Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 which comes with a Hovering S Pen ! #MWC2013


Samsung-galaxy-note-8

MWC 2013, Barcelona:

Samsung’s newest Note, The Galaxy 8.0, an updated, larger Galaxy Note from Samsung was inevitable. Given the undeniable popularity of mid-size tablets it’s no surprise the Korean electronics giant would want to strengthen its grip in a category it helped create. It was just three short years ago that Samsung introduced the Galaxy Tab and now, three Notes later, it’s ready to perfect the one-handed experience. With this new Note, the company’s culled the best of what’s around its Galaxy into an 8-inch form factor, housing a 1,280 x 800 TFT display, Exynos 4 Quad with 2GB RAM (clocked at 1.6GHz), TouchWiz-skinned Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 OS, S Pen (and suite of associated apps), as well as radios for HSPA+ and WiFi into that familiar, lightweight plastic body.

Hardware View:

But that extra inch alone isn’t the Galaxy Note 8.0’s main attraction. Samsung’s wisely made use of the additional screen real estate to bundle two extra features. Building upon market research that indicates over 80-percent of tablet use takes place within the living room, the company’s partnered with Peel for its Smart Remote app, a visual programming guide with remote control functions baked-in that comes pre-loaded on the tab. And, in keeping with its portrait oriented design, the Note 8.0 also incorporates what the company calls “reading mode,” effectively optimizing the slate’s display for comfortable e-book use.

If you’ve spent any amount of time with the Note II, you’ll know what to expect from the Note 8.0 as its external design is incredibly similar. You get the same all around plastic build — ringed here with metal — ports for microSD and micro-SIM, 3.5mm headphone jack and physical home key. But where the Note 8.0 strays is one of its key improvements: users can now effect the capacitive menu and back buttons using the S Pen.

Admittedly, it takes a bit of retraining to get used to — you’ll want to use your finger out of habit — but it’s a wonder Samsung took so long to implement something so crucial. So, you can officially hang up that gripe right now. The S Pen comes with a functionality which can be named as “Hovering.” Samsung’s S Pen stylus has been upgraded to work both on the touchscreen of the Note 8.0 as well as with the physical navigation buttons, and Samsung is also extending the functionality of the pen in other ways. And the Air View feature, where users can initiate previews by hovering their pen over something without touching the screen, is now getting expanded to third party apps. The first of these is a new version of the Flipboard social newsreading app, where users can select and expand a tile by hovering the pen over a selection.

At 338 grams (11.9 ounces), the Note 8.0’s not much heavier than the iPad mini and as it’s made to be held one-handed, you shouldn’t feel much wrist strain with extended use. We were able to comfortably grip the entire back of the 7.95mm thick tablet, which measures 210.8mm x 135.9mm (8.3 x 5.4 inches), in our hand while navigating with the S Pen in the other. The Note 8.0’s back is non-removable, but that bit’s rendered moot by the accessibility of the microSD and micro-SIM slots on the tablet’s left edge and a sealed 4,600mAh battery.

With a 1.6GHz Eynos 4 Quad CPU and 2GB RAM under the hood, you’d expect the Note 8.0 to showcase nothing but brisk performance. Unfortunately, that didn’t appear to be the case as there were occasional moments where the tablet seemed toslightly hesitate before executing actions — things like dual window view for multitasking or simple app launches. This being the tablet’s official unveiling, it’s quite possible the model we handled could still benefit from software optimization. So, we’ll refrain from passing definitive judgement until a final review unit is in our hands. Apart from that, viewing angles held up well and display brightness shouldn’t pose a major issue outdoors in bright sunlight. Though, it is weird to see a Samsung product without an AMOLED screen — this one’s TFT.

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Reading mode and Smart Remote are clearly the Note 8.0’s two biggest software features, but to make the tab just a bit more alluring, Samsung’s pre-loading two other applications suited to the Note 8.0’s form and function. Out of the box, users will have access to an S Pen-optimized version of Flipboard which enables Air View hover functionality and headline previews from the main tile page (up to three, in our experience). Also, as a first for Android and Samsung, Awesome Note (a cloud-based annotation app previously available only on iOS) has been integrated into the device as a free service, exclusive to the OEM for one year.

With the Note 8.0, Samsung is also ushering in a couple of new developments on the apps front, in addition to the new version of Flipboard.

In keeping with Samsung’s original vision of the Note acting as a kind of organizer and productivity device — more screen than a phone for planning; but smaller than a tablet to make it portable — Samsung has scooped an exclusive on a new Android app launch. Awesome Note, a note-taking that lets you track progress and make lists across different categories, has up to now only been available for iOS devices, where the full edition of the app for iPad retails at $4.99.

Now developers Bird are releasing an Android version, and while this will also be sold as a paid app in the Google Play store, Samsung will be bundling it as a free app on the Note 8.0 “for at least a year,” according to Michael Lin, marketing manager, Samsung Electronics.

Other apps that will be preloaded on the device include the newest version (2.0) of Chat-On, Samsung’s cross-platform, cross-media group and direct messaging service; Reading Mode that modifies the screen brightness for reading; and Smart Remote, Samsung’s universal remote control and electronic program guide, playing into the fact that nowadays a lot of consumers (80% in the U.S., claims Samsung) use a second device like a tablet while watching TV

We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that the global version of the Note 8.0 also packs HSPA+ 21 connectivity (850/900/1900/2100MHz). So, yes, you will be able to hold it up to your head and make voice calls however silly that may look. Of course, it’s more likely that prospective users will want to pair the tab with earbuds and thus reduce the risk of public humiliation. But this voice call perk won’t be heading stateside. Samsung’s confirmed to us that, as of now, the US market will see a WiFi-only variant and its specs could change slightly, too. An LTE variant is also on deck.

