Display and Multimedia
The Tab 7.7 has a striking Super AMOLED Plus display with better than life colors and high contrast. Most folks love Samsung's Super AMOLED displays, and this tablet's screen is a strong selling point. Movies and photos look simply fantastic with enhanced colors and deep blacks. Text is sharp thanks to the very high resolution display, though if you look closely you'll see the jagged edges of characters with diagonal strokes (i.e.: x and y). The pixel density is higher than average at 196 ppi, so images and text look sharper than they do on the iPad 2 and 10" Android tablets. It's not up to the Retina Display's 264ppi, but it is better than most tablets on the market.
Typical of Super AMOLED Plus displays, whites have a slight blue color cast, but it's well controlled here and not as pronounced as on some of Samsung's smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S II and Galaxy Skyrocket. For professional graphics folks and photographers, the oversaturated colors and cool color cast might be a negative; we suggest you look at the XYBoard 8.2 with its more accurate colors. The display is quite bright and remains viewable outdoors, albeit with muted color and contrast.
Thanks to the fast CPU and Mali 400 GPU, the Samsung is a multimedia powerhouse that can handle HD video playback and 3D gaming with aplomb. It can play 1080p high profile MPEG4 video (you'll want to plug it into an HD monitor or TV to make best use of 1080p video) and demanding games like the bundled Dead Space demo well. The small stereo speakers put out a decent amount of sound for a small tablet, but the sound isn't rich and full. You'll want to use headphones or speakers (wired or Bluetooth) to really enjoy music and soundtracks.
The Tab 7.7 has an IR blaster and it comes with the Peel AV remote and TV listing application. This worked fine with our TV, cable box and receiver and it was easy to set up controls over IR. Peel is more TV listing-centric rather than being a full-featured omni remote for all manner of AV gear. In spirit, it's the complete opposite of Dijit on the Motorola XYBoard that goes all out to control your AV gear and sticks with a simple TV listing grid.
The Exynos is king of the dual core mobile CPU world. It's significantly faster than TI OMAP CPUs and the old Nvidia Tegra 2. This is the first time we've seen the Exynos paired with LTE, and we're thrilled. CPU chipsets have to interface with wireless radios, and so far Qualcomm has led the way with LTE integrations with TI falling in at second place. Samsung has it down now, and the 1.4GHz Exynos works perfectly here with excellent responsiveness and synthetic benchmarks. Better yet, battery life hasn't taken a hit, and reception is stable on LTE.
The tablet feels very responsive; in fact it's downright quick. Benchmark numbers are tops on most counts. If you have a need for speed in a 7 to 8 inch tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 is currently our top pick.
LTE 4G Performance
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 has 3G EV-DO Rev. A and 4G LTE on Verizon's network. As with all US tablets, it does not handle cellular voice, it only does data. You can use VoIP apps like Skype and Google Talk over WiFi and the data network as a consolation. Unlike the XYBoard, this is not a world tablet with GSM for use overseas.
Reception on Verizon's well built-out LTE network is stable and the Tab 7.7 managed to pull in the same signal as Motorola's tablets (that's a compliment because Moto is the RF king on CDMA networks). We did note that the Samsung dropped LTE in weak coverage areas where the XYBoard held on tenaciously. Download speeds were likewise a bit slower on the Tab 7.7 vs. the XYBoard, though respectable overall. In poor coverage areas we got 7 to 9 Mbps down and 2 Mbps up. In stronger coverage areas we got 14Mbps down and 8Mbps up. Like all recent Verizon tablets, the Samsung can act as a mobile hotspot and share its 3G/4G data connection with needy notebooks, tablets and other gadgets.
Big win here for Samsung: the Galaxy Tab 7.7 just won't stop. We saw 10 to 12 hours on a charge with LTE on in a mix of web browsing, email, word processing and watching a few streaming videos on YouTube and a 30 minute 30 Rock episode on Netflix. Somehow, Samsung managed to fit a very high capacity 5,100 mAh into the Tab 7.7's lithe frame, and beyond that they've done some excellent power management.
The Galaxy Tab 7.7 has Samsung's usual camera combo: 2MP front and 3MP rear. Though higher than average resolution, we can't say the front camera looks any sharper for video calls than other tablets' 1.3MP cameras. It does the job with the usual noise and lack of color. The rear camera takes better shots than you might expect from such a low resolution. Images are reasonably sharp and quite colorful, though the camera tends to white out bright screens. You can use the cameras for video chat in apps like Skype and Google Talk video chat.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 is currently one of our picks for 7-8" tablets. It has a great display, is very fast and is easy on the eyes. It's super-slim, has fast Verizon LTE for data most anywhere and Samsung has finally changed to a classier metallic back and added a micro SD card slot. Our only complaint? The price.
Price: $499 with 2 year contract, $699 without contract
Websites: www.samsung.com, www.verizonwireless.com
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