The 7-inch tablet is seen as the most obvious alternative to a 10-incher like the new iPad or Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime. But if you look around, there aren't that many hot contenders. The Amazon Kindle Fire isn't available here yet, the BlackBerry PlayBook was virtually stillborn and the Acer Iconia A100 had a disappointing screen. Samsung is out to change all that. Its Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 has a PLS screen, expandable memory, a dual-core processor and a sub-£200 price. What's not to like?
With its gaze set on the budget buyer who doesn't want to make do with a cheapo no-name tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 doesn't have a particularly dynamic or interesting design. Its inch-thick screen bezel looks chunky, it has a plastic rear and while hardly rotund at 10mm thick, its form feels designed to be comfortable rather than razor-thin.
It feels much better-made than the vast majority of budget tablets we've tested, though. In making the plastic rear plate non-removable, Samsung has been able to fashion a solid and strong-feeling slab. And while it doesn't have that cool touch of metal, it has been textured to afford it a similar feel on the finger to anodised aluminium.
The front of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is glass. It's not Gorilla Glass as far as we can tell, but feels just the same under the finger and avoids the "oil slick" effect that plagued many Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets last year.
One of the best things about a 7in tablet is that you can hold it in one hand without developing muscles in weird places within your forearm. At just 344g, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 feels right at home in one mitt - and in this situation the generous bezel comes in handy, giving you space to rest your thumb without obstructing the screen. It's almost as if professional designers produced this thing…
As with the other tablets in the Galaxy range, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 keeps its on-body connections simple. It features what's arguably the most important, though - a plastic flap on its right edge covers a microSD card slot. Its 16GB of internal memory (8GB version also available) is already reasonably generous, but this slot makes upgrading quick, cheap and painless.
The 3.5mm headphone jack sits on the top edge, right next to a teeny pinhole microphone. Its speakers are - sensibly - placed poles apart on the bottom edge - and there are two of them. Getting stereo sound in a tablet is a neat extra, but it's not particularly well-executed here. When held in landscape, while watching a movie for example, all sound comes from the right side, providing zero sense of stereo image.
The level of volume these teeny speakers can produce is reasonable, but sound quality is not a match for the iPad. It has decent body and scale, but little fidelity or richness.
Between the speaker duo sits the proprietary adaptor socket, used to both charge the tablet and transfer data to its brainbox. The positive side of using this dock is that it makes producing the supportive desktop and car docks (available, but not included) easy, but also ensures losing the cable is more of a problem - it proprietary sockets are a bit of an irritation generally. The tablet battery doesn't charge when you plug the cable into a computer, either.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 offers both MTP and PTP transfer modes, which tells your computer that it's either a media player or camera when plugged-in. As long as you're not running an ancient version of Windows (or any version of Mac OS) you can drag and drop files directly onto the memory using Windows Explorer. Testing with a Mac, it seems Samsung sync software Kies is needed to transfer files.