Details on pricing and regional release dates are still be announced. Just don’t hold your breath for that news to come this week. What we do know for certain is that there’ll be two storage configurations — 16GB and 32GB — for the global unit’s launch sometime this second quarter. So while you wait for the Note 8.0 to make its slow crawl to market, check out the demo video and feel free to drop in your comments below.

[via Engadget, TechCrunch]

BlueStacks – Rumored to bring Android Apps To WindowsRT Devices, Hits 5Million Installs.


new-bluestacks-logo

It appears that BlueStacks isn’t just a flash in the pan. The Silicon Valley-based start up, which makes software that allows users to run their Android apps on Macs and PCs, said today that it has passed 5 million organic installs through its homepage. Vanity stats like this are annoying, yes, but what’s notable is that BlueStacks hit this milestone in under eight months. And the news comes on top of its recent partnerships with AMD and Asus, which have announced their intention to pre-load BlueStacks’ technology on over 100 million units.

In September, BlueStacks announced a partnership with chipmaker AMD, which brought its app catalog to AMD-powered Windows 7 and Windows 8 machines through the launch of its new app store, AppZone. As Sarah pointed out at the time, much like AppUp, Intel’s app store for PCs that “has been optimized to run on Intel-powered Ultrabooks,” with AppZone, the chipmaker optimized BlueStacks’ technology for AMD GPUs and APUs.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before the chipmakers began implementing the startup’s technology, as AMD was the lead strategic investor in BlueStacks’ $6.4 million series B raise in October of last year. The round brought the company’s total investment to $15 million and saw AMD join investors like Andreessen Horowitz, Ignition Ventures, Citrix and Qualcomm.

It’s unusual for software makers and manufacturers like Citrix, Qualcomm and AMD to show up on the same roster of investors, yet, as Sarah said, it was a demonstration of an eagerness among investors to leverage the Windows ecosystem as a platform to run Android apps.

The partnerships with AMD and Asus and its backing from Qualcomm also set the stage for BlueStacks to team up with additional manufacturers to pre-install its technology on PCs. The big-picture goal for the startup is to help bring the some 750K Android apps to each and every one of the billion-plus PC users out there. It’s a sizable opportunity, another part of the reason investors (and chipmakers) are eager to test the waters.

BlueStacks’ technology allows users to run graphics-intensive Android apps on desktop PCs via its patent-pending “Layercake” technology, which initially enabled Android apps to be compatible with x86-based PCs, followed by Macs, and now includes those developed for ARM processors — Angry Birds Space and Fruit Ninja being two familiar examples. (More on this below.)

The company has been looking to build a developer platform, as well, and has been partnering with the makers of apps like Fruit Ninja, SliceIt!, Townsmen, Evernote, StumbleUpon and Barnes & Noble (Nook). The main selling point being that developers don’t have to modify or port their apps to run them on PCs, which means less heavy lifting for those who have already developed apps for Android.

Screen shot 2012-12-06 at 3.08.44 PMTo this point, HandyGames CEO Christopher Kassulke let it slip last night at Mobile Gaming Europe that HandyGames will be launching their uber popular Clouds and Sheep as a PC game using BlueStacks. And the more big app development houses begin signing on, the more BlueStacks thinks that it’s helping to create a crack in the wall between mobile and PC gaming.

But here’s what could be most exciting for developers (and users) looking at developing for (or buying) Windows mobile devices. The newly released Windows RT, for those unfamiliar, is a special version of Windows 8 built for mobile (specifically ARM) devices — so, really, tablets. If somehow you haven’t noticed, Microsoft has been pushing its new Surface tablets pretty aggressively since their initial release in late October, partly manifesting through that snappy, percussive ad campaign you’ve probably seen by now on the tube. The main mobile OS being offered by the Surface? Windows RT.

As of now, consumers can buy a number of ARM-powered Windows RT devices, and there are more coming. But Surface currently has the highest profile among these tablets and devices, yet, the problem is that they’re not selling as well as Microsoft would have hoped. According to Tech Report, MSFT’s initial order of 4 million Surface devices has been cut in half thanks to slow sales.

Leaving the device itself out of it, probably the biggest reason for this boils down to apps. Compared to iOS and Android, few developers have built native apps for Windows 8. Even if consumers want to buy the Surface, many would rather opt for an Android or iOS device, because they offer far more access to the apps we’ve all grown accustomed to using on a daily basis.

So, naturally, rumors have begun to mount that BlueStacks’ next project will be to make its tech available to Windows RT users. As evidenced in this forum, hilariously, it appears that Microsoft salespeople have even begun to suggest using BlueStacks if users want to buy a Windows device and get access to Android apps.

The Droid Guy was one of the first to pick up on the BlueStacks, Windows RT rumors, as a BlueStacks team member recently divulged in a separate forum that the company was in the process of bringing those 750K+ Android apps to Windows RT. BlueStacks Engineer Deepak Sharma, via The Droid Guy: “We are considering offering BlueStacks for Windows RT next year.”

BlueStacks team members approached by TechCrunch would not confirm that this is in fact happening, but from what we’ve been able to gather from other sources, it seems there’s a good chance this could happen in early 2013.

