Pros: Quality materials, stable OS, sharp screen; decent cameras; very useful size; Voice recognition
Cons: Wifi disconnects sometimes; screen collects fingerprints, smallish disk-space; Some Apps can't be deleted.
Writing an introduction for a tablet review is harder than you think. What can possibly be said about tablets that's novel and exciting? Tablets are ubiquitous, and mini-tablets even more common, assuming more forms than a Karate master. Apple, Nook, Kindle and Android offer mini-tablet devices, which I feel are an optimal size and weight for reading books, playing games and surfing. Why am I reviewing the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 instead of another mini-tablet? Because I received it as a Mother's Day Gift, and I've become accustomed to using it on a daily basis.
SWITCHING FROM APPLE TO ANDROID: Prior to receiving my Samsung tablet, I relied on my iTouch for listening to music, occasional web surfing and portable email. I am very used to Apple's operating system and layout ~ I use iTunes to download podcasts weekly, and I like its overall simplicity. Unfortunately, my iTouch became outdated, and I couldn't download most apps because they won't work on my old device. So, my iTouch became frozen in time ~ good for listening to music, but too small for reading books and other activities.
My new Galaxy Tab 2 has a 3.5" x 6" inch screen. It's slightly larger than an index card, but nearly triple the size of my iTouch screen. My Galaxy was easy to setup ~ I followed the Quick Start Guide, and after charging the battery, I was ready to start explore my attractive device. This tablet fits comfortably in either one hand or two. The titanium-silver case feels smooth, but neither slick nor slippery. It's not heavy to hold, and doesn't fatigue my hands when I hold it for long periods of time.
Operating the tablet is straightforward: there's an on/off button and two volume controls; a slot for inserting a micro SD chip and a charging port. The charging port appears similar to the iTouch, but doesn't fit the Apple cable (it came with its own charging cable).
The Android operating system installed is version 4.1.1. I never used Android before, and in some ways I like it better than Apple, but in other aspects it's worse. I like the ability to add apps like Mozilla Firefox and AVG to protect my device. I think the screen layouts are well-organized, but not as easy to customize the iTouch screens. The home screen is functional, with the time and weather prominently displayed. I can quickly access my contacts, email, calendar, internet, settings and apps from the home screen.
APPS: The major downside to this Galaxy Tab are all the extra apps which I don't want and cannot uninstall! Samsung took bloatware to a whole new level. Some of the apps I will never use are: Kindle, Polaris Office, Smart Remote, Netflix & Dropbox (I prefer to access these from my computer), Game Hub, Messenger, Music Hub, ChatON, SamsungLink, S Suggest, Play Music, Readers Hub, Talk, Next Issue... etc. If you weren't sick of Google before, you might get googled out with this tablet! I would like to uninstall many of these unnecessary apps, but the operating system will not permit me to delete them. Mostly, I'm annoyed that these Apps take up space, and are potentially accessing my personal information without my consent. You can find out which apps are active from the Task Manager; the RAM manager lets you clear inactive and background processes. My tablet hasn't frozen or gotten stuck; but in case it does, a hard reboot takes only a few minutes.
WIFI: The wifi connection is fairly strong, but it occasionally disconnects with the message: "Authentication Error". This is probably the most annoying feature of the tablet ~ the dropped signals. But, it only happens a few times per day, if at all, so it's not a deal breaker.
TOUCH SCREEN: The 7 inch, 1024 x 600 (WSVGA) display is very colorful and sharp for watching videos, reading and surfing the Internet. The screen is the perfect size for reading books. I downloaded Overdrive to checkout library books, and I enjoy reading them with large print. For some reason, I can focus on my tablet, better than I can concentrate when reading printed books. However, I cannot read the screen very clearly outdoors in the sunlight ~ unless I turn the brightness way up. The screen is fairly sensitive to touch; however, sometimes it doesn't recognize that I've clicked on something.
The screen is a fingerprint magnet, and I was cleaning it frequently. So, I addressed this by purchasing an anti-glare screen protector (MiniGuard MiniSuit Matte Screen Protector). I recently installed this plastic shield, and it's doing a nice job of hiding my fingerprints ~ so I highly recommend buying one for your Samsung.
BATTERY LIFE: The battery lasts about 8 hours before charging, which takes several hours. It's easy to track the remaining battery (percentage) with the icon at the top; however, the numbers are a little small for older eyes to read. I like to customize my notification settings to save battery ~ but beware, there are so many settings to customize, you could work on that for days and weeks and still miss some settings.
SPEED & STORAGE: The device is fast and powerful, with its 1 GHz dual core processor. I wish there weren't so many processes running in the background, which seem unnecessary. Even though you can clear the RAM, I would prefer if the owner could delete apps he/she doesn't want. The hard disk is supposed to be 8 GB, but the device says only 4.6 GB are available. This really bothers me ~ I am docking a star from my rating for this. I plan to add a micro-SD chip (up to 32 GB) to increase storage space. If you're planning to download or create lots of videos, you should consider one with more storage. Frankly, I'm surprised they still make an 8 GB device any more.
BEST APPS: EMAIL, SURFING & FACEBOOK: I prefer all these tasks on my Samsung tablet versus my iTouch. The bigger screen makes it much easier to navigate, without having to scroll so often, or enlarge the text. I am using Firefox for Android, which I like better than the Internet app built into the device. Google Play is the App Store on my Samsung, and it works similarly to iTunes.
FRONT & REAR CAMERAS: Both cameras are decent quality: The rear camera is 3 megapixel, and the video camera records HD Video at 720p. I tested the video camera on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. I took two videos of buskers (performers) doing their act. One of the videos came out very nicely, with crisp colors, clear audio and stable picture. The zoom feature worked brilliantly. However, something happened with my second video capture, and the file appears to be lost on my device ~ I am not sure what went wrong. But it was probably user error. We took a third video inside, and the lighting and colors are pretty decent. UPDATED: This morning, I took some video of a butterfly flitting on a flower in my garden. The picture came out superbly ~ colorful, and great closeup! I am extremely impressed. Overall, the video camera is an excellent feature ~ and I can easily tuck my Samsung into my purse to be prepared for recitals or impromptu events.
The front camera takes nice scene photos, but it's not very good at close-up shots. When zoomed in, the camera doesn't take sharp or crisp photos of objects.
VOICE RECOGNITION: The most surprising feature that I adore is the ability to search and type by speaking into the device. I just stumbled upon this feature by pressing the microphone icon in the Google search box. It accurately recorded my search, and was much quicker than typing in the words. In the future, I will use the voice feature as often as possible ~ since I am prone to making typos on the screen's keyboard.
ACCESSORIES: My Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 was purchased at Costco. It came bundled with a faux-leather pouch, which fits the device snugly and protects the screen from scratches and dust. However, it's not very useful, since it doesn't protect the tablet from falls. I purchased a colorful, rugged silicone case (Bobj Rugged Case) which I also like and recommend. I chose this case instead of a folio with a cover. Personally, I find covers get in the way, although they are great when you're not using the device.
OVERALL: I've owned this mini-tablet for over a month, and the more I use it, the more I enjoy using it. Overall, the pros outweigh any minor negatives.
The minor negative is that it's not compatible with iTunes, because all my music and podcasts are downloaded through iTunes. I still use my iTouch for listening to music and shows; the iTouch is a better size for carrying around anyway. So, it hasn't replaced my iTouch, but is complementary.
That's all folks ~ please leave a comment if you still have questions about this tablet.