When it comes to the world of Google Android, you have a lot of choices. There are smartphones and tablets in about just about every size imaginable, which is simultaneously a blessing and a curse. Somehow finding itself in the middle of the road again is Samsung, this time around with the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus.

You could say that they’ve taken the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and shrunk it down to the 7-inch proportions, or you could say that they took the original seven-inch Galaxy Tab and upgraded it to a modern level of performance. Whatever the case, here it is, but should you care? Let’s have a look.

Features at a Glance

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus has specs that will holds its own against contemporaries like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, but it does fall short of the newest generation of tablets. It gets powered by a perfectly adequate 1.2GHz dual core processor, for example, yet we’re starting to see more than a few offerings with quad core chips these days.

Also, while the 7.0-inch WSVGA (1024×600) PLS LCD is reasonably pleasing to the eye, it’s not quite as gorgeous as what you’d get with the Super AMOLED action we’ve come to expect from Samsung. The rest of the sepcs include the 3MP camera, full HD playback, Samsung Media Hub, a full gig of RAM, 16/32GB storage, microSD expansion, and a 4000mAh battery. This particular model is WiFi-only, but there is a HSPA+ version too.

The contents of the box are what we’ve come to expect. In addition to the tablet itself, you get a USB cable (with the 30-pin dock connector), a USB wall charger adapter, a US plug adapter, earphones, silicon ear inserts, and supporting documentation.

Same Old Song and Dance?

While the original 7-inch Galaxy Tab essentially got a blown up version of a smartphone OS, the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus gets upgraded to a much more tablet-friendly Honeycomb 3.2. This is overlaid with Samsung’s signature TouchWiz user interface, which will be familiar to anyone who has used a Samsung Android product in the last couple of years.

On the software side of things, not much has changed, so you still get a series of homescreen widgets and Samsung-specific apps like the Social Hub. One little bonus that’s worth noting is the fourth icon along the bottom. That allows you to take instant screenshots from within just about every app. There is no need to root your Android in this instance.

General Everyday Performance

I’m not sure how I feel about seven-inch tablets anymore. I used to think that they could be a more portable alternative to larger tablets, but now I’m starting to wonder if they really hold much of an advantage over supersized Android smartphones like the Galaxy Note.

In terms of everyday usage, the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is perfectly adequate. I didn’t experience much in terms of hiccups with games like Angry Birds Space, but there was some lag when switching between apps. This is particularly pronounced with Draw Something, but I encounter that with all Android devices.

While in an app, gameplay and app usage is generally smooth. And yes, even though it’s not AMOLED, the PLS LCD does a good job of offering robust saturation and good contrast. The colors really do pop and this has always been Samsung’s strength.

Front and Rear Cameras

While the camera is certainly not the most important aspect of a tablet, it’s still worth noting. I took a couple of sample photos, which you can see here and here, with the rear 3MP shooter and I think they came out quite well. This was indoors, but it was a sunnier day and I had some ambient light in the room.

In general, I’d say that the camera performance was better than something like the LG Optimus 3D, especially when it came to getting nice color reproduction and saturation. It won’t blow you away, and it really is a shame that you only get three megapixels, but image quality is pretty good.

Quadrant Standard Benchmark

To get a real sense of performance, I ran the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus through the usual Quadrant Standard benchmark a few times.

It achieved scores in the 2900-3200 range, putting it above the other Samsung devices in the comparison chart. While the Galaxy Nexus was substantially better in teh CPU department, the Galaxy Tab 7,0 Plus made up the difference in memory and input/output, as well as 3D performance. Even though this tablet is supposed to be weaker than the Galaxy Note, its overall Quadrant Standard score was actually better; the Note got scores in the 2600-2900 range.

MEGATechie Tabulous or MEGATechie Tab Minus?

The market for Android devices is getting increasingly crowded with devices that are only incrementally different from one another. The Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus from Samsung continues this trend, essentially offering the 10-inch Honeycomb experience in a more compact 7-inch form factor. The 1.2GHz dual core processor is adequate and while there isn’t AMOLED, the PLS LCD isn’t bad either.

But I’m not sure that this is something that I would want to buy. There is certainly a market for 7-inch tablets, I suppose, but this really isn’t the same experience as a 9-inch or 10-inch tablet. I feel that, moving forward, the 7-inch form factor may be better suited for more budget-oriented tablets like the Kindle Fire and the rumored Nexus Tablet. At $199, that’d hit a serious sweet spot.

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