However, as The Droid Guy points out, Microsoft’s Windows Defender could pose problems in this regard, as it could force BlueStacks to release its own app on the Windows Store, which, knowing Microsoft, would likely be disapproved. Until then, BlueStacks works well with Windows 8 Pro-based tablets and devices, but if BlueStacks is able to produce an ARM version of its technology, this could be a big boost both for the startup and for those looking for access to a viable app platform on their new Windows device.

With support for both ARM and Windows 8 Pro, developers could significantly increase their distribution without having to develop native apps for Windows devices — great for them but, again, not something that Microsoft is likely to get too jazzed about.

For more, find BlueStacks at home here.

Screen shot 2012-12-06 at 3.10.26 PM

(-via TC)

Google Nexus 7 tablet, a 7 inch HD Gaming Engine with Quad Core.


n e X u s 7

All Gamer’s and Tech Savvy’s, here’s good news for you all as Google’s Nexus 7, Developed and Branded by Asus is out !!

In Detail :

Just as Google’s developer conference was getting started, details of the company’s rumored Nexus 7 tablet emerged. As previously reported, it is a 7-inch tablet powered by a Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor that will run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and come in 8GB ($199) and 16GB versions ($249).

The display is true high-def — 1280×800, so a bit better than 720p — and there’s a front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera and microphone for video chatting, though there’s no rear-facing camera. It also has a micro USB port, GPS, near-field communication and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. There’s no mention of an SD card slot for expanding the memory, however.

Not surprisingly, it was built by Asus, the manufacturer that had already made the most headway with quad-core gamer-friendly Android tablets.

Clearly, at a starting price of $199, the Nexus 7 is positioned to compete with the similarly 7-inch Kindle Fire, rather than taking on the 9.7-inch iPad (and the 10.6-inch Surface tablet from Microsoft). And because, with all of those tablets, content seems to be the biggest incentive, Google is playing up the Play store, even granting early buyers $25 in Google Play credit and “some great free content” including “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.” Even if you don’t think any of the “Transformers” films is truly “great,” it is nice to see Google aggressively pushing content, even adding TV shows and magazines to their lineup. This is how Tablet buyers  get their reason to buy a tablet.

Quick Screens Shots Of The Above Video on Nexus 7:

Google
Google

Update:

1) The leaks are coming fast and furious — Google’s Nexus Q A / V streamer has just been unveiled, and a short video that came along with it showed a white Nexus 7 device. While it might just be white for the style of the video, it wouldn’t surprise us to see the Nexus 7 come in two colors today.

2) The Nexus 7 page on Google Play is now live — we can confirm that the 8GB Nexus 7 will be priced at $199, while the 16GB model will cost $249. Both models should be shipping within two to three weeks.

3) Modaco.com just pulled up what looks to be the final Nexus 7 specs — as expected, the device will come in 8GB and 16GB variants, with a 1280 x 800 IPS display. It’ll also have a 1.2-megapixel, front-facing camera, 1GB of RAM, and a 4,325mAh battery. Unfortunately, the price didn’t leak, but we’re betting the earlier $199 / $249 rumors hold true here. It’s running a Tegra 3 processor, as rumored — and, of course, it’ll have Jelly Bean Android 4.1. Unfortunately, it looks like the Nexus 7 will be US-only, at least at launch.

Nexus 7 Video Shots:

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 -(via Verge, msdn blog, TechCrunch)

Microsoft Announces The New ‘Surface’, a 10.6″ Tablet, Based on Windows 8


Windows 8, “Surface

Los AngelesMicrosoft today unveiled a major tablet initiative to compete with Apple’s iPad, Google’s Android, and its own PC hardware partners. After days of speculation and rumors, Microsoft’s major announcement has just been unveiled at a press event in Los Angeles: a Surface tablet. We suspected the company might be working on its own tablet, and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed the device on stage at Milk Studios in Los Angeles today. Discussing Microsoft’s history with Windows, Xbox, and Kinect, Ballmer introduced a video of the company’s hardware products over the years before unveiling Windows 8‘s companion, the Microsoft Surface.

Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky took to the stage to describe the hardware of Microsoft’s Surface tablet. There will be two options for Microsoft’s Surface PC, one powered by Intel’s 22nm Ivy Bridge chips running Windows 8, and another Surface powered by an ARM chipset and Windows RT. The Windows RT version is just 9.3mm thin, weighs 1.5lbs, includes a built-in kickstand, and is the first PC with a vapor-deposited (PVD) magnesium case, according to Microsoft. It will ship in 32GB or 64GB versions, complete with a 10.6-inch ClearType HD display (of unknown resolution).

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Microsoft’s Intel-based Surface tablet will run Windows 8 Pro, with a thickness of 13.5mm, a weight of 1.9lbs, and USB 3.0 support. This particular version will also include magnesium casing and a built-in kickstand, but will ship with either 64GB or 128GB storage. Additionally, the Intel version will include additional digital ink support through a pen that magnetizes to the body of the tablet, and a 10.6-inch ClearType “Full HD” display. Both of Microsoft’s Surface tablets feature optional Touch and Type keyboard covers.

Microsoft says suggested retail pricing will be announced closer to availability and is expected to be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC. The Windows RT tablet will ship around the same time that Microsoft releases Windows 8 (expected in October), while the Intel-based Pro tablet will arrive about three months later.

World’s Thinnest Ultrabook by Acer Revealed.


Acer Aspire S5

Acer revealed details on Thursday about its razor-thin, elegantly-designed Aspire S5 ultrabook device, which will become the world’s thinnest ultrabook computer.

