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5/21/2012
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Samsung Galaxy Tab 2: Second Look At Great 7-Inch Tablet

This new low-cost 7-inch Android tablet has virtually everything you'd want in a compact, thin, lightweight, low-cost device. It's a great mobile companion for both work and pleasure, includes many worthwhile Android apps, and is priced low enough that it's hard to justify NOT getting one.

Getting productive

In case you were wondering, yes, you really can do "real work" on the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, particularly given its ability to be used with external Bluetooth or USB keyboards.


Click here to read a review of the ZAGGFolio Bluetooth keyboard case for the iPad.

Samsung bundles Polaris Office version 4.0 with the tablet. In addition to that, I added Office Suite Pro, which at the time was on sale for 99 cents in Google's Google Play Android app market. Both apps let you read, edit, and create Microsoft Office-compatible text, spreadsheet, and presentation documents, and both give you the ability to access and store your documents on DropBox and Google Drive cloud storage.

The screenshots below offer a glimpse of each app's capabilities.



Polaris Office 4.0
(click thumbnails to enlarge)




Office Suite Pro
(click thumbnails to enlarge)


Another useful mobile productivity app is LogMeIn, with which you can access remote Windows desktops and even run Windows programs remotely. The screenshots below show the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 being used to create an Open Office spreadsheet and browse the Web in Firefox on a remote Windows 7 desktop.


Using LogMeIn to remotely access a Windows 7 desktop
(click thumbnails to enlarge)


Below are the 33 other productivity apps I put in my Productivity folder.


Productivity apps installed on my Galaxy Tab 2 7.0
(click image to enlarge)

Keyboard options

The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0's crisp, bright screen is great for both work and entertainment applications. However, the relatively small onscreen keyboards of 7-inch tablets tend to limit the speed and accuracy with which you can generate documents or write emails. Mercifully, there are multiple ways to solve this problem.

The best solution is to add a generic or Android-specific external Bluetooth keyboard (below left).


Using the tablet with a Bluetooth or USB-wireless keyboard


Alternatively, you can connect most any USB-interfaced mobile keyboard via the tablet's optional USB socket adapter. The photo on the right, above, shows the tablet being used with an HP wireless mini keyboard, interfaced via the keyboard's tiny USB wireless adapter (click the image to see more detail). One nice aspect of the HP mini keyboard is its inclusion of a tiny trackball in its upper right-hand corner.

You can also install alternative keyboards via apps from Google's Android market. The Hacker's Keyboard, shown below, adds cursor keys, an escape key, and a mode with function keys and a numeric keypad.


The Hacker's Keyboard adds cursor keys, an escape key, and more
(click image to enlarge)


Another alternative text entry method is "Google Voice typing," which works surprisingly well. You can launch that mode from the microphone icon in the bottom row of the Hacker's Keyboard. Speak slowly and clearly, and it can really speed up your text entry on the tablet.

What else is this tablet good for?

Although I've focused primarily on setting up and configuring the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 for productivity purposes, there's a whole lot more you can do with it, as you'll see by examining the contents of the 14 home screen folders shown earlier.

For more details on the many other tricks the tablet can perform, visit my extensive Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 screenshot tour. There, you'll find more than 300 screenshots showing apps for: device control and file management; watching or reading the latest news; viewing movies and TV episodes; enjoying your favorite music genres and Internet radio; keeping up with the latest news; text messaging and voice/video communications; social networking; reading ebooks; playing games; and lots more.

Name: Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0

This low-cost 7-inch Android tablet has virtually everything you'd want in a compact, thin, lightweight, low-cost device. It's a great mobile companion for both work and pleasure, and priced low enough that it's hard to justify not getting one.

Price: $249.99

Pro:
  • Inexpensive for a tablet.
  • Lightweight, compact, thin.
  • Bright, crisp, high-resolution (1024 x 600) capacitive touchscreen.
  • MicroSD slot supports up to 32GB additional removable flash.
  • Adequate mic, speakers, and camera.
  • Built-in GPS receiver.
  • Usable with USB and Bluetooth keyboard/mouse peripherals.
  • Easy USB or microSD data transfer without requiring special apps.
  • Full set of Google cloud services.
  • Supports Google's Android apps market.
  • Full-featured browser; supports Adobe Flash.
  • Includes Polaris Office 4.0.
  • Decent speech recognition and text-to-speech.
  • Reasonably good active battery life; excellent standby life.

Con:
  • Best used with a BT keyboard for generating office documents or composing lengthy emails.
  • Bottom edge speaker placement reduces sound clarity.
  • Primary camera is inferior to that of the older Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus.

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