Device: Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7″)
First off, I love the 7″ form factor. Having used a 10″ iPad, I can say with confidence that 7″ tablets are way more useful for me on a daily basis. I saw an article flying around recently that said that the thing that makes 7″ tablets great is that they’re tossable, and I totally agree. I wouldn’t feel comfortable tossing my laptop or my puppy onto the couch from a standing height, but this tablet? Definitely.
I’m also smitten with the IR blaster. It’s my favorite feature. I’m a big home automation enthusiast, and I’ve been trying over the past two years to find the perfect remote control for my home entertainment center. The best I could do before now was a universal remote, a Logitech diNovo Mini, and two pages of instructions on how to change channels with the remote and navigate the HTPC with the DiNovo. It wasn’t ideal, to say the least. This tablet changes everything. I can now turn the TV and A/V receiver on and off with the tablet, then switch to the Unified Remote app (which I cannot recommend highly enough) and control the HTPC, and the instructions are on a virtual sticky note on my home screen. It’s not entirely perfect, but it’s a major, major improvement.
I’d be lying if I said the tablet was perfect, but I will say that I only notice these cons when I’m using it for long periods or playing graphics-intensive games on it.
It lags a bit. Even under normal usage, switching between home screens is never smooth. I think it has a lot to do with the OMAP processor Samsung chose to use, likely to reach that $250 price point, but it’s equally likely that TouchWiz is the culprit. I haven’t played around with any home screen replacement apps to see if they help.
This is more of a gripe with the development side, and something that I’m sure will be fixed in time, but there’s just not really much support for the IR blaster. There’s the Peel Smart Remote app, which loaded up my TV and receiver just fine, even to the point of listing the channels & inputs. The downside is that the inputs are listed as ‘Input X’ rather than their actual names, and I can’t find any way to manually rename them. Also, while I love Unified Remote for what it does, I wish it could control the IR blaster so I didn’t have to switch apps. It could very well be Samsung’s fault for not opening up an API to the IR port, but I’m hoping that changes soon.
Why it’s better
Despite any reviews you may read to the contrary, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7″) is way better than the Google Nexus 7. Why, you ask?
Well, it’s true that the processor and OS can’t match to what the Nexus 7 has to offer, but all my fingers and toes are crossed for an upgrade to Jelly Bean in the near future. If not, there’s always the CyanogenMod option, which I’m totally willing to do if I become unsatisfied with the upgrade path provided for me (take heed, Sammy).
In the end, I bought it for the IR port, plain and simple. All the other awesome stuff, like its crazy battery life (I only have to recharge about once a week with my usage pattern), microSD slot that I plan on using for on-the-go movies (right now it’s just Komodo vs Cobra, but then again what else do you really need?), and its tossability, are just icing on the cake.