Weighing in at just 2.65 pounds, the Acer Aspire S5 Ultrabook is just 0.44 inches at its thinnest spot and 0.59 at the thickest. Ultrabooks — which are ultra-slim laptops typically under 0.8 inches thick – have become increasingly popular among manufacturers and consumers, giving on-the-go users a lightweight, full-computer alternative.

 it’s only 15mm at its thickest point. It’s a black, magnesium-alloy and brushed-metal 13.3-inch laptop, weighing 1.35kg (2.97 pounds) and featuring Acer’s Instant On technology that brings the computer back from sleep in 1.5 seconds. It also uses Acer Always Connect, which lets users manage data on their computers even when the machine is asleep — the S5 can be woken up from a smartphone, and will immediately log into email and social network accounts. There’s a Thunderbolt port inside, capable of 20Gbps speeds, along with USB 3.0 and HDMI ports — all are hidden below the S5’s hinge, and can be accessed by pressing Acer’s new MagicFlip key. The computer is powered by an Intel Core processor (though Acer didn’t reveal which one), has SSD storage, uses Dolby Home Theater audio, and has a PowerSmart battery pack that Acer says will have a life cycle three times longer than normal batteries.

The Aspire S5 may be super thin, but it touts a series of powerful specs, including a super-responsive third-generation Intel Core i7 processor and a 256GB solid state drive. With a 13.3-inch widescreen LED-backlit display (1366 x 768) and a 1.3 megapixel HD webcam, the device makes viewing and taking pictures and videos a visually-rich experience.

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The S5 will start shipping in the second quarter of this year, though pricing was not announced. Its Thunderbolt support means this must be an Ivy Bridge machine, meaning we won’t be seeing it until at least May or June.

Instagram on Android now. [PHOTOGRAPHY]


Instagram

Hello folks. It is a very good news for Android users, namely because photo-sharing darling Instagram is now available in the Android Market. If you want to hurry up and try it out without having to read the rest of this (it’s that intuitive), you can download the app here. And go ahead and skip to Paragraph 7 if you already use Instagram on iOS, and don’t want to have to sit through a noob explainer.

For Beginners

For those of you who are new to the entire Instagram experience, the app is pretty simple, and that’s what makes it amazing. To use Instagram just open it up and either capture a photo or choose an existing one from your photo library. Once uploaded, the app allows you to move and scale your image. After you’ve selected a composition, you can run the image through the ‘Lux’ feature by pressing the Sun icon in the far left of the next screen (Lux, similar to Camera+’s ‘Clarity,’ amps up photos by boosting their contrast).

While on this step, you can either add a border or go sans, rotate an image,  or cancel out of the navigation screen by using the icons in the app’s top navigation bar. At the bottom of the screen, you’re met with Instagram’s famous filters, including the SF-inspired Valencia, Sutro and Brannan and the one I always end up using, X-Pro. Because we are all idiosyncratic little snowflakes, everyone has their unique preferences.

Once you decide on the exact specs of the photo you’re going to post, you click on the green check mark provided, and the app’s flow allows you to input a description and a Twitter-like hashtag for search, geotag the photo, and share to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Posterous, Foursquare or via email. In addition to sharing, clicking ‘Done’ will post the item to your Instagram feed, where it will be enjoyed by your followers if you have them. You can see the photo in addition to photos from the people who you follow by clicking on the Home icon.

Clicking on the Star icon will bring you to the Instagram Popular page. I’ve never actually figured out how to get a photo to ‘Popular’ on Instagram, so if you do it please let me know. I think the trick is to have a lot of followers (Isn’t that always the trick!?) — And I’m still not convinced mere mortals can do it.

Aside from the Popular page, the main Instagram navigation screen allows you to view ‘News’ by selecting the ‘Heart Comment’ icon and your profile by selecting what looks like an ‘Index Card’ icon on the far right. This is where you can find people to follow, view all your photos in either grid or chronological list view, and edit your profile.

For Everyone

Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom tells me that the Instagram iOS app has now hit 30 million users after about a year and a half on the market, and with Android at 500 million activations (for comparison, Apple is at something around 180 million iPhones sold, total) the startup has a real chance of hitting 100 million users across both devices soon enough to matter.

Facebook took about four years to reach its first 100 million; The idea of Instagram becoming the world’s first formidable, mobile-only social network is extremely compelling.

Systrom tells me that a major concern of his is consistency across both platforms, and that the same 13 people who built the iOS app also built Android, which can run on any camera phone with Android 2.2 or above with support for OpenGL ES 2 (a technology needed to power the Instagram filters).

“The Android app offers an extremely familiar Instagram experience when compared to the iOS app,” Systrom writes, “You’ll find all the same exact filters and community as our iOS version.” iOS features like Tilt/Shift, Flickr integration and inline posting didn’t make the cut this time but will hit future versions. The app is also available in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish.

So what took them so long? Well, the whole “Lean Startup” mentality may have had something to do with it. “Launching on a single platform allowed us to focus on the product and the user experience,” Systrom says. “It’s given us the ability to stay small and nimble, and we’ve been able to respond quickly to user feedback.”

The company is rumored to be raising $40 million at $500 million from the usual suspects of top-tier VC firms. Perhaps we’ll see more expansion in the future? Systrom wouldn’t comment on what platform it would launch on next, and ignored my questions about an iPad app or website.

I’m guessing the team will have their hands full with scaling Android. An early sign up page thrown up a week ago has accumulated over 430k people on its waiting list! And while Android already has apps that essentially have Instagram’s functionality, Systrom isn’t thrown by the competition, “There are plenty of clones on iOS as well – but at the end of the day it’s the community people want to be part of. We’re excited to see the community grow with even more perspectives all around the world.”

