager capabilities is not recommended.
The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE tablet from Verizon sports a slightly altered design from that of the original, Wi-Fi-only Tab 2 7.0. The 4G LTE version has a black textured back instead of the smooth silver-gray of the Wi-Fi version, and a SIM card slot now resides above the microSD slot. Other than those minor changes, no significant physical differences are apparent.
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (Verizon)||Google Nexus 7||Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0||Amazon Kindle Fire|
|Weight in pounds||0.76||0.74||0.74||0.9|
|Width in inches (landscape)||7.6||7.8||7.6||7.4|
|Height in inches||4.8||4.72||4.8||4.75|
|Depth in inches||0.3||0.4||0.3||0.4|
|Side bezel width in inches (landscape)||0.76||0.8||0.76||0.78 (power button side), 0.6 opposite side|
The Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE is fairly thin, although not Tab 7.7-thin. It's comfortable to hold, with smooth, rounded corners; however, I prefer the feel of the Google Nexus 7's more comfortable leatherlike back.
The microSD card slot enables you to add an additional 64GB of storage on top of the built-in 8GB. The Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE also has both a front-facing VGA camera and a rear-facing 3.2-megapixel shooter without LED flash. Thankfully, each camera is located in the upper left corner when you hold the tablet in landscape, decreasing the chance that unwanted fingers will creep into the camera frame when you're taking a picture.
On the right edge (or bottom edge if you're holding the tablet in portrait), equidistant from its surrounding dual speakers, sits a dock connector, and the left edge houses a headphone jack and microphone pinhole. The ambient light sensor sits about an inch away from the front camera on the bezel.
Sadly, as with most Samsung tablets, there's no HDMI port, requiring you to purchase an adapter if you'd like to play video from your tablet on your TV.
The Tab 2 7.0 4G LTE ships with Android 4.0.4 installed. Samsung's TouchWiz UI skin is of course included and comes with custom Samsung apps like Music Hub, Media Hub, Game Hub, and a built-in screenshot app. No mini apps tray, however (the best thing about TouchWiz) is nowhere to be found.
The basic look and design of Android 4.0 are retained, just with a TouchWiz skin and a few extra shortcuts for quickly turning off Wi-Fi, GPS, screen rotation, and so on.
The settings menu now features a Mobile Hotspot feature, providing an easy way for wireless devices to connect to a Wi-Fi network facilitated by the tablet's 4G LTE cellular connection.
Peel Smart Remote
In conjunction with Peel's included Smart Remote app, the IR blaster helps turn your tablet into a remote control for your TV. Peel can take the place of your cable or satellite channel guide and display a list of shows currently playing locally on your cable or satellite provider's channels. Go to the currently playing tab and click on a show, and your TV switches to the appropriate channel. Peel does a great job of holding your hand initially through a step-by-step setup wizard. The setup only requires that you know your TV's manufacturer's name, your cable/satellite provider, and your ZIP code. Thankfully, Peel spares us from having to know any more detailed information; however, be aware that Smart Remote does not work with regular monitors, only TVs or monitor/TV combos.
Once Peel is set up, you can browse shows by category, mark shows as favorites, or prevent shows you'd rather not see on the list from showing up again. Thankfully, Smart Remote now syncs with over-the-air listings, though its accuracy as to which shows and channels were available to me left a bit to be desired.
Navigating the interface took some getting used to, but was easy enough to pick up; however, I took issue with the method by which cable TV screen menus are controlled by the interface. Peel went with a swipe interface that requires you to flick the screen in one of four directions to highlight different menus. While this method works and after some time could be gotten used to, I would have much preferred more-direct directional controls.
As I learned with the Tab 7.0 Plus and Tab 7.7, Smart Remote's accuracy is very closely dictated by the information cable and satellite providers choose to release. So, while the Smart Remote guide might indicate that "Law & Order" was on right now on Channel 12, selecting it didn't always take me to the appropriate channel. In addition, sometimes the channel wasn't available to me or there was a different show on the channel at that time.
While Peel's Smart Remote is still missing some features, it's implemented well overall. However, I'm still waiting for Hulu and Netflix integration, and an actual search feature would be useful. Also, while I found that the remote reliably functions from 10 to 20 feet away, performance is definitely more reliable within 8 feet. And the tablet does not handle obstructions like coffee tables as well as my normal remote does, requiring much more precise aiming.