Editors' note: Thanks to the release of recent, high-quality tablets, the overall score of the Samsung Galaxy Tab Plus 7.0 has been adjusted down from 7.1 to 6.5.
As more tablets are released, manufacturers need to continually come up with good reasons for consumers to buy their latest device. Whether they do this through price, features, or a unique design, with a $200 tablet like the Kindle Fire out there, tablets will need a hook to keep consumers interested.
I'm beginning to think it's probably easier to build a thin, 10.1-inch tablet than it is a 7-inch one that's equally as thin. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is actually thicker than its larger brother the Galaxy Tab 10.1. This is likely because a 10.1-inch tablet gives manufacturers room to spread components across a larger canvas, rather than cramming everything into a 7-inch design.
That isn't to say that the 7.0 Plus is some bulky hunk of machinery, however. On the contrary, it's actually the thinnest 7-inch tablet we've yet come in contact with. That said, with such a small design, I imagine it must be difficult to really establish some sort of clear aesthetic difference between 7-inch tablets. There's just not much you can do (or at least, no vendor has yet felt compelled to do anything dramatically different) with 7-inch tablets.
|Measurement||Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus||Samsung Galaxy Tab||T-Mobile SpringBoard||Acer Iconia Tab A100||BlackBerry PlayBook|
|Weight in pounds||0.76||0.82||0.88||0.88||0.96|
|Width in inches (landscape)||7.6||7.9||7.4||7.7||7.6|
|Height in inches||4.8||4.7||4.8||4.6||5.1|
|Depth in inches||0.38||0.48||0.4||0.5||0.4|
|Side bezel width in inches (landscape)||0.75||0.7||0.8||0.8||0.8|
From the front, the 7.0 Plus looks very close to the original Galaxy Tab with its glossy black bezel; however, the 7.0 Plus's back isn't boxy like the original and instead slopes inward, creating a sleeker look and feel. Also, Samsung eschews the glossy back of the original, instead going for a less fingerprint-attracting dark-gray matte feel, reminiscent of the Tab 8.9's derriere.
The 7.0 Plus is outfitted with a power button, volume rocker, and an IR sensor (more on that later) on its top; a headphone jack and mic pinhole on the left side; dual speakers and a universal connection port on the right; and a microSD card slot on the bottom.
The left side of the bezel houses a 2-megapixel camera, with an LED flash-supported 3-megapixel camera in the top-left corner on the back. As with Samsung's other 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 7.0 Plus felt comfortable and light in our hands with no annoying little edges or sharp corners, just a really smooth and clean feel. If you're used to holding your cell phone while typing, you'll feel right at home here.
Honeycomb 3.2 comes natively installed on the 7.0 Plus, and, not surprisingly, Samsung overlays its TouchWiz UI on top of it. TouchWiz brings with it many custom Samsung apps like AllShare, Media Hub, Social Hub, and Samsung's own curated Android app store, called Samsung Apps.
My favorite feature of TouchWiz, however, is the Mini Apps tray located on the bottom of the screen. Tapping it brings up a tray of apps consisting of a calculator, notes, calendar, music player, and clock. However, the most useful of these is the task manager, which allows you to quickly kill any app running in the background; this comes in handy when apps become otherwise unresponsive.
The Peel app comes installed on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, and launching it essentially turns the tablet into a smart remote control for your TV.
Peel also takes the place of your cable or satellite channel guide and displays a list of shows currently playing locally on your cable/satellite provider's channels. Go to the currently playing tab, click on a show, and your TV switches to the appropriate channel.
The initial setup does a great job of holding your hand through a step-by-step setup wizard. The setup only requires that you know your TV's manufacturer name, your cable/satellite provider, and your ZIP code. Thankfully, Peel spares us from having to know any more detailed information.