-(via TechCrunch)

Mobile World Congress 2012 [EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE]


About the MWC 2012 :

MWC is redefining “mobile”.  No longer limited only to communications, mobile is now a force transforming our world in an unprecedented way. Mobile connects, entertains, informs and inspires us, ultimately changing how we live and who we are.

Mobile World Congress is the global epicenter of this redefinition as our participants enable, lead and accelerate it. Join it in Redefining Mobile at Mobile World Congress 2012, which will be held 27 February to 1 March at Fira Montjuïc in Barcelona, Spain.

 Surf the below for detailed View:

Penta TPad by BSNL[INDIA] launched against Aakaash Tablet.


BSNL has launched three tablets including two 7 inch resistive screen based tabs with Android 2.3 operating system while the third tablet comes with an 8 inch capacitive touchscreen.

Made by Noida based company – Pantel, the tablets will be sold with discounted data plans from BSNL. The three tablets are priced at Rs 3,250 [$66.23], Rs 10,999[$224.15] and Rs 13,500[$275.12].

The cheapest model is Penta Tpad IS 701r which is priced at Rs 3,250 [$66.23]. Notably, Aakash is priced at just Rs 2500[$50.95]. However, Tpad has better specification than the Datawind’s low cost tablet.

Penta Tpad is a WiFi only tablet with Android 2.3 operating system, it has a 1 GHz processor (ARM11 IMAP210) clubbed with 256 MB RAM. The tablet also offers HDMI port through which it can be connected to a TV. Its 7 inch resistive touch screen comes with 800×600 resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio.

The tablet has a 3000 mAh battery and 2 GB internal memory which can be expanded through micro SD card. The tablet also has a VGA front facing camera for video calling. While Penta Tpad IS 701r has the BSNL branding, the other two tablets images do not have.

The second tablet is named ‘Penta Tpad_ws704c’. It has the same specification as its cheapest cousin (701r) but offers added 3G connectivity which supports both CDMA/EVDO and GSM, inbuilt A-GPS, Accelerometer and Bluetooth. It also comes with a 2 megapixel rear camera and also has bigger 512 MB RAM for faster performance.

The costliest amongst the three is the Tpad WS802C which has an 8 inch capacitive screen. It comes with a faster 1.2 GHz processor and 512 MB RAM. The internal memory is also bigger at 4 GB. Rest of the features like GPS, camera and Bluetooth are same as the 704C.

Samsung P6800 Galaxy Tab 7.7 Review.


Samsung P6800 Galaxy Tab 7.7 16GB WiFi & 3G (Unlocked) (Black/Grey)

$668.50

Within an 11-day period last fall, Engadget published reviews of two different Samsung Galaxy tablets. At the time, we felt the company was turning into a caricature of itself, with slates in every conceivable size, including 10.1, 8.9 and 7 inches. Mostly, though, if we sounded exasperated with Sammy’s “see what sticks” strategy, it was because the outfit unveiled not one, but two 7-inchers over the course of a month. One of these, the 7.0 Plus, went on sale in the US back in November, with mid-range specs and a mid-range price to match its in-between size. But that tablet always felt like a consolation prize next to our second contender, the Galaxy Tab 7.7, which brings a brushed metal back, 10-hour battery and Super AMOLED Plus, 1280 x 800 display. Even on paper, it always seemed promising. Special.

Maddeningly, though, those of us here in the states still can’t buy one through the likes of Best Buy and Amazon, and though Verizon Wireless plans to sell an LTE-enabled version, we know scant few details about when it will arrive, how much it will cost or whether there will be an off-contract option. Luckily for us, our friends over at Negri Electronics hooked us up with an international model, one with 16GB of internal storage and WiFi, HSPA+ and EDGE / GPRS radios — a doozy of a tablet that would cost you $668.50 if you were to import it to the US. (You can buy it domestically if you live in select markets like the UK.) So is the product novel enough to warrant that novelty price? Find the answer to that question and more after the break.

Hardware

If you were to compare our last few reviews of Galaxy tablets, you might find the design paragraphs tend to bleed together. Thin, lightweight. Well-made, but plasticky. Wash, rinse, repeat. But the 7.7 feels like more than just a rehashed device re-tooled to accommodate an odd screen size: it’s a clear step up from the original Galaxy Tab, along with the 10.1, 8.9 and 7.0 Plus that have followed since. With this device, Samsung trades the tried-and-true plastic backing for a brushed metal lid with plastic strips on either end, allowing for optimal antennae reception — a design choice that brings to mind the Flyer and other HTC-made devices. Like the 10.1, there’s a thin metal ring around the front surface, though it’s a thinner, more subtle band than before. So far as we can tell, the bezels are the same width as the ones you’ll find on the 7.0 Plus which is to say they’re reasonably narrow. And that’s not even mentioning that stunner of a Super AMOLED Plus screen. What more can we say, then? It doesn’t take a loyal Samsung fan to tell this is simply a higher-quality piece of kit.


At least as far as the industrial design, those of you who impatiently bought the 7.0 Plus needn’t feel toojealous: at 335g (.74 pounds) and 7.89mm (.31 inches) thick, it doesn’t feel much thinner or lighter than its smaller sibling, which weighs 345g (.76 pounds) and measures 9.96mm (0.39 inches thick). In any case, both devices are exceptionally slim compared to other 7-inch tablets. Also, while the casing here is made of metal, those flimsy door covers have carried over from earlier models. So to anyone making do with an older Samsung tab, we can assure you the build quality hasn’t improved drastically. Both the 7.7 and 7.0 Plus feel solid, save for those skimpy port covers; it’s just that the 7.7 looks nicer, and feels more pleasing in hand.

