In a Galaxy far, far away…

Copyright goes to Samsung and all respectful owners.

I have been in the market for a new tablet for quite a long time. I’ve looked at Acer models, the Playbook, the iPad, just about every tablet out there, except for the Galaxy Tab. I normally don’t do product reviews on this blog, but I figured that I could mask that by sharing my experiences with my new tablet (spoilers).

For this review, I should say first that I am using the Galaxy Tab 2 7″, which is running Android 4.0, and I have 8 GB of built-in memory. If you would like to read more about this particular breed of Galaxy Tab, please see Samsung.

Now, what will I go over? I want to touch on my first impressions, the usability, and the app experience. This may not sound like a lot, but usability is a very broad category. I’ll even try and throw in some humor along the way.

First Impressions

I woke up this morning, not intending to buy a tablet, and somehow found myself racing off to the electronics store. I don’t really know how this all happened, but I think I managed to justify it against future earnings. I was testing the tablet out before I bought it, and right off the bat, it felt smooth. There’s nothing that can ruin the experience of a tablet more than having to wait for a screen to load or watching the graphics glitch, even if just for a second. I didn’t experience that on the tablet when I was trying it (and I still haven’t, spoilers again). It feels light in your hands, and it’s a good fit; I personally find 7″ more reasonable than 10″. For price, I paid $283, taxes and surcharges all in, but I didn’t buy a case of any kind, nor did I buy product protection. This isn’t a bad price, especially for what you’re getting, but I think I would have been more comfortable with a final price of $250.

Bringing it home, the box is very simple. The tablet is tucked snugly into a paper holder, and underneath, there are only three other pieces: the charger adapter, the charging cord, and the manual. After removing some protective stickers, one button press turns the device on, and set-up is a snap. It’s recommended that you have a Google account when you buy any Android device, because Google’s apps are so tied into the system. I have several Google accounts, so this was no problem for me. The touch screen still feels smooth, although at this point, I was trying to remain keenly aware of any changes to that. Set up took all of five minutes, and that’s just because I got up to get a glass of water. If you have a Google account on another Android device, say your phone, your apps, settings, bookmarks, and history is already imported into this tablet, making working with both extremely easy. By this point, I was thoroughly pleased with what I had seen.

Usability

The real test was yet to come, though, because I had yet to see if it could handle my usage. After the transfer of my settings was completed, I noticed that the apps on my phone had been installed on this tablet. I opened up the app drawer, but instead of having all of the apps sorted alphabetically, I noticed that the pre-installed apps were in one section, and my apps were in another. This isn’t a huge thing for me, it was just weird, because this is the first device I have ever had that did that. In a way, it’s kind of handy, two flicks and you’re at all of your downloaded apps. Another downside, though, is when you want to add an app to the home screen, the graphical process is a little awkward. There’s a small delay while the device loads the graphics for the procedure of moving an app to the home screen, and while this looks very fancy, if you want to move apps around quickly, it can be kind of a pain.

In terms of settings, I found it relatively easy to configure the device to do whatever I wanted. I say relatively because I might have liked a small tutorial in terms of where my notification bar is, but the device is very forgiving in terms of one’s ability to play around. The speakers on the device are quite nice, and the sound is clear. A headphone jack is also built in, as a plus. One downside I noticed was when I was watching YouTube videos, and I would imagine this would apply to any video being watched. Holding the bottom of the device (while in landscape mode. I know, it’s confusing), can put you in a position to accidentally block the speakers along the bottom. Though this can be easily corrected by using a different position, it seemed strange to me to put the speakers in an unnatural position. I found the device very easy to use, though, and I would certainly deem it “mom-proof.”

App Experience

Wow, I love this app store. In this version of Android, it’s called Google Play, and it looks so slick. The app fills the screen with all kinds of content, and it’s very easy to navigate for any games, applications, movies, books, or music. Almost any app you could imagine is in this app store, but it’s important to keep in mind that some apps are not designed to display on a tablet, so mileage may vary. All of the apps I had on my phone (Facebook, Twitter, the BBC, Skype, etc) all work beautifully with the tablet, but some apps developed by smaller outfits may not be as rapid to update. One of the very few downsides I noticed falls mostly to my old habits. On my Android phone, there is a button built into the phone to access settings. This button works on the home screen, in apps, and just about everywhere. This tablet does not have a button built into it like that, but there is often a similar button coded into the app itself. All this really took for me was a little searching and I found it, but I figured it was worth mentioning.

All in all, this is a gorgeous tablet. I told myself that I was going to return it, and that’s how I justified buying it, but I think I fell in love with it. I like that I can expand the memory with a MicroSD card, and I like that it plays so well with my Android phone. If I had to rate it out of ten, I would say a 9, just because of the graphical delay when moving  apps to, and around, the home screen. If you have a chance to, I recommend trying it out. It may not be as popular as the iPad, but for a price that is $300-500 cheaper, it’s an excellent second choice.

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