Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus Review

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User Experience, Software, & Camera

The Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus features the Samsung TouchWiz UX overlay and five customizable screens you can swipe through on the desktop--er, tablettop. By default, the primary page features a quartet of widgets (time and date, a photo profile, weather, and news) and a row of app icons that includes several of Samsung’s built-in apps, a Web browser, and the Android Market.

When you swipe to the left, you get a unified email inbox, buddy icons for IM, and a couple of bookmarks; another swipe to the left gets you to a screen where you can stash frequently-used apps or widgets. To the right of the main page is a page that displays your Social Hub feed, a calendar, and a Yahoo Finance widget. A second swipe to the right brings you to another empty page where you can put widgets or apps. Of course, all of these screens are customizable as well.

  




  
Home screens and app screens

Samsung has a handful of built-in apps that are quite handy, although if you’d prefer not to use them, you can delete them easily. These include the Media Hub, Social Hub, “Samsung App”, and the Peel Smart Remote.

The Media Hub lets you preview, purchase, or rent movies and purchase T.V. shows. You can also watch your content from the app. In order to make a purchase or rental, you have to create an account, though. The selection appears to be pretty limited, although that’s no big surprise. Samsung, like everybody else these days, has its own app store, and “Samsung App” is your link to it; the selection therein is what it is.

A more useful app day-to-day is the Social Hub, which aggregates all your email accounts and social media accounts in one place. You also get notifications of new messages on the main home screen.

One of the big draws for the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is the Peel Smart Remote app that comes pre-installed. Also located on the main home page by default, Peel is indeed something to brag about. The app lets you control just about any home theater device, including T.V.s, DVD and Blu-ray players, audio equipment, and cable or satellite boxes--including DVR.

Once configured with your particular setup, Peel pulls in all your programming options, so you can browse or discover shows to watch. You can choose between a number of program categories; the app will give you some options for shows to watch; and you just tap the given program to change the channel. Peel also integrates with Facebook and Twitter so you can share your T.V. preferences as quickly and freely as your unfiltered thoughts. An appealing trait of Peel is that it’s quite easy to set up, requiring you to mostly just click through several setup screens, so the average user won’t have any trouble getting it to work.

  



   
Clockwise, from top left: Media Hub, Social Hub, Peel Smart Remote, File Manager, Samsung Apps

There are a number of other pre-loaded apps that Samsung was kind enough to provide. AllShare lets you share media with other devices such as your PC or TV. Pulse is a news aggregater that shows you tiles of stories from all manner of sites. With Polaris Office, you can create, retrieve, read, and edit a variety of file types. If you love magazines, NextIssue is a great app; you can read through digital versions of a slew of magazines--once you sign up for an account and buy the subscriptions you want.

Additionally, the full gamut of Google services is on board, including Gmail, Google Music, YouTube, Books, Maps, and so on. Other bonus software includes Amazon Kindle, Flash Player, a music player, a photo editor, memo tools, and a video player. You also get the to-be-expected built-ins such as an alarm, browser, calculator, calendar, contacts tool, image and video gallery, and voice search.

On the practical side, there’s a terrific and easy-to-use task manager and a somewhat clunky but ultimately useable file manager.

  
Outdoor and indoor shots

Although the camera’s 3MP spec isn’t exactly impressive, it produces surprisingly solid results. As you can see, outdoor shots actually look quite nice, and even in low light, the camera can muster a picture that isn’t too grainy. At 720p, the HD video quality is passable and offers good results with good lighting and lesser results in low light.


The camera app

The camera controls and settings are intuitive to use and simple to understand and navigate, and thanks to the 7-inch form factor, they’re very accessible and comfortable to use with the thumbs. However, we did notice that the autofocus feature is slow as molasses in January, which is fine if you’re taking stills of flowers (pictured) but completely useless is you’re trying to get a shot of your adorable toddler (not pictured).

The included (and previously-mentioned) photo editor app, aptly titled “Photo Editor”, gives you a nice array of editing options--at least enough to clean up your onboard snapshots and get them presentable for a Web audience.

The Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is not going to replace your point-and-shoot, but it’s a serviceable option for a variety of situations. You could do worse.

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