Interestingly, Samsung has placed the 2-megapixel front-facing camera on one of the shorter, portrait ends — just like on the 7.0 Plus. If you remember, though, the Galaxy Tab 8.9, has a landscape-oriented front camera, suggesting that larger tablet was intended to be used primarily in landscape, not portrait mode. It’s clear, then, that whatever that magical cut-off set by Samsung’s design team, it’s larger than 7.7 inches, but smaller than 8.9. Which makes sense to us, given that the 7.7’s 16:10 aspect ratio makes it far easier to type in portrait mode. Depending on the size of your hands, you might be able to swing landscape too, though if you have smaller fingers like some of us, you might want to consider installing SwiftKey X as an alternate ‘board.


Continuing our tour around the device, you’ll find the mic slit directly to the left of that front-facing camera, with the 3.5mm headphone jack sitting on the top edge of the device, just behind it. The opposite side (read: the other portrait end) is home to twin speakers, along with the proprietary docking connector Samsung has used on all of its Galaxy tabs, which you can use to charge the device via USB or the included AC adapter. As with the 7.0 Plus, you won’t find an USB socket on the device itself; any tethering to your PC must also happen by way of that special connector. Turn the device around so that the front camera is on your left, and you’ll see that long edge on top houses the power / lock button, along with a volume rocker. On the side opposite that, you’ll find the SIM and microSD slots.

Inside, the tablet packs the usual array of radios and sensors, including 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, an accelerometer, digital compass and gyroscope, along with proximity and ambient light sensors. Interestingly, Samsung decided not to include an IR emitter — something it built into the Verizon Wireless-bound 7.7 and the lower-end 7.0 Plus and paired with Peel’s universal remote app. Additionally, A-GPS and GLONASS are on board, as well as EDGE / GPRS (850, 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz) and 21Mbps-capable HSPA+ (850, 900, 1900 and 2100 MHz) radios. Naturally, the US version headed to Verizon Wireless will instead offer LTE and CDMA connectivity.

Voice calls

You can place a call with the tablet pressed against your ear, though we only recommend doing this once, for comic effect.

We wouldn’t go so far as to call this hulking thing a phone, but Samsung did go out of its way to bundle a calling application so you don’t have to wonder if Skype and other apps will play nice with this particular device. Sammy’s touting a so-called Receiver Mode that allows you to avoid broadcasting the call to others — even if you’re not wearing a Bluetooth headset. Indeed, you can place a call with the tablet pressed against your ear, though we only recommend doing this once, for comic effect. Suffice to say, you’ll probably want to plug in headphones or pair the tablet with a BluetoothEarpiece.

To be clear, you’ll need a SIM in order to place calls from the app, even if you have a WiFi connection. At that point, you can place VoIP calls, or turn off HSPA+ and WiFi for a more old-fashioned sort of connection. As you’d expect, when you use the app your friends will see an incoming call from whatever number is associated with the SIM. All told, callers often had trouble hearing us, and either asked us to repeat ourselves or answered our questions with non-sequiturs after misinterpreting our side of the conversation. At worst, friends said we sounded muffled, and that they could only follow along if they happened to be parked in quiet areas. At best, we were told the call quality was clear but distant. For our part, calls sounded a bit less natural with headphones, though that’s obviously a more ergonomically sensible solution than holding the tablet to your ear. We also placed some calls over the speaker, which proved sufficiently loud — if we happened to be calling from a quiet room.

And what an intuitive app you have to place all those calls. Once you sign into your Google account — a key step in setting up your new tablet — the 7.7 will silently copy any existing Google contacts, so that your favorites and friends’ numbers will appear as they do on whatever Android handset you already happen to own. (Whatever contacts you have stored on the SIM card will show up too, unless you un-check that option in the settings.) Conveniently, the dial pad also includes large, finger-friendly shortcuts for starting a video call or sending a message, which can take the form of a simple SMS or an MMS with a photo, video, sound clip, location, sketch, contact, calendar event or memo attached.

Display and sound

The contrast here is so deep, and the viewing angles so wide, that other tablets’ screens look washed-out in comparison.

Remember how we said 7.0 Plus owners shouldn’t feel too resentful of the 7.7’s build quality? Yeah, well, that statement didn’t include the 7.7’s 1280 x 800, 197 pixel-per-inch screen. As it happens, this is the first Galaxy Tab to rock a non-pentile, Super AMOLED Plus display, and man, is it a winner. We could tell you it’s vibrant, stunning and breathtaking, but even that wouldn’t quite do it justice. The contrast here is so deep, and the viewing angles so wide, that other tablets’ screens look washed-out in comparison. By itself, for instance, the 7.0 Plus’ display is plenty bright and pleasant to look at, but place it next to the 7.7 and the transition is about as jarring as moving from the Transformer Prime to the Ainovo Novo7 (check out our comparison gallery toward the end if you think we’re exaggerating). The Super AMOLED Plus panel represents a clear step up from most other tablet displays, which sadly haven’t received the same level of tender lovin’ care as their smartphone cousins.

And, at the risk of getting ahead of ourselves, the 7.7 also has phenomenal battery life, so the gorgeous display makes an especially excellent foil for that 5,100mAh juicepack. After all, if your tablet’s capable of a 12-hour movie marathon, it may as well have a striking display to match, right? Also, because the runtime on this thing is so fantastic, we had no qualms about cranking the brightness while using the tablet outside, which made the screen easy to make out in direct sunlight.

