Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 Hands On at CES: A Super Display

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Samsung revealed at CES that yet another member is coming soon to its Galaxy Tab family: the Galaxy Tab 7.7. During our tour of Samsung's booth today, we got to spend some time with the device, which will be available on Verizon's 4G LTE network at launch, and saw what it had to offer.


Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7


The first thing you notice with the Galaxy Tab 7.7 is that it's remarkably slim. At 7.9mm thin (less than half an inch) and only 340 grams (roughly 12 ounces), the Tab 7.7 can be held comfortably with one hand, much like its predecessor, the 7.0 Plus. All of its buttons and ports are pretty standard, including a headphone jack, a power/standby button, a SIM card slot, a microSD card slot (expandable up to 32GB), and a proprietary jack. I would have liked to see the addition of USB or HDMI ports, but I guess that wasn't in the cards for the Tab 7.7. Other specs include a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor, wireless hotspot capabilities, a 3-megapixel rear-facing camera, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, and 16GB of built-in storage.


On the slightly more unusual side -- though perhaps not too surprising to those familiar with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, which also had this feature -- the Tab 7.7 features on IR blaster on one of its sides, allowing it to be used as a universal remote via the pre-loaded Peel app. Depending on what devices you sync with the app, you can not only channel surf and browse TV shows by time or category, you can also program DVR recordings.


Super Display
But the real attraction of the Tab 7.7 is its beautiful Super AMOLED Plus, 1280 x 800 display. I've raved about Super AMOLED displays before in the context of smartphones and believed them to be peerless, but Super AMOLED Plus is even better, albeit only by a small margin. Though not quite as shockingly bright as Super AMOLEDs on some smartphones, the Super AMOLED Plus display on the Tab 7.7 has excellent contrast, a wide viewing angle, and crisp, vibrant colors with excellent saturation. It was also very easy on the eyes when I was reading the text on web pages while browsing.


I was a little disappointed to see, however, that the Tab 7.7 was running Android Honeycomb 3.2. When I asked Samsung reps whether it will be upgradeable to Ice Cream Sandwich, they all said that nothing had been confirmed yet regarding ICS updates or models of the Tab 7.7. Equally unfortunate was that he said the same goes for Wi-Fi only models; at this time, Samsung has made no official announcement regarding their release.


Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 DisplayVerizon Bound
For now, the only officially planned release is the Verizon 4G LTE model, which I personally think is going to be a problem for its price point. At $400, the 7.0 Plus was far too expensive for what it was, and that was a Wi-Fi only model. Pricing has yet to be announced for the Tab 7.7, but if it's only going to be available in the 4G variety, it's probably not going to be too appealing.


The interface was pretty familiar given that it was just Honeycomb with Samsung's TouchWiz UI, which has been used on previous tablets and is generally unobtrusive. In all, aside from the excellent display and slimmed down profile, the Tab 7.7 was starting to look pretty familiar, especially considering that there was only 0.7 inches between its screen size and that of its predecessor. So I asked reps why Samsung decided to go for this particular form factor, considering that the difference between this device and the 7.0 Plus is a seemingly minute 0.7 inches.


Initially, I heard speculation regarding the possibility of the extra 0.7 inches allowing for the Super AMOLED Plus technology, but coudn't get confirmation.


The Samsung company line is that yet another form factor in its line of tablets -- the total lineup now includes a 10.1-inch tablet, an 8.9-inch tablet, a 7.7-inch tablet, and two 7-inch tablets -- is a service to its customers. "We're all about fulfilling every customer's needs," said one show floor demonstrater. "We're not a one-stop shop like our competition, where they only have one size available."


Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 IR BlasterAside from the unprecedented 7.7-inch form factor, another somewhat unique element that I found on the Galaxy Tab 7.7 was that it has Wi-Fi Direct capability, a feature that is rarely available on tablets (though I do believe it was on the 7.0 Plus). Wi-Fi Direct allows you to connect directly to other devices via an ad-hoc Wi-Fi network, so you can, for instance, wireless transfer files between the tablet and your computer or send files to a wireless-enabled printer.


Impressive, But Not a Game Changer
I walked away from the Tab 7.7 impressed by its display and how comfortable its form factor was, but ultimately it's not a ground-breaking device. I said the same thing about the 7.0 Plus: great screen, great form factor, nothing particularly unique, but certainly reliable. So here we are again: the Tab 7.7 is a solid, powerful tablet with a great display (admittedly a step up from the 7.0 Plus) that seems to have very little flaws, but it also doesn't take any risks. It doesn't have any standout features beyond the brilliant display and with that in mind, you're dealing with a somewhat plain Honeycomb tablet that's probably going to run you upwards of $400 whenever it's released -- Samsung does not currently have that information available -- and that may be too high of an asking price.


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