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5/2/2012
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Samsung Galaxy Tab 2: The First Must-Have Android Tablet

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) doesn't cost much more than the ultra-popular Kindle Fire, yet this 7-inch tablet comes loaded with iPad-like hardware and the latest Android operating system, a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich. Here's hoping the Galaxy Tab 2 launches a new breed of affordable yet capable Android tablet.

As someone who spends most of the day with a notebook computer, I've found it very convenient to use a tablet as a second screen. I use the tablet to check email, use a calculator, or search online. This saves me from having to rearrange windows on my notebook. A smaller tablet like the Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) is a lot easier to take along as a second screen because it does not require a large carrying case.

Mo' better hardware

Unlike the $200 Kindle Fire or other low-cost Android tablets, the Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) has lots of cool features. Although the $250 tablet only provides 8GB of internal flash storage, it has a microSD slot, which can be used to add up to 32GB of additional storage. I bought a 32GB microSD card for $22.34 to provide a total of 40GB of storage. The combined cost of the tablet and additional flash storage was still under $275.


Gadget freaks will appreciate the infrared port (top left in the photo below), which lets the tablet be used as a remote control for a variety of consumer electronic devices such as TVs.


The tablet has a sub-megapixel 648-pixel-by-480-pixel front-facing camera for video chats, and a 3MP rear-facing camera for taking photos and videos. It has no flash. My photos came out reasonably sharp. However, all the photos and videos I took using the tablet's default settings came out overexposed with washed-out colors. Below is a photo I took in a well-lit outdoor area.


Another annoying design flaw is the USB connector. It's in a bad spot--on the bottom of the device, between the tablet's two speakers. It's also proprietary, which means you can't use the standard micro-USB cable you might already carry for your phone or other mobile electronic devices. Samsung is taking a page from Apple's playbook here. Apple has its own proprietary connector for devices, but at least Apple's has widespread support from third parties for cables, cars, clock radios, exercise equipment, and more. Samsung might be successful with this connector, but it's unlikely to attain the level of support that Apple has.


Kindle killer?

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) has a lot going for it. It's inexpensive, small and easy to handle for the most part, and fully equipped, including the latest version of the Android operating system.

Name: Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0)

Although smaller than the iPad's screen, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0's 7-inch display is big enough for reading and writing. For those who don't want to shell out money for an iPad or a larger Android tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) is a good choice.
Price: $249.99
Pros:
  • Price is half that of 16GB Wi-Fi-only third-generation iPad.
  • Small enough not to require a special carrying case.
  • Runs new Android 4.0 operating system, a.k.a., Ice Cream Sandwich.
  • Able to add up to 32GB flash storage via a microSD slot.
  • Infrared controller for consumer electronics.
  • Front (VGA) and rear (3MP) cameras.
  • Wi-Fi-only model available.
Cons:
  • Overexposed photos using default camera settings.
  • No camera flash.
  • Harder to touch type on than 9.7- or 10.1-inch tablet screens.

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