If you like, you can also choose from one of three color modes, including standard, dynamic and movie. And, on a note unrelated to the beauty of the display, the panel used here offers some excellent palm rejection. Not only that, but we were also able to grip the tablet in one hand without accidentally opening apps or disturbing the onscreen menus.

The 7.7 won’t be the exceptional tablet with good enough sound to replace a dedicated set of speakers, but for what it is, the sound is loud, and the audio quality relatively balanced. We only noticed a smidgen of tinniness while listening to The White Stripes, though we did catch some distortion while blasting Gorillaz at top volume. It’s worth repeating, too, that both speakers are on the same side of the device, which means you won’t enjoy stereo sound if you watch a movie in landscape mode.

Performance
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 T-Mobile Springboard Toshiba Thrive 7″ Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus
Quadrant 1,947 1,871 Would not run 2,700
Linpack single-thread (MFLOPS) 53.76 46.22 31.37 28.98
Linpack multi-thread (MFLOPS) 81.07 58.81 57.08 69.47
NenaMark 1 (fps) 59.5 43.2 43.1 59.3
NenaMark 2 (fps) 37.9 27.9 19.2 41.8
Vellamo 1,220 1,161 1,045 1,198
SunSpider 9.1 (ms, lower numbers are better) 1,488 2,471 2,303 1,679

The 7.7 is the longest-lasting tablet we’ve ever seen. Not the longest-lasting 7-incher, but the longest-lasting tablet.

Like the Galaxy Note, which was announced on the same day, the 7.7 packs a Samsung-made, dual-core 1.4GHz Exynos processor, along with 1GB of RAM. The tab also has a Mali-400MP GPU. Though the Note and 7.7’s numbers are too disparate for us to call this an encore performance, it’s safe to say this is one of the fastest Android tablets on the market, especially in that sub-category of 7-inchers. As you can see, it faces its stiffest competition in the 7.0 Plus, which also has 1GB of RAM, along with a slightly slower 1.2GHz dual-core CPU. (We’ll take the 7.0 Plus’ astronomical Quadrant score with a grain of salt, as the test favors devices with lower-res screens, but suffice to say, its graphics scores in Nenamark are impressive.) Aside from that, the 7.7 established a wide lead over competing tablets like the T-Mobile Springboard and the Toshiba Thrive 7″. By all metrics, this thing is speedy.

For the most part, the 7.7 backs up its stellar benchmark scores with fluid performance. In particular, we were impressed with how smoothly the screen responds to pinch-to-zoom, and how nimbly websites and other pages re-scaled. The tab’s quick to launch apps and respond to all manner of taps and swipes, though it’s not completely immune from the sort of mundane sluggishness we’ve observed in other Honeycomb tablets. Occasionally, the 7.7 paused when we moved to minimize an app. Once, too, we noticed some stuttering while scrolling in the browser, though this ultimately proved to be the exception, not the rule. The accelerometer is also quick — almost too quick — to detect changes in orientation, so much so that we often had to tilt the tablet to change the orientation back again. Again, though, these are small blemishes on an otherwise spotless experience.

Battery life
Tablet Battery Life
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 12:01
Apple iPad 2 10:26
ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime 10:17
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 9:55
Apple iPad 9:33
Motorola Xoom 2 8:57
HP TouchPad 8:33
Lenovo IdeaPad K1 8:20
Motorola Xoom 8:20
T-Mobile G-Slate 8:18
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus 8:09
Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 8:00
Archos 101 7:20
Archos 80 G9 7:06
RIM BlackBerry PlayBook 7:01
Acer Iconia Tab A500 6:55
Sony Tablet P 6:50
T-Mobile Springboard (Huawei MediaPad) 6:34
Toshiba Thrive 6:25
Samsung Galaxy Tab 6:09
Motorola Xyboard 8.2 5:25
Velocity Micro Cruz T408 5:10
Acer Iconia Tab A100 4:54
Toshiba Thrive 7″ 4:42

The 7.7’s 5,100mAh battery is rated for up to 10 hours of video, but in a rare twist, we managed to squeeze out more runtime than that. Much more. All told, it lasted a staggering 12 hours on our video looping test, even with WiFi on and the brightness fixed at 50 percent (3G was disabled). That makes it the longest-lasting tablet we’ve ever seen. Not the longest-lasting 7-incher, mind you, but the longest-lasting tablet — one with enough juice to trample the iPad 2’s long-standing record by an hour and a half. The 7.7 also has a battery-saving mode, so presumably you could push past that 12-hour-mark — you know, in case you need your tablet to stay alive through more than just a roundtrip flight from New York to LA.

What’s insane, of course, is that this tablet also happens to be one of the thinnest we’ve seen. If Samsung can build a tablet this slim without skimping on battery life, what’s Toshiba’s excuse? Or Motorola’s? In a way, the 7.7 reminds us of the Droid RAZR Maxx, a phone we reviewed just last week: we recommend it in its own right, but we also like to think it could be a harbinger of other long-lasting devices to come.

Camera


Though other 7-inchers offer a bump in resolution, the 7.7’s 3-megapixel / 720p camera nonetheless captures an impressive amount of detail, staying faithful to the grease on a plate of hash browns, and the rough texture of concrete walls. We were also generally pleased by the balanced, not-too-saturated colors, though twice during our testing the tablet spat back images splashed with a blue overcast. In the case of this photo, at least, we were able to achieve more natural results on our second try, but even then the background appeared washed-out. In a few other sample pictures, too, details like clouds and the blueness of the sky simply get lost in translation.

And, in a neat touch, you can zoom in on photos by pressing a thumb onto either end of the screen and titling the tablet back and forth. Thanks to the flash, we were able to eke out some clear shots in a restaurant, though as you see in the gallery, most of our shots taken in the dimly lit bar are peppered with noise particles.

Software


As you’d expect, the Tab 7.7 goes the way of every other recent Galaxy Tab and comes loaded with Samsung’s own TouchWiz UX layered on top of Android. For now, that would be Honeycomb (version 3.2, to be exact), though the company has said an update to Ice Cream Sandwich is coming… eventually.

We won’t spend too much time rehashing the ins and outs of the user interface, as this is ground we’ve tread many times before. Suffice to say, Samsung has tinkered with almost every aspect of the experience, including the calendar, among other key apps. Also on board: Game Hub; Social Hub; Readers Hub; custom file, task and download managers; and a feature that allows you to take a screenshot anywhere in the OS and then share or doodle on it. All told, these customizations aren’t terribly intrusive, but not every single tweak registers as an improvement over stock Honeycomb, and fans of vanilla Android might resent it on principle.

Otherwise, the list of third-party apps is limited, with Polaris Office and Pulse as the major stand-outs. Beyond that, it’s Google-made apps, such as Places, and all the little pieces that make TouchWiz TouchWiz.

Configurations and pricing

We can’t remember ever seeing a tablet this size that was so carefully designed.

Though we tested the lowest-end model with 16GB of internal storage, it’s also available in 32GB and 64GB flavors. Of course, it’s also headed stateside, where Verizon Wireless will sell a variant with LTE and CDMA radios inside. Unfortunately, though, the company hasn’t announced pricing and availability, and we also don’t know if it will be possible to buy the tablet off-contract and buy pay-as-you-go data packages as needed. So, US friends, if you like what you see here and you gotta have it now, it’s time to call an importer.

Since, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 hasn’t hit Verizon yet and isn’t on sale in places like Amazon US, folks here in the states will have to import it from places like Negri — not exactly a cheap option, with the 16GB WiFi-and-3G version going for $668.50. (The 16GB WiFi-only model costs a still-pricey $592.50 through Negri.)

Then again, even in markets where you can purchase it domestically, you’ll pay dearly for that sliver-thin design, long battery life and Super AMOLED Plus display. A quick perusal of Amazon UK, for instance, shows that the 16GB model with an HSPA+ radio costs £808.48, while the 16GB, 3G-enabled 7.0 Plus can be had for £521.24. Obviously, we don’t know domestic US pricing yet, but if the 16GB 7.0 Plus costs $350 here, the entry-level 7.7 is going to be expensive for a 7-inch tablet. Point is, this is not for the faint of heart or folks who are just in it for the YouTube videos.

The competition

If you’re looking for something as thin, light, beautiful, fast and long-lasting as the Galaxy Tab 7.7, you won’t find it — not in the 7-inch category, anyway. The question, then, should be, how much are you willing to pay for near-perfection? If you’re reading this section as a primer for your own comparison shopping, we’re going to go out on a limb and assume you’re well aware of the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, but decided not to take the sub-$300 bait. Indeed, while these products offer a compelling set of features for the money (along with surprisingly decent screens), you’ll find the battery life mediocre and the overall performance lacking, especially compared to a powerhouse like the 7.7.

Even in the middle tier, though, many of the options are unsuitable, thanks to short battery life, thick, chintzy designs or sometimes both (we’re looking at you, Toshiba Thrive 7″). There are a couple compelling options, though — namely, the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus and the T-Mobile Springboard (also known as the Huawei MediaPad outside the US). The 7.0 Plus, in particular, is thinner and lighter, with faster performance and two hours more runtime than what the Springboard is capable of. Still, despite some middling battery life, the Springboard is attractively designed, well-made, decently fast and sports a lovely IPS display. If you go for that, though, skip T-Mobile’s two-year agreement and pay a little extra for an off-contract device for which you can buy HSPA+ data packages as needed.

Wrap-up

As crowded as the market for Android tablets has become, the impossibly long-lasting Galaxy Tab 7.7 belongs in an elite echelon of memorable devices — a fraternity that’s home to the likes of the older Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the ASUS Transformer Prime (GPS issues not withstanding). Putting it bluntly, the 7.7 is the best 7-inch tablet money can buy: it performs well, offers a stunning screen and manages to deliver twice the battery life of other small tablets, despite being markedly thinner. In fact, we can’t remember ever seeing a tablet this size that was so carefully designed. But here it is, and it presents the same level of quality that the 10.1, iPad 2 and Transformer Prime offer in the 10-inch category.

Really, our biggest caveat is that it’s expensive, even compared to mid-range models like the $350 7.0 Plus. The 7.7 isn’t a plaything for mainstream consumers, but people who care deeply about laying claim to the latest and greatest gadgets, and are willing to pay dearly for the privilege. As any early adopter would tell you, getting burned on price is just one trade-off to scoring bragging rights. Indeed, such enthusiasts might well decide that nearly $250 premium over mid-range tablets is worth the long battery life, brisk performance and brilliant display. So is that you? Do you need the best that badly? We’ll let you do some soul-searching and chew on that for a bit.

Update: Though the global HSPA+ model we reviewed has no IR emitter, the LTE / CDMA version headed to Verizon Wireless does have one.

(via Engadget, source: Negri Electronics)